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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
A Bahraini citizen has been martyred after inhaling large quantities of chemical and tear gases fired by Alkhalifa forces on unarmed demonstrators. Jawad Al Hawi, 48, from Sitra City was passing by the area where a peaceful protest was taking place when regime’s forces hurled large quantities of lethal gases on Bahraini protesters. He collapsed as a result and within short period his soul rose to its Creator. Many people attended the martyr’s funeral, chanting anti-regime slogans. They were attacked mercilessly by the foreign-staffed riot police and security forces.
As the third anniversary of the Saudi occupation of Bahrain approaches there have been frantic activities inside and outside the country. There are calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Saudi troops from that country because the native population are wholly against it. The Saudi forces invaded Bahrain on 14th March 2011 and participated in heinous crimes. The UK Government was informed of the invasion in advance but did not oppose it. In Bahrain the Revolution has been intensified against the ruling Alkhalifa hereditary dictatorship which is accused of treachery. The dictator, Hamad bin Isa Alkhalifa, is accused of treason for inviting or accepting the Saudi occupation, compromising Bahrain’s sovereignty and seeking foreign and mercenary forces to kill Bahrainis. The killing last week of three mercenaries in an unexplained explosion has exposed the reality of the occupation by Saudi and Emirati forces.
The policy of kidnapping citizens and torturing them has continued unabated. On the eve of the National Day of Resistance Against Saudi Occupation at least 13 Bahrainis have been detained and 17 houses raided. Aseel Ali and Hassan Abdul Karim were snatched from their homes at Al Qurayya Town by members of Alkhalifa Death Squads. They have been taken to an unknown destination and fears are growing for their safety. As the kangaroo courts pursued their policies of exacting revenge on Bahrainis, three youth were sentenced to three years imprisonment for taking part in anti-regime protests. Mohammad Mahdi, 19, Yousuf Al Sayegh, 17 and Yousuf Abdul Hadi, 16, were tortured and abused before their court appearance. From Al Ekr town, Ali Hassan Al Mughanni was arrested today from his home. Three others were arrested from Nuwaidrat: Ilias Hassan Marhoon, Ahmad Abd Ali Jum’a and Jaber Hilal. Mahmood Abdul Redha Al Shahrakkani was arrested at a check point in Jufair.
As the American president prepares to visit Saudi Arabia, pressure is mounting on USA to come clean of its immoral links to the Gulf dictatorial monarchies. Twenty eight American Middle East experts have signed a letter to Mr Obama urging him to raise the case of Bahrain with the Saudi king during the visit. Washington has been reluctant to support pro-democracy calls in that region and has been accused of adopting double standards in dealing with the world. Its silence on horrendous human rights abuses by the GCC dictatorships has been condemned by political and human rights activists, at a time when the GCC itself is fragmenting from within.
In London the Bahraini opposition block has undertaken several activities to mark the occasion. On Monday 10th March a Press Conference was held by Lord Avebury, the Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee. Several speakers participated including Dr Mahmood Al Fardan who outlined the attack on the medical profession after the Saudi invasion. Rori Donaghy of the Emirates Centre for Human Rights outlined the serious abuses by the regime of that country against political activists. He said 128 political prisoners are languishing behind bars. Raza Kazmi, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, presented grim picture of the serious human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. On Tuesday night, a gathering was held to mark the Saudi invasion and occupation of Bahrain. Anti-war and anti-arms trade activists pledged support to the Bahrainis who are resisting foreign occupation.
Mr Obama’s visit to Riyadh has prompted calls from human rights activists as well as academics to be more pro-active and work to alter the course of the American policy in the Gulf. On 10th March, The Policy Outlook website published an important article by Frederic Wehrey entitled: “A New US Approach to Gulf Security”. The author said that ”The United States must focus more on promoting political and security sector reforms in the Gulf that are critical to long-term regional stability by better integrating its use of military and diplomatic tools.”. He added further: “U.S. relations with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf are strained by divergent policies toward a changing Middle East, the Gulf countries’ fears of being abandoned by the United States, and unprecedented intra-Gulf tensions. Washington has attempted to reassure Gulf partners of the strength of the security alliance while calling for liberalizing reforms. Increasingly , however, the Gulf states’ domestic policies have put them at odds with these calls. Contrary to some assumptions, the goals of reassurance and reform need not contradict one another: underscoring the urgency of much-needed institutional changes reinforces the U.S. commitment to durable regional security.”
Bahrain Freedom Movement
12th March 2104
A young Bahraini youth has been martyred while receiving treatment at hospital. Jaffar Ahmad Al Durazi passed away today after he was left without care following numerous sessions of severe torture. He was arrested in January with a group of youth who had been active in the pro-democracy movement. While in police custody, they were all subjected to extreme forms of torture including sexual abuse, electrocution and beating. They were then transferred to Rafaa police station to recuperate from their horrific injuries before their trial. But Jaffar’s conditions deteriorated as he was suffering from sickle cell blood disorder. He was transferred to the military-run Salmaniya Hospital where he was ill-treated further and denied proper medical care. He passed away in the early hours of this morning.
A kangaroo court run by the ruling Alkhalifa family has ordered the detention for one more week of a juvenile. Mahdi Ali Jaffar Shuja’a, 11, has been ordered to stay behind bars for one more week in revenge for joining a peaceful demonstration calling for democratic rights.
At the Awwamiyah Town of Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia two people were martyred by police on Thursday 20th February. Heavily-armed thugs of the Al Saud regime attacked the town and raided houses. Although he raised his white shirt to indicate his submission, Hussain Ali Al Faraj was hit with live bullets and died instantly. Shortly afterwards another house was raided and Ali Ahmed Al Faraj was also hit with live bullets which killed him on the spot. This criminal behaviour has enraged the people and pushed many of them to chant anti-regime slogans during the funerals of the martyrs.
On Sunday 23rd February, the people who were sitting in mourning at a congregation hall at Saar Town were bombarded with large amounts of chemical and tear gases. An armoured vehicle manned by members of Alkhalifa Death Squads targeted the audience at the town congregation hall as they took part in mourning the late pro-democracy journalist, Sayyed Ali Al Mousawi. A video showing the horrific crime was posted on the internet. In such circumstances (ie when there is irrefutable evidence of an Alkhalifa crime against the people) the regime would always promise to investigate, but none of the perpetrators of the crimes has ever been charged).
The Alkhalifa court has extended the illegal detention of three orators for unspecified periods for chanting pro-democracy slogans at one of the demonstrations. Lawyer Yousuf Rabi’e said that his clients; Abdul Jabbar Al Durazi, Mohammad Jaber Al Durazi and Poet Mohammad Al Yousuf were detained for 38 more days in the absence of their lawyer. An elderly citizen, Hajji Majeed, also known Hajji Sumood (steadfast) is among those detained for taking part in peaceful demonstrations. Al Wefaq Society described these harsh sentences against Bahrainis as revenge and unethical exploitation of power. Bahrain’s jails are overcrowded with more than 3000 political prisoners.
On 20th February, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action about a young Bahraini prisoner of conscience. It said that Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab saw his family for the first time on 10 February, a month after he was arrested, and again on 18 February. During the visits Ahmed al-Arab told his family that he was still suffering the effects of shoulder injuries, especially on his right side, which he said he had sustained as a result of severe beatings at the National Security Agency headquarters in the capital, Manama, and being hung from his wrists while they were twisted behind his back and handcuffed. He also told his family he had numbness in his hands and a tooth which was broken during the beating was bleeding every day. He said he had not received any medical attention for any of his injuries. He told his family that he had been severely beaten, on his genitals and elsewhere, at the National Security Agency and a detention facility in Riffa. He also said he had h ad his face covered with a cloth and water poured over it to make him feel as if he was drowning; he was threatened with having his nails pulled out and being raped. He was also made to sign papers while blindfolded but did not know what they were. During their first visit, the family saw that Ahmed al-Arab had scars on his face, black marks around his wrists and a broken tooth. Amnesty called on the regime to provide Mr Al Arab with urgently needed medical care, stop torturing him and allowing him access to his lawyer.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
26th February 2014
In a dramatic escalation of Alkhalifa enmity towards Bahrain’s people, the dictator and his entourage decided to execute a young Bahraini man. Maher Abbas Al Khabbaz on trumpeted charges. He is linked to alleged bomb making and activities that led to the death of a policeman. Five others accused in the case have received five years prison sentence. One Bahraini has also been sentenced to six years imprisonment. This case resonates with that of Isa Qambar who was executed by the regime in 1996 on unproven charges. Despite the killing of more than 150 Bahrainis no person has been executed or properly jailed.
Bahrainis and their supporters are planning big campaign next month to call for an immediate end to the Saudi military occupation of Bahrain. This will include protests inside and outside Bahrain, seminars and press conferences, public meetings with participation from anti-war campaigners and lobbying of Western governments to stand up against this evil occupation and demand the immediate withdrawal of Saudi troops from Bahrain. They will also call for removal of Alkhalifa regime which had sold the country and compromised its sovereignty. The Saudis had invaded Bahrain in mid-March 2011 and participated in atrocities against Bahrainis, their mosques, doctors, athletes, teachers, men, women and children.
Following the successful campaign to reinvigorate the third anniversary of the 14th February Revolution the Alkhalifa regime has intensified its repression and crackdown against Bahrainis. On 13th, 14th and 15th the people showed the world that their Revolution was here to stay and that the ruling clan was completely isolated. On 13th February, the people observed a general strike, with most shops closed and attendance at government’s offices at its lowest. Most parts of the country came to a standstill while protests spread to more than fifty areas. On Friday 14thFebruary there were many demonstrations as many people marched to the iconic site of the Pearl Roundabout. There were skirmishes with the foreign-staffed riot police. The regime’s Death Squads fired shotguns at the peaceful protesters, causing many injuries. On Saturday 15th February, one of the largest demonstrations ever seen in the country was staged. The political societies that had organized it esti mated the participants at more than quarter of a million people. The regime’s forces attacked the peaceful protesters and battles were fought between the Bahrainis and the foreign forces until late at night.
No sooner had these activities finished than did the ruling clan start its revenge on Bahrainis. On Tuesday 18th February at least three women were arrested during raids on their homes. Masooma Essa Naissar, Hamida Sarhan and Hala Abdul Jalil were forcibly pulled from their homes and taken to the Alkhalifa torture dungeons. Although Hamida Sarhan is disabled, her belongings including her computer were confiscated in the horrific raid at her home. On Monday 17th February, 11 years old Mahdi Ali Jaffar Shujaa, from Malikiya Town, was ordered to be detained for one week for taking part in peaceful protest. A similar sentence was imposed on 14 years old Ali Hassan Al Aali. From Bani Jamra town Abdul Raouf Al Jamri and his son Ahmed were sentenced to 10 years, while Redha Al Ghasrah to 15 years on malicious charge of possession of arms. Also the ruling clan sentenced Jaffar Ahmed Mahfoodhs and Sadiq Al Sabba’a to seven years on trumpeted charges.
The political prisoners at the Dry Dock torture centre have continued their hunger strike for the past week in solidarity with the people who were commemorating the anniversary of the Revolution. Lieutenant Hisham Al Zayyani, threatened to blow them up if they did not end their strike. But they have insisted on ending the kangaroo courts, improve prison conditions and stop torture. Detainees at sections 1, 3, 4, 5 and 8 of the prison took part in the strike. Their number exceeds 400.
In the past week Amnesty International issued two statements. The first was a warning to the Alkhalifa clan not to use force to crackdown on the proposed protests marking 3rd anniversary of the Revolution People must be allowed freedom to congregate, protest and express their demands freely without fear of attacks or retribution. The ruling Alkhalifa clan did not heed the call. Many Bahrainis were injured either by shotgun pellets or chemical gases used extensively by regime’s forces. The second was about Zainab Al Khawaja who was released this week but awaits dictator’s decision in other charges against her.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
19th February 2014
I had a heck of a time making sense of the U.S. Navy's new motto "A Global Force for Good" until I realized that it meant "We are a global force, and wherever we go we're never leaving."
For three years now people in the little island nation of Bahrain have been nonviolently protesting and demanding democratic reforms.
For three years now the king of Bahrain and his royal thugs have been shooting, kidnapping, torturing, imprisoning, and terrorizing nonviolent opponents. An opponent includes anyone speaking up for human rights or even "insulting" the king or his flag, which carries a sentence of 7 years in prison and a hefty fine.
For three years now, Saudi Arabia has been aiding the King of Bahrain in his crackdown on the people of Bahrain. A U.S. police chief named John Timoney, with a reputation for brutality earned in Miami and Philadelphia, was hired to help the Bahraini government intimidate and brutalize its population.
For three years now, the U.S. government has been tolerating the abuses committed by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, continuing to sell weapons to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and continuing to dock the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. In fact, the U.S. military has recently announced big and pricey plans to expand its bases in Bahrain and add more ships.
For three years now, the U.S. government has continued to dump some $150 billion (with a 'B') each year into the U.S. Navy, a large portion of which goes for the maintenance of the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. Withdrawing and disbanding that fleet would save that gargantuan expense. Retraining and re-employing in peaceful activities all personnel would cost a fraction of $150 billion. Providing aid to nonviolent pro-democracy activists in Bahrain would cost a tiny fraction of a fraction. Establishing a policy in the case of this one country of supporting human rights over brutal dictatorship would be, as they say, priceless. It would create a very useful model for a transformation of U.S. policy in numerous other nations as well.
Accurate and timely information about the horrors underway for the past three years in Bahrain are available online, via Western human rights groups, and via small back-page stories in U.S. newspapers. There's little dispute over the general facts. Yet, there's little outrage. There appears to have been no polling done of the U.S. public on the topic of Bahrain whatsoever, so it's impossible to know what people think. But my impression is that most people have never heard of the place.
The U.S. government is not shouting about the need to bomb Bahrain to protect its people. Senators are not insisting on sanctions, sanctions, and more sanctions. There seems to be no crisis, no need for "intervention," only the need to end an intervention we aren't told about.
Which raises a tough question for people who give a damn. We're able to reject a war on Iran or Syria when the question is raised on our televisions. But we can't seem to stop drone strikes nobody tells us about. How do we create a question nobody is asking, about a topic nobody has heard of, and then answer it humanely and wisely? And how do we overcome the inevitable pretense that the Fifth Fleet serves some useful purpose, and that this purpose justifies a little teargas, a bit of torture, and some murders here and there?
The Fifth Fleet claims to be responsible for these nations: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. None of these nations have ships in U.S. waters claiming to be responsible for it. None of these nations' peoples have indicated majority support for having the Fifth Fleet be responsible for them. Afghanistan has suffered under U.S. occupation for over a decade, with chaos and tyranny to follow. Egypt's thugs are rising anew with steady U.S. support, money, and weaponry. Iran has threatened and attacked no other nation for centuries, has never had a nuclear weapons program, spends less than 1% what the U.S. does on its military, and moves away from democracy with every U.S. threat. Why not leave Iran alone? Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and others of these nations, including Bahrain, suffer under the rule of U.S.-backed governments. One might reasonably add Israel and the lands it occupies to the list, even if the Navy cannot bring itself to mention them. Yemen and Pakistan suffer under the constant buzzing and missile launching of U.S. drones, which are creating far more enemies than they kill. In fact, not a single nation falling under the past 19 years of benevolent "responsibility" of the Fifth Fleet has clearly benefitted in any way.
At a third annual conference recently held in Lebanon, Bahraini activists laid out a plan of action. It includes building international connections with people who care and are willing to help. It includes supporting the International Day to End Impunity on November 23rd. It includes pushing Bahrain to join the ICC, although that may be of little value until the U.S. can be persuaded to do the same and until the United Nations can be democratized. The plan includes calls for an end to weapons sales and the initiation of sanctions against the Bahraini government (not its people).
Those would certainly be good steps. The first question in my mind remains: do the people in the nation that screams most loudly about "freedom" and does the most to support its repression wherever deemed useful, care?
The latest martyr on the road to freedom and democracy is 50-years old Asmaa Hussain whose soul ascended to Heavens yesterday. In the early hours of Tuesday, 11th February members of Death Squads attacked several houses at Jid Al Hajj town, West of Manama, breaking doors, smashing furniture and terrorizing whole families. The victim was frozen to death when heavily-armed “security” thugs broke into her home while the family were asleep. She immediately collapsed. Attempts by her family to rush her to hospital failed because of the refusal of the attackers to allow them out. People were enraged as they were also attacked during her funeral few hours later. They remained defiant calling for regime’s downfall and calling on the world to take the killers to task and defend Bahraini native population from Alkhalifa policies of extermination.
Meanwhile the preparations for the third anniversary of the 14th February Revolution continued amid unprecedented crackdown on activists. Many young Bahrainis have been kidnapped and taken to the regime’s torture dungeons. The aim is to break the will of the people who are more enthusiastic than ever to pursue their peaceful activities until their demands are fulfilled. Three years of unprecedented repression and state terrorism have convinced most native Bahrainis that nothing short of regime change could salvage the country and the people. Yesterday two children, Ahmad Jaffar, 14, and Salman Abdullah, 15, from Abu Saiba’ town were condemned to imprisonment in torture dungeons. Many others were also detained to ensure that maximum Bahrainis are taken off the streets during the anniversary activities. On 10th February, Sayed Ahmad Salman Al Mousawi, a photographer from Duraz and his brother, Mohammad were arrested as part of the regime’s campaign to round up independent journalists and photographers. From Karranah, Hassan Ahmad was arrested by members of Death Squads operated by royal court. Sayed Ali Nazar was arrested on Monday from Qurayya Town.
The face of Mohammad Abd Ali, 13, reflects the horrific wounds sustained when he was hit by police with shotgun s. On Saturday 8th February, the boy opened the door of his house to go out when he was showered by police using lethal shotguns. These attacks happen daily in most parts of Bahrain as the regime continues to use shotguns as a weapon against peaceful protesters.
An Emirati company has decided to close down its operations in Bahrain after accumulating losses exceeding 7 million Bahraini Dinars (around $20 millions). The company had opened six branches for Waitrose in the towns of Saar, Barbar, Mahooz, Rafaa and Sitra. The Bahraini economy has been hit hard by the Revolution and all attempts by Alkhalifa crown prince to change the image of his family rule have failed. This year’s Formula 1 race, scheduled for April, has already been thrown into turmoil as Bahrainis intensify their efforts to stop the race. Last year, a Bahraini activist, Salah Abbas, was killed by regime’s Death Squads in their attempts to stop protests in the days leading to the race that is now commonly known as “blood race”. Two women are languishing at Alkhalifa torture dungeons for attempting to take the political case of Bahrainis inside the F1 race course.
Meanwhile Freedom House has issued a statement entitled: Bahrain Toughens Imprisonment, Fines for Anyone "Insulting" Monarch”. It said: King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain should rescind a new law imposing prison sentences of up to seven years for anyone convicted of publicly insulting the king or national emblems, a measure that violates fundamental rights of freedom of speech, Freedom House said. It further added that the new law “went beyond existing law measures by providing for the prison sentence as well as fine of up to the equivalent of $26,500. It also applies to “whoever has insulted, in any kind of public manner, the king of Bahrain, or its national flag or its national emblem.” The measure clearly targets protesters whose calls for greater political freedom began in February 2011. The Bahraini government has increasingly used national security arguments and the threat of terrorism to enact legislation curbing basic freedoms, such as freedom of assembly and free expression online. Continuing human rights abuses have worsened tension between the Sunni-dominated government and the majority Shiite population, which is largely unrepresented in state institutions like the police and military, and has accounted for the bulk of protesters. Freedom House calls on Bahraini authorities to guarantee all citizens their rights to freedom of speech and assembly.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
12th February 2014
Ended the Third International Conference under the title: "Bahrain .. ongoing violations and impunity," its Thursday evening February 13, 2014.
Has kicked off the conference on Thursday morning, after opening on Wednesday evening in February 2014. The conference began two words Avctahitin Prime Bahrain Forum for Human Rights and Chairman Joseph Spring Observatory Bahrain human rights lawyer Mohammed Merchant stressed the need to focus during the conference to address the policy of impunity.
The conferees discussed, during the three sessions attended by a select group of representatives of international human rights organizations, Arab and legal personalities from different countries of the world, a large number of working papers which dealt with:
1. Artkabat government of Bahrain against the peaceful people of killings, torture and arbitrary arrests and raids, as well as the issue of deprivation of citizenship for opponents.
2. The absence of justice and accountability and the impunity of the perpetrators; where deliberately courts to exonerate the security men of crimes they commit; come down with the most severe penalties activists peaceful defenders of human rights.
3. Prejudice to the government of Bahrain to its international obligations, particularly the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the protection of the rights of children, women and others, and retreat from the recommendations of all obligations of the Human Rights Council, the Commission Bassiouni, and the need to ratify the international conventions signed by them.
4. Identify possible international mechanisms to hold accountable those responsible for abuses in Bahrain.
At the conclusion of the conference read head of Bahrain Forum for Human Rights decisions Joseph Spring Conference which concluded:
1. The establishment of an international network of organizations and human rights and political figures, media and other activists in the areas of human rights to support the Bahraini people in their struggle peacefully in order to obtain their legitimate rights.
2. Adoption of the International Day to End Impunity November 23 days to end impunity in Bahrain so that different events are held in the framework of demand the trial of those involved.
He also presented the recommendations of the conference which is the following:
1. Invite the international community to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to join the International Criminal Court, and the signing of additional protocols, especially for children and women.
2. Claim the government of Bahrain to ensure the impartiality and independence of the judiciary, and to ensure the right of litigants to a fair trial.
3. Accounting involved committing crimes against the Bahraini people, whatever their positions and their positions.
4. Allow all special rapporteurs of the United Nations concerned with freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and freedom of religion and belief, and freedom of association to visit Bahrain, and immediately set an appointment to visit the UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan Méndez.
5. It called on all states to refrain from exporting weapons to Bahrain to repress the demonstrators, and demand from countries that send their citizens to work in the Bahraini security services to stop being used in repression.
6. Invite the United Nations and the international community to approve sanctions against the Bahraini government because of its repressive practices against the people of Bahrain and appeal lawyers and jurists to coordinate among themselves in order to activate the role of international justice in the Accounting perpetrators of crimes against the people.
7. Remove inhibitions in front of the international media to play a role in the coverage of what is happening in Bahrain events freely and without restrictions.
The 3 rd International Conference on Human Rights on Bahrain organized by Bahrain Forum for Human Rights and its senior partner Bahrain Human Rights Observatory and held on Feb. 12-13, 2014 in Beirut under the title of Bahrain: Ongoing Violations and Impunity.
The event was attended by the elite of the representative of Bahrain, Arabian and international human rights organizations and lawyers from different countries in the world.
The participants discussed a number of featured papers highlighting the following:
1. Bahrain government's committing of crimes against its peaceful nation inducing crimes, torturing, home raids, arbitrary arrests and denationalization from individuals affiliated to the opposition.
The absentia of justice and holding accountability of those involved in crimes and displacing impunity as Bahrain's courts acquaint security forces from their crimes but issues the harshest sentences against peaceful activists and human rights defenders.
3. Bahrain is not abiding the international commitment and conventions it signed especially the Anti-Torture Convention and the Protection of Children and Women Conventions. Neither has it implemented any of the recommendations issued by Human Rights Council and Bassiouni's mission. Besides that it is not responding the urgency of ratifying the international conventions it signed.
4. Specifying the potential international mechanisms to hold accountability of those involved in committing crimes in Bahrain.
The attendees have decided to:
1. Establishing an international network that includes legal, political, media and human rights bodies, individuals and activists to support the Bahraini people in their struggle to meet their legal rights.
2. Adopting the international day of Impunity on November 23 campaigning to end impunity in Bahrain and bring criminals to justice.
The participants have come to the following recommendations:
1. Calling the international committee to place pressure on the government of Bahrain to be brought to The International Criminal Court and to let it ratify the additional protocols especially those related to woman and child protection
2. Appealing to the government of Bahrain to guarantee the independence and neutrality of judicial system and having fair trials to those judged.
3. Holding accountability of those involved in committing crimes against the Bahraini nation-whoever they might be and whatever ranks they may be occupying
4. Allowing UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly, freedom of Religion or Belief, freedom of assembly foundation to visit Bahrain and also to set an urgent appointment to meet the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
Visiting Professor Juan E Mendez
5. Calling all of the states to stop exporting arms to Bahrain for they are being used to oppress the protesters. Calling all of the countries that are sending their people to work in security in Bahrain to stop for they are deployed for oppression practices.
6. Calling the UN and International Committee to issue sanctions against Bahrain government because of its practices of oppression against the Bahraini nation. Calling all of the lawyers and human rights activists to coordinate with each other to activate the role of the international judiciary system to hold accountability of all of those involved in committing crimes against the Bahraini nations.
7. Removing all of the obstacles preventing international media from coverage in Bahrain and informing what is going on there freely and with no restrictions.
The call of the conference
By the end of the conference, the gathering calls Bahrain government to immediately release the thirteen Bahraini prominent leaders and activists on top of whom is the head of Bahrain Center for Human Rights along with the other children, women, sick and old people as well.
The gathering also calls for the stop of the house raids and cancelling trials and order of arrests, and list of wanted and forbidden from travel.
It also calls to let the exiled Bahrainis be allowed to come home back and to remove all shapes of force deployed in streets, and to let practice more freedom of expression, peaceful protests, joining associations, and freedom of religion.
As preparations for the third anniversary of the 14th February Revolution approaches, the regime has intensified its mass arrests and other means of repression. On Monday 3rd February, several people were arrested. Mohammad Al Sheikh and Mohammad Al Oraibi were detained at the airport upon their return from a religious trip. Jaffar Al Shughul, Sadiq Hassan, Hassan Ayyoub and Hussain Ahmad Kadhem were arrested in the early hours and their homes at Aali Town were raided and ransacked. The regime has refused to release an under-age child, Ammar Yasser Abdulla despite pleas by human rights activists to do so. The family of Mohammad Bader Al Sheikh is extremely worried about his welfare after his house had been raided again and his belongings either confiscated or destroyed. On Monday 3rd January, Hussain Ali Abbas and his brother, Hassan, were arrested in a raid on their home at Bouri Town.
In a serious violation of basic norms of human rights and justice, Death Squads kidnapped a grandfather and forced his grandson to hand over himself to the torturers. Sayyed Mahamood Sayyed Saeed from Bouri Town could not tolerate his grandfather’s abduction and ill-treatment by those heartless people, so he handed himself to the torturers. From Malikiya two people were arrested on 4th February; Abdulla Al Sheikh and Ali Al Habbash. From Karzakkan Abbas Mansi Yousuf was detained yesterday and taken to torture dungeons.
Meanwhile the regime has refused to release the internationally-renowned human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab who had lodged an appeal against his latest conviction. He has to remain for several more weeks before another appeal is heard. The decision whether to release Nabeel Rajab or other human rights and political activists rests with the dictator who directs his “judiciary” what to do.
The fate of a Bahraini artist, Sadiq Al Sha’bani is still unknown since his disappearance in Oman on 27th January. He may have been handed to Alkhalifa torturers. His family is extremely concerned for his well-being and is anxious to know where he is. The Omani Government must inform his family of Mr Sha’bani’s whereabouts.
On another level, sixty towns and villages signed a statement distancing themselves from any attempt to normalise relations with Alkhalifa clan through the empty slogan of “dialogue”. There is widespread anger among Bahrainis that this process aims at dampening people’s zeal and determination to cleanse the country of the tribal rule which is guilty of most heinous crimes against humanity, including torture, extra-judicial killings and genocidal policies.
Amnesty International issued two Urgent Actions this week to deal with the deepening human rights crisis in Bahrain. On 31st January an Urgent Action Update was issued on behalf of Bahraini activist Zainab Al-Khawaja who was sentenced to a further four months in prison by a Criminal Court in relation to two new cases brought against her for “destroying government property”. It emphasised that Zainab Al-Khawaja is a prisoner of conscience held solely for peacefully exercising her rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and urging the authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally. It urged the regime to quash her prison sentences, drop all the charges and overturn all her convictions; and to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly and ensure that all human rights organizations and human rights defenders are able to carry out their work without hindrance, intimidation or harassment.
Another Urgent Action was issued on 4th February about 22 years old Ahmed Mohammad Saleh Al Arab who had been held incommunicado since his arrest on 9th January. Amnesty expressed fear that this Bahraini citizen is at risk of torture. It said: Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab continues to be denied family visits after 27 days of detention. There are fears the authorities are hiding that he has been tortured while held incommunicado. He has been denied medical care. It urged the Bahraini authorities to provide Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab with immediate access to his lawyer, family and any medical care he may need; called for an investigation of allegations that Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab was tortured and otherwise ill-treated and bring those responsible to justice. It also called on the Alkhalifa regime to either charge Ahmed Mohammad Saleh al-Arab with a recognizably criminal offence or release him.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
5th February 2014
A young Bahraini youth has been martyred by live police bullets. Fadhel Abbas Muslim, 19, had been shot on 8th January at Al Markh Town with two other youths. One of them, Sadiq Al Usfoor is still in serious condition. For two weeks the Alkhalifa clan refused to release any information about the victim who is believed to have died of his wounds on the day of the shooting. The images taken of his body in the mortuary after it was delivered on Sunday 26th January, clearly show the bullet wounds to his head, shoulder and foot. The fatal bullet was fired from the back which indicates that it was an execution by the Death Squads which are controlled by the royal court. Later in the day his funeral was attached mercilessly by the regime’s forces and some mourners were injured. The Bahrainis are now resigned for an eventual showdown with the Alkhalifa dictators and Saudi occupiers to free their country from their evil rule.
Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action demanding thorough and impartial investigation into this heinous crime which has shocked the population because of its barbarism and disregard for human life. “The Bahraini authorities must immediately investigate the death in custody of a 19-year-old boy who was shot in the head by security forces,” said Amnesty International. “Bahrain’s authorities must come clean and open a full, independent investigation to establish the truth about the death of Fadel Abbas. Those responsible for his death must be held to account,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. “The conflicting information that has emerged over the version of events that led to his death makes such an investigation even more urgent.”
This extra judicial killing has confirmed the impossibility of “reforming” the regime which is still adopting torture and extra judicial killing as means of revenge from the people. The people have, once again, vowed to remain in the streets until the Alkhalifa regime is brought down. The peaceful nature of the Revolution has embarrassed Alkhalifa allies who continue to support this ailing hereditary dictatorship.
On another level, more Bahrainis have been sentenced to lengthy jail sentences by Alkhalifa kangaroo courts for taking part in peaceful protests. In one of the sessions last week, jailed photographer, Hussain Hubail said to the “judge” that lieutenant Fawwaz Al Samim had tortured him and his colleagues at the CID torture chambers, both physically and psychologically. He added that this torturer had threatened to rape their mothers and sisters. Another Bahraini, Jassim Al Nu’aimi, a blogger, said that Fawwza Al Samim had tortured him at CID torture dungeons. The “judge” ignored their claims and proceeded to persecute them. Two days ago a Bahraini citizen disappeared in Oman, and is believed to have been detained by security forces. Sadiq Sha’bani’s fate is unknown and his family has not been informed by the Omanis of his fate.
Today, Alkhalifa high court issued an order to dissolve the Supreme Scholar’s Council, which represents the native Shia Muslim majority. It also called for closing down its headquarters and confiscation of its assets. The Council has been mainly engaged in religious affairs and had hardly engaged in political activities. It has, however, refused to tow the line of the Alkhalifa and Al Saud occupiers. The Clerical Council has been 'meek' politically so targeting it is more to do with continuing persecution & forcing it into concessions. The decision which must have come from the dictator, himself, will open a new battlefront with the religious establishment
Bahrain Freedom Movement
29th January 2014
The meeting between the Alkhalifa crown prince and a delegation from Al Wefaq on Wednesday 15th January was seen by the revolutionary youth as a dirty ploy designed to confuse the situation and give false impression of a blood-thirsty dictatorial regime. While Salman Alkhalifa is himself discredited for his support of the violence perpetrated by his clan against Bahrainis, the two other Alkhalifa members present at the meeting has enraged the people for the atrocities they committed against the country and its native inhabitants. The Bahraini opposition is planning to bring them to international courts for demolishing mosques, torturing people to death, acts of rape of prisoners, extra-judicial killings and gassing demonstrators, elderly people and children to death. The aim of the meeting is seen as nothing more a desperate attempt to stall the preparations by Bahrainis to re-invigorate the Revolution on its third anniversary on 14th February. The dictator’s son has re peated his failures time and again with those hollow meetings that have been discredited for being hollow gestures. The people’s stand has remained defiant; that the Alkhalifa regime must go.
Among the atrocious acts committed by the regime is the continuous arrest, torture and unfair trials of Bahrainis. According to Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Ahmed Al-Arab’s fate is still unknown since his abduction by Death Squads on 9th January. Children Jehad AlSamea (10 years) and Abdulla AlBahrani (13 years) had their detention renewed until 27 January 2014. The Committee to Defend Athletes has reported a rise in targeting athletes. There are now 73 of them behind bars for protesting peacefully. The Committee to Defend Imprisoned Athletes stated that it had documented dozens of arrests among athletes, the total sentence of 42 athlete is approximately 634 years. Athlete Abdulla Al-Maghni was sentenced to 72 years in more than a case.
The BCHR has also documented three arrests since November in cases of vengeance against the arrested individuals' for the political and human rights activities of their. The security forces arrested Mahmood Aqeel Al-Sari on 6 November 2013, and Ahmed Hasan Mushaima on 28 December, while the airport security forces arrested Sheikh Yasser Al-Saleh on 26 December 2013.
There has been a deep feeling of disappointment at the decision by UK to send Prince Andrew to Bahrain. According to the British Embassy in Manama the trip was to help promote what its website calls “Great British Week”. This included a performance by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and is designed to boost trade and “emphasise the friendship and strong bilateral relationship between the United Kingdom and Bahrain.” The Duke of York wanted to promote 200 years of British/Bahraini relations by forging stronger links with, and defence of the Alkhalifa hereditary repressive dictatorship.
The British policy in Bahrain has been a source of unease among political activists who see UK’s expertise in the security field being used to repress Bahraini people. Torture has been rampant and new cases of this horrific treatment like that of Ahmad Mushaima confirms this. The UK’s image is being tarnished by this involvement which does not serve British interests.
Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action on behalf of Bahraini photojournalist Ahmad Fardan who was released on bail on 9 January, pending investigation on a new charge of “involvement in a Molotov cocktail attack on police in December”. He has said that he was tortured.
Meanwhile, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) has commented on the controversy surrounding Formula 1 future. It said: Bernie Ecclestone has stepped down from the F1 board as he faces trial for bribery. Formula One and the FIA will be facing a media backlash because of the case and the last thing they need is Bahrain creeping up on them. This is a massive boost for the campaign. BIRD has already sent a letter to the Chairman of the FIA Jean Todt asking him for an immediate suspension of all FIA activities in Bahrain pending an investigation into a breach of their code of ethics.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
22nd January 2014
As the third anniversary of the 14th February Revolution approaches the Alkhalifa regime has intensified its crackdown on Bahrainis in a desperate attempt to stall massive demonstrations to mark the occasion. Three young people from Duraz were kidnapped by members of the Death Squads operating under the control of the royal court. Fadhel Muslim, Ali Abdul Ameer and Sadiq Al Asfoor were detained one week ago and nothing has been heard of them since. They were hit by police using live ammunition in revenge for continuing the civil strife that has exposed Alkhalifa as the worst regime in the Middle East in terms of despotism and human rights violations. Also the fate of Formula 1 victim, Nafisa Al Usfoor, is causing concern to her family. She was due to have a family visit earlier this week but the visit was cancelled and the family was told that the young Bahraini had been transferred to hospital. Together with Rayhana Al Mousawi, Nafisa was subjected to horrific torture includ ing sexual assaults after their arrest during the F1 race last year. Bahrainis are now viewing this race with contempt as it has caused enormous pain to Bahrainis over the past few years.
Arrest of Bahrainis has, meanwhile, continued unabated. Mohammad Ali Khamis from Bilad Al Qadim was arrested on Tuesday 14thJanuary. Two youths from Bani Jamra were also arrested: Ahmad Al Arab and Mansoor Al Jamri. The policy of revenge from anyone who speaks out about treatment inside the torture dungeons has continued. Abdul Jabbar Ahmad was arrested two weeks ago and subjected to severe torture. While his friends gathered in mosques to pray for him, Others called for investigating the torture he had endured. Al Wasat newspaper also dealt with his case. The Alkhalifa regime’s reaction was to order his transfer to another cell and deny him medication for his ailments resulting from torture.Two other Bahrainis have been jailed for five years for taking part in anti-regime protest. Sayed Jaffar Sayed Salman and Abdulla Ahmad were subjected to horrific treatment before their sentence.
On 14th January Amnesty International urged its members to write to Alkhalifa dictators to demand the immediate release of Ahmad Mushaima, the son of the popular leader, Hassan Mushaima. He was arrested two weeks ago in revenge from his father and family, subjected to horrific torture and detained for no criminal reason. The Urgent Action said: “Ahmad Mushaima’, who suffers from Blount's disease, a deformity of the lower legs, was taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in the capital, Manama, where he was beaten, kicked in the legs, forced to insult his father and his religion, and coerced into signing documents. He was accused of participating in demonstrations in Jid Hafs, just outside Manama,” Amnesty also called for immediate investigation into allegations of torture and bring those responsible to justice.
Amnesty International also issued an Urgent Action calling for dropping the charges against Hussain Jawad since they are related solely to the legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression; It urged Alkhalifa officials to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly and ensure that all human rights organizations and human rights defenders are able to carry out their work without hindrance, intimidation or harassment. Hussain Jawad, Chairman of the European-Bahraini organization for Human Rights (EBOHR), was released from Dry Dock prison on bail of 100 Bahraini Dinars (US$265) on 9 January 2014, 46 days after his arrest. He was charged with, among other things, “inciting hatred against the regime”. He is now facing trial but no dates have yet been scheduled.
Calls have also been made by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the OMCT for the release of Nabeel Rajab who has been behind bars for more than 18 months for opposing Alkhalifa hereditary dictatorship. Mr. Rajab’s ongoing detention is arbitrary as it results from the exercise of his universally recognised human rights and as his right to a fair trial has not been guaranteed. The two organisations called upon the Bahraini authorities to immediately comply with the UN WGAD's decision and release Mr. Rajab immediately and unconditionally.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
15th January 2014
The arrest and subsequent execution of a prominent Saudi terrorist in Lebanon has awoken the world to the murderous policies of the Saudi regime. Majed Al Majed, the head of Abdulla Azzam battalions, which is affiliated to Al Qa’ida, was arrested by Lebanese authorities on 26th December. It is widely believed that he worked for the Saudi intelligence networks. His group had claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut last month that claimed the lives of at least 23 people. But before the Americans or the Iranians could question him, he was swiftly liquidated after Saudi Arabia paid $US billions to the Lebanese government. This is one of the most outrageous episodes of espionage, terrorism and corruption attributed to the Saudi regime. Al Majed would have become the “smoking gun” that would have implicated the Saudis in the terrorist campaign which is being waged in the name of Al Qa’ida. It is clear that the world is now pay ing the price of its silence on the Saudi invasion and occupation of Bahrain in mid-March 2011.
In a major setback to the Alkhalifa dictators, South Korea decided to stop the shipment of tear gas canisters to Bahrain. South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration, which oversees the country’s military trade, told two companies that sought approval to export to Bahrain in October and November to suspend shipments. Lee Jung-geun, a spokesman for the defence agency, said the decision had been made because of the “unstable politics in the country , people’s death due to tear gas and complaints from human rights groups”. Bahrain’s interior ministry in June solicited bids for 1.6m tear gas projectiles, 90,000 tear gas grenades and 145,000 stun grenades, according to a tender document leaked to Bahrain Watch, an advocacy group. The order would have been of a similar magnitude to the 2m tear gas projectiles that activists estimate were fired by the security forces since pro-democracy protests swept the strategic island in Februa ry 2011. “This is also a clear message to any other countries considering supplying tear gas to Bahrain that profiting from repression is unacceptable,” Bahrain Watch said in a statement.
Despite the international rebuke of the Alkhalifa regime, it continued human rights abuses at an alarming rate. In the first week of the New Year 40 Bahrainis were arbitrarily detained without arrest warrants, according to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. On Monday 6th January Mohammad Jawad Me’raj and his brother, Ali, were arrested during a raid on their home. The same day Abbas Ali, from Maqaba Town, was arrested and taken to the torture dungeons. He had just been released last month. The regime decided to detain the well-known athlete, Ahmad Hamza, for sixty days, at the Dry Dock torture centre, pending investigation. He is a member of Bahrain’s National Volleyball team. On 2nd of January, Mohammad Kadhem Al Halwachi, was detained as he landed at the airport, and taken to an unknown location. Sayed Ali Sayed Hadi was also detained at the airport.
Among the detainees in recent days are: Abdul Nabi Hassan Mahdi who was detained at a checkpoint near his town, Sadad. From Hamad town Hussain Al Mesbah and his brother, Amin were arrested yesterday. From Jannusan, Fadhel Ali Abdul Aziz was taken by members of Death Squads to the torture chambers. From Duraz Town, 12 youths were arrested on Monday including; Aamer Baddao, Ahmed Mohammad Habib, Jalal Al Anfooz, Ali Al Matrook, Mohsin Al Marzooq and Hassan Alao. Images of their homes show extensive damage inflicted by Alkhalifa agents during the raids. They did not only arrest the youths but wreaked havoc on their homes. Under international pressure The Juvenile Prosecution ordered on 26 December that 13-year-old cousins Sayed Tameem Majed Ahmad Majed and Sayed Hashim Alwai Ahmad Majed should be released on bail. Both are still facing charges of “illegal gathering” and “throwing Molotov cocktails at a police patrol”. But he replaced t hem with two other children; Jihad, 10 and Abdulla, 13 who had to remain at the torture centre until 6th January.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
8th January 2014
International Campaign Led By NGOs Succeeds in Pressuring Korean Regulator To Cancel Shipment
Advocacy group Bahrain Watch announced today that the #StopTheShipment campaign it launched two months ago to prevent a massive shipment of tear gas to Bahrain, has achieved a major milestone. The Financial Times reported today that South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) denied two requests to export tear gas to Bahrain due to the “unstable politics in the country [Bahrain], people’s death due to tear gas and complaints from human rights groups”.
The campaign initially targeted all of Bahrain’s tear gas suppliers, but zeroed in on South Korea after DAPA confirmed in October that it was considering a request to export tear gas to Bahrain from an unnamed Korean company, suspected to be DaeKwang Chemical Corporation. The shipment was believed to comprise in excess of 1.6 million rounds of tear gas based on a leaked tender document from a source close to Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior. However, in today’s Financial Times article DaeKwang’s CEO said that as part of the deal, which was worth USD $28 million, the Bahraini government was planning to buy 3 million tear gas canisters – around 4 canisters for each Bahraini citizen. DAPA’s decision to cease exports means that this tear gas will not reach Bahrain.
South Korea joins other countries including the United States and United Kingdom, who have already stopped tear gas exports to Bahrain due to human rights concerns. Since 2011, at least 39 deaths in Bahrain have been linked to misuse of tear gas, according to data compiled by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). The deaths include 14 year old Ali Jawad al-Shaikh who was shot in the back of his neck with a tear gas canister, and 15 year old Sayed Hashim Saeed, also shot in his neck with a tear gas canister at close range. No police officer or other government official in Bahrain has been held accountable for these or any other abuses due to the systematic misuse of tear gas, despite serious concerns raised by the United Nations Human Rights Council and the well-documented accounts that described the Bahraini government’s use of tear gas as “unnecessary, indiscriminate” and “lethal”.
Thanks to participation and solidarity from around the world, #StopTheShipment prevented a South Korean company from sending millions more of these tear gas canisters to Bahrain
Over the past two months, the #StopTheShipment campaign has gained widespread support in Bahrain and around the world, which involved protests on the ground both in London and Seoul. Participants in the campaign placed calls, and sent over 390,000 emails to the Korean government. The action against Korean tear gas exports culminated in complaints lodged with the OECD, and five UN Special Rapporteurs, by a Bahrain Watch legal team. The legal team consists of Michael Mansfield QC, Daniel Carey (DPG Law), Mark MacDonald, James Suzano (ADHRB), Ahmed Ali (Bahrain Watch), and Bahrain Watch interns Yousif al-Saraf, Nozgul Ali, and Ali Alibahai.
Since concerns have been raised that Korean companies could try to export a shipment ultimately destined for Bahrain through a third-party via another country, the legal team will continue to follow up with such legal complaints to prevent any third-party exports to the Bahraini government. #StopTheShipment will also continue to target Bahrain’s other tear gas suppliers, including South African/German company Rheinmetall Denel Munitions.
Bahrain Watch issued the following statement: “This suspension of tear gas shipments to Bahrain is a victory for human rights and a successful outcome for the #StopTheShipment campaign, which began in October. The South Korean government is wise to heed the calls of Bahrainis to end the export of tear gas to their government that has been systematically and routinely misusing it as a weapon oppression and collective punishment. We hope this step will be the beginning of the end to the untold suffering, the deaths, injuries and illnesses related to tear gas abuse. This is also a clear message to any other country considering supplying tear gas to the Bahraini government that profiting from repression is unacceptable.”
Sarah Waldron from Campaign Against the Arms Trade said: "This is a major victory for the human rights movement and shows what we can do when we work across borders and support each other. It is utterly unacceptable for any government to prioritise their short term sales over the safety and human rights of people living under oppression. This is a great result for the campaign, but we need to build on it and make sure that human rights are at the centre of our trading policies. Any government which supports arms sales to Bahrain is also offering moral and practical support to an authoritarian regime that is abusing its own citizens."
Solicitor Daniel Carey from the legal team said: “The South Korean Government’s decision doesn’t just reflect good governance. International human rights law requires states to prevent the supply of tear gas to countries such as Bahrain, which has deployed it against civilian populations causing systematic loss of life, inhuman treatment and disproportionate interferences with the freedoms of expression and assembly. Those obligations apply with equal force to any other state whose arms industry is now contemplating filling this 'gap in the market’. Our complaints to the UN Special Rapporteurs also apply to them.”
Bahrain Watch launched the #StopTheShipment campaign in cooperation with Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). Bahrain Watch is grateful for the widespread support from key partners and endorsers, without which the campaign could not have succeeded.
ٍSpecial thanks go to (in no particular order):
Deighton Pierce Glynn, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights First, IFEX, Marietje Schaake MEP, Amnesty International, Lord Avebury (Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group), REDRESS, Omega Research Foundation, Ceartas: Irish Lawyers for Human Rights, Facing Tear Gas, MENA Solidarity Network, Banyan: SOAS Advocates, Linda @SE25A
Korean NGOs, including: Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), Amnesty International Korea, Anti-war Peace Solidarity Korea, Catholics for Human Rights, Citizen’s Solidarity for Peace and Unification, Committee for International Solidarity of Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Cultural Action, Daejeon Women’s Association for Peace, Friends of Peace, Gunsan Center for US Military Base Suffering, Imagination for International Solidarity, Korea Peace Foundation, Korea Teachers and Education Workers Union, Korean House for International Solidarity, LifePeace, Nanum Munhwa, Nonviolent Peaceforce Korea, Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, One Korea Action, Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea, Peace Forum of Civil Society Organizations Network in Korea, Peace Ground, Peace Museum, Peace Network, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Sarangbang Group for Human Rights, The Frontiers, Weapon Zero, Women Making Peace, Workers’ Solidarity, World Without War, Young Left in Korea.
Korean Unified Progressive Party National Assembly members: Mi Hyui Kim, Sun Dong Kim, Jae Yeon Kim, Byung Yun Oh, Sang Kyu Lee, Seok Ki Lee.
Endorsers, including: Noam Chomsky, John Pilger (broadcaster and writer), David Graeber (Professor of Anthropology, LSE), Norman Finkelstein (academic and activist), Hamid Dabashi (Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University), David Barsamian (broadcaster and writer), As’ad Abukhalil (Professor of Political Science, California State), Andrew Feinstein (writer and former South African MP), Christie Turlington (model and activist), Prof. Costas Douzinas (Professor of Law, Birkbeck, University of London), Lindsey German (Stop the War Coalition), David McKnight (UNISON), Azadeh Shahshahani, (President, National Lawyers Guild, USA), David Hartsough (Peaceworkers), George Monbiot (writer), Alaa AbdulFattah (blogger and activist, Egypt), Tony Lloyd (Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester and ex-Labour Party Chair).
Bahrain Watch is a monitoring and advocacy group that seeks to promote effective, accountable, and transparent governance in Bahrain through research and evidence-based advocacy. For more info visit: https://bahrainwatch.org/