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Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
The day before global leaders and diplomats passed a climate change deal in Paris at the United Nations climate summit, the U.S. House of Representatives — in a 256-158 vote — authorized the final text of a bill that has a provision preventing climate change to be accounted for in all U.S. trade deals going forward.
Husain Abdulla, originally from Bahrain, is the founder and Executive Director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain. As Executive Director, Husain leads the organization’s efforts to ensure that U.S. policies support the democracy and human rights movement in Bahrain. Husain also works closely with members of the Bahraini-American community to ensure that their voices are heard by U.S. government officials and the broader American public. In 2012, the Government of Bahrain revoked Husain's Bahraini citizenship in retaliation for his peaceful advocacy for the respect for human rights in his home country. Husain holds a Master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of West Florida and a BA in Political Science and Mathematics from the University of South Alabama. See http://adhrb.org
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On 27th July young citizen from Qatif in the Eastern Province of Arabia was cold-bloodedly shot and killed by regime forces. Mohammad Al Faraj was added to the list of victims of Saudi regime’s terror campaign against activists seeking political change. More than 30 people were killed in those attacks. In addition, there have been two terrorist attacks by regime’s allies on two mosques in the past three months in which scores were martyred. Several others were gunned down in Al Ihsa last year by those groups. The killing came as hundreds of Yemenis were killed by Saudi air attacks in the past few days despite declaring a temporary ceasefire to allow humanitarian work. The Saudis and their Alkhalifa allies have been bombing Yemen mercilessly for four months in an unprecedented aggression. Human rights groups have described some of the atrocities committed by the unholy alliance of evil forces as “war crimes”.
A public statement was issued on 27th July by Amnesty International calling on the Bahraini authorities to make public investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners during a riot in Jaw prison, south of the capital Manama, on 10 March and other abuses that continued for several weeks afterwards and to bring to justice any officials responsible for ordering or committing such acts. The call came after the trial of 57 individuals, including on charges of assault on public officials and destruction of public property, started on 23 July. It was postponed to 17 September. Many people were severely tortured as the regime sent Jordanian troops to the jail to attack native Bahrainis.
The wave of arrests and detentions has continued unabated. In the week 20-26th July at least 38 people were arrested including six children. Last night four people from Sitra-Wadyan were detained from their homes. Hussain Taqi and his brother, Sadiq, Khalil Ibrahim AlTawq and Abdulla Essa Khudayyer were snatched from their homes. They were arrested within hours after an “explosion” that killed two Pakistani mercenaries attacking native Bahrainis in the area. The circumstances of their death are not clear. Bahraini Revolution is the most peaceful among the Arab Spring protests; the opposition has condemned violence and called for peaceful transformation to democracy. The regime has used violence as main tool against native Bahrainis. The Community Care Advisor at the Embassy of Pakistan in Manama, Maqsoud Lader Jah, revealed that 100 thousand Pakistanis live in Bahrain, most of whom work in construction and driving. But he said that 20% of them work as security guards in t he Bahraini Ministry of Interior (nearly 20 thousand Pakistanis). Other sources said estimated that more than 25,000 Pakistanis have been naturalised at a time when hundreds of native Bahrainis had their nationality revoked.
On 27th July Salah Saeed was kidnapped from Satra-Wadyan by masked members of the regime’s Death Squads. Another youth, Sadiq Jaffar Al Asfoor from Sitra was detained on 21st July. Concern is rising for the safety of two native Bahrainis; Sadiq Thamer, Jaffar Sultan and Abdul Hamid Nasser who had been kidnapped by regime’s Death Squads on 8th June, but their families haven’t heard from them. Reports of systematic torture have continued. It is now established that the under-aged Ahmad Al Arab has been repeatedly tortured at the toilet facilities, while other private houses and farms have become the new torture centres, away from the main prisons.
On 25th July Ali Abdulla AlAradi, 50, was kidnapped from his home, tortured with heavy tools before being drowned in the pool of a house, several miles from his town of Arad. The torture included the use of blunt instrument that split his head with deep wound. It is now almost a week but the regime has failed to catch the killers while claiming to have caught the alleged perpetrators of the Sitra explosion within hours. The general belief is that Mr AlAradi has been liquidated by regime’s Death Squads to send a message to the native Bahrainis that Alkhalifa, Saudi occupiers will stop at nothing in their war on the natives.
In recognition of the sad episode of Dr Abdul Jalil AlSingace who has been on hunger strike for more than four months, the English PEN has adopted him as a chained writer and thinker. It has urged its members to adopt Dr AlSingace and protest against his continued incarceration. A protest has been organised by English PEN at the Bahrain’s Embassy in London on Wednesday 29th July to highlight the plight of Dr AlSingace.
On 24th July, The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) declared an additional eight Bahraini prisoners of conscience to be arbitrarily detained. Last week, the group of experts issued a series of official decisions on the Bahrain government’s detention of Jassim al-Hulaibi, Mohamed Sudaif, Abdulaziz Mousa, Ebrahim al-Sharqi, Ahmed Abdulla Ebrahim, Taleb Ali Mohammed, and two unnamed minors. The Group found that these detentions were arbitrary and in contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Bahrain acceded to the ICCPR in 2006. Additionally, the WGAD held that the detention of one of the minors contravened the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Bahrain acceded in 1992. The opinion also pointed out, “Under certain circumstances, widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law may constitute crimes against humanity.”
Bahrain Freedom Movement
Despite initial fear and speculation about foreign support to AlSaud’s offensive aggression on Yemen, UK has now confirmed that it is providing precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia to use in airstrikes against targets in Yemen, according to The Times Newspaper (17th July). In a written response to a House of Lords question, the defence minister, Earl Howe, said: “We are providing technical support, precision-guided weapons and exchanging information with the Saudi Arabian armed forces through pre-existing arrangements.” He conceded that “In addition to the personnel who continue to provide support for equipment supplied, we have a small number of liaison personnel in Saudi and coalition air and maritime headquarters. This includes personnel in the Maritime Coalition Co-ordination Centre in the region, supporting the delivery of humanitarian aid into Yemen.” Defence News, an online magazine said that the weapons are understood to be Paveway IV precision -guided bombs originally destined for the RAF. This is the first official admission by a Western country of involvement in the Saudi aggression on Yemen’s people. Lord Howe’s admission has sent shock waves and added new dimensions to the illegitimate war. Saudi Arabia, like Britain, flies Typhoon and Tornado fast jets, which carry the 500lb munitions. The Saudis have been using the weapons for strike missions against ISIS targets in Syria and against Yemeni people, Defence News reported.
In the week between 13-19th July at least 29 native Bahrainis including six children were arrested by the Alkhalifa regime. More people were arrested in the past two days. Yesterday four people were detained from the Sanabis Town; Hussain Al Sami’e, Taha Hakim AlSheikh, Murtada Adwin and Mohammad Jassim Al Awainati. A female prisoner of conscience, Taiba Darwish, has been remanded in custody for two more weeks for taking part in anti-regime protests. The release of another female political detainee, Zahra Al Sheikh and her 15 months baby only happened after she had served her full sentence of one year in jail for being involved in anti-regime protests.
As the Revolutionary groups declared preparation to mark what they call “Bahraini Hostage Day” on 24th July, many inmates at Jaw Central Prison started hunger strike to protest the deteriorating conditions in the notorious torture centre. The situation there is described as “appallingly overcrowded and unfit for human habitation”.
It's the time of the year when high school students graduate and prepare to go to the universities of their choice. But for some students in Bahrain, specifically Shiites, activists and government opponents, the path that awaits them is not so bright. One of these ill-fated students is Mustafa Mohammed Ismael who is in jail instead of pursuing his dream of studying medicine. Mustafa graduated top of his class from high school with grades averaging 98.8 percent. On August 15, 2013, Mustafa, who is now 18, was walking out of his grandfather's house in Nuwaidrat when he was stopped by security patrol. He was charged with illegal gathering and initially sentenced to six months. The court of appeal later reduced the sentence to three months and released him on bail 24 days later. This year the regime has committed what is termed “scholarships massacre”, denying bright students of native origin the chance to pursue their studies while granting pro-regime loyalists grants and sc holarships. This is one of the most outrageous Apartheid policies of Bahrain’s dictator.
The ferocious and systematic attack on freedom of speech has outraged even the supporters of the regime. The arrest of Ibrahim Sharif has deprived the dictator of any praise for the release of Nabeel Rajab. There are strong demands that all charges against him, Mr Sharif, Sheikh Ali Salman and Bahrain 13, be dropped. The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, criticized the Bahraini "government's crackdown on three opposition figures," referring to the arrest of Wa'ad leader "Ebrahim Sharif," prosecution of the Al-Wefaq figure Majeed Milad and retrial of the leader of the opposition in Bahrain, Sheikh Ali Salman. Index on Censorship calls on King Hamad to release all the political prisoners currently serving sentences on spurious charges,” Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg said. UN experts have also called for releasing all political prisoners and dropping charges relating to freedom of expression levelled against most of them. In London 39 MPs have signed Petition 241 calling on the Government of Bahrain to allow free speech and stop persecution of people for speaking out, protesting or calling for their rights. It also calls on the UK Government to list Bahrain as a “0country of concern”.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
22 July 2015
The signing of the Nuclear Agreement by Iran and the 5+1 countries has been welcomed by the people of Bahrain who have always hoped for peace and stability in the region under democratic practices. The regional dictatorships such as those of AlSaud and Alkhalifa have exploited the rift between Iran and the West to maintain iron fist policy on the people, denying them democratic and human rights. It is hoped that a new era would reign and dictatorships would gradually be eliminated from the GCC countries. While the Iranians were negotiating the nuclear deal with the six big powers, the Saudis were engaged in meaningless war on Yemen, obliterating people’s existence, occupying other people’s land, supporting terrorist groups, grooming extremism and exclusionism and destroying mosques, heritage sites and detaining human rights activists. The Alkhalifa are following their steps and committing severe human rights abuses.
In the early hours of this morning a young native Bahraini has been martyred at the town of El-Ekr. An explosion was heard but it is not yet clear how Qassim Mohsin Al Mughanni, 16, died. In the past regime’s security forces had planted booby-trapped devices to kill activists, liquidated opponents in “car accidents” (the case of Sayed Ahmad Al Ghuraifi, 1986, and that of the six young Bahraini girls killed on 26th February 2012) and destroyed people’s homes killing occupants (the case of Salman Al Taitoon and his family, Sanabis 1996). In all these cases no formal investigation had been conducted.
The human rights world has reacted with fury to the realisation that Bahrain’s dictator has the absolute power of ordering the detention or release of native Bahrainis. The rule of law has totally disappeared and replaced by the personal dictatorship of Hamad Alkhalifa who rules the country with royal decrees. On Monday night he issued a decree to release Nabeel Rajab, the most-respected human rights activist whose repeated arrest on royal orders has angered international human rights bodies. Two weeks ago the European Parliament issued a resolution calling for the release of all political prisoners including Nabeel Rajab. There were hidden threats of military and political sanctions if he did not heed the calls to release prisoners. Mr Rajab’s release is seen as a result of several developments in addition to the European Parliament’s call. The Saudi/Alkhalifa aggression on Yemen is turning into a military and political fiasco for the two regimes. Then came the his toric Nuclear agreement between Iran and the six major world powers. With the Bahrain’s Revolution continuing unabated, the regime is gradually being squeezed into submission and gradual disrespect even among its supporters in Washington and London. In the first demand of its Resolution the European Parliament “Calls for the dropping of charges and immediate and unconditional release of all human rights defenders, political activists and other individuals detained and charged with alleged violations related to the rights of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including Nabeel Rajab, Sheikh Ali Salman and the ‘Bahrain 13”
Anger is also amounting following the re-arrest of Ibrahim Sharif whose arrest last week has convinced the Europeans that Bahrain’s dictator is bluffing. Mr Sharif’s release last month was used by Washington to announce the resumption of arms to Alkhalifa regime which is notorious for its “systematic torture”. His re-arrest followed a speech to a group of activists insisting that the revolution was continuing and that the political demands of the people would not be abandoned by the opposition. These assertions were presented by the regime’s system of deception as “a plot to overthrow the regime by force”. Today Amnesty International issued a Public Statement calling on the Bahraini authorities to release political activist Ebrahim Sharif and end his ongoing prosecution on charges brought solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression following a speech he gave last Friday. It added: “The re-arrest of Ebrah im Sharif and the continuing imprisonment and prosecution of peaceful critics and leaders of the political opposition indicates that the Bahraini government intends to continue to silence dissident voices. The authorities must start by releasing all prisoners of conscience who have been imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to show they are serious about reform.”
Meanwhile the spate of arrests and torture has continued. Yesterday Hussain Jaffar from Saar Town was arrested at one of the shopping malls. On Monday 13th July under-aged Bahraini boy was arrested. Jassim Mohammad Jassim was taken from the airport to one of the torture houses. His fate is not yet known. A bright student who achieved 99 percent in this year’s Secondary School exams was arrested on 10th July. Mustafa Mohammad Ali Isma’il , 18 was taken to the torture houses instead of being honoured with a grant to pursue his studies.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
15th July 2015
A wave of protests has emerged against the Saudi authorities following the confirmation of an earlier sentence to flog Ra’if Badawi 1000 lashes for criticizing the regime. The Swedish foreign minister has said she stands by her denunciation of a Saudi blogger’s flogging as medieval, three months after her criticism of the Gulf kingdom’s human rights record ignited a diplomatic crisis and infuriated business leaders fearful for trade losses. Speaking on Monday, a day after it emerged that Saudi Arabia’s highest court had upheld Badawi’s punishment, Margot Wallström said she was unrepentant and said again that the flogging amounted to medieval methods. “I would not have done things differently,” Wallström told the Guardian “No, I do not regret the medieval remark; we have not excused ourselves. But we have explained that this was not an attack on Islam.” Campaigners have called for a radical shift in Britain’s relati onship with Saudi Arabia. Andrew Smith of CAAT said: “The human rights situation in Saudi Arabia is dire. The fact that it is also the world’s largest buyer of UK weapons is a sign of the real hypocrisy at the heart of UK foreign policy.” A Foreign Office spokeswoman said on Monday: “We are extremely concerned that Raif Badawi’s sentence has been upheld … We have raised his case at the most senior levels in the government of Saudi Arabia and will continue to do so.”
By Bahrain Freedom Movement
Another terrorist attack was launched on the Shia Muslim Friday worshippers at Dammam in the Eastern Province of Arabia. On Friday 29th May, a suicide bomber in women’s clothing approached Imam Hussain Mosque with intention to bomb the women worshippers. Luckily the mosque management had already taken decision to stop women praying at mosques to pre-empt would be suicide bombers. The terrorist was stopped by one of the volunteering guards but the terrorist triggered his explosive vest killing himself and four of the volunteering guards. It was the second attack in a week; the previous one had been carried out on worshippers at Imam Ali’s mosque at Al Qadeeh, killing 22 worshippers. The volunteering guards shouted at the an official policeman who was posted to “guard” the mosque but he refused to stop the terrorist. Locals have now vowed to defend themselves against attacks by the Wahhabi-salafist groups, groomed and financed by the AlSaud regime.
Following the absence of Bahrain’s dictator from the Camp David summit last week, US Congress is putting Bahrain on notice that it needs to get serious about political reforms if it doesn’t want to see 5,000 US sailors and Marines take their business elsewhere. The House last week passed an annual defence bill that requires the Department of Defence to plan for a potential relocation of the US 5th Fleet if political tensions persist. Lawmakers made clear the provision was aimed squarely at putting pressure on the Alkhalifa monarchy to respond to what they consider to be legitimate grievances of the majority Shiite population. “The reason that we have to do some planning now for that contingency is exactly because of the Bahraini monarchy’s failure to address the concerns of the people,” the sponsor of the provision, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., told Al-Monitor. “If they choose not to address those concerns or do so in a heavy-handed way and somehow th ings end up getting worse there, then we may be forced to have to leave. And I don’t think any American policymaker wants to see that happen.”
Concern is growing for the health of Dr Abdul Jalil AlSingace after two almost two months on hunger strike in protest at the torture inflicted on hundreds of detainees of the notorious Jaw Prison. He was subjected to enormous psychological and physical pressure for defending the victims who were subjected to one of the worst episodes of systematic state terrorism. He has now been transferred to the military hospital after sustaining damage to his internal organs including his heart. He is severely disabled and has been using crutches since childhood. He was arrested among the Bahrain 13; the leadership of the Revolution.
The heavy-handed policy of Alkhalifa regime has continued. This morning Abbas Hassan has been arrested in dawn raid on his home in Barbar Town. Yesterday, four native students were detained at the airport upon their return from their studies in India. Adel Ahmad Al Taitoon, Fadhel Mahmood Rajab, Hussain Mohammad Ibrahim and Mahmood Jassim Ni’ma were taken to unknown destination and fear is growing that they may be subjected to torture. Hussain Rajab, the brother of Fadhel Rajab was also arrested.
On Sunday 17th May Mohammad Abdul Amir Thamer from Dar Kulaib was arrested from his work place and taken to one of the secret torture houses. From Daih Town Hussain Abdulla Fadhel was arrested on Sunday from his sister’s house at Maqsha’ Town. His parents home was also raided with ferocity and shamelessness. On 15th May, four young men from Dar Kulaib were detained: Abdulla Abbase, Mohammad Ali Al Arab, Salman Ibrahim and Abdulla Mohammad. From Nu’aim under-aged Qassim Amin was snatched from his home. From Arad Town, Mahmood Jassim was arrested from his friends house. Abdulla Nasser Mohammad was detained in a raid on his home in Demstan Town. Ayyoub Adel from Muharraq was snatched from a house in Malikiya. Is it now almost three weeks since Yasser Ahmad Al Amriki was arrested with no news or family visit. For the sixth time, Jalila Sayed Amin, had her detention extended by 15 more days for taking part in anti-regime activities.
The Alkhalifa decision to jail Nabeel Rajab, the world-renowned human rights activist for six months has angered the World’s human rights bodies. On 14th February Amnesty International said: “Today’s verdict shows once again that Bahrain is brazenly flouting its international obligations. Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced solely for peacefully expressing his opinion, the Bahraini authorities must release him immediately and unconditionally, and ensure his conviction is quashed,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. The US Under-Secretary of State for Human Rights, Democracy and Labour has rejected this sentence on his twitter account: Thomas Malinowski said: Disappointed by Nabeel Rajab’s denial of appeal. No one wanywhere should be jailed for peacefully expressing their opinion”.
Today, Alkhalifa kangaroo court trying the Secretary General of AlWefaq Society, once again, adjourned issuing its verdict until 16th June. Defence lawyers have not been allowed to present their defence to the court. The “judge” refused to allow Sheikh Ali Salman to speak in defence of himself.
The Gulf region expert for Human Rights First, Brian Dooley has said that a research by his organisation has reached the conclusion that true stability in the Gulf region can only be reached through democratic reforms that allow for peaceful dissent. As civil society disappears, so too does the moderate opposition, which is quickly supplanted by extremism. As Obama discusses security concerns with his Gulf allies, he would do well to tell them that the biggest security threat to both the US and the Gulf is their own repression.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
20th May 2015
The Saudis have lost their war on Yemen, militarily, morally and politically. Yet they continue to bomb the remains of their earlier bombings. On Monday 4th May The United Nations condemned the Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes on Yemen's Sanaa airport on Monday, saying it hindered the travel of humanitarian aid workers. "No flights can take off or land while the runways are being repaired," the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Johannes Van Der Klaauw, said in a statement. "I strongly urge the coalition to stop targeting Sanaa international airport and to preserve this important lifeline - and all other airports and seaports - so that humanitarians can reach all those affected by the armed conflict in Yemen." On Monday 4th Mary residents of The Eastern Province buried Martyr Abdullah Al Ramadhan. He was killed two weeks ago by regime’s forces who attacked a group of young men preparing to watch car race outside their town of Taroot in Qatif Prov ince.
The Alkhalifa, on their part, have extended the detention of Nabeel Rajab for two more weeks until 14th May in revenge for his tweets against their intensive campaign of torture at Jaw Prison. On that day President Obama will meet the GCC leaders in Washington. Appeal letters have been sent urging him to discuss human rights and democracy in their countries and to demand the release of the Bahrain 13, Nabeel Rajab, Sheikh Ali Salman and other prisoners of conscience. The appeals were made despite the fact that the US is the main supporter of Arab dictators especially the Saudis and Alkhalifa. Hussain Abdullah, of ADHRB wrote a personal letter to Mr Obama urging him to take up the case of Nabeel Rajab with the Alkhalifa dictators attending that meeting.
On 30th April 68 Members of The European Parliament signed a letter to Federica Mogherini,E the Head of the European External Action Service urging her to take action against the Bahraini regime: The letter says: We are writing to you to express our deep concern over continuing human rights violations in Bahrain, and namely the repeated arrests of Nabeel Rajab, prominent human rights defender and President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR). Mr. Rajab was recently arrested on April 2nd for "disseminating false or malicious news, statements or rumours in time of war” and for "insulting a statutory body.” We demand that strong and urgent action is taken by the EU to pressure the Bahraini government for his immediate and unconditional release, and revocation of his travel ban. Likewise the Bahraini government must release all political prisoners and cease all human rights violations.
On 5th May regime’s forces snatched a native under-aged Bahraini boy, Hassan Hamid Al Rayes in a raid on a swimming pool at Barbar Town. From Sanad Town three people were detained in house raids. They are Hussain Najeh, Mohammed Majeed and Hussain Ali Hassan. On 30th April ten people were arrested from Aali Town: Sheikh Mohammad Khalil Naysar, Sayed Ibrahim AlGhuraifi, Ali Shamtoot, Mahmood Ahmad, Jaffar AlAmm, Ali Saleh AlJamri, Kumail AlAdraj, Mortadha AlAali, Ali Hussain AlAmm and Ali Abdul Rahim AlAmm.
In its 2015 Annual Report, Freedom House has downgraded Bahrain in the democracy and human rights scale. Bahrain’s political rights rating declined from 6 to 7 due to grave flaws in the 2014 legislative elections and the government’s unwillingness to address long-standing grievances among the majority Shiite community about the drawing of electoral districts and the possibility of fair representation.
On Saturday 2nd May, The Independent published an article titled: “Dissidents’ fury at Hammond’s 'secret' Bahrain visit” in which it said: Bahraini dissidents, human rights activists and Labour have condemned Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond for secretly visiting the repressive Gulf state’s leaders on the same day that Bahrain extended the detention of its most prominent critic.” It further added: “While Mr Hammond exchanged pleasantries with Prince Salman al-Khalifa, Nabeel Rajab was remanded in custody for a further two weeks on charges of spreading “false news” on Twitter.”
On 29th April the Alkhalifa regime sentenced 12 native Bahrainis from El Ekr Town for their anti-regime activities. Salman Isa was sentenced to death for the false accusation of participating in the killing of one of the mercenaries. Seven were given life sentences; Ali Makki, Isa Moosa, Abdulla Abdul Jalil, Abdul Hadi Ali Hassan, Yousuf Abdulla Al Nata’ei, Abdul Amir Hassan Radhi and Hassan Abdulla Batti. Four were given ten years jail sentence: Jaffar Yousuf Jassim, Jaffar Abdul Amir Jaffar, Hussain Abdul Latif Mansoor and Hassan Ahmad Sharaf.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
The Saudi aggression on Yemen has come to a virtual standstill, with international indignation mounting and calls for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire persisting. The Pakistani refusal to send troops to defend Al Saud has frustrated Riyadh and pushed it into a corner. Military defeat is looming. Bahrainis have continued their protests against the Saudi-Alkhalifa aggression with daily demonstrations, statements and prayers for the Yemeni victims. The regime’s reaction has been to adopt sheer criminality, arresting and abusing anyone declaring a stand against this aggression. The extent of torture of Bahraini natives in the past month has reached unprecedented levels. The Alkhalifa are implementing a policy of “torture to the brink of death, but avoid death”. Stories of horror especially in the dungeons and corridors of Jaw Prison have left many families heart-broken. Young people like Abbas Al Sami’ had their teeth broken, while others had water hoses f orced into their thighs. For the Alkhalifa, it is time for revenge that justifies any cruel treatment.
As the Formula 1 car race gets underway, native Bahrainis have rejected it calling it “Blood race”, as it has become one of the propaganda tools of a torturous regime. Protests marched in tens of towns and villages for several days; braving the chemical and tear gases used by regime’s mercenary forces. Many people were injured or arrested as a result. Meanwhile questions are being asked about the deal reached between ADHRB (American for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain) and Formula 1 management with regards to human rights in the countries where the races are held. ADHRB’s successful mediation of a complaint to the UK’s National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises—concerning Formula One Management’s lack of due diligence considerations regarding possible human rights impact in Bahrain—Formula One has committed itself to respecting human rights in Bahrain and other countries in which it conducts business. This week’s race must be cancelled unless those who had been jailed in relation to their protest against holding the race in Bahrain are released. Among them is the two women: Nafisa Al Asfoor and Rayhana Al Mousawi.
In a ground-breaking move the internationally renowned human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab sent a letter from his prison cell to President Obama urging him to take the issue of human rights and democracy seriously when he meets GCC leaders this week. After describing how he had spent 28 of the past 36 months in regime’s torture cells he urged Mr Obama to present the following to the GCC leaders: The immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners; An end to the criminalization of free speech and expression, including any laws against criticism of government institutions or defamation of a king; The cessation of all acts of torture and reprisal in GCC detention centers; and The protection of free and open civil society space capable of fostering long-term stability and growth in the region. Mr Rajab ended his letter saying: The citizens of Bahrain and her neighbors have extraordinary potential. With unshackled voices, we can build stability and challenge extremism . What we need today is space for tolerance, plurality, and honest dialogue, the foundations of a democratic process that the reprisals against me and my colleagues seek to undermine.
In the week from 6- 12th April at least 20 native Bahrainis were arrested including three children and a woman. Yesterday Mohammad Abdul Hussain from Bilad Al Qadeem was snatched by masked members of Death Squads. From Demstan town, Isa Kamel Mansoor was detained in a dawn raid on his home. From Karzakkan two young native Bahrainis were detained at a checkpoint; Fadhel Hassan Al Madhoon and Ali Ibrahim Ashoor. From Duraz, Hassan Abdul EthnaAshar was arrested in a house raid.
Brian Dooley, Director, Human Rights First's Human Rights Defenders Program, wrote an article titled: “Bahrain's Prison Crisis Deepens”. After describing the current prison crisis he said: "Many of the problems in Jaw stem from the growing population of prisoners who shouldn't be there -- political prisoners jailed for expressing their views peacefully." That's still the case. Added to that powerful sense of injustice are several other ingredients guaranteed to provoke unrest in jails: hundreds of young men serving very long sentences, a lack of adequate medical care, poor food, and chronic overcrowding (that last point conceded by the government in a September 2013 report that noted that, at that time, Jaw Prison held 1,608 prisoners, well beyond its capacity of 1,201). Many younger prisoners may feel they have nothing to lose by refusing to cooperate with the prison authorities and are likely to riot again and again. If Bahrain wants to fix its prison pr oblem properly, it will stop trying to hide the truth about what's happened, improve conditions, and release all those prisoners who shouldn't be in jail in the first place.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
14 April 2015
(www.vob.org, email: email@example.com)
Date: Friday 13 February – 6-9pm
Saturday 14 February - 10-5pm
Venue: School of African & Oriental Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Four years after uprisings swept the Middle East millions of people still struggle for freedom and social justice. In 2011 dictators fell and new movements emerged in countries from North Africa to the Gulf. Their demands won support worldwide and inspired a host of campaigns for radical change. Challenged by the prospect of democracy, regimes have since attempted counter-revolution. Some have used extreme violence; some have encouraged sectarian division or attempted to co-opt and control organisations of the mass movement. Activists across the Middle East nonetheless continue to work for change. This conference addresses achievements of the revolutions and the challenges that now confront them:
- what can we learn about struggles from below and the responses of the state?
- have attempts at counter-revolution been successful?
- how are activist networks sustained – and how can we support them?
The conference will draw on experiences in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Morocco – and other countries in which activists have attempted to launch movements for change. It will consider the centrality of Palestine for movements across the region – and the impact of the uprisings within Palestine. Speakers will include activists from the front line, with assessments from academics, human rights experts and media analysts.
Bahrain speakers include: Bahrain Watch members John Horne, Ali Abdulemam & Ala’a Shehabi and the co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Maryam Al-Khawaja Other speakers: Gilbert Achcar – Anne Alexander – Miriyam Aouragh – Sherif Azer – Mohamed Boutayeb – Joseph Daher – Kamil Mahdi – Nadine Marroushi – Sameh Naguib and others.
Opening session (6-9pm, Friday 13 February) will be a screening of the documentary ‘We are the Giant’ plus panel discussion with Maryam al-Khawaja and others.
We look forward to meeting you at SOAS!
In a bizarre development, Bahraini natives whose nationality had been revoked have been informed that their bank accounts had been frozen on orders of Bahrain’s Central Bank. This is another measure against the natives for opposing Alkhalifa regime and harsh warning for the rest of Bahrainis to avoid taking anti-regime stands. The Alkhalifa clan has been adopting a policy of ethnic cleansing through various methods including political naturalization of foreigners and forfeiting nationality of native Bahrainis.
As the reactions to the unlawful detention of Sheikh Ali Salman, the Secretary General of AlWefaq continue, the public have realized the seriousness of the war being waged by the Alkhalifa ruling clan against native Bahrainis. The country has erupted in mass protests day and night. Many protesters have been injured or detained. The dictator has now ordered the detention of Sheikh Ali Salman for two more weeks.
The attacks on native Bahrainis have escalated in response to the increase in popular activism. In the past week alone, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) documented 89 arbitrary arrests including one woman and several children. Mohammad Mahdi Al Ekri, from Daih was arrested on Monday 5th January. He is a member of Al Wefaq’s Shura Council. Another Al Wefaq member, Fakhri Abdulla, 42, from Sanabis, was also detained. On 4th January, four members of the family of Yousuf Al Mahafdha, the senior official of BCHR were snatched from their car. They include his uncle, Hussain Jaffar and three of his children; Hamad, Ali and Amjad.
Concern is mounting for the child, Ahmad Huwaida from Manama, who was arrested few days ago. Nothing has been heard of him since. On 3rd January Ali Mohammad Jawad, 15, from Nuwaidrat was snatched by plain-clothed members of Death Squads for taking part in peaceful demonstration. From Al Ekr, Salman Isa was arrested and tortured severely during the arrest. From Ma’amir, Fadhel Jaffar Mohammad Madan Al Taif was arrested in a raid on his house. Three brothers from the same town were also arrested when their home was raided; Abbas Ali Habib and his two brothers; Hussain and Ahmad were snatched by members of Death Squads.
The situation inside prisons is rapidly deteriorating as punishment for native Bahrainis. There have been several hunger strikes by inmates. Qassim Hamada has now finished one week on hunger strike for lack of medical care to his serious illness. Nafisa Al Asfoor, who was detained in relation to protest at Formula 1 circuit nearly two years ago, has also spent one week so far on hunger strike in protest at ill-treatment and denial of medicine.
On 31st December Alkhalifa court sentenced a human rights activist to jail term for “participating in unauthorized protest”. Mohammad Al Maskati, a prominent human rights defender was given six months jail sentence in a case brought against him by the regime’s agencies in October 2012. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights has called for his immediate and unconditional release.
On 5th January Al Wasat newspaper published an article about the political judiciary and the cases it dealt with in 2014. It said that 220 judgments were passed in cases linked to security by all courts. The most significant of these judgments produced death penalties, nationality revocation, and other lengthy jail sentences. On 19th February an Alkhalifa court issued death sentence against one native Bahraini. On 31st August the Appeal court upheld the death sentence of Maher Al Khabbaz. On 29th December it sentenced two native Bahrainis to death allegedly for their role in killing one of the mercenaries. On 6th August Alkhalifa court decided to revoke the nationality of nine native Bahrainis for allegedly forming a terrorist network. On 29th September the court sentenced nine to life imprisonment and the revocation of their nationality. On 20th November three native Bahrainis from Al Ekir had their nationality revoked.
Alkhalifa courts also passed life sentences against 18 native Bahrainis. On 16th June, one court upheld an earlier judgment to dissolve the Islamic Scholars Council and upheld the sentences against Maryam Al Khawaja, Zainab Al Khawaja, Nafisa Al Asfoor and Raihana Al Mousawi.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
7th January 2015
Bahrain: Major protests after arrest of AlWefaq leader; Saudi monarch hospitalised as women drivers tried
The Secretary General of Al Wefaq Society was arrested on Monday 29th December and remanded in custody for one week. He had been summoned by the Alkhalifa torturers and questioned for two days before the dictator decided to exact revenge from him by detaining him for one week. Sheikh Salman is known for his soft language and tone, and has steered Al Wefaq within the Alkhalifa laws. But the tyrant has been enraged by the decision of the political societies led by Al Wefaq to boycott the regime’s hollow elections in November. It was a strong slap on his face because it showed the lack of popular support or legitimacy to his rule. The Alkhalifa and their Saudi and British backers had hoped that those elections would provide a plausible exit from the political crisis that has engulfed the country since the eruption of the 14th February Revolution.
There have been angry reactions to the decision to detain Sheikh Ali Salman. The European Union called for respecting the rule of law with Sheikh Salman while the UN human Rights Commission has called for his immediate and unconditional release. It said in a statement: We are seriously concerned at the arrest of Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of Bahrain’s main opposition movement, Al Wefaq, as well as the continuing harassment and imprisonment of individuals exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the country. It further added: We urge the Government of Bahrain to immediately release Sheikh Salman, as well as all other persons convicted or detained for merely exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
The Saudi king, Abdulla ibn Abdul Aziz, 91, has been transferred to hospital suffering from undisclosed ailment. The world is watching the internal situation of the ageing kingdom whose Al Saud leaders have not only failed to reform their political system but have acted decisively against the Arab Spring and caused it to collapse. Two Saudi women are being tried for driving their cars, which is against the Saudi laws. Women driving is treated with similar severity as terrorism.
Inside the country, there has been marked escalation of protests by the people who were angered by the continued policy of revenge and the illegal use of the state’s apparatus against the native Bahrainis. Shotguns were used extensively and several serious injuries were reported. Protests engulfed most of the towns and villages inhabited by the native Baharna who have been mercilessly targeted by the Alkhalifa tribal regime since occupying the islands in 1783. The British have always defended them against people’s revolts.
On Monday 29th December, Maitham Al Salatneh from Sanabis was detained and taken to the torture chambers of the CID. A 12- years old child was abducted by masked members of Death Squads. Hani Ma’tooq Al Sanadi was snatched from Markoban area of Sitra. Hussain Mohammed Ali and Sayed Salman Mahdi were arrested after their homes were raided in Buri at dawn on Friday 26thDecember. Mohammad Abdul Karim Al Khatam was abducted from the Bahrain-Saudi causeway on 26th December. Yesterday Hussain Shakir was detained in a raid on his house in Manama. Two brothers from Manama were also detained in the same way yesterday: Firas Al Hawwaj and his brother, Hussain.
On Monday 29th December Alkhalifa court sentenced two native Bahrainis to death and handed a third a life sentence on charges related to alleged killing of a mercenary. Mohammad Ramadhan and Hussain Ali Moosa have now joined a long list of native Bahrainis on the death row after Alkhalifa dictators decided to exterminate the native Baharna inhabitants. Seven others were sentenced to jail terms. Six were given life in jail: Hassan Al Sanabsi, Waheeb Abdulla, Hakkem Al Ashiri, Mustafa Ahmad, Mohammad Yousuf Hassan and Mohammad Ahmad Abdulla. The seventh person, Isa Abdulla Rabi’ was sentenced to six years behind bars. Today ten young men from Aali Town were sentenced to five years imprisonment for taking part in anti-regime protests. Two other people were also given jail terms. Sayed Hussain Sayed Abbas has been given seven years and Qassim Hassan three years. Several young men from Duraz Town were given ten years jail terms for allegedly taking part in burning police car c arrying mercenaries who attacked the town. Yesterday five native Bahrainis from Tubli Town were sentenced to two years jail for taking part in peaceful anti-regime protests.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
31st December 2014
The undersigned more than 100 organisations call for the immediate, unconditional release of detained human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, arrested on 1 October 2014 in Bahrain.
Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), was summoned on 1 October 2014 to attend an investigation at the Criminal Investigation Directorate, specifically the General Directorate of Anti-corruption and Economic and Electronic Security. The investigation session lasted about 45 minutes and focused on two tweets that the authorities claim have offended the Ministry of Interior.
One tweet, from 28 September 2014, said: “many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS have come from the security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator.”
Rajab was detained until the following day when the public prosecution ordered his detention be extended for seven days pending investigation. On 9 October, no hearing took place and his case was instead transferred to the Lower Criminal Court for a hearing on 19 October, thus extending his detention a further ten days. It should be noted that he is no longer under pre-trial detention as he has now been charged. In addition, a new complaint was filed by the Bahraini Defense Forces in relation to the same tweet about ISIS. The BDF claims it was insulting to both security and military institutions of Bahrain.
It’s feared that the government of Bahrain may try to imprison Rajab for a long time. Under Article 216 of the Bahraini Penal Code, this crime is punishable with up to three years in prison. Article 216 provides that: “A person shall be liable for imprisonment or payment of a fine if he offends by any method of expression the National Assembly, or other constitutional institutions, the army, law courts, authorities or government agencies.”
Rajab was imprisoned several times in the past few years. On 9 July 2012, the 5th Lower Criminal Court sentenced him to three months in prison, in a case that is linked to six tweets he posted on 2 June 2012. He had served almost the full sentence before that convictionwas overturnedon 23 August 2012. However, on 16 August 2012, the Lower Criminal Court also sentenced Rajab to three years’ imprisonment for “participation in illegal gatherings and calling for a march without prior notification.” That sentence was reduced on 11 December 2012 to two years, and he was released on 24 May 2014.
During his previous imprisonment, Rajab has been subject to discrimination and ill-treatment in prison, including being placed in solitary confinement with a dead animal, being isolated from other political detainees for his entire detention period and being prevented from contacting his family on occasion, including after he reported violations that he had witnessed in prison. He was not permitted to see his family on the Eid this past week.
The undersigned organisations consider the detention of Rajab since 1 October to be a clear act of discrimination. Last month, anothercitizenwas accused of a crime under the same article of the law, "offending the army"; however while that person was released within 24 hours, Rajab was denied release, presumably due to his reputation as a well-known human rights defender with a lot of influence on twitter, both locally and internationally.
We believe strongly that Nabeel Rajab has been targeted solely due to his peaceful and legitimate human rights work and in particular his recent successful missions to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the European Union in Brussels. He is being detained for merely exercising his rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The undersigned over 100 organisations call for:
- The immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab and all other human rights defenders who have been detained in Bahrain solely as a result of their legitimate human rights work;
- The Bahrain authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Nabeel Rajab;
- The Bahrain authorities to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
We further urge the UN, US administration, the UK government, as well as other governments that have influence in Bahrain, the EU and leading human rights organizations to put real pressure on the government of Bahrain in order to immediately stop the judicial harassment of human rights defenders; drop all charges against them and release all detained human rights defenders and political prisoners, including Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, founder of BCHR and GCHR, and Naji Fateel of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.
- Activist Organization For Development And Human Rights, Yemen
- Agencia EFE, Spain
- Albadeal centre for studies and research, Jordan
- Alkarama, Switzerland
- All Youth Organization, Yemen
- AMAL Human Development Network, Pakistan
- AMAN Network for Rehabilitation and Defending Human Rights
- Amel Association, Lebanon
- Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
- Arab Digital Expression, Egypt
- Arab Institute For Human Rights, Lebanon
- Arab Lawyers Union, Egypt
- Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
- Article 19, Bahrain
- Association Dea Dia Serbia
- Association de la Réinsertion des Prisonniers et le Suivi des Conditions des Prisons, Tunisia
- Association Tunisienne de Defense des Droits de L'Enfant, Tunisia
- Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) Network
- Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
- Bahrain Human Rights Society
- Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO)
- Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
- Bahrain Interfaith
- Bahrain Rehabilitation & Anti Violence Organisation (BRAVO)
- Bahrain Salam for Human Rights
- Bahrain Transparency
- Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
- BRAC, Bangladesh
- Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
- CARAM-Asia, Malaysia
- Caritas Migrant Center, Lebanon
- Center for Transitional Justice, Tunisia
- CIVICUS, South Africa
- Coalition of Tunisian Women
- Community Development Services (CDS), Sri Lanka
- Defending Justice and Rights, USA
- Dewany Civil Office of Ombudsman, USA
- Egyptian Organization For Human Rights (EOHR)
- English PEN
- European Saudi Organizations for Human Rights, Germany
- European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR)
- Filastiniyat, Palestine
- Fondation Chokri Belaid Contre la Violence, Tunisia
- Forum des Alternatives Maroc, Morocco
- Fraternity Center for Democracy and Civil Society
- Freedom House
- Front Line Defenders
- Gesr Center for Development (GESR)
- Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR)
- Human Right Information And Training Centre, Yemen
- Human Rights and the Ahwazi Arabs, UK
- Human Rights Information And Training Centre, Lebanon
- Humanitarian Rights Center, Yemen
- Independent Commission for Citizens Rights, Palestine
- Index on Censorship
- International Awareness Youth Club, Egypt
- International centre for supporting rights and freedom, Egypt
- International Civil Society Network
- International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
- International Media Support (IMS), Denmark
- International Press Institute (IPI)
- International Service for Human Rights
- INTERSOS, Italy
- Islamic Non Violence Organization, USA
- Jordanian Commission for Democratic Culture
- Justice for Iran (JFI),UK
- Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, Lebanon
- Kuwait Institute For Human Rights
- Kuwait Society For Human Rights
- Lawyer's Rights Watch Canada (LRWC)
- Ligue algerienne pour la defense des droits de l'homme (LADDH), Algeria
- Ligue Tunisienne pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme (LTDH), section Sfax sud, Tunisia
- Lualua centre for human rights (LCHR), Lebanon
- Maharat Foundation, Lebanon
- Martin Ennals Award, Switzerland
- MENA monitoring group, Tunisia
- Monitoring of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
- Network of Algerian Human Rights Lawyers
- New Bakkah Foundation, Switzerland
- Nidal Tagheer Organization for Defending Rights, Yemen
- No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), Italy
- Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT), Italy
- Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), Norway
- Organisation marocaine des droits humains, Morroco
- Palestinian Institute for Human Rights
- Peace Mission of the International Council for Human Rights, Yemen
- PEN International
- Rafto Foundation, Norway
- Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), France
- Réseau des avocats algérien pour défendre les droits de l'homme, Algeria
- RO'YA Association for a Better Syria, France
- Shia Rights Watch, USA
- Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA)
- Syrian Center for Democracy and Civil Rights
- Syrian Nonviolence Movement
- Tunisian Initiative for Freedom of Expression
- Tunisian National Council for Liberties (CNLT)
- Un ponte per, Italy
100.Volunteers Without borders, Lebanon
101.Women Research and Training Centre
102.World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
103.Youth for Humanity, Egypt
104.Youth Transparency & Building, Yemen
And the family of Nabeel Rajab:
Sumaya, Adam and Malek Rajab
In a landmark ruling the High Court in London yesterday ruled that Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa did not have immunity from prosecution in a case against him involving allegations of torture. After two year court battle, the UK’s Director of Public Prosecution has accepted that Nasser is not immune from Prosecution. Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Cranston granted a declaration confirming this decision at a divisional court hearing in London’s High Court yesterday. This decision opens the door to an investigation by the metropolitan police War Crimes Team SO15 into allegations that the prince was involved in the torture of political prisoners, and a possible prosecution. The ruling received wide coverage by UK’s main stream media including the BBC, Reuters, the Press Association and others.
Last night a Press Conference was held at The Garden Court Chambers at the heart of the UK’s legal district, to highlight the significance of the case. The title was: “Bahrain, universal jurisdiction and state immunity: What are the implications of the case of FF v DPP (ECCHR intervening) after the final hearing on 7/10/14”. It was chaired by Sue Willman of Deighton Pierce Glynn and addressed by Tom Hickamn, barrister Blackstone Chambers, Stephen Knafler QC, Member of ECCHR’s legal team, Redress: Kevin Laue, Legal Advisor of Redress, Daniel Machover, solicitor Hickman Rose on broader universal jurisdiction issues and Dr Saeed Shehabi of the Bahrain Freedom Movement.
A new report has revealed that Bahrain spends $95 million a year in its crackdown on the country’s pro-democracy protesters. Arabic newspaper Al-Maidan said the regime in Bahrain has hired 21,000 security personnel, which includes Pakistani expats. Bahrain has also spent over $2.5 billion on buying arms since the protests against the Al Khalifa royal family began three years ago.
Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action about a Bahraini youth who had been sentenced to death by Alkhalifa regime. It said: A Bahraini man under sentence of death has lodged his final appeal and could be at risk of execution. He was sentenced to death in February 2014 and lost his first appeal in August. Death row prisoner Maher Abbas Ahmad (also known as Maher al-Khabbaz) is waiting for a decision from the Court of Cassation to know whether he is to be executed. Amnesty International has called on the regime to acknowledge its responsibility to protect the public and bring to justice those who commit crimes. But insist that this should always be done in accordance with international law and Bahrain’s international human rights obligations, and order a retrial where no evidence obtained under torture is used in court and urge the ruler to commute the death sentence imposed on Maher Abbas Ahmad immediately.
Amnesty International has also issued an Urgent Action on the case of Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights for tweeting anti-regime criticism. It said: Amnesty International has reviewed Nabeel Rajab’s statements on Twitter and considers him a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully expressing his opinion. He is being investigated under Article 216 of Bahrain’s Penal Code, which criminalizes those who “offend by any method of expression the National Assembly, or other constitutional institutions, the army, law courts, authorities or government agencies”. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison. It called on the regime to release Nabeel Rajab immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, to uphold the right to freedom of expression and repeal laws that criminalize the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedo m of expression, association and assembly including Article 216 of the Penal Code.
Under the title “Wave of arbitrary arrests of dissident information providers” Reporters Without Borders issued a statement on 2nd October condemning Bahrain’s crackdown on civil liberties. It said: “Freelance journalist, blogger and activist Ahmed Radhi was freed on 29 September after being held arbitrarily for four days but the Bahraini authorities struck again on 1 October, arresting leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab for allegedly insulting the government security forces in tweets two days before.” Reporters Without Borders condemns this systematic persecution of human right defenders and the renewed deterioration in the climate for freedom of information in Bahrain. Bahrain is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
8th October 2014
On 1 October 2014, human rights defender and Co-Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) Maryam Al-Khawaja will appear before the High Criminal Court on trumped up charges relating to an alleged assault on a lieutenant and policewoman at the Bahrain International Airport. Read Maryam Al-Khawaja’s testimony below.
Al-Khawaja travelled to Bahrain on 30 August 2014 to visit her father, leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who was on hunger strike for a month in the infamous Jaw prison. Maryam Al-Khawaja was stopped and held at the airport as soon as she got off the plane.
Al-Khawaja describes how she was taken into a room in the airport after the lieutenant lied to her guaranteeing that she would not be mistreated. She says that ‘Within seconds Lieutenant Hayat jammed her knee above my right hip and grabbed my right arm.... [and] she started screaming at the three others [policewomen] to attack me and take my phone ... [including the policewoman] who later filed an assault case against me.’
Despite the fact that Maryam Al-Khawaja did not respond to this use of force the four police women attacked and assaulted her, she tells how ‘Lieutenant Hayat Yanked my right arm several times very roughly which I later on found out caused a tear in my shoulder muscle. When it was over, I was pretty roughed up and in pain all over; I had severe pain in my injured knee, right shoulder, neck, above my left hip and right leg where I had skid marks from their shoes.’
After the assault Maryam Al-Khawaja was detained until 18 September 2014, when she was released from prison pending her trial and a travel ban was imposed on her. For further information please see GCHR appeal dated 18 September 2014 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/750).
Maryam Al-Khawaja is a non-violent human rights defender who is known for courageously promoting human rights through the use of peaceful means. The GCHR believes that the charge of assaulting a police officer is totally fabricated and is solely linked to her human rights activities in defence of people's rights in Bahrain. Al-Khawaja’s lawyer informed the GCHR that due to the unprecedented move of changing Maryam Al-Khawaja’s case from Lower Court to Higher Court, she now faces a sentence between three to seven years in prison.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters;” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
Co-Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights
I arrived at Bahrain airport on Turkish airlines from Istanbul to Bahrain on the 30th of August 2014 and the time was approximately 1am in the morning. As soon as I got off the flight there were two police women in uniform and two men, one of them in a police uniform the other one in a white uniform, who I later found out was a passport control officer, right at the exit of the plane.
I walked past them. I heard them say "excuse me" but I kept walking. When they said Maryam Al- Khawaja I answered yes and it was the man in the white suit who was speaking to me. As soon as I had gotten off the plane and as soon as our conversation started there was another man in civilian clothing who was videotaping everything that was being said; I later came to know that his name is Salman Mohammed Mahmood. The passport control officer told me that my Bahraini citizenship had been revoked and that I was no longer welcome in Bahrain.
I asked him on what basis had my citizenship been revoked to which he responded that he was informing me that it has been revoked and that was all that mattered.
I told him that I could not take his word for it and that I want to see an official paper or document that said that my citizenship has been revoked. They asked me to turn around and get back on the flight and I refused and said I am starting a hunger strike as of right now until you allow me into the country as I am here to see my father, to visit my family and because I have a right to enter the country as I am a Bahraini citizen.
After that they escorted me to the security area for transit flights. As I sat there they were talking to me, there were different security people coming and going. The officer in the white uniform again told me that my citizenship has been revoked and I told him that I know the Bahraini law and I know that if my citizenship was revoked then there would have to be a royal decree announcing it as well as having the decision published in the local newspaper and none of that had happened and thus there was no way that my citizenship had been revoked.
He told me he was telling me verbally now that my citizenship had been revoked and I told him that won’t cut it, that I want an official document saying that my citizenship has been revoked.
Around that time, two women arrived who were in civilian clothing. Later on I found out that they were First Lieutenant Hayat AlHassan, or Hayat AlSalmabadi, and the other was Dana who appeared to be taking orders from the Lieutenant. There were other female police who were in uniform, as well as several male officers, and their captain. He was in a blue suit different from the other police officers, so you could tell that he was higher ranking.
The entire time the guy with the video camera kept recording everything that was happening. I was making phone calls and I notified my family and colleagues that I had started a hunger strike and I spoke to my lawyer and asked him to come to the airport and to inform the Danish embassy and that I had been stopped. I also informed my mother and the police that I already had injuries, one in my right knee which was bandaged and difficult to move; and another in the palm of my left hand which was also bandaged and painful. Both wounds were the result of an accident I had prior to my trip to Bahrain, and both had been infected causing a delay in the healing.
The police threatened to take me back on board the flight to Istanbul by force and I informed them that given my knowledge of the rules of the IAA I know that the flight is unable to take off if I inform the pilot that I refuse to be on board the flight and if I make a fuss about it. After I said that they seemed to have backed off the decision of using force to put me back on the flight. At that point Lieutenant Hayat was on the phone speaking to what appeared to be someone who was her superior given that she kept saying ‘Sidi’; a title used to address superior officers. At one point I heard her say on the phone "what if she uses force on us, what if she attacks us?"
When she got off the phone I told her that I am telling you now and there’s a camera as well as other people listening that even if you use force against me I will not raise a hand. She said no why would we use force against you, we would never use force. I responded "I’m glad to hear that but I am telling you that even if you do I will not use force in response."
I received a call from my lawyer when the police captain as well as the uniformed and civilian clothed police came and stood around me. They waited for me to finish my phone call and then they told me to hand over my phone. I asked them if I was under arrest to which they said no. I told them there is no legal basis for me to hand over my phone and why would they want my phone. They continued to ask me to hand it over and I said no. I told them "if you want me to switch it off and not use it I am fine with that but I will not give you my phone". So they asked me to switch it off and put it in my pocked, and I asked to make one last call to inform my family. The man in civilian clothing who I later came to know was Fawaz AlSameem kept saying no phone call sounding angry, while the police captain insisted I be allowed, and that he will bear the consequences. I called my mother and informed her that I will be switching off my phone, which I then did and placed it in my pocket.
After which they asked me to go into the waiting room in the same security area and I cooperated. They escorted me to the room where there were three other women but as soon as I entered the room the three other women were escorted out of the room and so I followed them. When I walked into the room for the first time I noticed that the three women did had access to their mobile phones contrary to what they were telling me that it was regulations to not allow people in the waiting area to have their mobile phones on them.
Lieutenant Hayat told me you have to go inside and you have to wait there, and I said well why are you escorting the other women out? Adding: "it makes me concerned about what you might do to me if there are no witnesses". She responded saying no of course we won’t do anything to you, there is nothing to worry about and I said well I don’t trust you, I know what the authorities in Bahrain are capable of. She tried to convince me that it was for my own comfort that the other women were taken out of the room. I said I am completely fine with having them in the room with me. That was when the police captain's attitude changed and he threatened me saying that so far he had been treating me well and I would not want that to change.
Lieutenant Hayat then told me that she personally guarantees that my phone will not be taken from me, that they will not use force against me if I go back in the room and that they will allow the three women to stay with me in the room. She also told me that I would be allowed a phone call to my family when I make the request, that I would be allowed to see my lawyer when he comes to the airport and that I would also be allowed to see a representative from the embassy if they come as well.
I told her that I am only agreeing to go to the room because you made all those guarantees not for any other reason and she said yes I personally guarantee it. I walked into the room and sat down, she sat to my right and I noticed that as soon as I sat down the three women were escorted out and the policeman with the video camera immediately switched it off.
Within seconds Lieutenant Hayat jammed her knee above my right hip and grabbed my right arm (I was holding my phone in my right hand). As soon as she grabbed my right arm she started screaming at the three others, Dana, Budour and a police woman they were calling "Manoor" to attack me and take my phone. Budour and "Manoor" were the same two police women in uniform who were waiting outside the airplane when I arrived. When the four of them started assaulted me, I immediately stretched my left hand away in an attempt to keep them from hitting my wound. Lieutenant Hayat yanked my right arm several times very roughly which I later on found out caused a tear in my shoulder muscle. They opened my hand and took the phone. When it was over, I was roughed up and in pain all over; I had severe pain in my injured knee, right shoulder, neck, above my right hip and in my left leg where I had skid marks from their shoes.
After they assaulted me, I told Lieutenant Hayat “You promised that you would not use force but you just did”. She told me to thank god that they did not do worse. She took my travel bag and started throwing everything out from it on the floor. She and Dana then left the room but the two police women in uniform who were involved in the assault remained with me in the room. I was not allowed to leave the room. The room was extremely cold, I was wearing a jumper that I had brought with me from Copenhagen and I was still freezing. They offered me food and water but I told them that I was on hunger strike, which they were already aware of, so they brought me water.
I talked to some of the policewomen. One of them, Budour, was holding her finger so I asked her what was wrong and she told me that she had a scratch on it. Then they sat and they talked to me for some time and I found out that Budour went to the same high school as me. She told me about her family, about her life and the other one told me she was from Hamad Town and told me about the high school she had been to. So basically, we sat there and chatted, and I also asked them a couple of questions like “how can you assault someone that you can talk to normally” and “how are you capable of doing something like that”, and they told me that they do things based on orders because as they put it, they are “slaves to orders”. They have to do what they are told.
I stayed there for several hours, every time I requested to go to the bathroom I was not allowed until they received an order allowing me to go. At one point when it was prayer time in the morning I asked to pray and they told me I was not allowed to pray unless they receive an order to allow me to do so. They delayed my praying for approximately two hours until the order was given and I was finally allowed to pray.
At one point the room started getting a lot colder and I wore my jacket on top of my jumper and I was still freezing and I kept telling them that it was really cold but they told me there was nothing they could do about it. It got so cold that the policewomen were actually sitting outside the room rather than inside.
At around 5:30 am the policewomen were sitting busy talking to each, so I got up and walked outside. As soon as I walked outside they came to me. It was the security area where people were passing through for transit. I was standing on the side and someone who said she was in charge of airport security came to me as well as the uniformed police woman “Manoor” as they called her. They came to me and asked me to go back inside the room. I refused and said “I have been asking for a phone call since I arrived here to let my family know that I’m okay and I’ve been asking for a phone call to my lawyer to see if he has come or not because I want to see him and I’m asking for a phone call to the Danish embassy. I have not been allowed any of those things even though you promised me you would allow it. You also promised me you would not use force and you did and thus there is no reason for me to cooperate anymore.” They kept insisting. The police woman “Manoor” told me “No. Your lawyer didn’t show up. You should cooperate, why are you doing this? You’ll just make it worse for yourself” Then I told her “Everything you promised me you would do, you didn’t. And everything you promised you wouldn’t do, you did, so why should I cooperate?” So she said: “What did we promise we wouldn’t do?” and I said: “You promised you wouldn’t use force with me and then you did. You assaulted me.” She said “No. No. You assaulted us.” So I said: “How did I assault you?” She responded: “You kicked one of the police women in the stomach with your knee.” So I looked at her and said: “You know that one of my knees is injured and I can’t use it. So which knee was it that I hit her with?”
She stopped for a minute and said: “I don’t remember” So I said: “At least you would remember which side of me she was standing on. It shouldn’t be too difficult to remember”. So she said: “No, no, no I don’t remember anymore”. So I told her: “You know that what you’re saying is not true and that you’re making it up” and she told me that she did not want to talk about it anymore. I asked them if I was under arrest, and they said no.
Since my arrival, every policewoman or airport security that I interacted with when I asked them what their name was, they told me that there were superior orders not to tell me their names. The police women and security either did not have name badges on, or had them turned around so that their names were hidden.
After that, the woman who told me she was in charge of airport security promised that if I go back in the room they will allow me a phone call at 7:00 AM. So I told her I will wait will 7 am for that phone call where I was. She kept insisting, saying she was not like “those who had assaulted me” and that she was “from a different department”. I waited in the security area until almost 7:30 or 8:00 AM and I realized that they were not going to give me that phone call. I kept asking over and over again, and they kept telling me to wait for the orders to come in. So I walked towards the people passing through the transit security area and I started saying: “My name is Maryam Al Khawaja. I am a Bahraini Danish citizen. I am being held here against my will. Can someone please call the Danish embassy?” and I kept repeating that sentence over and over again. As soon as I did that there were a number of police officers who came as well as people who looked like they were police but were in civilian clothing. They started gathering in the area where I was. I saw that a few people who were coming through security tried to take pictures but anyone who tried to interact with me were stopped and were asked for their passports by the police. Anyone who so much as looked at me was shouted at and asked to move on. I heard the police talking on the phone about removing me by force so I lied down on the ground and put my hands in my pockets and I told the police woman: “Look. My hands are in my pockets. Even if you use force against me, I will not.” And I kept repeating the previous sentence over and over again. Two policewomen came and picked me up, handcuffed me behind my back and took me to the waiting room again.
I was left handcuffed for a while. I kept falling asleep and waking back up due to the discomfort of the handcuffs and the pain in my shoulder which got worse with my arms being behind my back. I lost track of time, but at one point a policewoman came in and told me “I will take the handcuffs off, but if you try to leave the room I’ll put them back on”. I stayed there for several hours. Again the room was freezing cold to an unbearable degree. Right outside the door from the waiting room where I was they put a police tape blocking the door, and they placed two chairs for policewomen to sit down on. I heard the police outside my room discussing how they had removed the phones from the other women who had been waiting and who had been moved to another area. And one of them was saying, “We always give them their phones. We always allow them to keep their phones, how are we supposed to get someone to book tickets for them if we don’t give them their phones?” The other policeman said: “ Don’t ask these questions right now. We were just told that we should take the phones away from them. These are the orders. After we finish with this case, you’ll give them their phone back.”
During this time two policewomen came into my room, went through my things and took pictures of everything, including personal pictures of my family and bank cards. I informed them that I do not consent to any of what they were doing. They then took both my bags away. I asked them that my things must stay with me, they responded that these were the orders.
At approximately 3:30pm I was finally escorted to an office near the arrival hall. I was escorted by several police officers. One of them was Dana. In the room upstairs I saw the man who was carrying the video camera, Salman Mohamad Mahmoud, and he told me that I was being charged with assaulting two female police and that he wanted to take my testimony. At first I had no idea what he was talking about and I asked him to repeat what he was saying which he did. I told him that I have a right to speak with my lawyer first to which he responded that it was not possible, so I told him I won’t speak then. I waited there for a while, after which they brought Lieutenant Hayat, Dana was there, and there were two or three other police women. Fawaz AlSameem was also there. At that point I asked Lieutenant Hayat for her name, but she refused to tell me. Fawaz AlSameem then informed me that there were two cases of electronic crimes against me and that I was being taken to the Criminal Investigation Department for interrogation.
Again they searched my bags while a different another man with a video camera recorded everything. I was handcuffed, and taken outside the airport from a side door and I was asked to get into a civilian car. I told them I did not trust them and I didn’t want to get into a civilian car, I wouldn’t mind going into a police car but I wouldn’t want to go or trust going into a civilian car. Dana and another policewoman in civilian clothing forced me into the civilian car. There were two male police with us, and one of them videotaped me the entire way.
I sat at the CID for several hours. During the period at the CID, I was not allowed to use the bathroom unless one of the policewomen stands inside the bathroom stall with me and I was not allowed to close the stall door. So I refused to go to the toilet under these conditions.
At around 7:30 or 8:00 PM I was taken to the public prosecution in a MOI minibus with several female police escorting me. When I was taken to the interrogation room, my lawyer Mohammed AlJishi was sitting behind me and I was sitting facing the prosecutor. At the beginning of the session Mohammed AlJishi asked that he speak to me alone as it is my right according to Bahrain law. The prosecutor refused his request. Then Al Jishi asked if he could at least advise me of my rights under the Bahraini law given that I live outside of Bahrain and I might not be completely aware of them, and the prosecutor again said refused the request. The interrogation started with the prosecutor telling me about the accusation of assault that has been brought against me by the two policewomen Lieutenant Hayat and the policewoman Budoor AlOnaizi (this was when I found out what their names are). And then he said there was a scratch on one of her fingers, that I had kicked Lieutenant Hayat in the stomach and hit one of them on the head. He then commenced the interrogation to which I responded to every single question with: “I refuse to respond given that I have not been allowed access to my lawyer beforehand.” At the end of the interrogation, I also refused to sign the papers from the prosecution again stating the reason being that I was not allowed access to my lawyer before the interrogation took place. After that I was taken to the waiting room again where I was allowed to speak to my lawyer for a short period when I informed him that I was going to stop the hunger strike.
I was then informed at around midnight that I was given seven days pending investigation by the public prosecution and I was taken to the Muharraq Airport police station. I was booked into the system and then I was transported to Isa Town women detention centre. By the time I arrived to the detention centre, it was about 3:00 AM.
After I was held in prison (I will not speak of the details of the prison right now, I will discuss these details at a later time but the coming points I found important to mention) I was taken to the public prosecution’s medical examiner. First, the means of transportation used to transport me during my entire stay at the detention center was different from the other women being held with me. I was always transported in a mini bus with at least two or three policewomen and one male police, usually Salman Mohammed Mahmoud whose treatment towards me was good, and one police driver. There was one riot police jeep in front of us and another behind us (sometimes two behind us). Sometimes they even put the sirens on and would not stop at any of the red lights and drove at a very high speed putting themselves and myself at risk. I was taken to a medical examiner who asked me if I had any medical problems related to the incident that had happened to the airport and I told him that I had pain in my stomach as well as pain in my shoulder and neck. He looked at my shoulder from afar and did not examine it. He then commenced to ask questions about my other injuries that I had in my knee and my hand. I told him that I wanted to speak to my lawyer to see if what I would say could have influence on the case. He refused my request so I refused to answer any of his questions. He wanted to take pictures of me which I also refused. He asked me to write down that I refuse which I did, but I refused to sign it. He responded “well we have it in your handwriting so it doesn’t matter if you sign it or not”.
Another issue that is important to mention is that I was taken to the Special Investigation Unit at the Public Prosecution where I was supposed to make a complaint about the assault that I was subjected to by the police. Mohammed Hazza was the person who took my testimony. He gave me very leading questions. While I was telling him my testimony he did not write anything, he just listened, and then he resaid everything that I had said to the person writing down the testimony in his own words. At one point he asked me if I had been assaulted in Arabic and I got a little confused given the terminology because I was translating it to English. So I asked him “What do you mean by “إعتداء”?
Do you mean beating like kicking and punching? Because that did not happen. But if you mean assault then yes I was assaulted.” So he wrote in the paper work that I was not assaulted. The way he framed what I had said was that the police had merely used the necessary force to take my phone from me because I was refusing to give it to them. So I told him that was not what I had said and I wanted him to write what I had said instead of what he was changing my words to sound like. He refused. It took three or four time of my lawyer and I leaving his office to a waiting area and then coming back in order for him to change a few things in the testimony. Despite that he refused to change the main misquotations that would basically not indict the police women and would serve as a testimony against myself, framing me as uncooperative and the policewomen as just doing their job. The lawyer and I told him several times that he should write what I actually said since it was my testimony but he refused. At one point he got angry and told the lawyer that he should not speak. To which the lawyer responded that as per Bahraini law he has the right to advise me during the testimony session. The whole debacle ended with me refusing to sign the papers of the testimony given the misquotations. What’s interesting is that although I am a Human Rights Defender who knows the law and the rules, I was treated this way by the Special Investigation Unit who are supposed to be impartial. It was obvious that he was trying to frame my testimony in a way that would not only acquit the policewomen from my complaint of assault, but also would serve as evidence against me.
Another important note is that during the period of my imprisonment both my lawyer and embassy requested visits. Both visits did not happen. During the first visit with my family, I was the only prisoner in that prison who was taken to a room with a large marble table which prevented any kind of physical contact with them or hug them. It was only after I complained told the prison administration that this act was personal targeting because of my human rights work that they changed my visiting to the regular visitation room that all other regular prisoners or detainees are taken to.
As Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja enters his third week of hunger strike, emotions are running high among the Bahraini people who are anticipating the worst. His health is rapidly deteriorating as his body becomes weaker by the day. Few days ago he was taken off the IV feeding and started on glucose and water. His family is getting seriously worried as they witness him fading away. Mr Al Khawaja started his hunger strike on Tuesday 26th August in protest at the continuation of his imprisonment by the Alkhalifa dictators despite the demands by almost every human rights body in the world to release the Bahrain 13 including himself. The lack of tangible action by the European Union against his jailers, despite being a citizen of EU countries, has shocked many.
Meanwhile there have been feelings of disgust, condemnation and disappointment as the regime extended the detention of the world-renowned human rights activist, Maryam Al Khawaja, for another ten days. She had been arrested and ill-treated when she arrived at Bahrain’s airport on Saturday 30th August. She wanted to be with her family during the ordeal of her father’s hunger strike.
On 5th September Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action about Maryam Al Khawaja. It urged its members to write to Alkhalifa regime and demand her immediate and unconditional release, adding that “she is a prisoner of conscience targeted for her long-term peaceful activism” It also called for her protection in the meantime from torture and other ill-treatment.
In Washington there have been many voices calling on the White House to act in defence of Maryam AlKhawaja. While Human Rights Watch has been focal in its condemnation of the regime, the Washington Post dedicated its editorial on 4th September to the issue. Under the heading: “Bahrain’s arrest of a dissident merits a firm protest from Washington” the paper talked about Washington’s reluctance to take a stand as Bahrain’s regime dragged its feet. It said: Though it has resisted pressure to grant more rights to its Shiite majority population, the al-Khalifa regime used to be sensitive to political pressure from Washington. After Mr. Obama made a May 2011 speech specifically citing Bahrain and the administration temporarily suspended arms sales, the al-Khalifas promised a series of reforms. Now they feel free not only to abandon those efforts but also to take steps that they know will be seen in Washington as provocative. And no wonder: Ms. Khawaja’s arrest has so far drawn only another rote statement of concern from the State Department.
In the past week the regime has intensified its attacks on people through arrests and detentions. On Thursday night 4th September five youths from Duraz were snatched by members of the regime’s Death Squads and taken to torture houses. Upon his return to Bahrain on Saturday 6th September, photo-journalist, Mohammad Darwish, was arrested and taken to unknown destination. He had been arrested and tortured before. Bahraini photo-journalists have been targeted in recent weeks in order to keep the lid on Alkhalifa atrocities against Bahrainis. Twenty people were arrested after Israeli-supported members of Death Squads managed to intercept a network of wanted activists who have been hiding for long periods. The family of a young Bahrainim, Mohammad Ali Kadhem, is extremely worried for his safety as they received no information about him since he was snatched by regime’s Death Squads ten days ago.
On 5th September Reporters Without Borders issued a statement saying that it was shocked that a Manama appeal court had upheld the ten-year jail sentence that the internationally renowned young photo-journalist Ahmed Humaidan received on 26 March in connection with an attack on a police station in 2012. “The Bahraini authorities continue to abuse the most elementary human rights and are becoming more and more repressive in their treatment of news and information providers” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire. “Despite a major international campaign for Ahmed Humaidan’s release, the Bahraini regime has chosen to turn a deaf ear and to continue silencing the witnesses of its brutal crackdown.”
Bahrain Freedom Movement
10th September 2014
Prominent human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has declared an open hunger strike “in protest against the continuation of arbitrary arrest and detention.” In a statement made to members of his immediate family during a visit on Sunday 24th August, Mr. AlKhawaja declared that he would refuse all food and liquids with the exception of water. He also informed his family that due to the drugging, force feeding, and the forced ending of his 110 day hunger strike in 2012, he will refuse to be taken to any hospital, the prison clinic, or to receive any IV treatment during his strike. Almost all international human rights bodies have called for the immediate and unconditional release of Bahrain 13, the leaders of the Revolution who are languishing in the tribal jails of the Alkhalifa.
The Bahraini regime has been humiliated into accepting a visit by Tom Malinowski, the US Under-Secretary of State for Human Rights, Democracy and Labour. Last month the dictator ordered his removal from Bahrain after 24 hours of his arrival, because he had a meeting with an opposition group. Washington re-scheduled the visit by Mr Malinowski who is returning to Bahrain soon, under Washington’s terms. Yesterday, the US State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki said: Our view is that the Government of Bahrain has much to do in order to meet its own commitments to reform. It’s unfortunate that they have not taken advantage of opportunities to hear from outside observers. There are steps that the government has taken in the right direction, including establishing an ombudsman office in the ministry of interior, reestablishing the national institution on human rights, rescinding the national security agency’s arrest capabilities, training police on human rights standards. But there are still remaining concerns we have: lack of accountability, for instance, of abuse by security forces; ongoing harassment and imprisonment of persons exercising their rights of freedom of expression; continuing reports of ill-treatment and torture in detention facilities. And obviously, there’s more that they can do to show the international community that they want to keep taking steps forward when it comes to reform. On Assistant Secretary Malinowski, he has received an invitation to return to Bahrain. There’s a trip that’s currently being planned.
On another level the Alkhalifa have refused entry to US Congressman Rep. James McGovern because he had previously criticised their dictatorship.
As a Manama court prepares to rule on internationally-renowned photographer Ahmed Humeidan’s appeal on 25 August, Reporters Without Borders has prepared the following overview of these 12 detainees. The youngest is 15. Eight are photographers or video reporters and four are online activists. Eight have been given prison sentences ranging from three months to life. RWB calls for their release and withdrawal of all charges or the quashing of the convictions of those already sentenced. The Bahraini authorities arbitrarily arrest news providers and peaceful civil society activists in an attempt to suppress dissent. Bahrain is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in the
Among the latest journalists criminalised for doing their job is Ammar Abdul Rasool. He has been detained and tortured for taking a photo in March 2011 for which he received several awards. Last week he said that he had been forced to remain standing for three days, shackled with closed eyes. He was subjected to severe beating, swearing and humiliation. He was prevented from praying. He added: “They stripped me of my clothes, abused me and threatened to use electric shocks. They also threatened to assault my wife and baby (Fatima) to force me to sign pre-prepared “confession”. When I lost all my energy I had no alternative but to sign the false statement.
Reports from the notorious Jaw prison confirmed that prominent human rights activist, Naji Fateel, has been transferred to solitary confinement for demanding treatment of sick prisoners. Among them are: Mohammad Fadhl who suffers from asthma but is denied medication and Hussain Khalteet. Other prisoners have been denied family visits.
The prisoners at the Dry Dock prison have gone on hunger strike and several of them have fallen unconscious. Some are being treated with IV feeding. Among those who slipped into coma are Hussain Mash’al, Detainees of Wing 10 at Jaw prison had been denied family visits or medical care. Their cells are over-crowded as the dictator orders more arrests among Bahraini natives.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
As the Bahrainis poured onto the streets to protest the Israeli aggression against Gaza, the regime has intensified its attacks on those peaceful protests. Many Bahrainis have been injured in those attacks in which chemical gases and gunshots were extensively used against peaceful demonstrators. The revolutionary forces had announced a series of activities in solidarity with Gaza. The towns of Demstan, Karzakkan, Sitra and Duraz witnessed increased pro-Palestinian activities braving intensified repression and collective punishment by regime’s forces. Both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are accused of supporting Israel and encouraging its attack on Gaza.
The wave of arrests has continued. Yesterday two brothers, Hussain and Mirza Al Saffar were arrested at the Bahrain-Saudi causeway and taken to torture dungeons. In the early hours of yesterday Qassim Ali Jassim was arrested when his house in Sitra was raided by members of Death Squads. Detainee Jamil Abdul Ghani was transferred to intensive care when his condition deteriorated. He was on hunger strike in protest at the ill-treatment and lack of medical care.
On Monday 21st July, the Alkhalifa juvenile court sentenced three boys to 15 years in jail for opposing the hereditary regime. The three, Mohammad Abdul Rasool, Ali Hassan and Hussain Ahmad (from Sanabis) were also asked to pay 1000 BD each. Human rights activists condemned the ruling for using “confessions” extracted under torture as evidence. Yesterday another youth, Majed Ahmad Habib was sentenced to 15 years under the Alkhalifa terrorism act which had been condemned worldwide by lawmakers and human rights activists. The detention of 13-years old Ahmad Zakariya Abdul Karim was renewed for one more week. Another child, Mohammad Al Shamlan had also his detention extended by one week. The detention of another 15-years boy, Firas Mohammad Al Saffar was also extended by 45 days. On 17th July, Mohammad Mansoor Abdul Hussain, 14, was jailed for six months for opposing the Alkhalifa regime
As UK Parliament went to recess the number of MPs who signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) rose to 36. It calls on the Alkhalifa regime to overhaul the justice system which is oppressive and lacks the international standards of justice. It calls for implementation of BICI recommendations and end culture of impunity of torturers. The EDM “calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners including Ibrahim Sharif, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Hassan Mushaima, Naji Fateel and Abdulwahab Husain; is further concerned at the failure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to list Bahrain as a country of concern in its 2014 Human Rights Report; and further calls on the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to condemn human rights abuses in Bahrain and list it as a country of concern in order to promote accountability and transparency within Bahrain's justice system.”
Meanwhile the political stakes were raised by the regime’s threat to ban the largest political society. Al Wefaq National Islamic Society is now being actively targeted by Bahrain’s dictator and his clique for declaring boycott of the elections of the powerless shura council. The dictator has pinned his hopes of international forgiveness for his crimes on running smooth “elections” to his powerless council, hoping it will convince the world that he is a “democrat”. The people’s Revolution has created an atmosphere of total boycott of the tribal regime to pave the way for a democratic system based on “one-man-one-vote” principle. The threat by the Alkhalifa minister of justice to issue a court verdict to ban AlWefaq is a serious escalation that has exposed deep unwillingness to reform the hereditary dictatorship.
Eighteen Congressmen have sent a letter to Bahrain’s tyrant urging that Assistant Secretary Malinowski be welcomed back to the country so that he can resume his diplomatic efforts aimed at improving human rights in Bahrain. The Government of Bahrain recently expelled Mr. Tom Malinowski, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. The signatories made it clear that “good bilateral relations cannot flourish if a top US diplomat is barred from Bahrain”. The letter is an indictment of the Alkhalifa dictators who have repeatedly proven their inability to comprehend modern standards of statehood, and remained entrenched in their tribal antiquated world.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
23rd July 2014
For the first time in the history of the Human Rights Council (HRC), many countries have signed up to a statement condemning Bahrain’s serious violations of human rights. While attempting to appear neutral the statement acknowledged regime’s attempts to show the world that it is implementing certain recommendations, but the statement is critical of most aspects of human rights that continue to be violated. Any spectator with an open mind will see that the Alkhalifa have received strong blows despite Saudi and British attempts to shield them from international condemnation. On behalf of the European Union, Greece told HRC that Bahrain should allow office of High Commissioner of Human Rights to operate in Bahrain with full mandate.
The statement said: the human rights situation in Bahrain remains an issue of serious concern to us. We are concerned about the increases in long sentences for exercising rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the lack of sufficient guarantee of fair trial. We are concerned about the repression of demonstrations. There are also concerns that peaceful demonstrations are frequently disrupted by a minority of violent demonstrators.
In response to the anticipated statement the regime had escalated its repression of Bahrainis. A 15-years boy was arrested this week as he was preparing for his exams. Yousuf Sahwan was snatched from his home at the town of Maqaba to join his cousins; Hussain and Mohammad Sahwan. The boy has only three exams to finish before he transfers to the secondary school. but he was denied the right to complete them. He is a player in Bahrain’s national team. His cousin, Hussain Sahwan, missed four exams to finish his secondary school. Yesterday a judge decided to hold him for 45 day.
On 5th June Alkhalifa court sentence four Bahrainis to life imprisonment on trumpeted charges. The regime alleged that they had participated in the killing of an Asian worker and that they are members of illegal organisation. They insisted that they had nothing to do with the crime and that their sentence is based on pre-prepared “confessions” signed under extreme forms of torture.
The ill-treatment by regime’s torturers has forced Ali Al Singace to go on hunger strike. He started his action ten years ago demanding his right to sufficient medical care for his ailments that are direct result of torture including back pain, broken nose and fractured knee. Three years ago he was sentenced to death on trumpeted charges.
Among the recently detained Bahrainis is Ali Al Aryash, from Duraz who disappeared few days ago. Yesterday he was allowed to make a brief phone call from the torture centre at Al Adliya. Another snatched Bahraini is Jassim Mohammad Abdulla, 27, from Al Malikiya. He called his family to tell them that he was being held at the notorious CID torture centre.
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) has issued a statement expressing concern about the health of an activist who had been subjected to most horrific treatment. BCHR said that the family of Redha Al Ghasra had contacted them and told them that their son faced the prospect of attracting a serious infectious disease. He has been placed at a cell with another inmate who has Pulmonary Tuberculosis, which is highly infectious. This comes after AlGhasra had already been subjected to different types of harassment, ill-treatment and reported torture.
Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action to highlight the plight of a Saudi national sentenced recently to death for an alleged crime that he had not committed. Ali Mohammad Baqir Al Nimr was seventeen when he allegedly committed these “crimes” including participating in a demonstration against the government, attacking security forces, possessing a machine-gun and armed robbery. The court has based its decision on singed “confessions” which had been extracted under torture. AI called for investigation into allegations of torture, to observe the rights of Mr Al Nimr who falls within the children category and establish immediately an official moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing death sentences.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
The human rights world has been shocked by the Saudi decision to execute two prisoners for protesting against the regime and calling for political reforms. Yesterday a court in Jedda passed the sentence of death on Ali Mohamad Baqir Al Nimr, 18, for protesting against the regime and for allegedly pointing a gun at a policeman. On Monday, Redha Al Rebh, 26, from Qatif, had also been sentenced to execution by the same court. A wave of anger in the Eastern Province has led to protests and demonstrations against these oppressive verdicts.
The release of Nabeel Rajab on Saturday 24th May has focused the world’s attention on the Bahraini prisoners of conscience languishing behind bars, most of whom have been jailed for expressing their opinion. It has also served to highlight the lawless judicial system and its role as a tool of repression and subjugation in the hands of the ruling Alkhalifa family. Mr Rajab’s first step after his liberation was to visit the family of Martyr Sayed Mahmood Sayed Mohsin who had been killed on 23rd May by members of Death Squads. They used shotguns to spray his body with pellets in three places including near his heart. Nabeel Rajab has called for the immediate and unconditional release of the political prisoners and all other Bahrainis. Among his main observations after his ordeal of psychological and mental torture was that the situation in Bahrain has deteriorated sharply in terms of human rights and the absence of the rule of law.
Despite Mr Rajab’s remarks, the regime has continued its ferocious attacks on Bahrainis. Yesterday, Ali Saeed Khalaf was sentenced to 60 days detention under the notorious terrorism laws. He had been snatched last week as he arrived at Bahrain Airport. Ahmad Al Asmakh, has been given prison sentences that have now surpassed 80 years. The latest charge is in relation to the protests that had taken place in 2011 at the Financial Harbour in the capital, the heart of prime minister’s financial empire. Another Bahraini victim has accumulated more than 100 years of jail sentences. Redha Al Ghasra has been repeatedly given harsh prison sentences for opposing the hereditary dictatorship. Together, the total has now surpassed 100 years. It is widely known in the legal systems that one sentence of life imprisonment encompasses all other sentences. Another victim of this vicious judiciary is Hussain Obaid whose prison sentence matched his own age of 15 years.
Meanwhile the mass arrests affecting the natives have continued. From Northern Sehla two brothers, Sayed Hashim and Sayed Younis Sayed Talib Al Abbar were arrested at dawn yesterday. A young cleric, Sayed Sadiq Al Shakhouri has been languishing in jail for more than 18 months and has been forgotten by the human rights world.
As the repression inside the torture dungeons intensifies the prisoners have resorted to protests and hunger strikes. On Sunday 25th May Hussain Al Banna started hunger strike after the prison authorities banned any clothing or sanitary materials from entering his cell. He has been held in solitary confinement for the past 30 days, shackled in hands and feet. His family and that of Redha Al Ghasra have confirmed that their sons have become skeletons due to ill-treatment and lack of nourishing food. Another detainee at Jaw Prison, Ibrahim Al Demstani, who is part of the medical team which had been persecuted for treating the injured, has started hunger strike. His health is deteriorating and has not been able to meet his family during their scheduled visit last week.
On 23rd May Amnesty International issued a statement calling on the Bahraini authorities to launch a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the death of Sayed Mahmood Sayed Mohsin who was sprayed with shogun pellets. The organization has urged the Bahraini authorities to ensure the investigation is transparent, that its results are made public and that anyone found responsible is brought to justice. After it presented a legal argument in support of its demands Amnesty concluded its statement saying: Amnesty International urges the authorities to launch prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into all cases of torture and other ill-treatment, deaths during protests and deaths in custody, make the results public and bring those responsible to justice in fair trials.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
28th May 2014
On 16th May Bahrainis were shocked by the assassination of a young activist at the hands of the Alkhalifa Death Squads. Ali Faisal Al Akrawi, 19, who had been on the run was targeted by the regime’s killers in a similar way to that which had liquidated other activists in recent months. The young boy’s body bore the marks of hateful revenge by a cruel enemy of the people, morals and humanity. Thousands of people turned out at his funeral chanting anti-regime slogans including “Down with Hamad”. They were mercilessly attacked by regime’s forces using shotguns and chemical gases.
The Alkhalifa regime was dealt serious blows over the past week as the political stalemate started to turn against the Alkhalifa dynastical rule. The Public Relations campaign which was heavily funded became a liability. First came the cancellation by Prince Andrew of his much-publicised appearance at a propaganda conference in London on Friday 16th May. The attendance was poor and the strong presence by the opposition outside the hall took the case of the people to the heart of the British establishment. Then the Windsor Horse Show, sponsored by Bahrain’s dictator, became a propaganda platform for the victims of tyranny. The dictator wanted to buy off the political stand of the UK Government by sponsoring the show and handing awards to jockeys. Bahraini victims gathered outside the race course with their banners depicting images of torture and heavy-handed attacks by regime’s forces on peaceful demonstrators. The decision by a British court earlier to remove the anonymit y of dictator’s son implicated in a case accusing him of torture had demoralized regime’s British supporters, forcing them to save their skin and limit their involvement with the bloody regime of the Alkhalifa.
Meanwhile the hearts of the people are throbbing in anticipation of the imminent release of Nabeel Rajab, the most prominent human rights activist in Bahrain. He had been languishing behind bars since his arrest in July 2012 and is due for release on 24th May. The human rights world has been incensed by the detention and ill-treatment of human rights activists by Bahrain’s dictatorial regime. The release of Mr Rajab will bolster the political opposition to the regime which has imprisoned leaders and activists and banned freedom of expression, peaceful protests and free civil society activities.
The human rights situation has been highlighted this week in a report by Amnesty International after the return of its assessment team from Bahrain. The Alkhalifa had prevented human rights bodies from visiting the country for three years, but it has been advised by its Western backers of the need to rescind this decision to avoid being sanctioned by the Human Rights Council. While welcoming being allowed to visit the country, AI’s team has registered its disenchantment with the human rights situation. It had met officials and victims and concluded that violations are continuing. In a statement on 19th May AI said: “The organization remains concerned, however, about the lack of reform of the judiciary, slow and inadequate investigations into past abuses, and continuing restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly.”
No sooner had the AI’s delegation and that of the UN High Commission for Human Rights left the country than the regime started its atrocious attacks on Bahrainis. This morning Haitham Habib Al Omani, 23, has been snatched from a house at Bani Jamra town and taken to the torture dungeons. Yesterday nine Bahrainis were arrested from different towns and villages. Among them was Sayed Ahmad Al Alawi and his brother. More than twenty Bahrainis were arrested last week.
In Geneva, The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances reviewed during its 103rd session more than one hundred newly reported cases and examined around 800 updates from governments and sources on previously accepted ones. The Working Group examined 38 of these cases that have occurred in the last three months under its urgent action procedure. They concerned Bahrain, Cambodia, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Syria, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. “We are especially concerned about the high number of recent cases reported to us. We urge the concerned Governments to swiftly and thoroughly investigate these cases in order to determine the fate and whereabouts of the victims”, observed the experts.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
21 May 2014
In a significant development, a London court has decided to remove the anonymity of one of Alkhalifa officials in a case brought against him by one the torture victims. On Friday 9th May Lord Justice Laws ruled that the name of Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the son of Bahrain’s dictator, may be exposed to the public in the case brought by a Bahraini victim of torture, known only as FF. In October the court will decide on the issue of immunity of Nasser as he is expected to claim diplomatic immunity to avoid prosecution. It is alleged that the prince was responsible for the torture of political detainees in 2011. There was good coverage of this legal battle. On Monday 12th May, The Financial Times published a report by Jane Croft in London and Simeon Kerr in Dubai, entitled: “English court reviews immunity of Bahrain prince over ‘torture’”. On the same day The Independent published an article by Oliver Wright entitled: “ Bahraini Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa could lose UK diplomatic immunity over torture claims”.
The court decision came as preparations were being made for a Public Relations campaign in UK by the Alkhalifa ruling family involving several activities starting this week. On Friday Prince Andrew will address a conference at The Queen Elizabeth 2nd Conference Centre in Westminster to claim that Bahrain is a land of religious freedom. This motto has enraged the majority of Bahrainis who have been persecuted for their religious beliefs. Last month The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said: “Targeting the most senior and influential Shi’a religious figure in Bahrain may amount to intimidating and thus discriminating against the entire Shi’a Muslim community in the country because of its religious beliefs,”. The statement followed the revocation of Ayatullah Sheikh Hussain Najati’s Bahraini citizenship and the orders to expel him from the country. On Sunday 11th May Patrick Cockburn wrote in The Indepen dent on Sunday an article entitled: “Prince Andrew praises Bahrain, island of torture”, with a sub headline: Kingdom that represses its Shia majority is to receive seal of approval from the Duke of York
In 2011 the regime, emboldened by the Saudi invading forces, destroyed more than 40 mosques of the native Shia Muslim population. Three months ago the Supreme Scholars Council, a body representing the Shia Muslim scholars, was disbanded in a brazen move against the natives. The identity of Bahrain, as a Shia Muslim country is being gradually eroded as a result of the Alkhalifa policies of religious cleansing. Over the past decade tens of thousands of foreigners have been naturalized in order to alter the demographic balance. Prince Andrew’s participation in this flagrant distortion of facts is both unfortunate and shameful. The PR lavish and costly programme has been launched to coincide with a visit by Bahrain’s dictator to UK this week. On Tuesday 13th May The Guardian published an article by Ian Black, entitled: UK-Bahrain relations to come under scrutiny as Gulf state's king visits UK. Its sub-heading says: Democracy activists hope to exploit King Hamad bin Issa Al Kh alifa's visit as human rights violations continue in island nation.
On another level, a London court has ruled that the refusal by Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC) to investigate the export of surveillance technology to repressive regimes such as Bahrain, Egypt and Ethiopia. A prominent NGO, Privacy International, had approached HMRC for an investigation of the export of the technology that includes FinFisher Spyware after revelations that it had been used to spy on activists through their computers. The decision by the court to order HMRC to address the complaints by Privacy International is a milestone ruling that can potentially reduce the capability of repressive regimes to spy on innocent people.
Meanwhile, the situation on the ground has continued to deteriorate as the Alkhalifa become more emboldened by the unwavering British political and security support, to carry out human rights violations. It is now 27 days since Abdul Aziz Al Abbar was martyred by Alkhalifa Death Squads, but the regime still refuses to release his corpse. It is yet another black chapter in Alkhalifa history that they use dead corpses as means of pressure on Bahrainis. The house of his family was attacked on Monday by regime’s forces using chemical and tear gases. His pregnant sister suffered miscarriage after inhaling large quantities of these poisonous chemical gases.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
14th May 2014
Twenty days have now elapsed since the martyrdom of a Bahraini youth, Abdul Aziz Al Abbar, but the Saudi-backed Alkhalifa rulers are still refusing to liberate the body for burial. The family has refused to accept the Death Certificate imposed by the regime which gives the wrong cause of death. Martyr Al Abbar had been shot at the end of February while taking part in a procession at the end of the funeral service of an earlier martyr. He was taken to the Salmaniya hospital where he received poor medical care until he passed away on 18th April. The regime wants to falsify the cause of death but the family is adamant that the Certificate says that he died of bullet wounds. The detention of the corpse is counter to the Islamic and human values and decency and has caused a wave of anger among Bahrainis.
More than 400 prisoners of conscience at the notorious Jaw Prison have continued their hunger strike despite being subjected to horrific repression including torture. A recently released former detainee, Baqir Al Sha’bani has been given a video message from the Bahraini prisoners confirming their strike and detailing the horrific injuries many have received after the attack last month by the regime’s Death Squads.
The US-based Freedom House has given very poor ranking to Bahrain in its latest report. Out of 197 countries, Bahrain ranks 187 in terms of freedom of press. This is a big blow to a regime attempting to use huge oil money to bolster its image abroad after three years of serious human rights violations.
Reporters Without Borders have listed a Bahraini photo journalist among 100 Information Heros. Ahmed Humaidan’s plight has been highlighted by the organisation’s report saying: ” He was arrested on 29 December 2012 for supposedly “storming” a police station on the small island of Sitra, in Bahrain, although he was not there at the time of the incident. This well-known photographer has languished in a cell ever since, subjected to death threats and psychological torture. No doctor has been allowed to examine him. He was given a 10-year jail sentence on 26 March 2014”. It ranked Bahrain at 163 out of 181 countries.
The Islamic Commission for Human Rights (IHRC) has published a report on the use of foreign mercenaries to repress native population. Entitled “Bahrain 's recruitment of foreign mercenaries to curb anti-regime protests” the report highlights the dependence of the ruling Alkhalifa family on foreigners to enforce its rule over the native population. It also gives facts and figures about the increasing numbers of Pakistanis in the security, military and police forces and how the people have paid high price in terms of human lives for this.
The Alkhalifa terror machine has continued its intimidation campaign against Bahrainis. Arrests have continued unabated. On 6th May, Mahdi Saleh Farhan, 16, was snatched in a savage raid on the family’s home at Hamad Town. Another under-aged Bahraini, Ali Jaffar, 17, was arrested in a similar raid on his house in Karzakkan Town. Mohammad Abdul Nabi Yaqoob, a teacher at Rafaa School was arrested yesterday. From Malikiyah Town Bahraini youth, Hussain Abdulla Bu Rashid was arrested.
Meanwhile the Alkhalifa judicial machine continued to sentence Bahrainis to harsh prison terms for taking part in anti-regime protests. Yesterday at least eight people were sentenced to jail terms ranging between three and ten years on trumpeted charges. While the Palestinian Ministry of the Detained and the Liberated reported this week that 5100 Palestinians remain in Israeli jails, the acceptable figures of Bahrain’s prisoners are around 3500. The regime has confessed to the delegation of the UN Human Rights Commission which visited Bahrain last month that it was holding around 2000 Bahrainis in its torture chambers. This is far from the reality according to the Bahraini human rights activists.
The Supreme Council of Scholars has written a letter to the Alkhalifa-sponsored “Dialogue of Civilisations” which has been held this week condemning the hypocrisy of the regime. Dialogue with the outside comes after an internal dialogue which is lacking in Bahrain. Instead of promoting harmonious relations among Bahrainis, the regime has ignited sectarian wars and suppressed the majority Shia natives. It destroyed their mosques, banned the Supreme Council of Scholars and exiled senior religious figures.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
7th May 2014
Forty four British Members of Parliament have signed the following Early Day Motion condemning the continuing human rights violations in Bahrain.
“That this House notes that despite the publication of the Bahrain Commission of Inquiry Report in 2011 which chronicled torture and extrajudicial killing regrets that many violations of human rights continue; is shocked that there are 3,000 political prisoners, children in detention, citizenship removed from activists and arbitrary arrests amongst the many violations of human rights independently reported; and calls on the Government to make the strongest possible representations to the government of Bahrain and to refuse all arms and crowd control equipment exports to Bahrain.”
After one year of incarceration in most inhumane conditions, two Bahraini women have been unjustly sentenced to five years in jail for protesting last year against the Formula1 race. The Alkhalifa regime has waited until this year’s race has ended before issuing its decision yesterday to impose lengthy prison sentence on the two women. Raihana Al Mousawi and Nafisa Al Usfoor were arrested for attempting to take their peaceful struggle inside the race track in the south of the country. They were arrested and severely tortured. They were subjected to various kinds of torture including sexual assault. Raihana had been sentenced earlier to another five years in jail for alleged association with the 14th February Coalition that seeks to change the regime.
Torture has become rampant in the prisons as Western countries continue to shelter the regime. Among the recent victims of torture are: Ibrahim Al Hurr who was subjected to horrific torture at the hands of the Death Squads groomed by the royal court and dispatched to kill protesters and torture prisoners. He suffered beating, humiliating treatment and psychological torture. At the same prison, Qais Abbas was beaten to the extent that he became unable to stand on his feet. Sheikh Jassim Al Demstani suffered vicious torture at Jaw Prison including physical and psychological ill-treatment. Mahmood Al Saba’ was also subjected to similar treatment at the notorious Jaw prison.
Torture is compounded by lack of medical care to the prisoners. Sayed Ali Sayed Salman is being denied treatment for severe pain in his teeth and ears. He also suffers from enlarged tonsils.
On 25th April, Nicholas McGeehan of Human Rights Watch wrote a short commentary entitled: “Bahrain Shooting the Messenger on Torture” in which he said: ”Bahrain has a well-deserved reputation for torture, but now the authorities are threatening action against people who discuss it. Bahrain’s official news agency on April 14, 2104, reported that the interior minister “defied those alleging torture to corroborate those claims” and asserted that “those who make false allegations about torture will be challenged by law.” After substantiating his arguments with facts including the threatening of Sayed Hadi Al Mosawi, head of Al Wefaq’s human rights committee, he concluded: “These developments arise almost exactly a year after Bahrain effectively cancelled the country visit of the special rapporteur on human rights, Juan Mendez. In short, Bahrain’s reputation for torture is a problem of its own making, and threatening those who report allegations of torture will only make things worse.”
The predicament of Jaw Prison’s detainees is testimony to the continuation of the torture doctrine fiercely embraced by Alkhalifa dictatorship. On Monday night (28th April) masked members of the Death Squads went to the prison and asked for eight people; four from section 10 of the prison, three from section 3 and one from section 5. They were: Sayed Adnan Essa, Ali Ibrahim and Abbas Ali (from Maqaba), Ali Hassan Abdulla (from Aali), Ali Majed (from Abu Saiba), Sheikh Riyadh Al Hinni (from Sitra) and Hassan Mushaima (from Sanabis). They were taken to the CID headquarters where they were subjected to severe torture. The aim was to force them to inform on other Bahraini youth who are on the run. After four hours of intensive torture they were returned with serious injuries on their hands and faces. It is unfortunate that the UN Human Rights Commission’s team was in the country but could not stop torture being committed in their presence.
Another group of Bahrainis were sentenced to lengthy jail sentences. Mohammad Ali, Redha Hussain and Ali Saeed, all from Sadad Town were given 15 years for protesting against the hereditary dictatorship. On Monday 28th April eight under-aged Bahrainis from Samaheej Town were remanded for 45 days by Alkhalifa court.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
30th April 2014
The brutal monarchy in Bahrain hires Western public relations firms (not to mention a lawyer now in the news for marrying U.S. actor George Clooney) to clean up its public image. We speak with Fahad Desmukh, a founding member of Bahrain Watch and a freelance journalist based in Karachi, Pakistan. He grew up in Bahrain and was among the first generation of bloggers in the country, writing under the pseudonym of "Chanad Bahraini". Bahrain Watch is an independent research and advocacy organization that seeks to promote effective, transparent and accountable governance in Bahrain. See https://bahrainwatch.org
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The past few days have witnessed extreme forms of public outrage at what Bahrainis see as intensification of targeted killing of activists. On Sunday 20th April, two Bahrainis from the town of Maqsha, were assassinated with a car bomb by the Death Squads run by the royal court. Ali Abbas and Ahmad Al Masajjan were killed immediately when the car they were sitting in exploded. The driver, Abdulla Al Samoom, was hurled outside the car by the explosion. Although the regime blamed the victims for the explosion, Bahrainis are convinced that they were victims of Alkhalifa brutality which has escalated in recent days. Last week, another young man was killed by regime’s Death Squads and his body was discovered at a house which was burnt. Many activists have now been targeted by the Death Squads who had, over the years, killed many Bahrainis. At the funeral of the latest two victims yesterday, the people expressed grief, outrage and determination to continue the struggle until the count ry is cleansed of both dictatorship and occupation. The mourners were viciously attacked by riot police and Death Squads which deployed extensive amounts of chemical and tear gases. Another protest yesterday morning at Sitra was mercilessly crushed by regime forces. The people of Sitra demonstrated in support of the women prisoners and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
The arrest of citizens has continued unabated. On Sunday 20th April, several people were arrested during raids on their houses. From the town of Jid Al Hajj, Hussain Al Mulla and Hussain Abdul Amir were abducted and taken to the torture chambers. Jaffar Abdulla Al Jarish from Sitra was also detained. From Maqsha Town; Abbas Al Abid and Ibrahim Al Mawali were detained. From Karranah, Jaffar Al Aqadi and Ali Ahmad Aman were kidnapped and most likely tortured. Since his arrest few days ago, the child Hussain Ibrahim Mullah Ahmad, from Jid Al Hajj town has been unheard off and concerns are growing for his safety and well-being.
Fears are mounting for the safety of two Bahraini victims of torture who were recaptured after they had escaped from Jaw prison. Redha Al Ghasra, sentenced to 80 years jail for opposing Alkhalifa dictatorship and Hussain Al Banna had “escaped” from their cells on Sunday 20thApril but recaptured shortly afterwards by members of Death Squads. Officials of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights have raised the alarm that the episode may have been engineered by security forces. The two were re-captured from a house where seven others who were hiding. All were arrested.
There has been wide international condemnation of the decision by Bahrain’s dictator to exile a senior religious figure. Last week Ayatullah Sheikh Hussain Najati was told by regime’s agents to leave the country “within 48 hours”. At first he said he would not leave, but was forced to do so. This morning he travelled to Beirut with one-way passport. Amnesty International has condemned the move to exile the Sheikh. Under the title “End threats to Shi’a cleric stripped of nationality” it issued a statement on 17th April “This campaign of threats, harassment and intimidation against Shaikh Hussain al-Najati is unacceptable and must stop immediately. Forcing him out of his own country would render him stateless.” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. “The decision to strip Ayatollah Sheikh Najati of his nationality, along with 30 others in 2012 was little mo re than an arbitrary attempt to silence all government critics. It should be rescinded immediately.”
On 17th April the researcher at Durham University, Marc Own Jones, published good documentation of the policy of impunity in Bahrain. Under the title “Bahrain’s state accountability” he listed several cases which prove a systematic culture of impunity; either ignoring the complaints of victims of torture, superficial investigation of torture claims, acquitting the torturers or giving them light prison sentences and then reducing them or subjecting victims to more torture. The writer concluded his article saying: police criminality in Bahrain is not simply the fault of individuals or groups, but rather is a result of formal structures such as ‘the police organization, the criminal justice system, and the broader socio-political context.’ These legal manouvres by Bahraini authorities are a facade for a lack of accountability, designed to detract attention from systemic political reforms that are needed to enable both a reduction in police deviance and an i ncrease in genuine accountability in Bahrain.”
Bahrain Freedom Movement
23rd April 2013
In its annual report the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has reported an increase in the military expenditure by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The report says: Military spending in the Middle East increased by 4.0 per cent in 2013, reaching an estimated $150 billion. Saudi Arabia’s spending increased by 14 per cent, to reach $67 billion, possibly due to tensions with Iran but also the desire to maintain strong and loyal security forces to insure against potential ‘Arab Spring’ type protests. AS for Bahrain’s military expenditure the report says: “Maintaining regime survival in the face of internal opposition is also the likely motive for Bahrain’s 26 per cent increase.”
Bahrain’s dictator has meanwhile, sought to recruit more mercenaries to crush Bahrain’s native population seeking political and economic rights. Earlier this week Hamad bin Isa Alkhalifa visited Kazakhstan and held meetings with President Nazarbayev. Speculations have mushroomed about the aims of the visit, but indications point to the desire by Alkhalifa dictator to recruit more mercenaries from that country for use against the natives. Two weeks ago Bahrain’s dictator visited Pakistan to recruit more mercenaries. In a grilling questioning to Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Naela Chohan, Additional Foreign Secretary (Middle East & Africa) admitted that currently 10,000 Pakistanis were serving in Bahrain defence services. About the visit of the King of Bahrain to JSHQ, she said:. "The visit was not meant for anything but due to the fact that we've 10,000 Pakistanis in their defence forces," she added. Commenting on the issue, chairman of the c ommittee Haji Adeel stated that they were not only serving in the defence force of Bahrain but also enjoying their nationality.
On Tuesday 15th April, the Alkhalifa junta told a senior religious figure to leave the country within 48 hours. Ayatullah Sheikh Hussain Najati, 60, had his house and office raided by members of Alkhalifa Death Squads in clear provocation. His Bahraini nationality had been revoked with thirty other Bahrianis in November 2012 for opposing the hereditary dictatorship. There has been an outcry amongst the natives who see these acts as evidence of the regime’s enmity to the natives and determination to change the demographic composition of the country. Last year the senior Ayatullah, who is a representative of Grand Ayatullah Sayed Ali Sistani of Iraq, was asked by the Alkhlalifa to condemn the people’s Revolution, but he refused on the basis that he had not been engaged in politics.
At another level, one of the most senior figures of the popular leadership has suffered serious deterioration in his health and is now in serious condition. He has been transferred to the military hospital but his family has not been allowed to visit him. Abdul Wahab Hussain, 60, who has been in jail for more than three years had asked the prison authorities for urgent medical treatment but his request has been turned down. He has several symptoms including general weakness in his body, burning feeling in his limps and inability to move his legs. Ten years ago he had been treated in UK for neurological ailments and loss of feelings and control of his limbs. when he was arrested in March 2011 he was severely tortured and denied medical treatment. There is now serious concern for Mr Abdul Wahab Hussain’s life and calls have been made to international bodies to put pressure on Alkhlaifa junta to allow him sufficient medical care.
Amnesty International, meanwhile, has issued an Urgent Action highlighting the plight of a torture victim and shed light on the policy of impunity adopted by the regime. Mr Ahmad Mushaima, the son of the jailed leader, Hassan Mushaima, has been put on trial for his pro-democracy activities. He had been subjected to horrific torture to extract “confessions” which have been used as the basis of his ongoing trial. Amnesty has urged the authorities to release Ahmed Mushaima immediately and unconditionally, allow him full access to lawyers, investigate allegations of torture and bring those responsible to justice and provide Mr Mushaima medical attention. Another internationally-renowned journalist, Ahmad Humaidan, is serving ten years sentence for his activities as photographer that expose the Alkhalifa hereditary dictatorship.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
16th April 2014
Today marks three years of Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja’s incarceration. He is the most prominent Bahraini human rights activist. He was severely tortured and needed two operations to repair his broken jaws. Thirty international NGOs have signed a petition calling for his immediate release. They said: “The undersigned civil society organizations call for the immediate and unconditional release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja as well as immediate access to independent medical examination and treatment. In addition, we urge the Bahraini authorities to cease harassment and persecution of human rights defenders including unwarranted defamation campaigns.”
Yesterday Frontline Defenders called for the immediate release of Dr Saeed Al Samaheeji, who was severely persecuted for helping the injured Bahrainis. On 3rd April Alkhalifa judiciary upheld a one-year jail sentence they had imposed on him last year. Front Line Defenders expresses concern at the sentencing of Dr Saeed Al Samahiji and at the continued targeting of human rights defenders through prosecutions. Front Line Defenders is concerned that the prison sentence is solely related to Dr Saeed Al Samahiji's legitimate exercise of the right of freedom of expression and his human rights work.
The wave of mass arrests and torture has continued. Today scores of Bahrainis have been arrested; Hani Abbas Abdul Wahab from Dar Kulaib, Essa Ra’id from El Eker and 15 years old Mohammad Manoor Abdul Hussain from Bani Jamra. From the District of Mahooz nine people were arrested in the early hours of 9th April: Maytham Hassan Abbas, Nasser Salah Mansoor, Mohammed Jaffar Radhi, Ali Abdulla Abbas Anan, Mohammed Saleh Hassan Anan, Nasser Saleh Hassan Anan, Jassem Saleh Hassan Anan. Ali Hussain Al Saleh and Ali Salah Manoor. On 7th April Mirza Abdul Hussain Al Saffar was arrested at a checkpoint.
The regime has sentenced a blogger, Ali Jassim Me’raj, from Nuwaidrat Town, to two and a half years for “insulting the king”. It is now a crime to criticise Bahrain’s dictator in any way or form.
On commenting on the Alkhalifa violations of human rights in relation to the Formula 1 race, The Committee to Protect Journalists said Bahrain ranks 2nd for most journalists imprisoned per capita in the world
On 4th April the renowned American writer, Toby Jones, wrote an article entitled: “Bahrain oil, American water” in which he said: “Bahrain is now an apartheid state, with roving bands of security forces curtailing Shiite movements, routinely cloaking villages in tear gas, and rounding up protesters. Police have detained hundreds of people, most of them young boys who pass their time with an eye toward every evening’s nine o’clock clash with the police. He said that President Obama had not raised the case of Bahrain with his Saudi hosts last week, and re-iterated that Formula 1 race organizers said human rights abuses are not their business. But then he narrated a personal story: “Last week I received an email from the father of Abdallah Madan, a 17-year-old Bahraini-American citizen, who was arrested for protesting in early March. He has been beaten, his nose has been broken, and there is no sign of his being released any time soon. US embassy offi cials were made to wait three weeks before being allowed to see him, and have so far not made his case a priority. Meanwhile, Abdallah has asked his father to take up the cause of more than 450 other children languishing in Manama’s prisons for standing up to autocracy.”
Jordanian activists have launched an electronic petition through Avaaz website in which they blamed the Jordanian government for sending troops to participate in the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain. They said: “The batons that left their marks on the backs of your sons in Bahrain streets had left their marks on the backs of our sons in the streets of Jordan, the hands that silence you are the same as the ones that had silenced us. Your sons are our sons, your blood is our blood and our freedom is one” It ended saying: “The participation of the police forces in security duties in Bahrain is the responsibility of the Jordanian authorities before anyone else. This authority that caused the poverty of its citizens and concentration of wealth and authority in the hands of the few is to be blamed for dragging the sons of Jordan to Bahrain to participate in repressing their brothers in return for being able to support their families. The authorities have extended supporting hands to whip the Bahraini citizens without consulting with anyone”
Bahrain Freedom Movement
9th April 2014
As the Saudis continued to drag their feet in Bahrain by constructing new military bases for their troops of occupation, they are also attempting to dominate the Arab political scene in different ways. At the Arab summit in Kuwait this week, the atmosphere was one of tyranny imposed by the Saudis who dictated the agenda by flexing their financial and political muscles. Instead of addressing the Arab people’s aspiration for freedom and democracy, the Saudis have deflected the debate and presented the pro-democracy movements as “terrorist” including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Bahraini activists. They refused to discuss the real terrorists who are supported by their intelligence agencies and petrodollars. Daily killing of innocent civilians in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Lebanon and Egypt have been ignored by the Arab summit. The sentencing of 529 Egyptians to death by the military-controlled judiciary has largely been sidelined.
In Bahrain, the Saudi occupation is behind the recent sentencing of several Bahrainis to death. The aim is to deter the pro-democracy movement and push it to submission.
Meanwhile, the Bahraini activists have escalated their efforts against the Formula 1 race planned to take place in Bahrain on 4-6th April. Termed “Blood race” by victims of Alkhalifa regim, F1 has become symbol of regime’s brutality and indifference to the misery and death of Bahrainis. The Death Squads have been rounding activists right, left and centre to ensure that no major protests are organised during the event.
Over the past 24 hours at least ten people have been detained from the towns of Karbabad, Jannusan and Al Qurayya. Among them is the Hussaini orator, Sheikh Ahmad Al Daqqaq from Karbabad. Yesterday eleven people were arrested from Karbabad, Samaheej, Nuwaidrat, Daih and Al Qurayya. including Sayed Ameen Sayed Hussain Al Mousawi, 17, Hussain Abdulla Al Qassim, from Abu Saiba, Mohammad Jaffar Hassan and Mohammad Jaffar Bu Nasib (from Samaheej). From Karbabad Hussain Abd Al Ali Al Heela, 24 was detained. In London, the pro-democracy Bahraini opposition is holding daily protest outside the F1 headquarters in Kensington. They started on 24th March and will continue for two weeks.
Two days ago, a young Bahraini was arrested because of his father’s activism. Mohsin, the son of Abdul Majeed Abdul Mohsin (known as Hajji Sumood by the revolutionary circles because of his steadfastness despite his old age) was arrested. He was at the Country Mall when members of Death Squads recognised him as the son of Bahrain’s eldest hero and audaciously attacked and arrested him.
On Sunday 23rd March the regime’s forces attacked a religious meeting at Sanabis for no reason. There was a competition in Qur’an recitation when an armoured vehicle was roaming the streets to stop any protest. As it approached the gate of the congregation hall it fired tear gas canisters at the entrance to the hall, causing panic, confusion and the ill-effects of the chemical gases. It was totally unwarranted attack similar to an earlier one last month at another mosque.
The role of the mercenaries in the Alkhalifa defence and security forces have recently come light and caused enormous distress and disappointment among Bahrainis and many Pakistanis. The visit by Bahrain’s dictator to Pakistan last week has aroused concerns that more mercenaries may be hired from that country to help in the crackdown on the ongoing protests. According to the Express Tribune, published with the International New York Times, Hamad Alkhalifa discussed with Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s premier “expanding their existing defence cooperation”. Bahrain’s dictator was also met by the heads of the three services, including Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif. The paper said: “Historically, Pakistan and Bahrain enjoy strong defence ties. Pakistan had reportedly helped Bahrain set up its naval forces and 18 per cent of the Gulf state’s air force comprises Pakistani personnel.” It further added: “It is estimated that almost 10,000 Pakistanis are serving in security services of Bahrain. During the Arab Spring, Bahrain is believed to have hired the services of retired military and police officials to quell the revolt.” On 20th March thousands of Pakistanis took part in demonstrations in several cities including Islamabad to protest against the visit by Bahrain’s dictator and to call for an end of Pakistan’s military support of Alkhalifa dictatorship.
Yesterday there was an intervention on Bahrain at the Human Rights Council session in Geneva under item 8. There will be two other interventions today under items 2 and 10. All are calling for international actions against Alkhalifa regime for serious abuses of human rights.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
26th March 2014