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    On July 22, 2014, a UK court announced decision to jail Bruce Hall, former CEO of Aluminum Bahrain's (Alba), the world's fourth-largest aluminum smelter, for conspiracy to corrupt, in relation to contracts for the supply of goods and services to Alba[1]. In contrast, Sheikh Isa bin Ali Al-Khalifa, a member of the Bahraini royal family and, at the time, Bahrain's minister of Industry and Alba's chairman, who was named co-conspirator, and who’s acts of bribery were recognized by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has faced no consequences in Bahrain.

    The SFO has investigated and stated that Hall was engaged in a series of corrupt payments between 2002 and 2005, including 10,000 Bahraini Dinars from Sheikh Isa bin Ali Al-Khalifa who had paid Hall the money in return for Hall's agreement to allow the corrupt arrangements that Sheikh Isa had been involved in before Hall were to continue as CEO[2].

    In this same conspiracy, Sheikh Isa was involved in a series of bribes with billionaire Victor Dahdaleh and former agent of American aluminum company Alcoa. In 2013, Dahdaleh admitted paying the then-Chairman of Alba, Sheikh Isa, USD 67 million dollars between 1998 and 2006 in exchange for a reduction in supply of contracts for companies including Alcoa, which were worth over USD 3 billion dollars. His defense said that the payments were part of Bahraini "custom and practice" and were approved by the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, another royal family member. Isa bin Ali Al-Khalifa is also the son-in-law of Khalifa bin Salman AlKhalifa. Letters which show approval of Sheikh Khalifa on key business decisions were presented to the court.[3] Additionally, Jawad Salem Al-Arrayed, one of the five deputy prime ministers in Bahrain wrote a letter which confirmed that the authorities had known and approved of the payments made to the member of Bahrain’s royal family.[4]

    Along with the 16-month jail sentence, Hall is ordered to either repay a confiscation order of USD 5.1 million to Alba within 7-10 days or to serve a 10- year sentence in prison.
    Due to the non extradition treaty that exists between UK and Britain, SFO had no way for co-conspirator Sheikh Isa to take part in the trial.

    The corruption case came into light since 2008, when result of a Kroll investigation provided to the Bahraini government revealed names of several accused in corruption on top of them Shaikh Isa Bin Ali AlKhalifa. However no serious investigation was established to hold the accused accountable in front of independent and transparent courts. And although high officials from Bahrain have testified in the UK court during the trial of Hall, and despite calls by opposition groups to hold a serious domestic investigation inside Bahrain into the loss of the $3 billon dollars, which were also losses of the “public purse” of Bahrain, no such investigation has started yet. Actually, even the name of Sheikh Isa was omitted from the Reuters reports on the case that were re-published in the Bahrain local newspaper.[5]

    Sheikh Isa is now Chairman of Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co. (GPIC), a group jointly owned by Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and a consultant to the Bahrain Prime Minister for industrial and petroleum affairs.

    It should be noted that Bahrain system of injustice has been punishing low profile people for the crimes, such as the case of an Asian worker who has spent 3 week in prison and was eventually fined 1 Bahraini dinar for “picking and eating 3 pieces of jujube that has fallen in the street.”[6] As well as chasing minor suspects of corruption, at the same time senior officials enjoy impunity.[7]

    Nabeel Rajab, President of Bahrain Center for Human Rights said that "the lack of serious investigation in the involvement of royal family member in such a huge corruption case despite the fact the case has become international after the UK trial, and despite the testimonies and evidences shared at court and across international media is another proof of the persistence on systematic impunity for high officials of the state and the lack of independent judicial system in Bahrain that can bring accused to justice despite their level."

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United Kingdon, United States, and other close allies of the Bahrain government to:

    • Hold Sheikh Isa bin Ali Al-Khalifa accountable for grand-scale bribery and conspiracy to corrupt in the Alba high-profile corruption case.
    • Run an independent, domestic serious and transparent trial in Bahrain to investigate the corruption case, which resulted in $3 billion dollars’ worth of losses to the public money pool.
    • The principle that all individuals are equal before the law should be respected and promoted, as was stated in the first paragraph of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that states, ‘All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals..’
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    Dr. Saeed al-Samahiji is an ophthalmologist and human rights activist who extended his medical services to help injured protesters during the 2011 pro-democracy protests in Bahrain. As a result, Dr. Al-Samahiji was among 20 medics that were convicted by a special military court on 29 September 2011 for treating Bahraini citizens who had been attacked by security forces in a brutal government crackdown against political dissent. After appealing to the Court of Appeals on 14 June 2012, Dr. Al-Samahiji’s sentence was reduced from ten years to one year. During his time in detention, Dr. Al-Samahiji got a head injury which resulted in internal bleeding, and he was sent abroad to be treated in Jordan.

    On 18 September 2013, less than six months after being released from prison, Dr. Al-Samahiji was summoned for interrogation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) following the funeral of a young protester who had died as result of excessive use of force by Bahraini authorities. Dr. Al-Samahiji voluntarily reported to the CID the following day, 19 September 2013. Al-Samahiji was then transferred to the public prosecution for further interrogation until he was released on bail of 200 BHD.

    Despite Dr. Al-Samahiji’s denial of the charge and his lawyer’s statements that his speech falls under the right of freedom of expression, as protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the court sentenced him to one-year in prison. On 3 April 2014, a court of appeal upheld the verdict delivered against Dr. Al-Samahiji. Government security forces arrested Dr. Al-Samahiji from his home in the early morning hours on 1 July 2014 to begin serving his prison sentence.

    The arrest of Dr. Saeed al-Samahiji is the latest in the Bahraini authorities’ escalating crackdown on the freedom of expression. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), and the Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy (BIRD) join together in calling for the release of Dr. Al-Samahiji and all Bahraini prisoners convicted of “insulting the King” in contravention of international law.


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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses concern that the Bahraini regime and the regimes of the neighbouring Gulf States utilise mutual safety and security agreements to limit public liberties and impose punishments against the activists. The United Arab Emirates denied entry to Bahraini activist and journalist Ahmed Radhi on Wednesday, 30 July 2014, and informed him that his name is on the list of banned people on orders from supreme bodies.

    Rahdi stated that when he arrived at Dubai International Airport on Wednesday afternoon, 30 July 2014, to spend his Eid vacation, the airport employee asked him to come to the security room where he was informed that he was viewed as a threat to national security and, as a result, the supreme bodies had issued orders to ban him from entering Emirati lands. After being detained for 15 hours, he was deported back to Bahrain. Radhi also reported that there were two other Bahraini families who were being deported, but that he was unable to identify them personally. Radhi was previously arrested on 16 May 2012 and held without trail until his release on 20 September 2012 and is also prohibited from travelling through King Fahd Causeway. Radhi believes that the decision from Security Apparatus at the Bahraini Ministry of Interior to issue a travel ban is an act of retaliation due to his media activity.

    Since February 2011, the BCHR has documented several cases wherein activists and journalists are banned from entering or freely exiting Bahrain due to their peaceful, public work. Security forces at the Emirates airport have previously banned journalist Reem Khalifa and the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Wasat newspaper Mansoor Al-Jamri from entering without providing any justification.[1] The airport security forces in Bahrain denied entry to Kuwaiti human rights activist and Frontline Defenders member Nawaf Al-Hindal in March 2013, after stopping him at the airport and questioning him regarding him meeting Bahraini activists and human rights activists.[2]

    The BCHR believes that the Bahraini government, as well as its allies in the Gulf, utilise vague treaties and laws such as the Gulf Security Agreement[3], to restrict public liberties. In its comment on the Agreement’s articles, Human Rights Watch said that the signatories would be able to use this agreement to suppress freedom of expression and undermine citizens’ and residents’ right to privacy.[4] The BCHR considers the continued use of these procedures a blatant violation of the freedom of movement and travel as stated in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states, “Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence. Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own. The above-mentioned rights shall not be subject to any restrictions except those which are provided by law.” The Gulf Security Agreement also violates Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.”


    Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, United Kingdom, United Nations and all the other close allies and relevant international institutes to pressure the government of Bahrain to:

    1. Annul all the agreements and regulations that restrict public liberties;
    2. Fulfil its international obligation towards the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights endorsed by it, so that their regulations and agreements are consistent with its texts and provisions;
    3. Hold accountable all those implicated in the violations whether by executing, supervising, or ordering, and to question them and especially the higher ranking ones.
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    On 13 August 2014 Lord Avebury of the House of Lords is chairing a press conference for Nabeel Rajab. The press conference is due to start at 11am and will be focused around Mr. Rajab's imprisonment and recent experiences in Heathrow International Airport on 24 July 2014, where he was harrassed and ill-treated (See full report: http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6988). Lord Avebury will also be speaking about the problematic relationship between the UK and Bahraini governments.




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    "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks." - Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses concern for violation to the right of privacy as new evidences emerge of the systematics surveillance practices by government of Bahrain. Activists and human rights defenders in Bahrain have been the target of technological surveillance by Bahraini officials with the help of the FinFisher software, “FinSpy”,  provided by the UK-German company Gamma Group International.

    A new analysis report by Bahrain Watch group revealed new evidences on 07 August 2014, confirming that Gamma Group has been selling their spyware to Bahrain.[1] The company previously denied that they were supplying software to Bahrain, but the revelations show that they have apparently been contracted to spy on a number of human rights lawyers, activists and journalists in Bahrain and abroad. Read the full analysis report from Bahrain Watch here.

    FinFisher is a spyware product manufactured by the Gamma Group; the company states that its spyware offers “world-class offensive techniques for information gathering.” According to FinFisher’s promotional materials, the spyware can be “used to access target systems, giving full access to stored information with the ability to take control of the target system’s functions to the point of capturing encrypted data and communications.”[2] What this means in essence, is that the Bahraini government can use this software to remotely monitor all activity on a computer, and even remotely activate the web camera and microphone, without the user’s knowledge.

    The Bahraini government is known for prosecuting individuals for their digital content including public tweets[3] and less public chatting messages, where a man has been sentenced 10 years in prison for a WhatsApp message.[4] Many of those who were arrested have reported torture in detention.[5] In an environment that violates rights to privacy, criminalize freedom of speech online and the practice of torture is systematic, it is greatly concerning that the technology providers will continue to aid the regime with tools that can be used to violate human rights of the citizens of Bahrain.

    The sale and export of surveillance tools is virtually unregulated by international law. Spyware providers say that they sell their products to governments for “lawful purposes”. But activists allege that their governments violate national laws in the often politically motivated use of such software. The BCHR believes that companies should be held accountable for selling spyware to governments with a proven track record of targeting human rights defenders, activists and political groups.


    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, and all other close allies of Bahrain to:

    • Issue an export ban on all digital surveillance technologies to Bahrain, and launch an immediate investigation into the relationship between Gamma Group International and the Bahraini government;
    • Pressure the government of Bahrain to end the targeting of human rights defenders, activists, and political organizations both in terms of digital and physical harassment.
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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern over the ongoing targeting and prosecution of children in Bahrain by the authorities in blatant disregard to the government’s obligations to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, particularly article 37 which states:

    “States Parties shall ensure that: (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;” - Article 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”

    On 13 August 2014, the first high criminal court, headed by Shaikh Mohamed bin Ali Al-Khalifa, sentenced 14 youth to life imprisonment under counter-terrorism law for the murder of a policeman in Sitra, including two children under the age of 18; Nedhal Ali Hussain Al-Abood (16 years old, DoB: November 1997) and Dhaif Abdulnabi Dhaif (18 years old, who was 17 at time of arrest, DoB: May 1996).

    According to the case details presented to the court on 6 July 2013, a group of people were gathering and rioting in Sitra. At around 10PM, a police officer was trying to remove barriers when an improvised explosive device killed him and wounded two other police officers [1] .

    Less than 24 hours after the incident, security forces started a campaign of house raids in the area and arrested several youths, including Dhaif Abdulnabi Dhaif. Dhaif was arrested from his grandfather’s house where he was staying with his parents. His father was pushed by security forces, insulted and humiliated at the time of the arrest and Dhaif himself was beaten in front of his family. He was subject to enforced disappearance for around five days before his family received a call from him informing them that he was at Dry Dock detention center. The BCHR has received information that Dhaif was subject to torture and sexual abuse during his detention.

    Although most defendants in the case were arrested shortly after the incident, Nedhal Ali Hussain Al-Abood was arrested more than two months later, on 24 September 2013 at 3 AM, when his home was raided by security forces who searched the house and confiscated mobile phones, a laptop and some cash. Nedhal was handcuffed and taken to a police vehicle, while his parents were told to follow the officers to al-Westa police station for further information regarding their child. However, when they arrived they were informed by the police that they had no information about their son at the police station. Nedhal was subjected to enforced disappearance for approximately two days following his arrest, the first contact was a short phone call during which he said that he was fine before the line went dead. His family was finally able to see him for the first time on 02 October 2013; they stated that he was visibly afraid and upset. He did not reveal any details of mistreatment to his parents but he said that he signed confession papers so he would not be taken to the Criminal Investigation Directorate again.

    Both children were kept in an adult detention facility at the Dry Dock detention center from the time of their arrest, and through to the trial, although Nedhal was in a separate building within the adult detention centre that has been dedicated for children. They were tried as adults.

    The handing down of a life sentence to children below the age of eighteen is a direct and blatant violation to article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The BCHR believes that the government of Bahrain continues to violate the agreed conventions as a result of the lack of accountability from the UN and the international community. Moreover, the number of children tried and sentenced under the internationally criticized counter-terrorism law is increasing, despite the fact that the law lacks the international standard principles of legality as it is vague and imprecise.  

    During the review of the Bahrain report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in June 2011, the Committee expressed concerns to the Bahraini government on previous cases of handing down life sentences to children below the age of 18 [2] . However, the government of Bahrain has failed to meet its obligation to the convention which clearly bans, as per article 37, life sentences for children.

    The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the European Union and all close allies to Bahrain and international institutions to put pressure on the Bahraini authorities to:

    • Immediately abolish the life sentences handed down to children and guarantee their rights to a fair trial and provide appropriate psychological rehabilitation for the ill-treatment they have reportedly been subjected to;
    • As a signatory to the International Convention for the Rights of the Child, respect, uphold and implement the conditions of the international treaty.

    [1] http://www.manamavoice.com/index.php?plugin=news&act=news_read&id=22603
    [2] http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/BCHR/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/CRC.C.BHR_.CO_.2-3.doc

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    New evidence has emerged suggesting that the Bahraini government infected the computers of some of the country’s most prominent lawyers, activists and politicians with the malicious FinFisher spy software (also known as FinSpy).  The infections would have enabled the government to steal passwords and files, and spy through an infected computer’s webcam and microphone.  The list of 77 computers infected by Bahraini authorities was part of a massive leak of data this week, purportedly hacked from the servers of the UK-German surveillance software company Gamma International — the makers of FinFisher.

    The new data seems to directly contradict earlier claims by Gamma that it does not do business with Bahrain and that its software is used primarily to target criminals and terrorists. Bahrain Watch said the information added to the growing body of evidence suggesting that Gamma may have have violated UK export laws on surveillance technology, and called on Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to renew criminal investigations into the company in light of the new evidence.

    This week’s leaked data shows that Gamma’s support staff were communicating with a customer in Bahrain from 2010 to 2012, and had sold the customer licenses to spy on at least 30 computers simultaneously (see Figure 9).  Given that Gamma has repeatedly stated that it “only supplies the FinFisher product range to government organisations and law enforcement agencies”, the Bahraini customer must have been a government body.

    Prominent among the list of apparent targets that Bahrain Watch was able to identify were:

    • Hasan Mushaima, an opposition leader currently serving a life sentence in Bahrain, regarded as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International

    • Mohammed Altajer, a leading human rights lawyer who was himself arrested for over 3 months in the crackdown following the 2011 uprising

    • Hadi Almosawi, head of Al Wefaq’s human rights department, and a former parliamentarian.

    • Saeed Shehabi, a London-based columnist and political activist who heads the Bahrain Freedom Movement, and was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment in June 2011 by a military court.

    Bahrain Watch examined the list of 77 computers infected with FinFisher, and attempted to identify their intended human targets based on the associated usernames and IP addresses. In some cases we directly contacted suspected targets to verify the information. Below are details of some of those individuals:


    Human Rights Lawyers

    It appears that up to a dozen high-profile defence lawyers were infected with FinFisher during the period covered in the list.

    Mohammed Altajer is a prominent human rights lawyer who regularly defends the cases of political and human rights activists. Altajer told Bahrain Watch that on 24 January 2011, prior to the start of February 2011 uprising, a CD appeared in his office along with a threat demanding that he stop his human rights work. When Altajer inserted the CD into his computer he found that it contained a private video of him and his wife, apparently recorded from a hidden camera in his beach house.  The CD later disappeared from his office.

    Altajer ignored the threats, and continued his human rights work.  He was arrested in April 2011, and the videotape was ultimately leaked in May 2012. Altajer’s computer, named ALTAGER-PC, appears in the list of targets and was infected on the same day that he received the CD attempting to blackmail him. This leads Bahrain Watch to believe that the spyware was on the CD, and that Bahrain government was directly behind the blackmail and intimidation campaign against Altajer.

    When Altajer was arrested in April 2011, the lawfirm of Hassan Radhi & Associates took over some of Altajer’s cases.  Nine computers in the firm were infected on 30 April 2011, in an operation called “Sp-S.HR2.30411.”  The targeted lawyers appear to include two partners: Mohsin Al-Alawi, and Fatima AlAli, a legal advisor, Al Sayed Jaffer Mohammed, lawyers Mahmood Aloraibi and Hanan Taqi, and at least five other computers that were part of the same operation and shared the same IP address.

    We also suspect that a computer named JALILA-PC which was infected in operation “Sp-law1-16411” on 16 April 2011 may have been owned by lawyer and democratic activist Jalila Alsayed based on the operation and computer names.  Alsayed worked closely with Altajer on several high-profile cases defending protesters and activists.


    Imprisoned Bahraini politicians

    Hassan Mushaima, one of the Bahrain 13 group of imprisoned opposition leaders, and the head of the now-banned ‘Haq Movement’, was infected on 14 November 2010 in an attack on his computer named HASANMUSHAIM.  He is currently serving life in prison.  An individual with the username Nader was also infected in the same operation.

    In an operation a week earlier on 8 November 2010, a computer named EBRAHIM-SONYPC was infected. We suspect that this computer belonged to Ebrahim Sharif, another prominent opposition leader who heads the liberal Waad party, based on the fact that he was using a Sony Vaio computer at the time.  He is currently serving a 5 year prison sentence.


    Spying during the BICI period

    Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) investigators were present in Bahrain from 4 July to 23 November of 2011.  In this period, the Government conducted several FinFisher operations, apparently resulting in the infection of Al Wefaq— the country’s largest opposition party.  One operation on 14 September was called “Sp-14911-WFQ,” and infected a computer named ALWEFAQ-1E731B6.

    Two months later, a computer named HADIMOSAWI-PC was infected.  We believe that this computer is owned by Sayed Hadi Almosawi, the head of  Al Wefaq’s Liberties and Human Rights Department.  During this period, Al Wefaq was preparing its BICI submission on human rights violations.  In the same operation, a computer with the username halmahfoodh was infected, which we believe was operated by Hussain Al-Mahfoodh, the son of Shaikh Mohammed Ali Al-Mahfoodh who heads the opposition Amal Society.  The Government dissolved Amal Society in June 2012, a year after arresting most of its leaders.


    Exiled activists in the UK

    Several British/Bahraini activists were spied on whilst in the United Kingdom.  These include columnist and opposition activist, Saeed Shehabi of the Bahrain Freedom Movement, who was apparently infected on 6 September 2011.  The Abrar Islamic Foundation, of which he is a trustee, was infected on January 17, 2011, and June 20, 2011.  Other UK activists infected include photographer Moosa Abdali, and activist Qassim Al Hashemi.



    On 6 September 2011, a computer with the username fars and a London IP address was infected in an operation called “Sp-060911-FNews”, which seems to have been targeting Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.


    Full target list

    See the full list of targeted computers below, or open the spreadsheet in a new tab.



    Leaked Documents

    The list of infections was found in a logfile attached to a customer support message sent to Gamma in February 2012 by the customer in Bahrain. (See Figure 6)  The list contained the names of 77 infected computers, along with their usernames, IP addresses, times of infection and operating systems. The attacks in the list covered a period between November 2010 and February 2012 and targeted computers of users not only in Bahrain, but also in the United Kingdom and seven other countries.

    In an earlier message dated November 2011, the Bahraini customer stated that they had purchased 30 “target licences”, for the spyware, which would allow simultaneous monitoring of 30 computers (see Figure 9). In another message sent in February 2012 the Bahraini client complains that anti-virus software detected the spyware, when deployed on a website. (See Figure 4 for screenshot).

    This latest revelation provides strong evidence that not only has Gamma been misleading in its claim of not supplying the Bahraini government, but it did so possessing evidence that its software was being used primarily to target political dissidents, lawyers and journalists,” said Bahrain Watch’s Bill Marczak.

    We call on governments in Europe to ensure they introduce adequate regulation and enforcement mechanisms to end the export of surveillance technology to repressive states.



    In 2012, the University of Toronto’s Citizen Labidentified the first copies of FinFisher in emails sent to Bahrain Watch member Ala’a Shehabi and two other Bahraini activists based in Washington DC and London.  In February 2013, Bahrain Watch along with four other international human rights groups filed a complaint againstGamma with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for breaching its guidelines on human rights by exporting its software to the Bahraini government. Separately, human rights groupPrivacy International urged the UK’s customs department to investigate Gamma for the potentially illegal export of spyware to Bahrain, and earlier this year the UK’s High Court slammed the government for hiding details on the matter.

    Gamma International has always denied selling spyware to Bahrain, claiming that the Kingdom could have been using a stolen demo version of the software. Similarly, the Bahraini government has also issued denials on multiple occasions of targeting activists with spyware. In July 2012, a Government spokesperson told Bloomberg that Bahrain has no policy of targeting political activists with spyware. Dismayed by Bloomberg’s reporting, another government official, Fahad Albinaliresponded, “Although I am sure this may be a titillating  story for your readers, your credibility is at stake. Bloomberg is a respected and reputable news agency, but these laurels appear to be diminishing as an enticing headline appears to preside over the facts.”

    This was followed in May 2013 by a rejoinder from the government’s Information Affairs Authority to an article in the Guardian stating that “it is unjustifiable to use the Government as a scapegoat for any violation a citizen may encounter.”In July 2013, Bahrain Watch released a report showing how Bahraini authorities used fake Twitter accounts to track down and arrest at least eleven anonymous Twitter users for allegedly posting tweets insulting King Hamad.  In 2011, Bloomberg had reported that German company Trovicor GmbH was selling spy gear to Bahraini authorities which may have lead to the arrest and torture of political activists.



    Communication between Bahrain and Gamma’s Customer Service

    Below are some examples of messages apparently sent by Gamma’s Bahraini client to its customer support service found in the new Gamma data leak.


    Fig. 1:

    Date: 2011-10-02 09:38:56


    Fig. 2:

    Date: 2012-02-28 07:40:00

    Subject: MAC Trojan
    Mac trojan that is created with finspy it is not working, attached is the massege box that comes when we are trying to infect the MAC book

    Fig. 3:

    Date: 2011-02-19 10:16:59

    Subject: Removed infaction


    1-We have a Problem with some targets that it been deleted by it self with out remove the infection from the target it goes to archive by it self.
    2-For infection with MBR : we infect a test PC from our side and we format the PC  normally after when we chick it it loses it infection when we told from your people that MBR infection that survive from the formatting

    Fig. 4:

    Date: 2012-02-20 06:33:20

    Subject: Trojen detected by AntiVirus

    When using FinFly Web V2.0 Static Module the antivirus detects the trojen and it can be seen clearly by a popup.

    Please find the attached screen shot of what is dispalyed on the screen.


    When Using iFrame module:

    1- some webistes doesnt open in Background e.g. Youtube, Facebook, twitter.

    2- the trojen popup  comes behind the Youtube video in the self created website and in some websites the trojen does not appear at all.
    Kinldy reveiw and revert back on this issues.


    Fig. 5:

    Date: 2011-11-02 07:44:08

    Subject: USB Infection Generation ERROR




    referring to our discussion with Mr. Holger, here we can explain more our issue related to the USB infection:


    when we select to do a direct USB infection, we have tick options to be selected as following:

    1- Master Boot record of HD

    2- Vista  Windows 7 user mood infection

    3- Active hidding on target.


    we do tick all the options above, to secure all the chances not to lose the target. we reach to know that once we select the first option ,which is very important to us, we get immediately an  error with a title: Generation infection faild.


    Please note that if i disable the first option, the ganeration can be easily done. but we totally need the first option to be active while the generation. so please kindly let us know the solution as this is a priority.

    we had informed Mr. Holger about it. and he got a copy of the error. and i am attaching-uplaoding- the same picture of the error for your kind information

    Fig. 6:

    Date: 2012-02-21 06:38:46

    Subject: Finspy Master Login Error


    Since yesterday we are facing problem to login. We get the the following error


    error is connection to the master terminated unexpectedly. you will need to reconnect inorder to continue


    We are copying all the Finspy Master  the system logs for your reference.
    Kinldy look into this issue ASAP so that we can resume our work

    Fig. 7:

    Date: 2011-10-20 07:30:57

    Subject: Losing targets


    After infecting a targets the targets works for few days only than he never comes online and we have to infect him agin, we notice that he is useing the same comuter and same IP address.
    Plese contact us as soon as possible

    Fig. 8:

    Date: 2011-12-08 15:29:09

    Subject: Critical issues in the system


    Dears,Please note that we are facing a critical issue in the system, where we are not benefiting any more from this system. Please see below problems:we have more than 2 targets where they are physically connected online, but we are not getting any record accordingly. To be more in details: the target license is showing effectively downloading the full activity log, but it fails to transfer it or send it to the Master.even though, when we switch ON the mic of any target, we reach to know that he is active and talking BUT, no record has been transferred to us like before. I hope I am clear in the above points. Please remember with me the previous issue which occurred with the full system because of the last update sent to us, then the rectify of the issue which was sent to us by your technical team. We started experiencing the above issues specially after this incident. Please investigate urgently and let us know the solution. As we are in a big lose of data now
    Other problem is we are geting some time errors

    Fig. 9:

    Date: 2011-11-02 07:22:23

    Subject: referring to Tracking ID AAFC76C1


    referring to the last Tracking ID: AAFC76C1, we are explaining here more about the same issue in which to make the picture more clear:

    since we have 30 target licenses, we are now using them all in which we have already 30 targets. we would like to inform you that once i infect any target PC, and once i got a confirmation in the system as the target is ONLINE, that means we caught the fish. But, unfortunately, that if the target went OFFLINE, he will stay OFFLINE in the system, even if he uses his PC or Laptop. even we have a confirmation that the target  uses his PC, but unfortunately that the system didnt show the second and next use of his PC.

    therefore, we request kindly, to find a solution as below:


    1- modify the system to clearly show that the target had been disabled or not any more infected.

    2- we 100 percent aware that we didnt enable self removal.

    3- we 100 percent aware that the infection has not been removed by the agent

    4- we have a confirmation that the targets which we lose are not formatting their PC every day.

    5- we believe the only possible option is the antivirus on the target PC is always detecting the infection and simply the target is deleting the infection. so, accordingly, i believe that we took this system since it easily infect with out the knowledge of any antivirus. and since technology is developing, we still cooperate to inform you if the anti virus is detecting the infection.
    please let us know what to do in this case, as this issue keeps going on and we are losing targets daily with out our knowledge. and we are sure that we didnt do the removal. and  we cant stay bugging and infecting the target every time since it is very sensitive. and we dont want the target to reach to know that someone is infecting his PC or spying on him.


    Link: https://bahrainwatch.org/blog/2014/08/07/uk-spyware-used-to-hack-bahrain-lawyers-activists/

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    Twelve news and information providers are currently detained in Bahrain. Many of them are photographers or cameramen, who have been repeatedly targeted by the authorities since the start of the unrest in Bahrain in 2011 because their visual coverage of the protests and the government’s crackdown threaten the kingdom’s image.

    As a Manama court prepares to rule on internationally-renowned photographer Ahmed Humeidan’s appeal on 25 August, Reporters Without Borders has prepared the following overview of these 12 detainees. The youngest is 15. Eight are photographers or video reporters and four are online activists. Eight have been given prison sentences ranging from three months to life.

    RWB calls for their release and withdrawal of all charges or the quashing of the convictions of those already sentenced.

    The Bahraini authorities arbitrarily arrest news providers and peaceful civil society activists in an attempt to suppress dissent. Bahrain is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.


    8 photographers and video reporters


    Ammar Abdel Rasoul Ali, arrested on 24 July 2014
    Firas Al-Saffar (a minor), arrested on 1 June 2014
    Sayed Ahmed Al-Mousawi, arrested on 10 February 2014
    Mansoor Al-Jamri, arrested on 9 January 2014 and sentenced to six months in prison on 17 October 2012
    Jaffar Marhoon, arrested on 26 December 2013 and sentenced to successively to three months, six months and one year in prison
    Qassim Zain Al-Deen, arrested on 2 August 2013, sentenced to six months in prison on 15 January 2014 and awaiting another trial
    Hussain Hubail, arrested on 31 July 2013 and sentenced to five years in prison on 28 April 2014
    Ahmed Humeidan, arrested on 29 December 2012 and sentenced to ten years in prison on 26 March 2014

    • Ammar Abdel Rasoul Ali, a freelance photographer who has won many awards including one in the 2014 IPA International Digital Photography Competition, was arrested by plainclothes men at his home in the village of Eker on 24 July after a search of his apartment in which two cameras and a mobile phone were seized.

    He told his wife that he was threatened, insulted and tortured during the 72 hours he was interrogated at the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) and that he was asked questions about his activities as a photographer. His lawyer, Saeed Sarhan, said he is to be tried for “attacking the security forces” and “illegal assembly,” charges he denies. He is currently held in El-Hod El-Gaf (Dry Dock) prison under a 45-day detention order “for the purposes of investigation.”

    • Firas Al-Saffar is a 15-year-old boy who has been held for nearly three months. He was arrested on 1 June, as he was about to go to school, and was taken to Manama’s Al-Hura police station. Reporters Without Borders has been told he is to be prosecuted for filming unauthorized demonstrations. A court ordered him held in pre-trial detention for another 45 days on 17 July.
    • Sayed Ahmed Al-Mousawi, a freelance photographer who has received many international awards, was arrested on 10 February for giving SIM cards to demonstrators and taking photos of demonstrations. His detention was extended for 45 days on 27 July. He has been awarded more international prizes for his photography since his arrest.
    • Mansoor Al-Jamri, a social network activist who photographed events in his village, Bani Jamra, was arrested on 9 January 2014, interrogated at CID headquarters and then taken to Dry Dock prison. He was transferred to Jaw prison to serve a six-month sentence (passed on 17 October 2012) for illegal assembly. He should be released on 2 September but is still facing charges of “attacking security forces” and “harbouring a wanted person.” He was not allowed to attend his grandmother’s funeral at the start of August 2014.
    • Cameraman Jaffar Marhoon, 25, was arrested in a hair-dressing salon on 26 December 2013, interrogated by the CID for three days and then taken to Dry Dock prison. Prior to his arrest, he was given three jail sentences: three months for illegal assembly, six months for illegal assembly and one year for illegal assembly and vandalism. He is also charged with involvement in a homemade bomb attack on 17 December 2013 in Dimistan. His detention for the purposes of the investigation into this case was extended by 45 days on 20 August.
    • Freelance cameraman Qassim Zain Al-Deen was arrested at his home on 2 August 2013 and was sentenced in December 2013 to three months in prison for illegal assembly. He was sentenced to an additional six months in prison on 15 January on another charge of illegal assembly and a charge of “vandalism.” He is now being prosecuted on another charge of “vandalism” in connection with unrest inside Dry Dock prison on 16 August 2013. The next hearing has been set for 24 September.

    On 15 December 2013, Reporters Without Borders and nine other human rights organizations asked Frank La Rue, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Juan Méndez, the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to investigate the detention and torture of Al-Deen and two other Bahraini news and information providers. They reiterated this request during the UN Human Rights Council’s 26th session.

    • Hussain Hubail, a well-known freelance photographer working for various news media including Agence France-Presse and Voice of America, was arrested as he was about to board an international flight at Manama airport on 31 July 2013 and was interrogated for four days at CID headquarters without being allowed to contact his lawyer or family. He was then taken to Dry Dock prison.

    Charged three weeks later with “membership of the 14 February media network,” “calling for and participating in illegal demonstrations,” “inciting hatred against the government” and “maintaining relations with government opponents in exile,” he was sentenced to five years in prison on 28 April 2014. He said he was mistreated and tortured while in pre-trial detention – claims that have never been the subject of an international investigation. A court began hearing his appeal on 22 June. A second hearing was held on 20 August and a third has been set for 21 September.

    In May 2013, the independent newspaper Al-Wasatawarded Hubail a prize for a photo of demonstrators in a cloud of teargas.

    He is one of the three news and information providers named in the letter that ten human rights organizations sent to UN special rapporteurs Frank La Rue and Juan Méndez in December 2013.

    In mid-March, Hubail was treated for several days for respiratory problems and chest pains in Salmaniya prison hospital. After his conviction, he was transferred to Jaw prison, where he has not received appropriate medical treatment. On 11 August, his family launched a campaign, #SaveHussain, to demand access to proper care for Hubail, and released a video.

    • Ahmed Humeidan, 26, an internationally renowned photographer held since 29 December 2012, was sentenced to ten years in prison on 26 March for allegedly attacking a police station in Sitra on 8 April 2012. A court is due to rule on his appeal on 25 August. He told his family and his lawyer he was subjected to psychological torture and death threats following his arrest. His lawyer has repeatedly requested an independent investigation into these claims. He has also asked the prison authorities to let his client be examined by a doctor. Humeidan was awarded the Washington-based National Press Club’s press freedom prize on 30 July.

    4 online activists

    Takrooz, arrested on 17 June 2014
    Ali Al-Mearaj, arrested on 6 January 2014 and sentenced to 30 months in prison on 8 April 2014
    Jassim Al-Nuaimi, arrested on 31 July 2013 and sentenced to five years in prison on 28 April 2014
    Abdeljalil Al-Singace, arrested in March 2011 and sentenced to life imprisonment on 4 September 2012

    • The blogger Takrooz was arrested at Manama airport on his return to Bahrain on 17 June on charges of “inciting hatred against the regime” and “using expressions that incite sectarianism” on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The detained blogger, who has not been named, denied being the owner or user of the offending Twitter account but acknowledged being the owner of the email address to which it was registered. His detention was extended for another 45 days on 31 July.
    • Blogger Ali Al-Mearaj, 36, was arrested on 6 January 2014 and was sentenced to 30 months in prison on 8 April on charges of “misusing information technology” and insulting the king. A court was supposed to have heard his appeal on 5 May but the hearing was postponed and has been postponed again three more times (on 13 May, 14 June and 10 July). It is now set for 3 September.
    • Masked plainclothesmen arrested cyber-activist Jassim Al-Nuaimi at his home on 31 July 2013 on charges of inciting anti-government hatred and calling for illegal demonstrations in messages posted on social media. He was transferred to Dry Dock prison on 3 August 2013 and then taken before a prosecutor. He said he was tortured and forced to sign a confession. During a hearing on 27 January 2014, Nuaimi testified that he was not in Bahrain when the offending messages were posted and that he had sold his computer before they were posted, so he could not have been responsible. He was sentenced to five years in prison on 28 April. A court began hearing his appeal on 22 June. A second hearing was held on 20 August and a third has been set for 21 September.
    • Detained since March 2011, Abduljalil Al-Singace, a blogger and member of the Al-Haq Movement’s human rights bureau, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court in June 2011. He was one of 21 opposition leaders and activists convicted of membership of terrorist organizations and trying to overthrow the government. A high court of appeal upheld his sentence on 4 September 2012. The appeal that he and 12 other human rights activists submitted to the Court of Cassation was rejected on 7 January 2013.

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    (Beirut) – Ten people whose Bahraini citizenship was withdrawn without due process are facing deportation or jail. They are among 31 people declared stateless in November 2012, allegedly for damaging state security. The others have left the country.

    July 2014 amendments to Bahrain’s citizenship laws will grant the Interior Ministry additional authority to revoke citizenship of people who fail in their “duty of loyalty” to the state, a vaguely worded provision that could be used against government critics, Human Rights Watch said. Recent amendments to Bahrain’s counterterrorism law, in tandem with the recent failure of Bahrain’s criminal justice system to provide fair trials and deliver impartial verdicts, provide a further legal pretext for the arbitrary stripping of citizenship, in clear violation of international law.

    “The Bahraini authorities’ latest repressive tactic is to invest themselves with further powers to arbitrarily strip critics of their citizenship,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director. “Bahrainis who dare speak out for change now risk not only arbitrary detention and torture but statelessness and deportation to an uncertain future.”

    Bahrain should repeal laws that will allow authorities to strip Bahrainis of their nationality on grounds so vague as to be arbitrary, Human Rights Watch said. Bahrain should immediately restore the citizenship rights of the 10 people who face deportation and of the 21 others whose citizenship rights were removed without due process.

    Bahraini authorities have either obstructed the right of appeal or refused to justify the decision to revoke the citizenship of the nine men and one woman who remain in the country. They have no residence permits and face charges of violating asylum and immigration law.

    On August 10, the public prosecutor issued a court summons to one of the 10, Taimoor Karimi, a lawyer, for “violations of asylum and immigration law” that include remaining in Bahrain without the residence license that all non-nationals over 16 are required to have. Maryam and Sayed al-Mosawi, a married couple, had received similar summonses.

    On July 13, the Immigration Directorate summoned Sayed al-Mosawi to a meeting and required him to sign a statement acknowledging that he had taken no action to find a “sponsor” and thus seek the status of a migrant worker. Under Bahrain’s sponsorship system, all migrant workers must have a sponsor, usually an employer, to whom their residency and employment in Bahrain are tied. The laws regulating the immigration and employment of non-nationals make no provision for stateless people, however.

    Al-Mosawi told Human Rights Watch that the Immigration Directorate had confiscated his passport and national identification card in July 2012. “Apart from my driving license, I have nothing to prove I exist,” he said.

    Adnan Kamal, another among the 10, told Human Rights Watch that the confiscation of his passport and his national identification card meant he has been unable to secure a passport or a national identification card for his 1-year-old daughter, Fathima.

    The Interior Ministry said in November 2012 that the 31 people had been stripped of their nationality under article 10 of the Bahraini Citizenship Act of 1963 because it deemed them to have damaged state security. It said that they could appeal. But al-Mosawi and a Bahraini defense lawyer told Human Rights Watch that none of the 31 could appeal because the authorities removed their names from official databases, meaning that they had no legal status and could not give power of attorney to lawyers to lodge appeals on their behalf.

    In January 2013, the Justice Ministry allowed 9 of the 31 to give power of attorney to a lawyer to file an appeal after Amnesty International intervened. The lawyer filed an appeal on behalf of Ibrahim Karimi, one of the 31, saying that revoking his citizenship is unconstitutional. Bahrain’s constitution states, in article 17, that Bahrain nationals cannot be stripped of their nationality “except in case of treason, and such other cases as prescribed by law.”

    A court upheld the decision to revoke Karimi’s citizenship on April 29, 2014, stating that the decision was “intimately related to national security,” without any supporting evidence. It added that the administrative authority’s decision, which it was not obliged to justify, was “not subject to judicial oversight as long as its decisions are free from abuse of authority.” Karimi, who described himself as a political activist, told Human Rights Watch that he expected to be deported but did not know when.

    On July 24, 2014, Bahrain’s Official Gazette published amendments to the Citizenship Law of 1963. Article 10 now permits the Interior Ministry, with cabinet approval, to strip the citizenship of a person who “aids or is involved in the service of a hostile state” or who “causes harm to the interests of the Kingdom or acts in a way that contravenes his duty of loyalty to it.”

    Article 9 obliges any individual who has been willingly naturalized by a foreign state without prior permission from the Interior Minister to, within six months, either forfeit the foreign citizenship or submit an application to the minister for permission to retain this citizenship. In addition to the 31 people whose citizenship was revoked in 2012, on August 6, a Bahrain court stripped the citizenship of 9 out of 14 people convicted on charges that included participation in an illegal organization and having ties to Iran. Under the new law, the decision to revoke their citizenship will require the approval of the king.

    The conviction was based on a July 31, 2013 legislative decree that provides for the denaturalization of Bahrainis convicted of violating various provisions of a 2006 counterterrorism law.

    The judgment had not been made public, but Mohamed al-Tajer, the defense lawyer for three of the 14, told Human Rights Watch that the convictions were based on a confession by one of them. Al-Tajer expressed concern about the fairness of the trial, including authorities’ refusal to let him meet with his clients while they were in pre-trial detention. He said that some of the defendants had alleged that they were tortured, but that the judge had refused to let them show the court physical evidence or to initiate an independent investigation into the torture allegations.

    A May Human Rights Watch report described in detail how Bahrain’s courts play a key role in maintaining the country’s highly repressive political order. For example, in September 2012 a Bahraini court classified classic tools of peaceful protest as acts of terrorism, reasoning that terrorism can be the result of “moral pressure,” while affirming the long-term sentences of government critics who had advocated for the establishment of a republic in Bahrain

    Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to a nationality and that no-one shall be arbitrarily deprived of their nationality. Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Bahrain has ratified, states that, “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.” In 1999, the Human Rights Committee, the authoritative UN body for interpreting the ICCPR, stated that “The scope of ‘his own country’ is broader than the concept ‘country of his nationality,’ ” and that it would apply to people who have been stripped of their nationality in violation of international law.

    “The Bahraini government seems hell bent on finding ever new and more pernicious ways to penalize its critics and suppress calls for change,” Whitson said. “No one should have their citizenship snatched away for peaceful criticism of their government.”

    Link:  http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/08/21/bahrain-citizenship-rights-stripped-away


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    Leaked internal documents allegedly belonging to UK-based surveillance software company Gamma International suggest that Bahrain's government has used the technology to spy on activists, politicians and members of a government commission investigating human rights abuses. 

    On Aug. 3, an anonymous Twitter account @GammaGroupPR began publishing the 40 gigabytes worth of information, which indicated the company's staff were communicating with a customer in Bahrain from 2010 to 2012 about its FinFisher spy software. Rights group Bahrain Watch analyzed a list of 77 computers infected with the spyware to identify the people who were targeted. 

    Two members of the king's Bahrain Independent Commission of Investigation (BICI) appear to be among those targeted. The government's bloody crackdown against a popular uprising, now in its third year, spurred the creation of the fact-finding mission, which concluded authorities have practiced systematic torture against dissidents, carried out extrajudicial killings and committed other serious offenses, including the demolition of places of worship.


    KMA is assumed to be judge Khaled Moheyuldin Ahmed, a member of the commission who is now employed by the Bahraini government. Sources confirm that Ahmed was using a Sony VAIO laptop (see above chart) during the time he worked with BICI, which coincides with the dates of infection. The other target who shares the same operation code is named Douglass and is believed to be Douglas Hansen, another member of the BICI.

    The leak contradicts Gamma's earlier denials that it doesn't sell its products to Bahrain. It also adds credence to suggestions of wrongdoing by London-based NGO Privacy International, which sent multiple inquiries to the UK's customs department, asking whether the department was investigating Gamma's export of spy technology to repressive regimes. After their requests went unanswered, they took the company to court. In May of 2014, the UK High Court ruled that the customs department acted unlawfully and “irrationally” in refusing to answer the NGO's inquiries.

    In Bahrain, activists have long accused the Bahraini government of breaching their privacy. A government order mandating a record be kept of all emails sent and received was issued in 2009.

    Human rights lawyer Mohamed Altajer told Bahrain Watch that his computer was compromised after he watched a CD sent to him. The CD contained private footage of Altajer and his wife, taken without their knowledge. The group believes the CD also held the spyware and thus infected his computer. Supporters believe the CD was sent to blackmail him into ending his work defending Bahrainis arrested and tortured for their role in the anti-government protests. Many others have said their photographs that were confiscated during police raids have turned up on porn sites and been distributed across social media.

    The Intercept quoted Altajer saying he was “happy” the story had been made public. “These dirty people who videotaped me…now they are naked, now they are exposed before the world.”

    I asked Mr. Matar Matar from the opposition political society Al Wefaq, who is a target of the spyware, to comment. He said the matter could be brought before British court:

    The political influence on the judiciary System in Bahrain doesn't provide any space to protect activists from surveillance. But this is an opportunity to move in legal action in UK courts. Now Al Wefaq is in a better position to call HM Revenue & Customs, UK’s tax authority, to investigate in the illegal export of a hacking software for non-free regimes with a dark record of serious human rights violations. How come such a software is licensed to a regime which is considered be the third worst and 5th most declining regime in freedom house report.

    By UK law, Gamma must apply for country-specific licences in such cases and it doesn't seem it did and Al Wefaq is harmed by this violation. UK’s High Court already slammed the UK’s tax authority for hiding details about this issue. And this is the time for all those who were harmed by this violation to sue Gamma.

    Spyware aside, Mr. Matar Matar says the government lost civil society's trust long ago:

    Karim Fakrawi, co-founder of Al Wefaq, was beaten to death in custody. During martial law, I was arbitrary detained with my colleague Jawad Fayrozz. Also the government revoked the citizenship of two former MPs from AlWefaq. They both are living in exile in addition to another 3 other MPs. In addition to that, five elected members municipality council have been dismissed. And currently Al Wefaq is on trial for it to be suspended and three senior leaders are awaiting trial. Under these circumstances, the struggle with the regime is much beyond the surveillance.

    BICI was established based on a royal decree. The fact that it was spied on might suggest testimonies were tailored to mislead the commission. Gamma also says it only sells the FinFisher technology to governments and law enforcement, indicating that the spying is done with the knowledge of officials.

    Digital security group Internet Protection Lab reported the spying went beyond political activists and bloggers to possible financial espionage.

    While the UK government tracks and arrests malicious hackers at home, these leaks suggest that it continues to allow the sale of surveillance technology to Bahrain. And it welcomes members of their widely criticized security apparatus to get training in the UK. In the past, Bahraini authorities have arrested local bloggers such as Takrooz, thanks to their use of similar spy technology. Many more might be in danger. While a court ruling could help limit the Bahraini government's access to surveillance technologies in the future, its affects on human rights defenders may be felt for many years to come.

    An earlier version of this post mistakenly named Douglas Hansen-Luke as one of the people believed to be listed in the records of Gamma International leaked online. It is Douglas Hansen who was part of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Investigation.


    Link: http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2014/08/11/leaked-data-suggests-bahrains-government-hacked-its-own-fact-finding-commission/

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    Teargas burn is not a sensation you forget. It tears through your nostrils, floods your lungs, chokes out your remaining supply of oxygen, festers underneath your clothing and clings to your skin like hot wax. You hear the bang of the gun, the whishing of the canister through the air, the clink of metal hitting the ground, and then the rush of what sounds like water flooding the street. Everything around you turns white – you see it before you smell it – and for a moment you wonder if you’re immune to tear gas. Two or three seconds later, you learn you’re not. You also learn that if teargas itself doesn’t cause tears, choking on it does.

    In 2014 alone, CR gas (2-Chlorobenzalmalononitrile, the chemical compound found in many teargas varieties) has pierced the lungs of Turks, Bahrainis, Cambodians, Egyptians, Parisians, Palestinians, Brazilians, and thousands of other world citizens. It is not a feeling with which many Americans can empathize.

    But seven days ago, a white police officer shot a black American teenager, 18-year-old Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. After the incident, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to dispel protestors who amassed onto Ferguson’s streets after his death. The town endured six straight nights of race riots, while Middle America in 2014 looking more like Washington, D.C. in the 1960s.

    Or Istanbul last year.

    Or Bahrain last Thursday night.

    Under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention and the Geneva Protocol at large, teargas cannot be used in armed international conflicts. Yet, in one of the more disturbing ironies of international law, it remains permissible for domestic use. In 2004, a Nepalese medical journal stated:

    The use of CS gas and other tear gases with comparable clinical effects should be taken as tantamount to chemical warfare against civilians.

    Residents in Ferguson decried the police response to the protests as “excessive force,” “brutality” and a “siege” on their neighborhoods. Washington Post reporter Wesley Brown spoke to locals fearing for their families’ safety as teargas canisters landed on their front lawns and oozed chemicals into their homes.

    Perhaps unknowingly, the pleas of Ferguson’s residents echoed the cries of Bahraini citizens, whose windows are regularly shattered by incoming teargas canisters, fumigating their homes with CR gas.

    As photos poured out of Missouri, they became increasingly indecipherable from those taken by citizen journalists in Gaza, Manama, and Istanbul, where well worn communities of teargas survivors offered up techniques to Ferguson’s residents for minimizing the harmful effects of teargas:

    Ferguson’s protestors would have done well to heed the advice of their Middle Eastern and Turkish contemporaries. After all, they know what they’re talking about.

    In both Ferguson, Missouri and Bani Jamra, Bahrain, there is a high probability the canisters in question were labeled “Made in the USA.” That’s right. We export teargas. We export massive quantities of it, and we make quite a bit of money doing it. We produce it in factories in Jamestown, Pennsylvania and Casper, Wyoming and Plainview, New York, and then we ship it out. Sometimes we go on television and ask our customers not to shoot it directly at their citizen’s skulls, to use the “crowd control” substance responsibly, and not as an offensive weapon against a “crowd” of only a few people.

    We ship it to Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and a host of other militarized, oppressive governments renowned for human rights abuses against their own citizens or those they occupy. These regimes use our chemical warfare products in quantities and locations violating international guidelines. They unleash our chemicals in confined residential areas, on small crowds, and at close range. Elderly women die, suffocating in their bedrooms, and children’s faces are split open when canisters are aimed directly at their heads.

    Then, when the smoke clears, when their nostrils stop burning, after they’ve picked up their brothers from the underground medical clinic next door, once their streets are covered in used canisters labeled “Made in Pennsylvania,” these victims of our American ingenuity go on social media and see that unarmed civilians in a U.S. suburb are drowning in teargas, too.

    As viral support for #Ferguson protestors poured out of #Bahrain, #Palestine, #Egypt, and #Pakistan, social media analysts called teargas “the tie that binds” and “the great equalizer.” The GlobalPost amalgamated 25 photos showing that “teargas unites us all.” Unfortunately, this unity has been largely one-sided. As teargas tips and messages of solidarity were sent from the Middle East to Missouri, one began to wonder if this immense display of support would be reciprocated after the air in Ferguson clears while CR gas still lingers in places like Gaza.

    A HuffPost editorial title recently proclaimed“We Should Be Talking About How Dangerous Teargas Is.” Absolutely. We should be talking about how dangerous it is for all people, not just Americans. We should be decades deep in that conversation by now. Another columnist exposed the companies “profiting from police brutality in Ferguson,” citing a June report valuing the global market for “non-lethal” weapons at $1.6 billion. Indeed, as events in Ferguson demonstrate, the same companies that export chemical weapons across the globe have domestic trading partners here in the United States. But, these partners were profiting off militarized crowd control long before Missouri erupted in protests. These profits will continue to flow until we start to reciprocate some of the global solidarity being sent our way.

    This transnational solidarity was distinctly lacking from one of the first comments posted in response to a Washington Postreport on police violence in Ferguson:

    The police act as if they were marines dealing with the unruly citizens of Fallujah.

    If the protestors were Iraqi, would excessive force be warranted? Was the chemical abuse of Iraqi civilians during the Battle of Fallujah acceptable?

    The next commenter proclaimed:

    The guy who had thugs fire teargas into his yard would have been well within his rights to respond with deadly force.

    Does this same logic apply to Bahraini youth who hurl Molotov cocktails at government security forces when their homes are targeted with canisters? Or to Palestinians who throw rocks at the Israeli Defense Forces through clouds of CR gas? Do Americans consider the police forces in Egypt, Turkey, and Cambodia to be “thugs” when they buy our chemical weapons?

    Probably not. We still do not view all human beings gassed using U.S.-made chemicals as equal. Until we do, teargas will never unite us. Even in response to Ferguson, an “us versus them” mentality seems to persist among many Americans, implying that teargas deployment in Missouri is inhumane only because it is being done to “us.”

    If we must reify this dichotomy, let us only do so in recognition of the incredible support“they” have shown “us.” American responses to this support will determine the legitimacy and legacy of the so-called “teargas solidarity” movement. Digital thank you notes from Ferguson to Gaza are beginning to appear on Twitter. This is a start. But the next time teargas canisters rain down on Manama or Gaza or Mumbai, “they” will not need our tips. They will just need us to stop sending teargas to their shores.


    Link: http://muftah.org/teargas-from-manama-to-missouri/#.U_dqc_vEY67

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    Nabeel Rajab


    I was sentenced to two years in prison for holding what authorities in Bahrain described as "illegal demonstrations" in 2012. In actual fact I was doing my legitimate and peaceful human rights work. I have been released in May this year, after serving the full sentence. My crime, if it can be called one, was defending the people's rights and calling for reform in Bahrain. But under the pretext that I had not acquired permission from the government for my protest, I was locked away. The real reason was to keep me silent: my role as the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, my advocacy on the media, including twitter and my relations with international human rights organisations and the UN system made me a threat to the undemocratic government and the Al Khalifa family that runs the country. Now that I am released from prison I can speak freely and engage myself in human rights work again.

    The fearsome possibility of being re-imprisoned can't stop my work. During the time I that spent in prison, my country has transformed into a fully functioning security state. The police force, now made up of thousands of naturalised Bahrainis, mercenaries in all but name, control the streets. Law upon law has been passed to silence protesters. It is now illegal to demonstrate in the capital, or to criticise the king. Offenders are punished by a vindictive and non-independent judiciary. Parliament is too cowed to even question government ministers any longer. Also, prisons in Bahrain are at the moment with detained human rights defenders and political detainees. Since 2011, over 50,000 people have been in and out of jail. Over three thousands of them are now serving time in Bahrain's prisons, in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Mass beatings and torture is a common occurrence. Although I was not tortured as badly as others, I witnessed other prisoners being beaten and tortured in front of my eyes.

    The reality Bahrain's situation has not improved. Like most countries which saw uprising and revolution in 2011, it has only worsened. I am happy to say that the United States, one of Bahrain's closest allies and whose Fifth Fleet is station in my country, is keenly aware of these problems, though whether they will pressure the government to improve the situation remains to be seen. More concerning - and infuriating - is the British response to Bahrain's crisis. In 2013, the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs recommended that the FCO should "designate Bahrain as a 'country of concern'" in its next Human Rights Report. Despite overwhelming evidences that the human rights situation had only continued to deteriorate, the British Government refused to upgrade Bahrain to a country of concern. The government reasoned that a new dialogue with the Crown Prince was promising evidence of improvement. Even when the dialogue quickly fell apart, Britain has refused to take further action. But the fact is that there can be no meaningful dialogue when most of Bahrain's civil and political leaders are in prison.

    In fact, when I was in prison, the British embassy in Bahrain telephoned my lawyer and asked him if I would keep quiet if I was released which proves that Britain does not want to hear about human rights violations in my country! And the reason for that is simple: Bahrain is buying Britain's silence with arms sales. In 2013, King Hamad personally visited prime minister Cameron in Downing Street to discuss the sale of war jets to Bahrain. This is a country which professes a commitment to democratisation, yet the message is clear: business interests are more valuable to Bahrain's western allies than democracy and human rights.

    The first elections for the National Assembly are to be held in October this year, which is the first to be held since 2011's revolutionary event. The Assembly is democratically elected, but the royally appointed Shura Council has veto power over them and the constituencies are gerrymandered, with the largest constituency having 21 times the population of the smallest. The Bahraini opposition has already announced it will boycott the elections unless a real dialogue occurs. This is an important time for Bahrain: even if there was a 0% turnout, the government's PR machine will try to portray it as a success, and allies like Britain are willing to listen. I do not want to go back to prison - I fear it - but the risk is always there due to the nature of my human rights work, and we as human rights defenders and promoters of freedom and democracy, I will continue to peacefully strive towards are goals.


    Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/nabeel-rajab/british-intervention-in-bahrain_b_5686070.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

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    Sunday 24 August 2014, Bahrain - Prominent human rights defender and founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, has declared an open hunger strike “in protest against the continuation of arbitrary arrest and detention.” In a statement made to members of his immediate family during a visit today, Mr. AlKhawaja declared that he would refuse all food and liquids with the exception of water. He also informed his family that due to the drugging, force feeding and the forced ending of his last hunger strike, he will also refuse to be taken to any hospital, the prison clinic or to receive any IV treatment during his strike.

    Mr. Al-Khawaja was arbitrary arrested on 9 April 2011 and sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court in a grossly unfair trial for his peaceful and legitimate human rights activism. He was subjected to torture during both his arrest and detention. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) found that this torture included severe beatings, sodomy, and psychological abuse resulting in a broken jaw which required immediate surgery. He was also sexually abused at the Bahrain Defense Force Hospital. His case (Number 8) is among the 60 cases of torture and/or ill treatment included in the annex of its report.

    In October 2011, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found the detention of Mr. Al-Khawaja to be arbitrary in contravention of articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9, paragraph 3, and 14, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and called for his immediate release as an adequate remedy. They also raised doubts over the charges leveled against Mr. Al-Khawaja and found that the Government of Bahrain violated international norms to the right to a fair trial.

    In April 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and association, and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers called for the immediate release of Mr. Al-Khawaja.

    Archived photo from the 2012 hunger strike

    Mr. Al-Khawaja started a hunger strike in 2012 that lasted 110 days to protest his arbitrary detention. During his strike, Mr. Al-Khawaja was drugged through an IV injection, restrained to the hospital bed and then force fed by a painful procedure using a tube through the nose at the Bahrain Defense Hospital. He now suffers from a number of medical conditions as a result of his treatment in detention. This has included cramps in his facial muscles, and acute pain in his coccyx as a direct result of torture. In 2014, Mr. Al-Khawaja was also informed that his medical files have “gone missing”. He has not received the adequate medical treatment necessary to treat his medical conditions nor any rehabilitation for the torture suffered during detention in direct breach of Bahrain’s obligations under Article 14 of the Convention Against Torture. Mistreatment during imprisonment has continued, mainly through the systematic refusal of access to adequate medical treatment.

    We reiterate demands made for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Al-Khawaja and all other prisoners of conscience in Bahrain from detention and the repeal of all their sentences. We remain concerned over continuing allegations of mistreatment in detention and remind authorities of their obligations under the Convention Against Torture, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We also call for impartial investigations over allegations of systematic torture and the prosecution of all those involved in committing, overseeing and/or enabling torture and/or ill-treatment to take place. In addition, all torture survivors must be provided with rehabilitation and reprieve by the authorities.


    Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

    Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR)



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    Nine Bahraini human rights organizations, along with human rights activists in Bahrain, have launched a campaign for the release of the blind Bahraini detainee Jafar Matooq, who is in urgent need of medical treatment.

    This campaign was launched as a result of the deteriorating situation in general, found in Bahraini prisons, and particularly concerning the lack of medical treatment provided for prisoners. Many of the prisoners live in a constant state of crisis out of a neglect for their health by the prison administration.

 Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights states that “everyone has the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”[1], which Bahrain has ratified. The Standard Minimim Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners also states that "Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals (article 22.2). Furthermore, the government of Bahrain has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in which article 10 states that “all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.[2]


    The undersigned NGOs and individuals believe that the human rights situation in Bahrain has reached a point where civil society and human rights organizations are not able to document all abuses against individuals that are occurring. Therefore, the undersigned group of human rights organizations, civil society institutions, activists and bloggers in Bahrain and abroad have adopted the case of the blind detainee, Jafar Matooq, through a human rights media campaign that will include several events, which will be announced soon. We hope that this campaign will empower others to adopt similar techniques to ensure that the rights of all detainees are respected, and treated as individuals.


    Jafar Matooq, lost vision in both of his eyes in an accidental explosion. He was later sentenced to ten years in prison in a trial that lacked the international standards of due process. Matooq was not present at the trial, but receiving medical treatment in the hospital. In May 2014, a court decision was issued for him to be examined by an eye specialist to assess his health. He has yet to been allowed to visit the eye specialist, and his lawyer has subsequently submitted a complaint against the Criminal Investigations.  


    This campaign calls for his unconditional release from prison, and immediate access to adequate medical treatment outside of Bahrain in order to attempt to recover his sight in as far as this is still possible.
The undersigned organizations hope for an extensive interaction with this campaign including its programs and events to succeed and to establish a collective action to defend the victims and try to let them receive their rights and to stop the injustice actions against them. The campaign will be launched on 19 August 2014.


    - Human rights organisations participating in the campaign:

    - Bahrain Human Rights Observatory

    - Bahrain Human Rights Society

    - Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    - Bahrain Salam for Human Rights

    - Bahrain Forum for Human Rights

    - Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

    - European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights

    - "BRAVO" Organisation

    - "I am free" Campaign

    - The family of Jafar Matooq

    - Human rights activists


    [1] Article 12, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN General Assembly, 1966

    [2] Article 10, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN General Assembly, 1966

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    (Beirut) – Bahrain should provide victims of torture with physical and psychological rehabilitation, Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups said today, based on a letter they sent to King Hamad. In particular, authorities should address the health needs of 13-high profile detainees, some of whom are suffering from the effects of torture by Bahraini interrogators in 2011.

    The authoritative Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), established in response to widespread allegations of torture of detainees in 2011, concluded that two state security forces had maintained “a deliberate practice of mistreatment” in the aftermath of anti-government protests and “a more discernible pattern of mistreatment” in relation to the 13-high profile activists serving long-term sentences. BICI also documented allegations that security officials beat detainees while they were being treated at hospitals, including at the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) hospital. Some of the 13 prisoners, including Abdulwahab Hussain, have since refused to be taken to that hospital for medical treatment.

    “Bahrain accepted the BICI’s finding that its security forces tortured people in 2011, so it should face up to its treaty obligation to help the victims recover,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “These 13 prisoners should not be in jail in the first place, but that doesn’t mean Bahrain can ignore its obligation to help them recover from torture by its security forces." 

    Bahrain has ratified the UN Convention Against Torture and is obliged under the terms of that treaty to make specialized services, including rehabilitation, “available, prompt and accessible” to torture victims in a way that avoids the risk of re-traumatizing them.

    Human Rights Watch, the Gulf Center for Human Rights, Project for Middle East Democracy, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Frontline, Freedom House, Physicians for Human Rights, Fair Trials International, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Civicus, International Federation for Human Rights, and Redress wrote to King Hamad on August 25. 2014. They urged him to ensure that torture victims receive the medical and psychological care that they require and that Bahrain has made a commitment f to provide. King Hamad announced in 2011 that he accepted the BICI findings in full.

    BICI documented the techniques most commonly used against detainees as: blindfolding; handcuffing; enforced standing for prolonged periods; beating; punching; hitting the detainee with rubber hoses – including on the soles of the feet, cables, whips, metal, wooden planks or other objects; electric shocks; sleep-deprivation; exposure to extreme temperatures; verbal abuse; threats of rape of the detainee or family members; and insulting the detainee’s Shia religious sect. BICI also documented allegations of beatings in hospitals, including the BDF hospital.

    Two detainees told BICI investigators that they were blindfolded and handcuffed to their beds during their time in the BDF hospital. One alleged that security forces there threatened him with sexual abuse and execution, and made sexual threats against his wife and daughter. The other said that, “There were many beatings at BDF.” A third said he was “physically tortured and verbally insulted” in the BDF hospital, and another said security officers beat him with a hose. A fifth detainee alleged that a security officer pointed a gun at his head and said: “We have the right to shoot anyone we want. I will empty this gun in your head.”

    The Bahrain authorities have failed to assess the therapeutic needs of the people whose mistreatment in detention in 2011 was documented in the BICI report.

    The wife of one of them, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, told Human Rights Watch that he continues to suffer pain in his lower spine due to an assault in detention in 2011, and that he needs surgery for problems associated with the plates and screws inserted into his jaw after police officers broke it in four places during his arrest. She said prison authorities have only provided basic medical attention. The family of another of the detainees, Abdulwahab Hussain, said that his health began to deteriorate in 2013, but that he has refused treatment at the BDF hospital because he does not feel safe there.

    In October 2012, the Committee Against Torture, the body of independent international experts who review state parties’ compliance with the Convention Against Torture, issued a general comment on article 14, which “explains and clarifies to States parties the content and scope of the obligations under article 14”. The committee considers that the term “redress” in article 14 encompasses the concepts of “effective remedy” and “reparation” and entails restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.

    The committee provides detailed guidance on how countries can fulfil their obligations to provide a victim of torture or ill-treatment with the most complete possible means for rehabilitation. The committee says that specialized services for victims of torture or ill-treatment should be “available, appropriate and promptly accessible.” These should include a procedure to assess and evaluate an individual’s therapeutic and other needs in a context that takes into account the risk of re-traumatizing victims.

    Human Rights Watch and the other rights groups also repeated their calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the 13 activists. They are serving lengthy prison sentences, up to life in prison in 8 cases. They were convicted although the evidence produced against them at their trial consisted only of public statements in which they advocated reforms to curtail the power of the ruling Al Khalifa family and confessions that appear to have been coerced while they were in incommunicado detention.


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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses concern over the reports of prisoners’ hunger strike at the Dry Dock detention center in protest against ongoing torture and ill-treatment in detention.

    According to information received by BCHR, around 600 detainees at the dry dock detention center have entered a hunger strike starting from 20 August 2014 under the title “Stop Torture In Prison”. In a statement released by them, the prisoners stated that detainees are suffering different types of ill-treatment including beatings, insults, deprivation from using the toilets, being locked in their cells at all times, insulting their sect, torture, solitary confinement, and being forced to stand for long hours. They have also named the officers who are responsible for this ill-treatment and referenced an incident that took place on 9 August where eight detainees were reportedly beaten with batons under the supervision of Lieutenant Fahad AlKoohaji.

    The families of detainees who have entered the hunger strike have expressed concern as their sons have stopped their regular phone calls since the start of the strike. According to information received by BCHR, some of those on hunger strike were beaten by the guards to force them to end it.

    The detainees at the Dry Dock temporary detention center are either awaiting trial or on trial and awaiting a verdict in their case. The BCHR has received reports of overcrowded cells where as many as twenty-five detainees are being held in a cell meant to contain twelve. The strain that such a large number of inmates places on the detention center’s facilities is a cause of serious concern, and detainees report that the facilities are dangerously unsanitary. Children as young as fifteen years old are also being detained in this facility.

    This hunger strike is not the first that the detainees have undertaken. Since 2010, prisoners at both the central Prison at Jaw and the temporary detention at Dry Dock have entered dozens of hunger strikes to demand improvement in the treatment they receive and the conditions of their imprisonment, without any improvement. On the contrary, the conditions continue to deteriorate as the number of detainees increases beyond the capacity of these prisons. The BCHR estimates at least 3,000 persons to be detained in Bahrain today. In June 2014, the BCHR published a report about these poor conditions at the detention centers. (Please refer to http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6917 )

    The BCHR draws attention to the international conventions concerning the protection of persons subjected to detention and imprisonment, in particular that "all persons under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be treated in a humane manner and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person", the BCHR urges the Bahraini government and all relevant authorities to take prompt action to ensure the rights of detainees and prisoners in Bahrain, including:

    1. Immediately stop the act of torture and ill-treatment in all detention centers, and hold those found to be responsible accountable for this crime.
    2. Full compliance with article 31 of "the standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners" issued by the United Nations, which stipulates that: "Corporal punishment, punishment by placing in a dark cell, and all cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments shall be completely prohibited as punishments for disciplinary offences."
    3. Regular and sudden inspection of prisons and places of detention by representatives of the competent international organizations in addition to independent local organizations and authorities with qualified inspectors who are both honest and experienced. Also, to reform prisoners’ situation while they are in detention, and to prosecute any administrative official or guard involved in human rights violations.
    4. Bahrain must sign the Optional Protocol against Torture, which involved that there will be a standing committee to visit the prisons and that the visits could be sudden. This would make a practical step forward that would demonstrate the seriousness of the authorities’ intentions to improve prison conditions.

    Finally, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights urges the Bahraini authorities to release all prisoners who have been arrested or sentenced for reasons relating to the exercise of their freedoms and fundamental rights.

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    UA: 166/14 Index: MDE 11/023/2014 Bahrain Date: 29 August 2014


    Prisoner of conscience Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, one of the 13 jailed prominent Bahraini opposition activists, went on hunger strike on 25 August in protest at his arbitrary arrest and detention. His health might deteriorate rapidly.

    Prisoner of conscience Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a dual Bahraini-Danish national, started a hunger strike on 25 August. He had told his family the previous day when they visited him in prison that he go on a full hunger strike, and would refuse to be taken to either hospital or the prison clinic. His family fear that his health will deteriorate so rapidly that he will die.

    The Public Prosecution visited Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja on 27 August. He demanded to be released. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja also phoned his family. His voice was weak and he told them that he was losing weight rapidly, his blood sugar levels and his blood pressure had dropped, and that he had started drinking water with added salts and glucose to gain energy. He also said he was being checked by a doctor and a nurse every two hours and being videoed.

    The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had found Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja’s detention arbitrary in May 2012 and called for his immediate release.

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

    • Calling on the Bahraini authorities to release Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja immediately and unconditionally;
    • Calling on them to order an impartial investigation into Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja’s allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice.



    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 (keep trying)

    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 bin Abdullah 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 insert local diplomatic addresses below:

    Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation

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


    Additional Information

    Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, 54, is a former protection co-ordinator with human rights NGO Frontline. He went on hunger strike for 110 days in 2012 in protest at his detention and life prison sentence.

    At its 63rd session in April/May 2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) considered Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja’s detention to be arbitrary and in contravention of Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantee the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and Articles 9(3), 14, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which guarantee the rights to freedom of association and assembly as well as the rights not to be arbitrarily detained and to have a fair trial before an independent and impartial court established by law. In view of these considerations the UNWGAD called on the government of Bahrain to release Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja immediately.

    He and 12 other opposition activists were arrested between 17 March and 9 April 2011. Most were arrested in the middle of the night by groups of security officers who raided their houses and took them to an unknown location, where they were held incommunicado for weeks. Many of them alleged they were tortured during their first few days of detention when they were being interrogated by officers from the National Security Agency (NSA). None of them was allowed to see their lawyers during NSA interrogations just after they were arrested. Some saw their lawyers during questioning by the military prosecutor ahead of the trial, while others were only allowed to see them during the first court hearing in May 2011, which was the first time any of the activists had seen their families since they were arrested.

    Bahrain's National Safety Court, a military court, announced its verdict on 22 June 2011, and sentenced them to between two years and life in prison on charges including “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution”. Seven of the 13 activists were sentenced to life imprisonment: 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. Four people, Mohammad Hassan Jawwad, Mohammad ‘Ali Ridha Isma’il, Abdullah al-Mahroos and ‘Abdul-Hadi ‘Abdullah Hassan al-Mukhodher, were sentenced to 15 years in prison. Two people, Ebrahim Sharif and Salah ‘Abdullah Hubail al-Khawaja, brother of ‘Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, were given five-year prison terms. On 28 September 2011, in a session that lasted only a few minutes, the National Safety Court of Appeal, a military appeal court, upheld all the convictions and sentences imposed on the 13 opposition activists. On 30 April 2012, the Court of Cassation in Manama ordered them to appear before a civilian court to have their appeals heard. Their appeal before a civilian appeal court started on 22 May 2012. The High Criminal Court of Appeal upheld their sentences on 4 September 2012.

    For more information on this case and others see the reports Flawed Reforms: Bahrain fails to achieve Justice for protesters, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/014/2012/en, Reform shelved, repression unleashed, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/062/2012/en and “Freedom has a price”: Two years after Bahrain’s uprising, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/005/2013/en.

    Name: ‘Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

    Gender m/f: m

    UA: 166/14 Index: MDE 11/023/2014 Issue Date: 29 August 2014

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    29 August 2014


    HM Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa

    King of Bahrain

    Rifaa Palace

    Manama, Bahrain


    Your Majesty,

    We, the undersigned Bahraini and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), would like to call your attention to the case of Ahmed Humaidan—an award-winning Bahraini photojournalist sentenced to 10 years in prison in connection with his work documenting the ongoing unrest in Bahrain.  These types of charges and prison sentences are active forms of intimidation and repression against journalists and the press, and directly conflict with Bahrain’s international commitments to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and to Bahrain’s accepted recommendations of the country’s 2012 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) [115.147, 115.155, and 115.158].  We call on your government to immediately and unconditionally release and dismiss all charges against Ahmed Humaidan and to fulfill Bahrain’s commitments to uphold international standards of press freedom.

    In December 2012, Bahraini courts tried Ahmed Humaidan along with over 30 individuals on charges relating to an attack on a Sitra police station which took place earlier that year.  Following repeated home raids against his family, plain-clothes security agents abducted Humaidan from a shopping mall on the night of 29 December 2012 and took him to the Central Investigation Department (CID), where he was interrogated without the presence of a lawyer. Ahmed has maintained that he was not involved in any violence and that he wasn’t presence during the police station attack and if he does that would be only in his capacity as a photojournalist documenting the ongoing unrest. Humaidan is an internationally recognized, award-winning photographer who has captured a number of iconic images from Bahrain since 2011.

    The 10-year prison sentence handed down against Humaidan, as well as similar sentences against other Bahraini media professionals, is a form of intimidation, repression and abuse of the Bahraini media community, and serves to undermine press freedom in Bahrain.  Additionally, the type of abuse Humaidan and his family endured through numerous home raids before his arrest and the manner of Humaidan’s arrest and his forced disappearance for 19 hours before being allowed to contact his family likewise serve as a comprehensive form of intimidation and abuse of journalists.

    As a signatory to the ICCPR, Bahrain has committed to uphold international standards of free expression, including the ability of media professionals to document and publish their work.  This obligation is rooted in Article 19.2 of the Covenant, which states that, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”  Similarly, a number of the 158 recommendations that the Government of Bahrain accepted as part of Bahrain’s 2012 Second Cycle UPR referenced ending intimidation, repression and censorship against journalists and the press in Bahrain. 

    Recognizing these obligations and commitments made by Bahrain, we therefore call on your government to immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Humaidan and to dismiss all charges against him.  We likewise call on the Government of Bahrain to recommit to upholding press freedom and freedom of expression in Bahrain, and to take immediate steps to end all intimidation, arrest, abuse, prosecution and detention of journalists and media professions on charges relating to their work.



    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain


    Bahrain 19

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

    Committee to Protect Journalists - Sherif Mansour - MENA Program Coordinator

    Canadian Journalists for free expression

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    Bahrain Salam for Human Rights

    Lawyer's Rights Watch Canada

    Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

    Bahrain Press Association


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    The authorities have stated that Maryam Al-Khawaja will appear before a judge on the morning of 31 August 2014. No information has been provided regarding the charges against her.


    The Bahrain Center for Human rights expresses its grave concern over the denial of entry to human rights defender and co-director of the Gulf Center for Human rights, Maryam al-Khawaja, to her native country Bahrain.

    Maryam al-Khawaja decided to fly to Bahrain to visit her father, the detained human rights defender, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja who began an open hunger strike on August, 26. Al-Khawaja's health has been rapidly deteriorating and there is urgent concern for his well-being. (Read more: http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/7013)

    Upon the arrival to Bahrain airport hours earlier, Maryam al-Khawaja was told by security forces that she doesn't have Bahraini citizenship. Al-Khawaja's Danish passport was taken and she was told to close her mobile phone or it would be confiscated.

    Maryam al-Khawaja sent us the below message:

    "If this letter has gone public then it means that the Bahraini authorities have not let me into the country. Due to this, I have decided to launch a water-only hunger strike and to refuse to leave the Bahraini airport. I will continue the hunger strike until I am allowed in to Bahrain to see my father.
    I want to make it clear that I refuse any and all food or treatment during my hunger strike.
    Maryam Al-Khawaja"

    The BCHR calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately allow Maryam al-Khawaja to access to her family and lawyer and allow her in her country Bahrain.

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    (31 August 2014) – The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) express grave concern over the arrest and detention of courageous human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja upon her arrival to Bahrain, on fabricated charges.

    Maryam Al-Khawaja, the co-director of the GCHR who is a Danish-Bahraini citizen, travelled to Bahrain on 29 August 2014 in an attempt to visit her father, leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is currently on a hunger strike in the infamous Jaw prison; his life is in grave danger.

    Upon Maryam Al-Khawaja’s arrival in Bahrain, at around 1AM local time in Manama, the authorities apprehended her just outside of the airplane. She was disconnected from communications with her family and lawyer for about 13 hours and no official provided them with any information about her wellbeing. She finally called her mother to inform her that she was being transferred to the public prosecution.

    She was interrogated on charges of “assault and battery against on-duty public employees during their performance of official duty.”[1] The public prosecution alleges that she has attacked a lieutenant and another policewoman and injured them when they asked her to hand over her mobile phone. Her lawyer said that the public prosecution denied Al-Khawaja the right to meet with her lawyer before the interrogation and that the lawyer himself was also denied the right to talk to her about her legal rights during interrogation. He has filed a legal complaint to the public prosecution for preventing him from talking to his client before the interrogation. The public prosecution statement confirm that Al-Khawaja was under arrest from the time of arrival and has called her “a female suspect” but didn’t mention the charges related to the initial arrest. The public prosecution has order her detention for seven days pending investigation on the above-mentioned charge.

    She was subsequently moved to the Isa Town women prison and placed with two convicted criminals. Her family has not been able to visit her yet, as the authorities are complicating the visit procedure for her. However, she was able to call them.

    The officials who held Al-Khawaja at the airport claimed that she is not a citizen of Bahrain, and that she is not allowed in the country. She has never been presented with any documents to this effect, and the authorities refused to provide her with any supporting evidence that she is no longer a Bahraini citizen. She has traveled using her Danish passport and she is holding a valid Bahraini issued smart card.  It is unclear whether the charges brought against her treat her as a Bahraini citizen, or a Danish one.

    Upon her arrival, Al-Khawaja stated that she would not voluntarily leave Bahrain, and that she would begin a hunger strike in protest, with her only demand that she be allowed into the country. She refrained from any food, juice, or supplements, but reportedly ended her hunger strike today out of concern for her father, whose health is very fragile. (For more information kindly see: http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/7024 and http://gc4hr.org/news/view/722 )

    There is an extremely high degree of urgency for this case and serious concern over the safety and wellbeing of Ms. Al-Khawaja in detention, particularly considering the history of abuse to which the family has been subjected. Ms Al-Khawaja’s father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, had 36 screws and 18 metal plates put in his face because of the torture and physical violence to which he was subjected following his arrest in 2011 for taking part in peaceful demonstrations calling for reform. Ms. Al-Khawaja’s uncle is also in prison in Bahrain and her sister Zainab has been subjected to repeated arrest, long-term detention, harassment, and physical abuse, including facing ongoing charges in relation to calling for her father’s freedom.

    It should be noted that Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has been on hunger strike for freedom for the past week, since 24 August. The last news of him as of 30 August is that his blood sugar dropped to two and his blood pressure reached 90/55. He took water with glucose and his blood sugar increased to 3.1.

    The GCHR and the BCHR are calling for urgent action to demand the immediate release of both Maryam Al-Khawaja and her imprisoned father Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, and to drop all charges against them. They call on the international community, including diplomatic representatives in Bahrain, to press the authorities to free them and ensure they are not abused.


    Please refer all questions to:


    Mr. Nabeel Rajab

    President of BCHR and Director of GCHR

    Tel: +447518464113 (this week)

    E-mail: nabeel.rajab@bahrainrights.org


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