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    By Benjamin Weiner, Human Rights First

    The main penitentiary in Bahrain, Jaw Prison, is 34 percent over capacity, according to a September 2013 report by an Ombudsman’s office within the Bahraini Ministry of the Interior. This overcrowding is a recipe for destabilization that could spread beyond the prison’s walls on this small island nation, home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

    Many of the problems in Jaw stem from the growing population of prisoners who shouldn’t be there–political prisoners jailed for expressing their views peacefully. The Ombudsman’s report did not address the reasons for the increased number of prisoners, but instead concentrated on conditions. It made several notable findings and recommendations.

    At the time of the report, Jaw Prison held 1,608 prisoners, well beyond its capacity of 1,201. Some cells lack toilets, many are overcrowded, and some are dirty. Additionally, medical facilities are insufficiently clean, and prisoners could not access health care quickly. Staff have no training in first aid.

    Maryam Abu Deeb’s father Mahdi is a prisoner in Jaw Prison, serving a five year sentence for criticism of the government.  She told Human Rights First that “the prison can’t cope with the number of people in it—the clinic facilities are really bad and the health care for prisoners is terrible.”

    The daughter of a another prominent dissenter jailed in Jaw Prison informed Human Rights First that it “lacks minimum standards—prisoners have to buy bottled water from their own pockets. There have been several hunger strikes and protests at conditions in recent weeks—there’s also a lack of hot water for washing in the winter and many prisoners have health problems that aren’t properly addressed, including dental problems.”

    The Ombudsman reported weak training programs for staff on maintaining order, as well as deficiencies in documentation of the use of force in individual prisoners’ records. Further, Jaw Prison does not comply with international standards requiring cameras in all prison buildings, corridors, and wards.  The prison also lacks home schooling and other rehabilitation programs for prisoners.

    The Ministry of the Interior’s Ombudsman recommended that several steps be taken, including reducing overcrowding in cells, installing surveillance cameras, and enabling diabetic patients to receive insulin injections.

    Bahrain’s government has shown itself ready to identify human rights problems in the past, only to ignore them. Three months after its own report revealing poor conditions in Jaw Prison, much remains to be fixed.

    http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/2013/12/16/peaceful-activists-face-inhumane-conditions-in-bahrain%E2%80%99s-overcrowded-central-prison/

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    Soon after the popular uprising began in Bahrain in 2011, 13 opposition leaders were arrested. Their ‘crime’ was expressing their opinions peacefully: calling for democracy, an end to corruption, opposing the monarchy.

    After an unfair trial the men were sentenced to between five years and life in prison. Some say they were tortured, and all are prisoners of conscience. Farida Ghulam, wife of imprisoned opposition leader Ebrahim Sharif, told Amnesty International their story.

    Please tell us a little about yourself, Ebrahim and his connection with the other prisoners
    Ebrahim is a prominent political figure – he’s been the Secretary General of Bahrain’s secular National Democratic Action Society (NDAS) – the Wa’ad party – since 2007. I’ve been married to him for 28 years. I’ve been a women’s rights activist since I was 17 and have been president of Bahrain’s first women’s rights organization. I’m currently the head of the NDAS’ Women’s Bureau and work as an evaluation specialist in Bahrain’s Ministry of Education.

    Ebrahim (pictured on the “stamp” image above, right, with ‘Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja) is an outspoken person who became a threat to the government. If you are in the opposition and telling hard truths that people are afraid to speak about – like stolen lands and secret budgets – you become a target.

    He and the others come from different schools of thought, but are all part of the opposition. After 14 February 2011 [when Bahrain’s popular uprising began], people gathered at the Pearl Roundabout [in the capital, Manama], where Ebrahim and the others were giving speeches every night. The government wanted to put them all in one basket and accused them of trying to topple the regime.

    TAKE ACTION:

    13 Jailed Opposition Activists; Jailed for their activism and expressing opinions

    What happened when they were detained?
    Ebrahim was arrested on 17 March 2011 [all 13 men were arrested between that day and 9 April 2011]. Around 30-40 guards came at 2am and kept ringing the bell. One pointed his gun at Ebrahim’s head. Ebrahim was very calm – saying he didn’t have to use the gun, and that he would go with them voluntarily. They took him, and when I asked where I could contact him they laughed at me. It was a very tough moment.

    That night, Ebrahim and others were stripped naked and put in solitary confinement. A teamof torturers beat them for around an hour, three times a day. They threw cold water on Ebrahim’s mattress and turned the air conditioning up high so he couldn’t sleep. After two months the torture stopped because of international attention. The men now suffer from pain, illnesses and the aftermath of torture, and most have not been given any medical treatment.

    What happened during and after their trials?
    They went through trials for 21 months with no means of defending themselves. Some were sentenced to life [Hassan Mshaima’, ‘Abdelwahab Hussain, ‘Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Dr ‘Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad, Abdel-Jalil al-Miqdad and Sa’eed Mirza al-Nuri], others to 15 years [Mohammad Hassan Jawwad, Mohammad ‘Ali Ridha Isma’il, Abdullah al-Mahroos and ‘Abdul-Hadi ‘Abdullah Hassan al-Mukhodher]. My husband and another man [Salah ‘Abdullah Hubail Al-Khawaja] got five years. It was astonishing and strange when a civilian appeal court said in April 2012 that what happened in the military court was wrong, that they should be free. But the public prosecutor said nothing would change.

    It was devastating, especially for those who were sentenced to life. But because this is a political situation and the government is taking revenge against masses of people, it makes your problem seem a little bit smaller. You have to be strong for your family and other people.

    How has their imprisonment affected you and the other families? 
    I have become more outspoken – all the families take any opportunity to speak on the men’s behalf. I’ve had many hate letters and messages on Twitter – people sending me a picture of a hang rope, saying that I am a traitor. I was dismissed from my job for three months and interrogated. But it’s worth it, because this is a just case.

    The regime here is trying to control every outlet for the opposition, including on national TV, and most magazines. But now everyone uses Twitter very successfully to convey their messages. If your account is big, the Ministries of the Interior or Justice sometimes reply, using degrading language, saying that we are lying. But we are simply telling the truth.

    What does it mean to the 13 men to be featured in Write for Rights 2013? 
    I have to thank Amnesty for all its efforts – it really affects the men’s spirit by reminding them that they are not forgotten. All these people writing for their cause – it’s a big thing! International activism has a tremendous effect on Bahraini activists, knowing that somebody is telling their story. In our country there has been a total plan to block the opposition, spread lies and distort the story. It’s very important for us– it gives us more confidence and strength to continue. It makes us happy that there are people who appreciate basic rights, stand by their principles and use their time and effort to help us. It’s a beautiful solidarity feeling.

    What are your hopes for Bahrain’s future?
    We have a road map for a better future called the Manama Document. We want a society with equality for all, where all Bahrainis can get a job if they are competent, instead of having discrimination against Shi'a and opposition party members.

    We continue to hope that international pressure will make the Bahraini government admit that the uprising resulted from long unresolved political issues that continue to be ignored and silenced, instead of trying to control everything. You can’t lie all the time.

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/bahrain-high-price-telling-hard-truths-2013-12-16

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern for the persistence of official bodies in restricting freedom of expression on the Internet in Bahrain in an attempt to conceal evidence of corruption.

    On 18 November 2013, the Under-secretary of the Ministry of Education Abdulla Al-Mutawa issued a circular to all school principals prohibiting them from publishing photos and news without prior approval from the Ministry. The circular stated that, ‘schools are not entitled to directly publish news or photos in various media outlets, including Instagram’. It should also be noted that the Ministry of Education was widely criticized after photos were published online showing school playgrounds filled up with water after the heavy rainfalls which made transport to the schools difficult for students and teachers, and it resulted in adjourning lessons in some schools.[i] These photographs allegedly revealed the administrative and financial corruption surrounding the fact that schools are not built with an appropriate drainage system. Note that the Ministry of Education’s budget for 2013 was 337.1 million BHD (895 million USD).[ii]

     

    The constitution of Bahrain guarantees the right to freedom of expression, but is not respected in practice; the authorities in Bahrain are still monitoring social media and punish Internet users for critical comments and tweets against government parties. There are currently several trials ongoing for cases involving publishing information online. The State Minister for Communication Affairs, Fawaz Mohammed Al-Khalifa, had indicated in August 2013 that he will be, ‘establishing a team between the State Ministry for Communication Affairs and telecommunication companies to work on monitoring and tracking the inciting websites, forums and social media networks’.

    Freedom House mentioned in its report Freedom On The Internet 2013 that the Bahraini Authorities had blocked more than 1000 electronic websites, and it categorized Bahrain as “not free”.[iii] The month of August witnessed the closing down of a number of electronic websites, among them is the Bahraini Olamaa Islamic Council (www.olamaa.net), while the State Ministry for Communication Affairs declared on 4 August that it ‘monitored 70 violating websites, forums and social media networks’, promising to ‘take necessary measures against them’.

    The restrictions to limit freedom of expression on the Internet lie within the scope of violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19, which states that ‘everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’

     

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls upon the United States, the United Kingdom and United Nations and other allies and international institutes to put pressure on the Bahraini Authorities in order to:

    • Annul all the restrictions and practices that constrain freedom of expression on the Internet;
    • Immediately release all individuals who have been arrested for practicing their right to freedom of opinion and expression according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to drop all charges against them;
    • Annul all laws that criminalize practicing the peaceful right of freedom of expression, in line with Bahrain’s obligations according to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

     

    Read more about the violations of the Authorities in Bahrain against freedom of expression and targeting journalists, bloggers and activists: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/ar/issue/term/51

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is appalled by the continuous arrests and detention of children under the age of 18 on arbitrary charges in blatant disregard to the international treaties that Bahrain has signed for the protection of children’s rights.

    On 19 December 2013, two children were interrogated for several hours by the Public Prosecution: Jehad Nabeel AlSameea (ten years-old) and Abdulla Yusuf AlBahrani (thirteen years-old). They then each received a detention order by the juvenile judge for seven days pending investigation on the charge of “attacking a police patrol”. They will be held at held at a juvenile detention centre under the control of the Ministry of Interior.

    Jihad Al-Sameea crying in police custody

    Minors below the age of 15 are not criminally responsible in the eyes of the law in Bahrain, however, they are often arrested from areas close to protests, and can be detained for several weeks.

    The act of detaining a child is in disagreement with several articles of the Convention On The Rights Of The Child, including Article (3): "In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration." , Article (37): "States Parties shall ensure that: (b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;"

    In a recent report by Amnesty International, it was revealed that at least 100 children (between 15 to 18 years old) are currently detained without court verdicts at the Dry Docks prison.[1]

     

    The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the UN, UNICEF,  and all other allies and international institutions to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to immediately:

    • Release the children Jehad Nabeel AlSameea and Abdulla Yusuf AlBahrani as well as all other detained children who were arrested during the on-going protests in Bahrain.
    • Drop all falsified charges against them.
    • Stop violating children's rights and stop the targeting of children with arrest, detention and ill-treatment.
    • To abide by the laws of the International Convention for the Rights of the Child.
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    On-the-ground sources are running out fast in Bahrain. Those who have not been locked up or tortured for opposing the ruling monarchy are finding themselves with no option but exile.

    Thirty-one-year-old Yousif al-Muhafda is the latest activist to join the growing list of asylum seekers to flee Bahrain – ruled by the Khalifa family since their 1783 invasion of the Gulf archipelago brought the tribesmen to power.

    Two weeks ago Muhafda wrote a letter from Europe announcing he would not be returning home after receiving a barrage of death threats, following the launch of a campaign that publicly outed officials involved in the torture and killing of prisoners.

    “The son of the king can go on TV and threaten protesters, and officials can send death threats under their real names and photos, and they feel confident that they won’t be held to account.”

    The most alarming threat came from Adel Fleifel – a former security official notorious for corruption and torture – who, in thinly veiled terms, called for the father of two to be killed in a tweet earlier this month.

    "This is what we mean when we talk about the culture of impunity in Bahrain," Muhafda told Al-Akhbar.

    “The son of the king can go on TV and threaten protesters, and officials can send death threats under their real names and photos, and they feel confident that they won’t be held to account.”

    Documenting crimes

    With short curly hair and long, neatly trimmed sideburns that curve down past his earlobes, Muhafda looks more like an aspiring pop star than a local champion for human rights, now widely recognizable across Bahrain.

    Muhafda was the eyes and ears of the popular revolt which broke out on February 14, 2011 to demand political reforms and an end to the Khalifa dynasty’s concentration of wealth and power.

    As head of the documentation unit at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), he closely monitored the ensuing (and ongoing) regime crackdown on dissidents which has left about 90 civilians dead in an island kingdom of 1.2 million, half of whom are migrant workers and other foreigners.

    Unable to contain the movement, Bahrain’s regime ushered in a Saudi-led Gulf force a month after the uprising began in a bid to crush it. The move was quietly supported by the United States which continued to send arms to Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet.

    For almost three years Muhafda traversed from village to village, interviewing people who had been harassed, beaten, shot, and had their homes raided and ransacked by regime forces. With mounting evidence in hand, he shared an endless stream of photographs, videos, and reports implicating the kingdom’s ruling family in violations of human rights to his nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter.

    Since the 2011 revolt he has been arrested seven times, and collectively spent about eight weeks in prison for documenting violations.

    International rights groups, including Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights and others, have come to rely on BCHR for that kind of intrepid investigative work.

    “It proves how dangerous it is to challenge the Bahraini authorities and to demand basic human rights,” Jebsen told Al-Akhbar in reference to Muhafda’s decision to go into exile.

    And earlier this year Norway’s Rafto Foundation honored the group with its annual human rights award for its “very courageous and principled” approach to the crackdown in Bahrain, the group’s executive director Therese Jebsen said.

    But at home the embarrassment it caused to the regime led to BCHR being branded public enemy number one. The Center’s two co-founders, as well as one of their daughters were jailed, while its other members were forced to move their operations abroad to escape the witch hunt, bolstered by unfettered Saudi and US support.

    “It's extremely sad to see the situation in Bahrain where the regime chooses to threaten and punish human rights defenders,” she said. “And it's also a big problem that the perpetrators are not put on trial.”

    “Wanted for Justice”

    Muhafda understood what he was getting into when, on November 1, his organization began publishing “wanted” posters with the names and faces of officials who allegedly tortured dissidents and political opponents, some of whose cases dated back decades.

    The posters included the allegations against the officials along with links to reports from international rights groups and victims’ testimonies.

    With 59 mugshots on file, the “wanted” campaign wrapped up on November 23 – symbolically chosen to coincide with the International Day to End Impunity – with the indictment of the regime’s chief tyrants: King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, who were said to be legally responsible for the human rights abuses committed by their henchmen.

    “I know I cannot go back to my country,” Muhafda said, explaining that he moved his wife and two daughters, aged five and three, out of Bahrain after the launch of the campaign over fears of reprisals.

    “But for me, this is the cost for change,” the activist added. “Some of those people on the list are responsible for crimes from the 1980s, and they are still in their positions repeating those violations because they were not held accountable.”

    International efforts

    BCHR’s “wanted” campaign represented a turning point for Bahrain’s activists-in-exile who are now focusing their efforts on persuading foreign governments to blacklist regime officials. They hope to collect enough evidence to convince Western states to stop arms shipment to Bahrain, deny travel visas to known torturers, slap them with sanctions, and eventually put them on trial.

    “Some of these people on the [wanted] list have traveled to Europe and the United States, and their faces needed to be known,” Maryam al-Khawaja, who assumed the role as BCHR’s acting president after the imprisonment of her father Abdulhadi, along with Nabeel Rajab, the group’s two co-founders.

    “Once we put out their faces and names and the allegations against them we could start working on an international level to get accountability through courts and visa bans,” the 26-year-old explained to Al-Akhbar.

    Khawaja spoke over the phone during a trip to Washington DC and New York where she, as a sort of de facto international envoy for the movement, distributed copies of BCHR’s final “wanted” report to government officials and policy makers ahead of a regional “security summit” in Manama earlier this month.

    “We gave them the report and told them that there are people here that you probably will meet in person, and it’s always good to know who it is you are speaking to,” Khawaja said.

    Seperately, Reda al-Fardan, another exiled activist from the groupBahrain Watch, visited the US Capitol last week where he met with Susan Rice, America’s ambassador to the UN, to promote the cause.

    Ongoing repression

    Meanwhile back in Bahrain, the repression persists with an estimated 2,500 anti-Khalifa protesters and activists behind bars. In the last three months alone authorities have handed sentences of up to life in prison to nearly 200 people accused of “terrorism.”

    Among the more prominent cases was that of Naji Fateel, a popular blogger and board member from the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights who was abducted from his home by regime forces in May and held incommunicado for two days before being allowed to call his family.

    Fateel testified in court that during his first few days of detention, his genitals were hooked up to cables and jolted with electricity, and that he was severely punched, kicked and threatened with rape. Unmoved, a judge in October convicted the 39-year-old activist of involvement in “setting up a terrorist group” to “harm national unity” and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

    The United States and other Western powers have acknowledged Bahrain’s dismal human rights record and called for reforms in recent years. But their actions tell a completely different story.

    A report issued in November by the US-based group Human Rights First calculated that since 2000, the United States has sold $1.4 billion worth of weapons to Bahrain. US arms deals with Bahrain have continued since the 2011 uprising with sales of helicopters, a missile system, ammunition and spare parts for combat vehicles.

    It’s hardly a surprise considering the Khalifa regime caters to a major American naval base, which is set for a $580 million renovation project, according to the report. Details of that expansion are laid out in a story carried by a US military mouthpiece earlier this month.

    “It’s going to take a long time and require a lot of hard work, and it might not even be in our lifetime that things change,” Khawaja said.

    “But it’s the work of the people on the ground, and also the work of people working internationally that’s going to help bring us to that point where change becomes inevitable.”

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    Source: Reporters Without Borders - Fri, 20 Dec 2013 02:56 AM

    Author: Reporters Without Borders

    A complaint filed with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) against Trovicor GmbH, a German company accused of selling surveillance technology to Bahrain, has been rejected on almost every count, the German National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD announced.

    In February 2013, Reporters Without Borders, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Privacy International, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and Bahrain Watch filed a complaint with the NCP which accused Trovicor of breaching the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, all of which concern human rights, by exporting surveillance technology. In Bahrain this technology has enabled grave human rights abuses, including the arrest, detention and torture of political opponents and dissidents by the government of the Arab Gulf state Bahrain.

    The complainants criticise the decision of the NCP, which has suggested to accept the complaint for further investigation solely regarding Trovicor's due diligence procedures. The complainants consider the participation in a subsequent mediation process which would leave the most substantial allegations regarding Trovicor's involvement in Bahrain undiscussed, as suggested by the German NCP, an unacceptable outcome of the proceedings.

    In their appeal against the decision, the complainants have maintained that their primary accusation, namely that Trovicor breached the OECD Guidelines by maintaining technology in Bahrain that assisted the Bahraini authorities in monitoring and even detention and torture of activists, has been sufficiently substantiated. Involvement in Bahrain was admitted by a spokesman for Trovicor's predecessor Nokia Siemens Networks, has been confirmed by employees in 2010 and has never been denied by Trovicor.

    The German NCP, however, holds that the involvement of Trovicor in Bahrain were not sufficiently substantiated, and that an "in-depth examination is only possible in relation to the general risk management of Trovicor". "Especially for confidential areas such as the surveillance technology, it is unreasonable to expect the victims of serious human rights violations to submit the complete chain of evidence," said Miriam Saage-Maaß from ECCHR. "If one raises the bar to such a high level even for the decision of a complaint to be examined, then the OECD complaints procedure would be obsolete."

    The decision of the German NCP stand in stark contrast with the response of the British NCP in a parallel complaint against UK-based company Gamma International regarding its involvement in Bahrain, which was accepted for further investigation by the NCP in June 2013.

    "The de facto rejection of our complaint against Trovicor is a disappointment, but it will not stop the fight against digital weapons," said Christian Mihr, executive director of Reporters Without Borders Germany. „Internationally, the perspective is growing that the limitless use of digital surveillance technology constitutes a threat to press freedom and other human rights." Mihr referred to the recent agreement on including surveillance technologies in the Wassenaar Arrangement on export controls.

    Eric King, Head of Research at Privacy International, said: "The NCP's unwillingness to examine Trovicor's role in human rights abuses in Bahrain is shameful. By failing to investigate the extent of the company's wrongdoing, the NCP is turning a blind eye to how German made surveillance technology is being used by the Bahraini government to target and suppress pro-democracy voices."

    http://www.trust.org/item/20131220134103-b7jkd/

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    Published as received - 

    In the context of discussing the struggle of the African leader Nelson Mandela, and as an example of the double standards of some of those who celebrate him these days, the human rights activist AbdulhadiAl-Khawaja revealed the attempts of Bahraini diplomats and officials to urge him and his fellow prisoners to declare that they condemn violence as a means to be released, and as a contribution in solving the crisis in Bahrain.

    This happened – according to Al-Khawaja – since the beginning of the current year 2013, where the same question was repeatedly conveyed by diplomats representing major Western countries whether he and the other prisoners with him were ready to condemn violence. This happened again directly by the EU Commissioner for Human Rights when he was visiting Al-Khawaja in prison 27 June 2013.

    Al-Khawaja’s response was a definitive refusal to compromise their freedom in this manner, which the Authority aims to use as a means for holding them responsible for the crisis in the country, although it had tacitly accepted that it is the one that holds that responsibility after acknowledging the results of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and which concluded that what took place in February 2011 was a result of the accumulation of injustices and violations, and the protestors raising their level of demands, and the polarization that took place after that is a result of the violence and suppression used by the Authority against those protests.

    Al-Khawaja expressed in his response great astonishment that representatives of Western countries who carry slogans of justice and human rights would come forth with such a faulty and unjust proposition towards well-known human rights activists and politicians who have been subjected to arbitrary arrest, physical torture and unjust trials as part of the procedures carried out by the Authority to suppress public protests. This has been documented in details in the BICI report formed by the Authority itself. Reports and statements have also been released by the UN and other international organizations and American and European bodies that demand their release since they are prisoners of conscious and not advocates of violence and terrorism as the Authority claimed without any evidence.

    Al-Khawaja informed those “mediators” that he speaks for himself only, however he does not think that any of the other political prisoners would accept such a malicious and unjust compromise on their freedom and demands, and in a manner that the Authority can use against them or against any escalating public movement.

    He explained that if the Authority was serious in emitting the security congestion and preventing the outbreak of violence in the country, it would have taken serious measures that guarantee launching public liberties, suspending unjust laws, withdrawing the special security forces from areas of protests, stop the excessive use of force and besieging areas and raiding homes, and the arbitrary arrests and unjust trials, and releasing all prisoners and implementing the BICI and UN Human Rights Council recommendations through independent mechanisms that are accepted by all parties, especially the victims of violations and not through mechanisms and institutes that stem from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Authority that are implicated in those violations. If serious action was taken towards this approach it will pave the way for a comprehensive treatment of the situation through real representatives of the people and its different segments who are elected freely and impartially.

    Al-Khawaja noted in his speech about those “mediators”, that the embassy of Denmark has never mentioned such a compromise, although it is directly and continuously in contact with the Bahraini Authorities – as he holds a Danish citizenship – and that Denmark has carried out unremitting efforts in his case.

    Mandela… who refused to renounce violence:

    Despite the vast difference between the leaders of the imprisoned public movement in Bahrain – who adopted peaceful protest – and the African leader Nelson Mandela who established the military wing and adopted the strategy of sabotage and armed struggle, Mandela refused the entire period of his imprisonment to succumb to any pressures to renounce violence as a price for his freedom, and despite that, the entire world is celebrating him as a hero and freedom fighter. As follows are details of the aforementioned which were included in his memoir “Long Walk to Freedom”:

    • On 31 January 1985, the president of South Africa announced that Mandela and all the other political prisoners will be released if they declared condemning violence as a political tool… the president added that this proposition shows that what stands in the way of Mandela’s freedom is not the government, but he, himself (pg. 713).
    • On 10 February 1995, Mandela replied in a public speech read by his daughter, he said, “We resorted to armed struggled only when all means of other resistance was shut in our faces... the regime itself should renounce violence… and release all prisoners… and guarantee the freedom of political work where the people decide who governs them… I will not make any pledge at a time where you and I are not free…” (pg. 716)
    • In his meetings with the secret government committee during 1988, Mandela replied to the demands for him to renounce violence by saying that the state is responsible for the violence and that the unjust ruler is the one that imposes on those oppressed their method of struggle, if the ruler uses violence, the oppressed would have no other choice but to respond with violence. (pg. 737)
    • Mandela mentioned that the African National Congress had declared in its recent conferences the escalation of armed struggle until the government is ready to negotiate, and that the Congress is unwilling to negotiate until all leaders of the Congress are released. (pg. 739)
    • In the first press conference that was held after his release in February 1990, Mandela stated to the journalists that there is no conflict between his continuous support of armed struggle and the call for negotiations. Since the reality on ground and the pressure of armed struggle is what made the government approach the negotiations.

     

    Note: the page numbers mentioned are from the English paperback edition published by Back Bay Books.

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    From Jaw prison in Bahrain, Nabeel Rajab, FIDH Deputy Secretary General, wrote to Ales Bialiatski, FIDH Vice-President, who has been imprisoned for more than 2 years in Belarus.

    My colleague, my friend, my beloved brother Ales, 

    I am Nabeel Rajab writing to you from prison in Bahrain. 

    I know a great man like you is imprisoned because you refuse to live in an unjust world. 

    It is so sad that all people of Belarus are being punished by taking you away from them. 

    You belong to your people, fighting for their rights, striving for their freedom, and seeking justice... 

    I sometime feel like screaming your name in my little jail and sometime feel helpless because I, instead, should by journeying the whole world fighting for your release. 

    I am so confident that we both will come out from prison even stronger, and will continue our journey towards freedom, democracy and social justice for all humanity. 

    With sincere love and gratitude, 

    Nabeel Rajab
    From Jaw Prison - Bahrain

     
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    UA: 343/13 Index: MDE 11/059/2013 Bahrain Date: 20 December 2013

    Two Bahraini boys, Jehad Nabeel al-Samee’ and ‘Abdullah Yousif al-Bahraini, are being held in a juvenile detention centre for investigation. They were brought before the Juvenile Prosecution on 18 December, accused of “attacking a police patrol with stones” and “illegal gathering and rioting”.

    The two boys, 10-year-old Jehad Nabeel al-Samee’ and 13-year-old ‘Abdullah Yousif al-Bahraini, were arrested on 16 December in Jid Hafs, just outside the capital, Manama, by riot police present as a march was taking place in the area. The two boys did not know each other. They were taken to the al-Khamis Police Station at around 4pm and were accused of throwing stones at a police patrol. The two boys were released that night and their parents were asked to bring them back to the police station on 18 December, from where they were taken to the Juvenile Prosecution.

    The Juvenile Prosecution questioned the boys on 18 December, and ordered them to be detained for seven days for investigation. Though their lawyer’s representative was present, Jehad did not understand what was said to him; he admitted taking part in the march and seeing ‘Abdullah wearing a mask and throwing stones but he denied throwing stones himself. ‘Abdullah said that he had been hit on the back of the neck, threatened with electric shocks and forced to sign “confessions”. He denied taking part in the march, covering his face or throwing stones at the police. The juvenile judge ordered their detention for seven days pending investigation. They are both facing charges of “illegal gathering and rioting” and “attacking a police patrol with stones” and are scheduled to appear before the Juvenile Prosecutor on 25 December.

    Jehad’s father was able to visit him on 19 December for five minutes, and has said that his son was very frightened and was shaking. ‘Abdullah was taken to a forensic doctor after he had made allegations of being hit.

    Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language:

    • Urging the authorities to ensure that Jehad Nabeel al-Samee’ and ‘Abdullah Yousif al-Bahraini are treated in accordance with the international standards of juvenile justice;
    • Urging them to protect both boys from torture and other ill-treatment;
    • Calling on them to order an independent investigation into the reported torture or other ill-treatment of ‘Abdullah Yousif al-Bahraini and bring anyone responsible to account.

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 31 JANUARY 2014 TO:

    King

    Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa

    Office of His Majesty the King

    P.O. Box 555

    Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama,

    Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1766 4587

    Salutation: Your Majesty

     

    Minister of Interior

    Shaikh Rashid bin ‘Abdullah Al Khalifa

    Ministry of Interior

    P.O. Box 13, al-Manama,

    Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1723 2661

    Twitter: @moi_Bahrain

    Salutation: Your Excellency

     

    And copies to:

    Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs

    Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa

    Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs

    P. O. Box 450, al-Manama,

    Bahrain

    Fax: +973 1753 1284

    Email: minister@justice.gov.bh

    Twitter: @Khaled_Bin_Ali

     

    Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

    Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

     

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    Scores of children have been arrested and detained in the last two years, in connection with anti-government protests in Bahrain. They have been suspected of, among other things, participating in “illegal gatherings”, rioting, burning tyres or throwing Molotov cocktails at police patrols. Some have been released without charge but dozens are being tried or held for investigation. According to local sources, a number of children have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated to force them to sign “confessions” which are used in court to incriminate them and others.

    Provisions in Bahraini legislation with regard to children, especially those applicable to children in conflict with the law, flout international standards of juvenile justice. According to the Child Law of 2012 (Article 4), a child is defined as someone not exceeding the age of 18 years. However, children who have turned 15 and are in conflict with the law are considered as adults. According to the 1976 Juvenile Law, a juvenile is someone not exceeding 15 years of age, whereas the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Bahrain in 1992, defines a child as anyone below the age of 18. Bahrain’s Penal Code (Article 32) states that “there is no [criminal] responsibility for anyone not exceeding the age of 15 when the crime was committed”. The Article also states that provisions of the 1976 Juvenile Law apply when a person is below the age of 15 “at the time of committing an act constituting a crime”. In reality, the legal minimum age of criminal responsibility is seven, which is extremely low compared to internationally accepted standards. Provisions contained in the Penal Code and the 2006 anti-terrorism law apply to anyone detained in connection with anti-government protests. For those under the age of 15, juvenile courts apply punishment laid out in the Juvenile Law: up to 10 years’ imprisonment in felony cases, up to five years in misdemeanour cases and up to three years in cases of “behavioural problems”.

    Following recommendations made by Bahrain’s parliament in July 2013 the King issued several decrees with a view to further suppressing dissent and tightening the screw on freedom of expression and assembly. The decrees increased punishments laid out in the 2006 anti-terrorism law and banned indefinitely all demonstrations, sit-ins, marches and public gatherings in the capital, Manama. Some of the provisions in these decrees undermine certain children’s rights, including their right to freedom of assembly.

    Nearly three years after the popular uprising in Bahrain, and beneath the fanfare of reform, prisoners of conscience, including some arrested during the protests, remain behind bars and the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly continue to be suppressed. In recent months, not only have prisoners of conscience not been released, but more people have been jailed simply for daring to express their views, whether via Twitter or on peaceful marches. Bahraini courts have appeared more concerned with toeing the government’s line than offering effective remedy to Bahrainis and upholding the rule of law.

    The European Parliament passed a resolution on 12 September calling for respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Bahrain. Among other recommendations, the resolution urges the Bahraini authorities to respect the rights of juveniles, to refrain from detaining them in adult facilities, and to treat juveniles in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Bahrain is a party. Also in mid-September a joint statement signed by 47 countries at the UN Human Rights Council expressed concerns about the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain.

    For further information see the report Children in a maze of injustice (Index: MDE 11/057/2013), issued on 16 December 2013 (http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/057/2013/en).

    Name: Jehad Nabeel al-Samee’ and ‘Abdullah Yousif al-Bahraini

    Gender m/f: m

     

     

     

    UA: 343/13 Index: MDE 11/059/2013 Issue Date: 20 December 2013

     

     

    http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/059/2013/en

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    Dear Abdulhadi

    I know that you won't get this letter but I hope that you will at least hear of it. I just want you to know that you are not forgotten and that your friends and former colleagues in Front Line Defenders are thinking of you.

    Here in Ireland people are finishing up for the holidays and getting ready to spend time with their friends and families. I am deeply conscious of the fact that while you remain in prison , your daughter Zainab is also in prison and your other daughter Maryam has to continue her work for human rights in Bahrain from outside the country.

    Human rights defenders pay a high price for their courage but governments should realise that they will be remembered for their crimes. Kingdoms may crumble and tyrants will fall, as in the end they inevitably do, but what survives is the strength and courage of ordinary people who cling to their principles and refuse to be beaten down by oppression.

    Abdulhadi, we remember you with deep affection and we send to you, to Nabeel to Zainab and the entire community of human rights defenders in Bahrain this Season's greeting from Dublin.

    Yours in friendship

    Mary Lawlor

    Executive Director

    Front Line Defenders

    Abdulhadi Al Khawaja is currently serving a life sentence in Bahrain after a grossly unfair trial. He was arrested during the violent clampdown on demonstrators at the Pearl Roundabout and charged with plotting to overthrow the Government, purely because of his peaceful work for human rights in Bahrain and across the Middle East.http://www.bahrainhrd.org/abdulhadi.html

    https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/24543

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern over the authorities attack on freedom of expression. Dr. Saeed Al-Semahiji was recently tried and sentenced on the charge of "insulting the king" for a speech he gave during a funeral.

    On Wednesday, 18 September 2013, Dr. Saeed Al-Semahiji was summoned by the Criminal Investigation department (CID) for interrogation; however, because he wasn't feeling well, he went to the CID on Thursday. On his way to the interrogation, he received a call from his family that security forces were at his house with an arrest warrant.

    Dr. Al-Semahiji was interrogated about a speech he gave during a protester’s funeral. He was then transferred to the public prosecution for further interrogation and he was show a video recording of his speech. 

    Dr. Al-Semahiji was accused of "insulting the king" a charge that he denied. However, his case was transferred to court. On 11 December 2013, the lower criminal court convicted him of the charge, and sentenced him to one-year imprisonment. He was released on BD200 bail.

    His lawyer stated in his defense that what his client said falls under his right to freedom of expression and that he didn't insult the king. He also said that there are many complaints of inciting hatred that were documented and confirmed by the BICI, that no actions were taken to hold those responsible accountable, although the incidents were reported to the authorities.

    It is worth noting that Dr. Saeed Al-Semahiji was imprisoned for one year following his arrest along with a number of medics who were all severely tortured treating injured protesters, and for supporting the Bahraini people's demand for democracy.

    This is not the first time the authorities have prosecuted and sentenced an individual on the charge of "insulting the king". Freedom of expression is preserved by Bahraini national law and the constitution, however, the King of Bahrain heads the executive, legislative and judicial authorities and appoints the government, its members, the judiciary and public prosecutors. The King therefore has total power to prosecute anyone criticizing him.

     

    The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the UN, and all other allies and international institutions to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to immediately:

    - Release all activists sentenced to prison over the charge of "insulting the king" and for practicing their fundamental rights to freedom of expression 

    - Drop all charges related to freedom of expression in cases that are currently ongoing in court.

    - Withdraw all national and local laws that would restrict freedom of opinion and expression, or prevent the transmission of information.

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern for the Public Prosecution and Court in Bahrain continued fabrication of malicious cases and mock trials that lack the foundations of a fair trial against activists and citizens, where the Judge of the Fourth High Criminal Court Ali Khalifa Al-Dhahrani on 21 November 2013 threw one of the detainees, and he is Mr. Muneer Habib, out of the courtroom after declaring that the present Public Prosecutor (Hamad Al-Bouainain) is the one that tortured him and forced him to make a false confession. This took place during the first hearing in the case of forming a terrorist cell where the accused are: Mr. Sadiq Ali Al-Shakhoori (43 years), Mr. Muneer Habib Saeed (31 years), Mr. Sajjad Al-Alawi (28 years), Ali Hussein Haji (30 years) and Mohammed Jaffar Nasser.

    The Court charged Mr. Sadiq Ali Al-Shakhoori with managing and financing a terrorist cell that was founded in 2011 which aims at suspending the provisions of the law and harming national unity, and using violence as a means to achieve that, while it charged the remaining four with joining this cell, which they all denied at Court. At the end of the hearing, the case was adjourned until 8 December 2013, in order to enable the lawyers to look into the case file and to refer Sajjad Al-Alawi and another detainee to the forensic doctor while continuing the imprisonment. The lawyer of the detainee Sajjad Sayed Mohsen Al-Alawi indicated on his Twitter account[i] that he requested that his client gets referred to a forensic doctor, although he had already made such a request two months ago. This could cause the torture marks to fade due to neglecting to refer him at that time. The father of detainee Sajjad Al-Alawi also said that his son told him in a phone call which followed the hearing that the Public Prosecutor who was present at Court was in fact the one who participated in his torture and threatened him with further torture in case he did not sign the confessions that have prepared beforehand.[ii]

    Worth mentioning, Mr. Muneer Habib was arrested at dawn on 28 May 2013 after civil forces accompanied by police patrols raided his house. Information indicated that he was tortured at that time in the Criminal Investigation Department, notorious for its systematic torture, to force him to confess to his involvement in carrying out terrorist acts. His family informed the BCHR at an earlier time that Mr. Habib had spoken to the Public Prosecutor – Ali Al-Jazzaf – and had told him that he was exhausted from the severe torture and that he suffers from extreme pain in his hands in addition to pain in various areas of his body, among them head and back. However, the Public Prosecutor did not pay any attention to what he was saying and continued the interrogation to charge him with a series of accusations. Muneer expressed to the Public Prosecutor his fear that the torture may continue to make him confess to other charges; yet the Public Prosecutor ensured that that would be impossible and ordered his release. Nonetheless, orders from supreme bodies were made and his imprisonment was renewed for 60 days pending investigation according to the requisites of the Terrorism Law. The family also stated that it noticed clear torture marks on his body; on their first visit on 3 June 2013, it was clear that he had saggy eyes and his right eye was swollen, in addition to not being able to walk normally. Muneer informed his family that he was subjected to torture on a daily basis and that he was taken to the Criminal Investigation Department for interrogation and his confessions were filmed where he claims leading groups of 14 February youth in various villages, among them Ghurayfah, Juffair, Mahooz and Manama. He was also subjected to severe torture to force him to confess falsely that his sister, a former detainee, Muneera Habib, was involved in the accusation of being affiliated with the 14 February Youth Coalition[iii].

    As to Sajjad Al-Alawi he was arrested on 22 September 2013 after being surrounded by civilian cars that belong to the National Security Apparatus on Budaiya road. After interrogating him and transferring him to the Dry Dock prison, his family met him, and they stated that they noticed that Al-Alawi’s ability to walk was affected. The lawyer Mohsen Al-Alawi also stated that Sajjad was subjected to torture and that the torture marks were visible on his back, and that the officer who interrogated him told him, “I know that your case is participating in demonstrations in Manama, but this charge has a minor sentence, and you will be free after a short while, therefore I will affix more than one accusation to you[iv]”.

    Bahrain TV had pre-anticipated the trial results where it broadcasted on 13 June 2013 photos of a group of citizens amid a report by the Ministry of Interior[v] accusing them of carrying out terrorist acts and plotting to carry out bombings in vital areas. Among those whose photos were broadcasted was a group that was accused of plotting to perform terrorist acts in the American Service Center, and among this group are three defendants in this case, and they are: Mr. Sadiq Al-Shakhoori, Mr. Muneer Habib, and Ali Haji. This is considered a type of defaming defendants before a verdict is issued against them, and it is a violation of the right to a fair trial, and this is a systematic conduct of the security apparatuses in Bahrain in cooperation with the state media.

    The BCHR had confirmed in its reports the involvement of the Public Prosecution in the violations, in a previous report about the Special Investigation Unit it was stated, “many detainees and activists over the past years complain about the complicity of the Public Prosecution and the Criminal Investigation in concealing the crimes of torture and violation practices, where the detainees are in most cases questioned at dawn without the presence of a lawyer which puts them under great pressure and this forces them to confess to crimes they did not commit. In some cases, the Public Prosecution neglects noting down the detainee’s statements about them being subjected to torture and there are no marks on their bodies as a result of torture, other detainees said that they were subjected to beating by the interrogator at the Public Prosecution to force them to confess[vi]. Many of those arrested and tortured refuse to file complaints of torture against their torturers in the Public Prosecution either out of fear of being tortured again or due to losing confidence in the justice and neutrality of the Judicial bodies in Bahrain, especially in the light of the spread of impunity and acquitting torturers”.

    The BCHR received information that almost 150 detainees did not file complaints of torture, and only suffice with talking about the torture they were subjected to in front of the judge to whom their cases were referred to; however, the judges did not initiate investigations in those cases, while others refused to listen to them. The BCHR also received information that approximately 200 detainees filed complaints during the last two months to the Public Prosecutor stating that they were subjected to torture on the hands of their interrogators and their assistants in the Criminal Investigation Department, and yet the Public Prosecutors did not seek to confirm these lawsuits despite the clarity of the torture marks on the bodies of some of the detainees. In many cases, the Public Prosecutors only use the term ‘mistreatment’ instead of torture while recording the proceedings of the interrogation with the detainee.

    The BCHR believes that the Authorities in Bahrain have over the past two years and a half failed to prove that torture is unsystematic and the non-spread of the policy of impunity, which contributed in the increase of number of victims since the kickoff of the 14 February revolution until this day. The current Prime Minister’s visit to one of the torturers and his statement[vii] that the law does not apply to him as is the case with the ruling family proves the findings of the activists that there is support from supreme bodies to those torturers to practice violations away from the eyes of the law. The BCHR released a report on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture titled, “Bahrain: An Oasis of Torture[viii]” where it presented the testimonies of a group of detainees or those released which proves that torture is systematic and that it is considered a mean of extracting confessions and signing on malicious charges. In another report about the Fourth High Criminal Court, the BCHR proved through a group of different cases the biasness of the Judicial body and using the Court as a tool to avenge the prisoners of consciousness and activists[ix]. The testimonies of many activists proves the complicity of the Judicial body with the Public Prosecution and Criminal Investigations in forcing the detainees and activists[x] to confess to malicious charges, and listening to the torturers as prosecution witnesses in fake cases[xi].

    Since the BCHR believes in the significance of pursuing the torturers and those responsible for the violations and holding them legally accountable, it had since the beginning of November 2013 and for 23 days held a campaign through the social network entitled “Wanted for Justice[xii]” with the aim of ending the policy of impunity in Bahrain. The campaign was met with significant interaction by the people while it faced negative reactions from pro-government figures.

    Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls the US, the UK, the UN and all the Authority’s close allies and relevant international organizations for the following:

    1. Stop supporting the Authority in Bahrain in its suppression of people’s rights;
    2. Put pressure on the Authority in Bahrain to consider and maintain human rights in Bahrain and stop the violations.

    It also calls the Authority in Bahrain to the following:

    1. Release the political prisoners and prisoners of consciousness;
    2. Stop fabricating charges and cases against detainees and activists with the intend to punish them for their activity;
    3. Investigate the torture allegations and coercion filed by the detainees against the security apparatuses’ and Public Prosecution members.
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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern for the authorities in Bahrain continued fabrication of malicious cases against activists and citizens; to punish them for peacefully expressing their opinions. This punishment includes torturing, defaming and bringing them forth to trials that lack the most basic elements of justice. The detainee Ali Hussein Ahmed Al-Haji– 30 years – who declared being subjected to torture at the Criminal Investigation Department, and whose photo was broadcasted on national TV, and who is currently facing charges of carrying out terrorist acts in the American Service Center in Juffair is an utmost example of this.

    The Security Apparatuses arrested Al-Haji at dawn on 20 May 2013 from his apartment in Tubli. Al-Haji informed the observers of the BCHR that those who arrested him did not have an order to search the apartment or an arrest warrant. The apartment was raided by a group of policemen dressed in civilian clothes, and who are believed to be affiliated with the National Security Apparatus, they beat him and cursed his sect and hit him in front of his wife before blindfolding and handcuffing him; he was then taken out. They also confiscated electronic devices, some of them belonging to his wife.

    Issa Al-Majali

    They led Al-Haji to the Criminal Investigation Department and the interrogation was initiated by the Jordanian interrogator Isa Al-Majali, whose name was published by the BCHR among the “Wanted for Justice” campaign due to his involvement in many torture complaints[i]. Al-Haji was questioned about the sudden peaceful demonstrations that take place in Manama without prior notice out of fear of being suppressed. When he refused to say that he knew anything about those demonstrations, Al-Majali slapped him several times on the face and cursed him, and then forced him to sign on papers with an unknown content, as he was not permitted to read it.

    On the same day, he was transferred to the Public Prosecution building which was empty of staff. There, Al-Haji informed the Public Prosecutor about the torture and violations he was subjected to during the interrogation. However, all that did not prevent them from returning him to the Criminal Investigation Department where he was beaten and tortured again. Al-Haji stated that a group who he could not recognize beat him with their shoes on his face, and they concentrated on the eye, mouth and nose, as well as beating him on his testicles which made him collapse and confess this time that he was among the group that carried out an act that targets the Prime Minister’s convoy. Torture continued to make him confess to further charges, as they continued to beat him on the face by using shoes and a piece of wood and hands. He was wounded with a sharp object in his lower back, and was forced to stand for long periods of time, as well as being prevented from sleep while continuing to kick him non-stop. He was stripped off his clothes and they urinated on him, in addition to threatening to fire bullets on his leg, and threatening to rape his wife and killing his young son, and subjecting his parents to severe interrogation, as well as threatening to use the electrocution device. During the torture period, his nose was broken and he needed to undergo a medical operation. Since the time of his arrest and until he was presented to the Public Prosecutor for the second time on 31 May 2013, Al-Haji was subjected to enforced disappearance where he was not able to meet his family or contact a lawyer. The Public Prosecutor Hamad Al-Buainain told him that he will be taken back to torture in the Criminal Investigation Department if he refuses to confess to the charges against him and put an end to the matter. He was charged with joining “a terrorist cell and plotting to carry out bombings in vital areas, including performing terrorist acts at the American Service Center”. The state television broadcasted on 13 June 2013, even before the trial began, the photos of Al-Haji with three others claiming their involvement in carrying out terrorist acts, in a violation to the most basic bases of a fair trial.

    Photo of the group accused of performing terrorist acts among them the detainee Ali Al-Haji

    The BCHR confirmed in earlier reports the complicity of the Public Prosecution in the violations[ii] and systematic torture and the spread of impunity which contributed in the increase of the number of victims since the kickoff of the 14 February revolution until this day.

    Al-Haji’s trial began with four other defendants on 21 November 2013; all the defendants denied the charges at court. It was evident from the first session the lack of the intention to carry out a fair trial, where the Judge Ali Al-Dhahrani threw one of the defendants (Mr. Muneer Habib) out of court just for saying that the Public Prosecutor Hamad Al-Buainain participated in torturing him and forcing him to confess. Two other defendants in the same case mentioned that they were subjected to torture, and one of the lawyers witnessed the torture marks on the back of his client. (Refer to the BCHR report on the first session: http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6676). The BCHR monitored the lack of the bases of a fair trial in many cases that were looked into by the Fourth High Criminal Court headed by Judge Khalifa Al-Dhahrani.[iii]

    The BCHR finds that the Authorities in Bahrain are still targeting citizens and practicing against them the most horrid violations by arresting and torturing them to force them to confess, and defaming them, and bringing them forth to a politicized Judicial body that lacks the most basic elements of justice especially that the Judges are appointed by the country’s ruler in person, not to mention that some of them are members of the ruling family, and on top of them is the Minister of Justice.

    Based on the above, the BCHR calls the US, UK, UN and all the Authority’s close allies and relevant international organizations to the following:

    1. Stop supporting the Authority in Bahrain in its suppression of people’s rights;
    2. Put pressure on the Authority in Bahrain to consider and maintain human rights in Bahrain and stop the violations.

    It also calls the Authority in Bahrain to the following:

    1. Release the political prisoners and prisoners of consciousness;
    2. Stop fabricating charges and cases against detainees and activists with the intend to punish them for their activity;
    3. Investigate the torture allegations and coercion filed by the detainees against the security apparatuses’ and Public Prosecution members;
    4. Adhere to the international treaties and conventions it has endorsed and signed and which advocate the maintenance of human rights.

     

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    New York, December 27, 2013-- Ahmed Al-Fardan, photographer for the NurPhotoagency, was arrested Thursday at his home in Bahrain, according to his agencynews reports, and human rights groups. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrest.

    Al-Fardan's father, Jaber, told local independent daily Al-Wasat that Bahraini security officers stormed their house in the early hours of Thursday morning while they were asleep, handcuffed his son, and took him to an unknown location. Jaber later received a short call from Ahmed, who said he was fine but did not give any details of his whereabouts, according to the report.

    Bahraini authorities didn't disclose any charges against Al-Fardan, according Mohammed Al-Maskati, president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.

    Al-Fardan's photos of unrest in Bahrain have appeared in international news outlets and been recognized by human rights groups. Recently, one of his photos won second placein IFEX's international contest to expose impunity as part of the International Day to End Impunity on November 23, 2013.

    Al-Fardan is also known for advocating for his fellow photographers. In his last tweet, on Monday, he called for the release of Ahmed Humaidan, another Bahraini photojournalist who has been imprisoned for a year because of his work in documenting protests against Bahraini authorities. Al-Fardan also participated in a demonstration this month calling for Humaidan's release.

    "We call on Bahraini authorities to immediately release Ahmed Al-Fardan," said CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. "Despite paying lip service to the importance of the press, the government continues to try to suppress any information that does not conform to its official narrative."

    Al-Maskati of Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights told CPJ that this is not the first time Al-Fardan has been targeted because of his work. He was kidnapped in August by men in plain clothes who he suspected of being security forces. They beat and threatened him because of his work covering protests and defending imprisoned photojournalists, according to Al-Maskati.

    In its annual census of journalists in prison worldwide, CPJ found three journalists behind bars in Bahrain, including two photographers, Humaidan and Hussein Hubail, who was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport in August 2013 and held incommunicado for six days before being transferred to prison.

    http://cpj.org/2013/12/bahrain-arrests-photographer-ahmed-al-fardan.php

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    Fri, Dec 27 05:58 AM EST

    DUBAI (Reuters) - A Bahraini court has acquitted two police officers, including a Bahraini princess, who were on trial for torturing doctors while in detention during political turmoil in the Gulf Arab island kingdom in 2011, a lawyer and an activist said on Friday.

    Sheikha Noura bint Ibrahim al-Khalifa was one of the two police officers acquitted by the court of appeals on December 23, Hameed Mulla, a lawyer for the doctors told Reuters by telephone from Manama. He said he plans to submit a request to appeal against the verdict for a second time.

    The government's Information Affairs Authority (IAA)confirmed Sheikha Noura was acquitted on Monday by the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court but did not say what charges she had faced or provide other details. It said the court upheld a previous acquittal verdict on July 1.

    Bahrain's ruling al Khalifa family includes hundreds of princes and princesses, many of whom hold jobs in the public sector. According to media reports, Sheikha Noura is about 29 years old.

    The alleged torture took place in 2011 when the U.S.-allied kingdom was convulsed by unrest following the start in February that year of mass protests led by majority Shi'ites demanding democratic change in the Sunni-led monarchy.

    Local media said the appeals court upheld the verdict due to lack of evidence.

    In January, Nawaf Hamza, head of the Public Prosecution's Special Investigation Unit, told Reuters that Sheikha Noura was charged with using "torture, force and threats against the victims Zahra al-Sammak and Kholoud al-Durazi to make them confess to a crime." She denied all the charges.

    An international human rights commission has said 35 people died during the unrest and two months of martial law that followed. The opposition puts that number at more than 80.

    The commission headed by prominent Egyptian-American jurist Cherif Bassiouni to investigate the unrest and abuses during martial law said security forces used widespread and excessive force, including torture, to extract confessions.

    The government says it has taken steps to address the brutality of security forces by dismissing those responsible and introducing cameras at police stations to monitor abuses. But activists say abuses continue and several police officers were acquitted by the court despite torture claims.

    Bahrain drew criticism from abroad for arrests of doctors and nurses during and after the uprising.

    Since March 2011, at least 60 health professionals have been tried and sentenced to jail terms of up to 15 years on charges including attempting to bring down the government, according rights group Physicians for Human Rights.

    Most appealed and the majority had their sentences reduced or quashed.

    U.S.-based Human Rights First said Bahrain needs to hold those responsible for abuses accountable.

    "It's sort of surprising that the authorities haven't pressed harder to secure convictions for those who tortured the medics," said Brian Dooley, of Human Rights First.

    "Bahrain's international reputation is dominated by the image of it being a place which tortured its doctors after they treated injured protesters, and then failed to punish those who ordered and carried out the torture."

    (Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Peter Graff)

    http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE9BQ04R20131227?irpc=932

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern for the Authority’s in Bahrain continued targeting and arresting of children, where the security apparatuses arrested the two 13 year old children Sayed Tameem Majid and Sayed Hashim Alawi and kept them in detention of over two week.

    The detained children’s parents stated that the police forces arrested the children on Saturday 7 December 2013 after suppressing a peaceful demonstration in the village of Al-Qurayyah, West of the capital Manama, and led them to Budaiya police station and released them after signing a pledge to attend the next day. On 8 December, the Public Prosecution decided to imprison them for 5 days pending investigation on the charge of assembly, burning tires and possession of Molotov cocktails. When the specified detention period was over the Public Prosecution renewed the detention of Tameem and Hashim twice, 7 days each time (12 December and 19 December)[1]. They were finally released on 26 December 2013. On 19 December the Public Prosecution[2] decided to detain two other children for 7 days[3] and they are Jehad Al-Sameea (10 years old) and Abdulla Yusuf Al-Bahrani (13 years old), and their charge was throwing stones at a police patrol.

    This takes place just days after Amnesty International released its report[4] that addresses the violations practiced by the Authority in Bahrain against children, especially during detention, since February 2011. Amnesty stated that detaining, abusing and torturing children in Bahrain is one of the usual things in Bahrain. Dozens of children were arrested, among them children not over the age of 13, due to suspecting their participation in anti-government demonstrations, as well as blindfolding, beating and torturing them during detention for the past two years. Other children were subjected to threats of rape, in order to extract forced confessions from them. Said Boumedouha - Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa – stated that, “Bahrain is displaying an appalling disregard for its international human rights obligations, by rounding up suspected under-age offenders and locking them up”. Amnesty added that it had received news that there are at least 110 children, between the ages of 16 and 18, detained pending investigation or trial at the Dry Dock Prison, which is an adult facility on the Island of Muharraq. At the end of the report, Amnesty urged the government in Bahrain to consider alternative penalties, such as probation and community service, for children who have committed internationally recognizable criminal offences. The BCHR had documented more than 20 cases of arrests of children between the ages of 17 and 20, since Amnesty released its report until 23 December 2013.

    The BCHR believes that the Authority in Bahrain systematically targets children by arresting them and targeting them at school and on the streets at times, and at other times killing them outside the law. Despite the Authority’s claims of caring for children, and the endorsement of Bahrain’s ruler Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa on the Children’s Act[5] which includes 8 entries, most importantly protecting children from abuse, and it includes 69 Articles that defines the rights and protection of the Bahraini child, however, the BCHR had documented more than 120 cases of arrests of children since Bahrain endorsed the Children’s Act until this day; some of them have been released, others remain in detention. The BCHR also documented cases of being expelled from school and others being subjected to shotgun bullets which are used to suppress peaceful protests. The BCHR[6] released on 20 November 2013, which marks the Universal Children’s Day, an extensive report that addresses the various violations faced by the children of Bahrain.

    Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha – Vice-president of the BCHR – stated, “targeting children is a natural result of the rampant widespread of impunity which caused an increase in the number of victims, and not holding torturers accountable over the years, made torture especially in the case of children, a natural matter in the prisons of Bahrain”. He also believes that Bahrain winning a seat[7] in the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child puts in a real test in the field of caring for children’s right and increases the necessity to adhere to the international agreements and treaties it had endorsed and signed.

    Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the US, UK, UN and all the Authority’s close allies and relevant international organizations to:

    • Put pressure on the Authority in Bahrain to observe and maintain human rights, especially children’s rights;
    • Immediately stop any arm sale to Bahrain, especially teargas and bullets that are used to kill and injure protestors, including children;
    • Putting Bahrain on trial internationally for its continuous and repetitive violations of the Children’s Act which it had already endorsed.

    It also calls on the Authority in Bahrain to:

    • Immediately release all detained children in the prisons of Bahrain, and provide psychological rehabilitation appropriate to the phase following their release;
    • Put an end to the policy of impunity which contributed in creating an environment of daily violations against children;
    • Lay down serious steps to hold accountable those responsible for the violations which reached children in Bahrain;
    • Reimburse children in a manner that corresponds with the violations they were subjected to;
    • Change the current minor law to 18 instead of the current law that considers anyone above 16 an adult;
    • Ensure a safe environment for all children in Bahrain.

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    Read the full text pdf here.

    The authorities in Bahrain have been escalating the crackdown on freedom of expression; with most cases seen at court being over vague charges related to freedom of expression, such as inciting hatred against the regime, inciting terrorism, insulting authoritarian entity, amongst other charges. A new charge that has been increasingly used by the authorities to silence critics and political dissents, is “insulting the King”. The BCHR has documented around 30 cases in 2013 alone wherein people were charged, tried or detained for “insulting the King” because of public speeches, online posts or other forms of peaceful expression. 

    Although restricting laws already exist in the penal code and are in use by the authorities to criminalize freedom of expression, harsher punishments were proposed and recently approved by the Shura council allowing harsher crackdown on freedom of expression for what is arbitrarily interpreted as “insulting the King”. The new law allows for long prison sentences which could reach up to seven years in addition to up to BHD10,000 in fine.

    The BCHR is extremely concerned about this escalation by the authorities in targeting freedom of expression and anyone criticizing the government and the head of all powers in Bahrain, the King.

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights issues an urgent appeal regarding the individuals who have been arrested in four cases recently announced by the Ministry of Interior. As has been seen in the past several years, and especially in cases where charges are brought under the internationally criticized terrorism law, those arrested by the authorities in Bahrain are often severely tortured during the first few days of their detention in order to obtain confessions. These confessions are then used in unfair trials, and lengthy prison sentences are handed down.

    Details of the cases:

    The Ministry of Interior announced that they had “foiled four plots” and added that “indications show these operations are linked to each others”, the cases that have been announced in the press conference are:

    (1) First case: the dismantle of an “armed car” in Al-Hoora area.

    (2) Second case: the arrest of thirteen individuals (one of them holds a Saudi passport) who were wanted by the authorities, and had attempted to escape Bahrain by sea; there were three sailors transporting them.

    (3) Third case: the interception of a speed boat with two persons on board delivering weapons into Bahrain by sea.

    (4) Fourth case: the uncovering of a “explosives/weapons warehouse in “AlQaryah” in connection with third case.

     

    The details of these cases were announced by the “Chief of Public Security” Tariq AlHassan, who was previously included in the BCHR “Wanted for Justice” campaign. Link to the MOI statement: http://www.policemc.gov.bh/news_details.aspx?type=1&articleId=16052 

    Tareq Al-Hasan

    Civilians who are wanted in Bahrain live in the direst conditions, which have been reported on before (see: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/6300). They endanger anyone they stay with while in hiding, and are subject to arrest and probable torture if caught. Many of them have already been sentenced in politically driven trials to lengthy sentences. The thirteen who were caught on the boat attempting to escape Bahrain are:

    From Bani Jamrah:

    Hussain Jaffar Fateel

    Sayed Alaa AlShamimi (Saudi national)

    Hassan Abdulla AlGhasrah

    Wael Mohammed Hussain

    Mustafa Ali Jaffar

    Ali Mohammed Salman

    From other areas:

    Hussain AlHajri – Roundabout 17

    Kadhem Saleh – Karranah

    Hameed AlQattan – Nabih Saleh

    Sayed Ali – Nabih Saleh

    Hassan Ali AlBahrani – Daih

    Jaffar AlDurazi – Daih

    Ali AlAsfoor - Duraz

    The Ministry of Interior in Bahrain has no credibility given their previous record of publishing disinformation and their documented fabrication of cases against individuals for political reasons. Despite the findings of the BICI report, those responsible for fabricating cases and arrests of innocent civilians have not been held responsible and continue in their official positions.

    Regardless of the charges brought against these individuals, all individuals have the right to fair trial, which is not currently possible in the Bahraini judicial system. From the moment of arrest until the verdict in the courts, there is no due process, but rather a series of violations against the defendants rights. Civilians must be allowed to immediately contact a lawyer upon arrest, and to guarantee due process according to international standards.

    A sample case where activists and individuals were subjected to torture following arrest and prosecuted over false charges fabricated by the authorities and extracted under torture: /en/node/6362

    Maryam Alkhawaja, the Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, stated:

    “All people, regardless of the charges brought against them, are innocent until proven guilty. They must be allowed to immediately call their lawyers, and their safety and wellbeing must be guaranteed by the authorities. Torture is not justified or allowed under any circumstances. We are very concerned because in many of the cases we have documented, during the first period of arrest, people are simply disappeared, which is usually the period where they are tortured to obtain false confessions. These confessions are then used in courts in unfair trials which do not adhere to international standards of a fair trial. Furthermore, if the authorities in Bahrain have evidence of crimes they allege, they must allow independent and neutral observers throughout the process of these cases.”

    The BCHR believes that this is part of the authorities' continued and escalated crackdown campaign as the government has launched campaigns of arrests in different areas of Bahrain. The judiciary has played an active role in handing down harsh and long prison sentences. In addition to this the parliament and the appointed Shura council have been proposing and approving laws limiting and restricting freedoms and rights to allow the authorities more room to further its suppression. The crackdown and arrested included activists, political leaders and others.

    Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for:

    1. The immediate reform of the judicial system to bring it to the international standards of a fair trial;
    2. Immediately end to the use of torture as a method to obtain confessions;
    3. Hold all those who have been implicated in torture accountable, especially those in high positions who have ordered or overseen the use of torture;
    4. Immediately release all prisoners in cases where the only evidence presented against them in court was confessions obtained under torture;
    5. In criminal cases, allow independent and neutral observers to be involved in the proceedings to guarantee due process and to confirm that the crime took place.

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    Urgent Appeal to Stop the Violations Practiced by Officers inside Prison

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern for the information received about beating and insulting the detainees on remand in the “Dry Dock” prison at an earlier time this month, and putting them in solitary confinement for five days. The information received indicates that the detainees Hussein Ali Al-Durazi and Jaffar Al-Alawi have been subjected to severe beating and insults by the officer Ahmed Al-Ammadi before being transferred to solitary confinement.

    One of the detainees, who is Hussein Ali Marzooq Al-Durazi had been arrested on 13 June 2013 after pursuing the car driving him by civilian teams led by the officer Turki Al-Majid– on of those involved in the human rights violations in Bahrain; the BCHR had posted his card among the “Wanted for Justice” campaign[1]. Activists had posted to the social network Twitter a video[2] showing the arrest of Al-Durazi and one of his friends after the Forces that were following them collided with their car. Al-Durazi and his friend were subjected to beating and brutal treatment upon arrest in front of the people of Shakhoora village. Another video was posted[3] which shows the marks of the collision of the civilian car with Al-Durazi and his friend’s car before their arrest.

    ​Photo: Hussein Al-Durazi upon Arrest

    Al-Durazi informed the BCHR that after his arrest he was taken directly to the Criminal Investigation Department where he was blindfolded, handcuffed from the back and tortured, as well as being forced to stand for long periods of time. He was punched in the face and in sensitive areas, as well as threatening him with rape and continuing to torture him if he denied the charges against him. Among the people who tortured him, according to his sayings, was the officer Turki Al-Majid who told him, “we had imprisoned you before and we promised to imprison you again as soon as you are released so that you can spend three years, so do you agree?” Al-Durazi was forced to agree by nodding his head so that they can stop the torture. He also stated that the Dry Dock prison refused to treat his injuries and pain.

    Turki Al-Majed

    Torture marks on Al-Durazi’s knee

    Al-Durazi is facing charges of assaulting a police patrol and possession of Molotov and assembling. The Public Prosecution did not submit any substantial evidence for these charges. The next hearing for his trial will be on 7 January 2014 in order for the prosecution witnesses to attend, who are affiliated with the Ministry of Interior.

    Worth mentioning, Hussein Al-Durazi is an independent photographer who had been arrested for a whole year in 2010 as a punishment for practicing his legitimate right in exchanging and posting information through media networks prison[4]as indicated by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

    This is not the first time that detainees at the Dry Dock prison are subjected to assault amid a deafening silence by the official bodies, who always announce that the situation in the prisons of Bahrain is stable and takes into account Bahrain’s obligations in maintaining human rights. The police forces had assaulted the political prisoners and prisoners of consciousness detained in ward 10 in August 2013, and it injured many of them as confirmed by the reports received from the Dry Dock prison[5] at that time.

    The BCHR believes that the authorities in Bahrain are still targeting citizens and are practicing against them the most gruesome violations by arresting and torturing them to force them to confess, as well as defaming them and bringing them forth to a politicized judicial body that lacks the most basic fundamentals of justice, especially that the judges are appointed by the country’s ruler in person, not to mention that some of them are members of the ruling family, on top of them the Minister of Justice. The BCHR had confirmed in previous reports[6] the involvement of the Public Prosecution in the violations, systematic torture and policy of impunity that contributed in increasing the number of victims since the kickoff of the 14 February revolution until this day.

    Based on all the above, the BCHR calls on the US, UK, UN and all the Authority’s close allies and relevant international organizations to:

    • Stop supporting the Authority in Bahrain in its suppression of people’s rights;
    • Put pressure on the Authority in Bahrain to take into account and maintain human rights and stop the violations, and adhere to the treaties and conventions it had endorsed and signed.

    It also calls on the Authority in Bahrain to:

    • Unconditionally release political prisoners and prisoners of consciousness;
    • Immediately stop practicing the systematic torture as a tool to extract confessions;
    • Stop fabricating charges and cases against detainees and activists in order to punish them for their activity;
    • Investigate the torture and coercion allegations filed by the detainees against the members of the security apparatuses and Public Prosecution;
    • Adhere to the international treaties and conventions endorsed and signed by Bahrain and that urge the maintenance of human rights;
    • Hold accountable all those involved in the violations and torture whether by supervision and / or order, and question them, especially the higher ranking personnel.

     

     

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    The International Award-winning Ahmed Al-Fardan is subjected to Enforced Disappearance as a Punishment for Practicing his Profession on Ground

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses it concern for the escalating suppressive campaign led by the Authority in Bahrain against the photographers present on ground who deliver through their cameras the violations practiced by the Authority against public gatherings. The security apparatuses had lately arrested two photographers on 26 December 2013, and they are the photographer Ahmed Jaber Al-Fardan and the photographer Jaffar Marhoon in two separate incidents.

    Al-Fardan’s family stated that civilian members affiliated with the National Security Apparatus accompanied by police vehicles raided his house at dawn on Thursday 26 December 2013, and confiscated a number of his electronic devices. The family added that those who raided the house did not show any court order to search the house or any arrest warrant for Al-Fardan, which is causing the concern for his safety and the fear that he might be subjected to torture or any other violation amid the non-disclosure of his whereabouts until now.

     

    Worth mentioning is that Al-Fardan is a photographer who works with the Italian (NurPhoto) agency as a contributing photographer and a former member of the Photographic Society of America (PSA). Al-Fardan had won many international awards in recognition for his skills in photography and to celebrate the exceptional photos he presents. The most recent award he had received was from IFEX in the International Contest to Expose Impunity on 23 November 2013. Before that he had received the Freedom House Photography Prize who condemned his arrest in a published statement[1] and it urged the Authority in Bahrain to maintain freedom of peaceful gathering and freedom of press.

    The winning photo chosen by Freedom House showing a Bahraini protestor standing in a cloud of teargas after suppressing a peaceful gathering he had participated in

    Ahmed Al-Fardan had mentioned to the BCHR that on 9 August 2013 he was kidnapped by civilian forces while he was sitting in a café near his home. He added that his kidnappers asked him to work with them in the National Security Apparatus as an informant[2] and they threatened him if he refused their offer that they will fabricate malicious cases against him to punish him and his activity. The kidnappers told Al-Fardan that they are the ones running the country and they could do that him; however, he refused their offer so they beat him before letting him go.

    In a separate incident, and amid mysterious circumstances, the Forces kidnapped the photographer Jaffar Abdul-Nabi Marhoon[3]on 26 December 2013 from a barber shop in his village, eye witnesses stated that he was severely beaten during arrest. The village had witnessed a high security alert before the family realized that their son Jaffar had disappeared. Jaffar’s house had been raided more than five times with the intent to arrest him.

    In addition to Al-Fardan and Marhoon, five other photographers are currently held at the Bahraini prisons. After arresting the photographer Hassan Matooq[4] on 24 March 2011 and sentencing him to three years in prison due to taking photos of injuries of citizens who were subjected to suppression and violations at the time of the peaceful protest in the Pearl Roundabout in Manama in March 2011, the security authorities arrested the photographer Ahmed Humaidan[5] on 28 December 2012 from the cinema and was subjected to torture and intimidation by carrying a fake bomb and forcing him to confess to committing terrorist acts. After Humaidan, airport security forces arrested the young photographer Hussein Hubail[6] on 31 July 2013 while he was heading to Dubai through Bahrain’s International Airport. Hubail’s family stated that he was subjected to harassments inside prison and deliberate neglect to his health condition which caused it to deteriorate. The security apparatuses also arrested the photographer Qassim Zen-al-deen[7] on Friday 2 August 2013 when they stormed his house at dawn without showing a court order to arrest him, and they confiscated his electronic devices. The riot police also arrested the photographer on ground Abdullah Salman Al-Jirdabi[8] on 13 September 2013 who was beaten by the security forces on the way to the police station, where he was injured in the knee due to the beating and wounded under his lips. Information received indicated that he was threatened with further harassments after the forces knew that he was a photographer. Al-Jirdabi is still on remand in prison on the charge of illegal gathering; he complains of the lack of necessary medication for a pain in his eye.

    The BCHR fears that Al-Fardan and Marhoon will be subjected to the torture and abuse that their colleagues got subjected to in the Criminal Investigation Building to falsely confess to malicious charges to punish them for their influential peaceful activity. The BCHR finds that targeting photographers falls within the Authority in Bahrain’s attempt to blackout the violations and keep the incidents in Bahrain beyond the scope of neutral media coverage. Since 2011, Bahrain witnessed an increase in the violations practiced against journalists, media workers and photographers[9]; some of them were subjected to direct teargas shots. The Authority also prevented a group of journalists from entering Bahrain, and among them was the journalist Nick Kristof[10] amid 200 journalists who were banned from entering Bahrain, the last of these was David Isaksson[11] who is a Swedish journalist banned by the Authorities in Bahrain from entering, after being held for hours in Bahrain’s International Airport. The Authority in Bahrain believes that by doing so it can withhold the truth from the eyes of the international organizations and observers who witnessed firsthand the violations that the citizens are subjected to.

    Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafdha – Vice-president of the BCHR – commented on the cases of arresting photographers by saying, “arresting them is a blatant violation of the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and especially Article 19 which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”, and that will not stop new photographers and activists to emerge and to continue the march for rights and freedom.”

    Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the US, UK, UN and all the close allies of the Authority and the relevant international organizations to:

    • Put pressure on the Authority in Bahrain to take into consideration and maintain human rights especially those related to freedom of press and dissemination of information;
    • Trialing Bahrain internationally for the continuous and repetitive violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it had already endorsed, especially Article 19 that is related to freedom of expression;
    • Put pressure on Bahrain to sign an optional protocol that allows holding the Authority in Bahrain internationally accountable for its violations of human rights, especially those related to freedom of opinion and expression.

    It also calls on the Authority in Bahrain to:

    • Immediately release all the detained photographers and allow them to unconditionally practice their right without any harassments;
    • Stop the systematic policy of targeting photographers, journalists and bloggers;
    • Hold accountable all those involved in the violations and torture whether by supervision and / or order and subject them to questioning, especially the higher ranking ones;
    • Drop all charges related to freedom of expression in the ongoing trials.

     

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