Articles on this Page
- 07/10/13--06:02: _Bahrain: Prime Mini...
- 07/10/13--10:47: _HRF: Bahrain No Mor...
- 07/11/13--06:28: _Bahrain: Political ...
- 07/12/13--00:33: _Urgent Appeal: New ...
- 07/12/13--00:42: _A Q&A with one Bahr...
- 07/13/13--00:35: _Bahrain: First Hear...
- 07/13/13--01:23: _Bahrain: Struggle f...
- 07/14/13--08:42: _BCHR Releases New R...
- 07/15/13--10:08: _Bahrain's Prisons: ...
- 07/15/13--11:01: _UN Special Rapporte...
- 07/18/13--05:59: _A statement of soli...
- 07/18/13--06:36: _Bahrain: Sayed Mahe...
- 07/20/13--15:42: _Bahrain: Rihanna Al...
- 07/22/13--02:39: _Bahrain: Crackdown ...
- 07/26/13--04:16: _Bahrain: After Arbi...
- 07/26/13--05:16: _Blind Bahraini pris...
- 07/26/13--05:19: _HRF: Bahraini Repri...
- 07/26/13--14:40: _Amnesty Int'l: Bahr...
- 07/27/13--12:21: _Front Line Defender...
- 07/27/13--12:44: _Bahrain: Suffering ...
- The intervention of the international community and the United Nations bodies to prevent the Authority from continuing to further fasten and exploit the culture of impunity, which will lead to more innocent victims.
- Senior officials and members of the ruling family in Bahrain must be held accountable by an independent, transparent and impartial judicial system.
- Investigations must be held in all cases of torture, and the perpetrators have to be held accountable.
- Allies of Bahrain must pressure the Government of Bahrain to allow a visit by the Special Rapporteur on Torture.
- The immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Bahrain.
- Commitment of all departments of the Jaw Central Prison and Dry Dock prison to protect the rights of the detainees and to allow them to attend the funeral of their relatives.
- Accountability for individuals whom are responsible for these violations and have impeded the implementation of decisions about the temporary release of detainees to participate in the funeral of their relatives.
- The case of the 14th of February youth coalition cell is the first case to be referred to the Court immediately after 60 days of arrest.
- The defendants in the case are 50, 9 attended the court, 12 are outside Bahrain, and others are at the Jaw Central Prison.
- Families of the detainees, observers and human rights defenders were expelled from the court treating it as a secret trial in an act similar to what took place at the National Safety Courts.
- Among the charges against the defendants is disabling the provisions of the constitution and dissolving the parliament - which is headed by the judge's father Ali AlDhahrani - which can be considered as a conflict of interest.
- Among the charges against the defendants is seeking to overthrow the regime which is represented by the ruling Al Khalifa family–which is the family Judge Hamad Al Khalifa belongs to- which can be also be identified as a conflict of interest.
- The judge refused to allow time to listen to the many allegations of torture made by the detainees.
- When talking about torture the judge gave the detainees only a minute or two to talk about their allegations of torture; in addition to refusing to write the details of their torture testimonies in the trial notes.
- The judge refused to listen to the statements of the lawyers and their comments on the detainees' testimonies; the lawyers were not allowed to speak.
- The judge did not note down the requests as stated by the lawyers.
- The detainees unanimously agreed that they were threatened by the chief prosecutor, "Ahmed Bucheery" whom they stated reportedly used very sectarian derogatory language. They also claimed he threatened to return them to the Criminal investigation department CID and to torture them again if they did not confess to the charges against them.
- Judge Ali Aldhahrani refused to direct the charges to the defendants directly, instead, he assigned them with numbers and stated the charges to each number.
- Some of the defendants involved in the case were not investigated regarding this charge (Teacher Mohammed Altal as an example)
- The court, headed by Judge Aldhahrani rejected all complaints made by the detainees about the Public Prosecution, he refused to make note of them in the trial notes.
- The nine detainees who appeared before the court were not informed by prosecutors or during interrogations about their charges, which is belonging to the 14 February youth coalition cell. They were surprised to hear their charges for the first time in the courtroom, and to discover their pictures had been broadcasted on state television naming them as members of the February 14 youth coalition.
- The case is not presented in the proper format, and the lawyers worry that they are being used as a tool by the authorities in stating that defendants were assigned lawyers as per the law.
- Investigations were not conducted in regards to the complaints of torture made by most of the detainees in the case of February 14 Youth Coalition cell.
- The judge did not ask the detainees about not having assigned lawyers, nor about assigning lawyers for the upcoming sessions.
- The judge adjourned the session when one member of the defense team used the term "The Court is obliged", the judge repeated the word 'obliged' angrily before adjourning the session.
- The court also did not address the fact that some detainees did not have assigned lawyers, such as detainee Rihanna who was not allowed to appoint a lawyer since her arrest from the Formula One Circuit in April 2013. The court also ignored the requests made by the lawyers who were present, and the session was adjourned without addressing the lawyers' request.
- The immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Bahrain.
- Ensure the implementation of international standards related to interrogation, detention, and a fair trial, and to ensure the integrity and independence of the judiciary, and the defendant's right to innocence until proven guilty in a lawful court which meet the requirements of a fair trial.
- A fair and impartial investigation into all allegations of torture raised by the defendants, and to bring those responsible to justice, and compensate the victims.
- Put an end to the massive corruption, and the violations of the Public Prosecution, and hold all prosecutors and attorneys who were involved in human rights violations accountable; especially those who practiced torture, threats or defamation and retaliation against the defendants.
- Prosecute all those involved in the National Safety Courts (military) in regards to the violations committed against the defendants.
- 07/13/13--01:23: Bahrain: Struggle for democracy continues
- The immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience and political detainees, and an immediate stop totargeting and harassing those who practice their right to free expression and assembly
- Put an end to the harassment of prisoners and detainees
- Abidance of the Dry Dock Prison administration by the list of Detainees Rights
- Stop harassing the families of the detainees and prisoners, and ensure that they are not subjected to inappropriate treatment and body search
- Mr. /MunthirAlHabib/ human rights activist, member of Kuwaiti Committee for Monitoring Violations (Kuwait)
- Ms. /KhadeejaAlShamri/ human rights activist, member of Group 29 (Kuwait)
- Mr. /NawafAlhndal/ human rights activist, member of White Peace Line (Kuwait)
- Mr. /Mohammed Alajmi/ human rights activist and journalist (Kuwait)
- Mr./Abdulla AlRifdi/ human rights activist, member of Kuwaiti Committee for Monitoring Violations (Kuwait)
- Mr. /Habib AlSafar/ human rights activist, member of Kuwaiti Committee for Monitoring Violations (Kuwait)
- Ms. /RanaAlSadoon/ human rights activist, member of Kuwaiti Committee for Monitoring Violations (Kuwait)
- Mr. / AbdulrahmanAlwarhi/ human rights activist, member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (Saudi Arabia)
- Mr. / Ahmed AlGhareb/ human rights activist, member of Watan Center for Human Rights (Saudi Arabia)
- Mr. / Ali Shaaban/ social and human rights activist, a member of the Gulf Centre for Monitoring Discrimination (Saudi Arabia)
- Ms. / TufoolZahran/ human rights activist (Oman)
- Mr. / HussainJawad/ human rights activist, Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights (Bahrain)
- Mr. / HussainRadhi/ human rights activist, a member of the Bahrain Human Rights Society (Bahrain)
- Mr. / AhmedAlSaffar/ human rights activist, a member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (Bahrain)
- Mr. / SayedYousifAlMuhafdah/ human rights activist, head of Monitoring and Follow Up at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (Bahrain)
- Ms. / Zahra Mahdi / human rights activist, a member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (Bahrain)
- Ms. / EbtisamAlSayigh/ independent human rights activist (Bahrain)
- Mr. / Mohammad AlMaskati/ human rights activist, president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (Bahrain)
- Mr. / Mohammed Sultan / human rights activist, a member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (Bahrain)
- Ms. / NuhaHassan / human rights activist, a member of the Bahrain Human Rights Society (Bahrain)
- Mr. / Mohammed Fadhil/ human rights activist, a member of the Bahraini Association for Human Rights (Bahrain)
- Mr. / JalilYousif/ head of monitoring and follow-up at the Bahrain Human Rights Society (Bahrain)
- Mr. /AbdulnabiAlekry / president of Bahrain Transparency Society (Bahrain)
- Mr. / SayedHadiAlMousawi/ head of the Human Rights and Civil Liberties Unit at AlWifaq Society(Bahrain)
- Ms. / EmanAlHubaishi/ independent human rights activist (Bahrain)
- Ms. / AsmaaDarwish/ human rights activist, Head of Information & Media Relations in The European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights (Bahrain)
- Ms. / WalaaAlTaweel/ human rights activist, a member of the Qualification and Legal Assistance for Human Rights (Yemen)
- Mr. / lawyer Ghazi AlSamaai/ president of the Activists Organization for Development and Human Rights (Yemen)
- Ms. / EelaaAbdulaziz/ independent human rights activist (Yemen)
- Ms. / Amani Ahmad / human rights activist, a member of Activists Organization for Development and Human Rights (Yemen)
- Mr. / SaifAlhdi/ head of the monitoring and documentation unit at the Yemni Transparency Association (Yemen)
- Immediately and unconditionally release Sayed Maher Jaffar along with all other prisoners of conscience
- Provide Sayed Maher Jaffar and all other prisoners with adequate medical treatment
- Put an end to the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters
- For the authorities in Bahrain to commit to the international conventions which they have ratified, especially concerning the rights of prisoners to receive full medical care
- the immediate and unconditional release of Rihanna Al-Musawi;
- initiating a serious investigation in the torture complaints presented by Mrs Rihanna Al-Musawi;
- holding accountable the violators who tortured Rihanna Al-Musawi and bringing them to trial;
- putting an end to the targeting of women and arresting them as revenge of their activity and demanding their rights, and to release the detained women.
- Undertake appropriate measure to prevent incitement to violence, hatred, and sectarianism.
- Immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Bahrain
- An immediate independent investigation, which is both fair and transparent, into the alleged blast near the mosque in Rifaa as well as into the cases of attacked and vandalized mosques and places of worships in all other areas.
- To stop pursuing the policy of the collective punishment and harassing the people of the villages that witness the public protests
- An end to the culture of impunity that governs the police forces, and sweeping reforms to ensure that transparency and accountability are guaranteed.
- Immediately stop the targeting of Shia mosques and places of worship.
- Fully reconstruct the destroyed mosques and worship places and assume responsibility for all the damages and vandalism caused to these religious establishments.
- Immediately and unconditionally release of all detainees with special needs, and all other political prisoners in Bahrain .
- Provide adequate medical care for prisoners.
- Put an end to illegal house raids, arbitrary arrests and detainment without a court issued warrant.
- Abide by the articles in the UN Convention of Human Rights of Disabled Persons.
- Put an end to the culture of impunity and hold responsible those accountable for the protection of government employees responsible for violations to justice including the officials at the public prosecution, and those in high position in government.
- 07/26/13--05:16: Blind Bahraini prisoner launches hunger strike
- 07/26/13--14:40: Amnesty Int'l: Bahrain: Still no justice for torture
- The immediate and unconditional release of Ali AlQassab and all political prisoners in Bahrain.
- Put an end to illegal house raids, arbitrary arrests and detainment without a court issued warrant.
- The immediate termination of torture as a policy to extract confessions, and to allow a visit from the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture.
- To immediately provide the necessary treatment to Ali AlQassab and all other prisoners in need of medical care in the prisons of Bahrain.
- To put an end to the culture of impunity and hold responsible those accountable for the protection of government employees responsible for violations to justice including the officials at the public prosecution, and those in high position in government.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned in regards to the authorities in Bahrain fostering the culture of impunity, and especially in regards to a video which was published recently online showing Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the world's longest-serving unelected Prime Minister of 43 years, visiting an acquitted torturer to thank him and guarantee impunity.
On the 7 July 2013, a pro-government account on YouTube uploaded a video showing the Prime Mister visiting Lt-Colonel Mubarak bin Huwail after he was acquitted on 1 July 2013 of charges related to torturing medics in detention back in 2011. (Read More on: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/6205).
Photo taken from the video (Mubarak ben Huwail on the left, PM in the middle)
The Prime Minister’s visit to bin Huwail only reaffirm that impunity comes from the highest levels of the ruling family. It also reaffirms the fact that the judiciary system in Bahrain is neither independent nor fair; and far from being in line with international standards. Kangaroo courts and unfair trials continue against political dissidents in continuation of allegations of torture both inside and outside official government buildings; whereas those accused of extrajudicial killings or torture are either acquitted or given very light sentences in regards to the charges.
During the visit, the prime minister began with "We do not allow any harm towards you. These laws, no-one implements them on you. Our relationship with you, what is implemented on you is implemented on us. We are one body."
"As I told you, I came here to thank you for your patience, and for your kind work. The work of this whole family, is the reason behind your reputation which can't get any better."
"I came here to thank you all, and to thank Mubarak. He is our son, and nothing shall harm you, wherever you are, I'll always be there for you." The PM ended.
Link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVundvyyNS8
It is important to note that Huwail had numerous torture allegations made against him over years. Rula AlSafar, the nursing society chief who was arrested on April 4, 2011 stated “The principal investigator, Maj Mubarak bin Huwail, tortured us. He blindfolded and handcuffed us during the interrogation. He wrote whatever he wanted to write and then took our signatures on the false statements by beating us. We were humiliated, intimidated and degraded.”
The culture of impunity in Bahrain has acquitted many other officers as well despite the presented credible evidences; most of the officers whom were put on trial for charges related to torture allegations, where either acquitted or given light sentences. Read more on: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/6193
In addition to the thanks and impunity offered by the highest officials, the culture of impunity in Bahrain is as well represented in the form of offering promotions to the torturers instead of accountability. On 28 Jan 2013, the King has promoted Bassam Al-Muraj in a royal decree to become the General Director for Anti-Corruption, Economic and Electronic Security in the General Directorate, despite the credible torture allegations which have been made against Al Muraj for several years by local and international human rights organizations. Read more on: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5628
The BCHR believes that the policy of impunity is clearly practiced by the Public Prosecution and the Judiciary in Bahrain, and it is a systematic policy implemented at the highest levels of government, which was proven by the recent video of the Prime Minister. Also, the fact that the visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture was effectively cancelled by the Government of Bahrain, which was due to take place in May 2013, is another indicator that the Bahraini government is not serious about implementing reforms and about abiding by the local and international laws. Read more on: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5720
Based on the information provided above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls for:
By Brian Dooley
Human Rights Defenders Program
He has been in custody ever since and has another year to go before completing his sentence on charges of Tweetinginformation about protests. Nabeel’s jailing was a shock to those of us who follow Bahrain closely. For the year before his arrest, Bahraini authorities had harshly cracked down on protesters calling for democracy. Thousands of people had been arrested and many of them were tortured.
But many people thought that Nabeel’s international prominence and reputation would protect him from a long prison sentence; he’s the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and had won several international human rights prizes, including the Ion Ratiu award from the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Silbury Prize from UK parliamentarians in 2011. He’s one of the most prominent human rights activists in the Middle East, if not the world.
Many also believed that the international outcry over Nabeel’s arrest might result in a quick release. Instead it turned out that his jailing was part of a renewed wave of attacks on Bahraini civil society by the dictatorship.
In the past year, 31 Bahrainis have been stripped of their citizenship, almost a dozen have been prosecuted for criticizing the king on Twitter, the appeal courts have confirmed verdicts and sentences given to political prisoners in military show trials, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture has been denied access to the country, and many other prominent human rights defenders have been targeted and jailed, including Zainab al Khawaja.
During that time, some protestors have grown increasingly angry and violent, and the regime has still failed to hold any senior official accountable for the systematic torture that took place since February 2011.
It’s hard to see what jailing Nabeel has achieved except that it is yet another blow to the public opinion of Bahrain in the eyes of the international community. Putting Nabeel in prison has only increased his profile. He has always been a strong force for peaceful protest –constantly urging demonstrators to stay nonviolent. With his arrest, the government has inflamed an already volatile situation by trying to silence one of the voices that broke through to frustrated young protestors.
Instead of allowing Nabeel and the other human rights activists to help shape a new Bahrain with real political stability, these voices of dissent are biding their time while behind bars. Nabeel called me from prison a while ago. “I’m just bored,” he said. “We’re not allowed newspapers or books we want to read. I spend most days just sitting between the four walls.”
If the U.S. wants to protect its strategic interests in the region, which include the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, it needs to support real political stability. The best way to achieve that is not by propping up the dictatorship (we’ve seen how fragile other repressive U.S. allies in the region have turned out) but by encouraging the country to respect the rule of law and make fundamental human rights reforms.
Jailing Nabeel and others like him only makes instability in Bahrain more likely.
If the U.S. government wants to do what’s best for the U.S. government, it should put the release of Nabeel and the other human rights activists on the agenda of every meeting it has with Bahraini officials.
The country can really only start to recover when its civil society leaders are free to play a full part in designing its future. By keeping Nabeel is prison Bahrain is wasting a brilliant mind, angering much of its population and making real stability a more distant prospect.
The Ministry of Interior does not consider death a sufficient reason for the temporary release of detained activists
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its grave concern over the ongoing harassment by the authorities in Bahrain against imprisoned activists and political prisoners.This includes the recent cases of depriving several political prisoners from the right to temporary release to attend the funeral of their relatives. Some of the recent cases included human rights defender Naji Fateel, author and photographer Mahmood Albdulsahib, and the cousin of the victim of extrajudicial killing Ahmed Farhan, Hassan Abdulghani.
Athlete, Author and photographer Mahmood Abdulsahib Baqlawah- International Horse Riding Judge- is serving a 3.5 years prison sentences in Prison of Jaw for “illegal gathering” during Feb and Mar 2011. His father died on Friday, 3 July 2013. His brother, Fahmi Abdulsahib, stated that the administration of Jaw prison refused to implement the decision made by the judge regarding Baqlawah's temporary release to participate in the funeral ceremony of his father. Fahmi stated the administration of Jaw prison has deprived his brother Mahmood from his legitimate right according to Jaw prison list of detainees’ rights. It is also considered further retribution after Mahmood’s arrest on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 - during the period ofemergency– and after his sentence in a military court to 5 years in prison for charges related to illegal gatherings which was later reduced to 3.5 years.
Human rights activist Naji Fateel –Board Member of Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights –is in detention at dry dock prison since May 2013 while waiting for trial on charges of “forming the 14th of February youth coalition cell”. His aunt died in Tuesday, 2nd of July 2013, and as a tool of further punishment, the administration of the Dry Dock prison refused to allow him to attend her funeral without providing any clear justifications. Fateel’s picture has already been displayed on Bahrain state television along with his accusations as part of news show, which is considered a violation to his most basic rights as a detainee since his case is still under investigation. Fateel denied all charges brought against him, and told the judge in court that he was tortured to sign confessions; taking off his shirt to reveal torture marks. Fateel’s family is still not able to visit him since his arrest at dawn on Thursday, 2 May 2013, as the prison administration keeps telling his family that he is the one refusing any family visits or calls.
Hassan Abdulghani Farhan 20 years old, is in detention at Dry Dock prison since Dec 2012 pending trial on alleged charges related to participating in the burning of a police station with terrorist motives. His father died at dawn on Saturday, 29 June 2013. Hasan was not allowed by prison administration to attend the funeral of his father. Hassan Farhan, released a statement on Monday, 1 July 2013, in which he expressed his sadness and frustration towards the administration of theDry Docks prison that“has prevented him from his right to take a last glance at his dead father”, a flagrant violation of his rights.
The accustomed procedure followed for the criminal prisoners is to release the prisoner on a daily basis from morning to evening for three days to attend funerals of their deceased close relative, during which they would usually be accompanied by security officers for the entire period. However, the above mentioned cases are not the only cases where the authorities have explicitly denied political detainees of their right to the temporary release to participate in the funeral of their relatives. The administration of Jaw prison denied the detained president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, in October 2012 request to attend the remaining days of his mother's funeral after he talked to the crowds of mourners about the need to continue the peaceful struggle for rights. The public prosecutor said in a statement to the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) that Rajab violated the rules prescribed by the law through a provocative speech he gave to the mourners. The speech included the incitement to participate in illegal demonstrations and violating the law. In addition, the administration of Jaw prison refused to temporarily release Shaikh Mohammed Ali Mahfouz, the Secretary-General of the Islamic Action Society "Amal" to participate in the funeral of his sister in Jan 2012 without providing anyreasons.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) believes that the ongoing harassment of political prisoners is an additional punishment against those who criticize the regime or call for protests. The psychological and emotional implications of denying someone the right to see a close relative for the last time; especially in cases in which the prisoner may be in solitary confinement, can be detrimental. Attending the burial/funeral of a close relative is crucial for going into a normal grief reaction. Political prisoners may be at higher risk of going through an intense psychological grief reaction due to being incarcerated adding to the fact that they may blame themselves for the death of the close relative due to their arrest and/or torture; and the excessive feeling of guilt may cause severe deterioration to the mental state of the individual, including acute depression.
Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) demands the following:
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) expresses its grave concern for the pictures received from reliable sources, shows marks of torture on Naji Fateel body.
On July 11, 2013, Naji Fateel was attended the first hearing before the Fourth Criminal Court, rejected the charges against him and confirmed that he was tortured.
The judge has decided to postpone the case to July 25, 2013
Pic: Marks of torture on Naji Fateel body
According to the information received by the BYSHR, Naji Fateel was subjected to:
1.Electrocution (in the genital, on his left leg and on the back)
3.Beating (by using the feet, hands or unknown tools) on the left leg – Naji had an operation on his left leg due to a work injury, he had it fixed with a metal rod – and on his head and back.
4.Threatening to spread his wife’s photos (when Naji’s house was raided his wife’s camera was confiscated and it had her personal photos in it).
5.Hanging him by his hands from the room’s ceiling (his feet did not reach the room’s floor).
6.Libelling and insult (using sectarian and political expressions).
7.Sexual harassment and threatening with rape.
8.Standing up for long hours.
9.Not allowing him to sleep, sit or lay down.
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) demands:
1.The immediate release of the prominent human rights activist Naji Fateel.
2.Drop all charges against Naji Fateel.
3.The immediate and urgent investigation in the torture allegations Naji Fateel was subjected to in the Criminal Investigation Department.
4.Bring those responsible for torture to fair trials.
For more information on the case of Naji Fateel: http://byshr.org/?p=1375
The Arab Spring Wasn't Successful for Everyone in the Region
A Q&A with one Bahraini journalist targeted by her government's stronghold.
Updated: July 10, 2013 | 3:43 p.m.
July 10, 2013 | 3:06 p.m.
Although remnants of the Arab Spring are still seen across the region (note the current volatility in Egypt), the protesters in some nations weren't as effective.
One of those nations is Bahrain, a small island country in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia. Inspired by the popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, thousands of people in 2011 took to the streets to demonstrate against the monarchy. And the government's response was swift and violent.
Clashes resulted in thousands of arrests and several deaths. Many of the journalists covering the events either lost their jobs, were fined, or were arrested. Nazeeha Saeed, a 32-year-old reporter for France 24, was one of those targeted by government officials.
A Bahraini national, Saeed was summoned to a police station and repeatedly tortured and beaten by police officers; she was eventually forced to sign a confession she had not read. The graphic details of that experience are outlined by Reporters Without Borders.
Bahrain is home to arguably one of the most important U.S. military bases in the region. It's called the Fifth Fleet, where 6,000 U.S. personnel operate. Like many of this country's allies in the region, Bahrain doesn't come without its issues. But with Iran 120 miles away, U.S. officials don't see the relationship as much of a choice.
Saeed sat down with National Journal to discuss her experience in Bahrain and what she feels the U.S. can do about it. Below is the edited interview.
NJ: Since the protests in 2011, has the state of journalism in Bahrain improved?
SAEED: It's not good. The situation has gotten more difficult for us as journalists to work on the ground. The freedom of speech is very much not free. And we are struggling to do our jobs as independent journalists. There is pro-government and state TV and radio, which tell the government's side of the story and nothing of the other side. For us as independents, we have to do both. We have a lot of challenges to face, and we don't get the space that we can really work.
Media personnel were sacked from their jobs in 2011, and they haven't been back yet to their jobs. Half of them have been arrested and questioned. And half of those who have been arrested have been mistreated and tortured, and I was one of them.
NJ: Who was targeted after the 2011 protests?
SAEED: A lot of opposition, doctors, teachers, professional athletes have been targeted and put in jail, and accused of being part of a movement to overthrow the regime, as being terrorists, as being aligned with Iran. The journalists were attacked because they were, according to the government, not neutral and lying in their reports.
In my case, I was accused of being on the media side of a terrorist cell, lying in my reports, and working for Iranian and Lebanese channels, which I have never worked with. I have been working with TV and radio in France.
Detainees complained of being subjected to torture and the judge refused to note their statements
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) has followed the details of the first trial session of 50 Bahraini citizens in the case known as the 14th of February Youth Coalition Cell which the Bahraini authorities claimed to uncover on June 12, 2013. Most of those arrested are political and/or human rights activists who were targeted for expressing their views and for their participation in peaceful protests. In what has now become a regular trend, the authorities have accused them of different criminal charges related to terrorism in order to give them harsh sentences after a trial which lacks the minimum standards of fair trials.
On 11 July 2013, the trial of 50 citizens began at the Fourth Criminal Court, which is newly established and began operating on 10 July 2013 with the case of “AlDair Bombing” and the case of possession of shotguns in Karzakan. The judge heading this court is Judge Ali Khalifa AlDhahrani -the son of the current parliament chairman Khalifa AlDhahrani-. This is the same judge who rules in the case known as the “Bahrain 13”(political and human rights leaders), medical staff and Mr. Mahdi Abu Deeb; in addition to most of the cases at the courts of national safety, which are military courts used for civilians during that period. The assisting judges at the 4th criminal court were judge Hamad AlKhalifa-member of ruling family- and Judge Jassim Ajlan.
It was evident from this first session that the trial lacked even the basic standards of a fair trial according to international standards. Despite all present defendants making allegations of torture for confessions; with one of them, human rights defender Naji Fateel, raising his shirt to show marks of torture; the judge refused to note their allegations or to release them on bail. This is in spite of the clear threat of further torture if the defendants are sent back to prison. The next hearing was set to July 25, 2013 without approving the request of the lawyers to have access to the case documents.
Human Rights Activist Naji Fateel: removed his shirt to show the visible signs of torture on his body, but the judge quickly moved the speaking opportunity to another detainee.
Photos leaked to the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
Detainee Rihana Almousawi: spoke in court of how she was stripped of all her clothes during detention, as part of her torture. She was then reportedly threatened with rape and electric shocks by male officers. The judge didn’t note down the full details of what she described, instead, it was noted in the trial report that she received “improper moral treatment”. “The BCHR also received reports that she was forced to stand naked in front of an open door so that those outside could see her. This is addition to the other forms of physical and psychological torture she was subjected to. She was blindfolded, denied food and water for an entire day, beaten on her legs. She was reportedly taken to a masked officer 5 times who was telling her what she had to say as a confession; after which she was told she would be tortured more severely if she refused the charges against her. Despite her health and mental situation she was taken to the public prosecution where she was interrogated for several hours before a lawyer was allowed to be present. She fell unconscious during the interrogation and the prosecutor only allowed a 15 minute break before commencing the interrogation. The prosecutor asked Rihana leading questions although she denied the charges against her of being a member of the February 14 Coalition Cell.
Detainee Hameed Abbas AlSafi: was arrested on March 9, 2013 after a house raid on his apartment. When he tried to escape, he was shot with a teargas canister in the head which hampered his movement. A group of policemen then gathered and reportedly beat him with batons which has injured his body; signs were clear on his hands and legs. Despite the signs which are still clearly visible, the judge refused to note them down in the trial report. (Pictures on the top were leaked to the BCHR and show the places of injury Hameed AlSafi suffers from).
Detainee Mohammed Alsingace: Alsingace stated that he was tortured from the moment of his arrest from his bed as policemen beat him with an unknown machine causing him to bleed and fall unconscious. While being unconscious, they beat and kicked him mostly on the back, hands and head. The signs are still visible on Alsingace as he entered the court with hands that looked abnormal, in addition to a wound on his head, and neck pain which he still suffers from.
In regards to detainee Essa Alghais, he asked his lawyer to not file a complaint about torture in fear of being subjected to torture again. His lawyer stated that Alghais witnessed a number of detainees being taken from prison and transferred to the Central Investigations Department (CID) building where they were reportedly tortured in revenge for either their denial of the charges made against them or because they filed complaints of torture. However, Alghais decided to mention during the trial a few details of the torture he suffered, but was interrupted by the judge who did not want him to speak.
The defense team held a press conference and presented many legal violations that rendered the trial of the detainees accused with forming the 14th of February youth coalition cell unfair. The stated violations were as follows:
Based on everything stated above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) demands the following:
In spite of dedicated opposition, Bahrain's pro-democracy movement threatened by rising human rights abuses since 2011
A little more than two years later, the situation has not improved.
Notable human rights issues include "systematic torture, arbitrary arrests, kangaroo trials and harsh sentences, excessive use of force against protesters, [and] extra-judicial killings" Maryam Al-Khawaja, acting president of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), recounts.
Al-Khawaja documents arbitrary house raids, which are widespread.
"House raids generally occur between one and four AM ... [when] masked security officials in civilian clothing, sometimes accompanied by riot police in uniform, break into the home," Al-Khawaja tells Ahram Online
Those who write anti-regime statements on Twitter are also subject to arrest.
In May, the BBC reported that six were jailed for insulting the king on Twitter. Each was given one-year sentences for "freedom of expression misuse."
An amendment to the penal code – now awaiting the king’s ratification – would sentence king-offenders to five years in prison, in addition to a 10,000 BHD fine (US $26,400).
Torture is another major issue in the energy-rich country.
The February 14 Network – a youth group dedicated to "exposing oppression against the people of Bahrain"– released a 15-minute video portraying various incidents of torture in detention, including beatings, electrocution, and lockups in freezing chambers.
The Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry, tasked by the king to investigate the events of February and March 2011, called for investigations of 300 torture allegations.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights releases a new report on the issue of sickle cell disease in Bahrain, and the government crackdown on the provision of healthcare. This report explores the way in which the government has, in some cases, withheld healthcare as a form of punishment, and is further complicating treatment for patients with new policies within the hospitals. The report also discusses how the government's use of teargas effects patients with sickle cell disease, and outlines several instance of death that resulted from teargas inhalation.
Bahrain: Escalating Harassment Against Political Prisoners and Detainees at Dry Dock Prison
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is following with grave concern the details of the escalation of the retaliatory campaign against prisoners of conscience and political detainees held at the Dry Dock prison. The number of complaints received from the families has significantly increased in regards to the humiliating body search they are subjected to in addition to the barrier that isolates the sound and contact at the visits center.
Humiliating Inspections and Soundproof Barriers
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) has received complaints from the detainees' families of the case known as the “Army of the Imam”, the families told BCHR that they were subjected to humiliating and improper inspections while visiting their detained relatives at the Dry Dock Prison. The BCHR was told that during inspections women were told to remove their headscarves and “abayas” (long traditional clothing). The families added that in some cases male and female guards put their hands inside their clothes using the excuse of searching for banned items or things the family may smuggle to the detainee. The families were especially upset about the touching of the genital areas during the body search. They added that the guards used derogatory terms while conducting this kind of body search, insulting both the detainee and their family members.
The family of the detainee Ali Sangoor has informed the Documentation Unit at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) that during their last visit, on 4th July 2013, one of the policewomen said to Ali’s mother "we ask God that you don’t come here again for your son". The mother replied: "with God's will, Ali will be released, and we won't have to come here again". Another policewomen replied with mockery "The place of the traitors is here, and if they ever get released, we'll bring them back again".
The family of detainee Jihad Mohammed Ali, who is accused of forming the 14th of February Youth Coalition, has stated that the administration of Dry Dock Prison is practicing various kinds of restrictions on the families of detainees during visits. A metal and glass barrier was recently installed in the visitation rooms, which prevents the direct meeting with the detainee, and it almost completely blocks the sound between the detainee and the family. The family added that the detainee Jihad was subjected to a thorough inspection which, as per their description, amounted to a sexual assault. They told BCHR that Jihad was taken to an isolated room where he was stripped of his clothes, and they touched his genitals.
The treatment has resulted in a number of families getting intoverbal arguments with the guards after the failure of several requests to stop these practices. Some families mentioned that they may starta sit-in outside the Dry Dock prison building until the administration improves the treatment with them and their detained sons.
Detainees refuse visits because of the insulating barriers and improper inspection
In the same context, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BHRC) has received many calls from families of the detainees and prisoners inside the prison which states that they are refusing visits to protest what they called “the insulting inspections and the recently added barrier in the visit room”, which they perceive as a flagrant violation of their rights.
According to information received by BCHR, over 100 political detainees from block 10 at the Dry Docks prison decided on the 11th of July 2013 to refuse family visits to protest the humiliating inspections, and to demand the removal of the barrier in the visitation room. Some of them have threatened to begin open hunger strikes until their demands are met.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) fears that those who have decided to boycott visits and threatened to go on hunger strike will be subjected to more harassment; similar to the case of Ali AlSingace. AlSingace was deprived from family visits for two months and placed in solitary confinement when he protested the humiliating inspections prior to a family visit. Detainee Abduaziz Abdulridha was also placed in solitary confinement when he went on a hunger strike to protest the treatment of his fellow prisoners.
Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) demands the following:
Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns - Addendum - Observations on communications transmitted to Governments and replies received
HRC 23rd 27/05/2013 A/HRC/23/47/Add.5ved
Communication date 29/10/2012 regarding 2 minors, viollations alleged: Excessive use of force, date of government reply: 21/12/2012
JAL 29/10/2012 Case No. BHR 9/2012 State Reply: 21/12/2012 Allegations of excessive use of force during protests, resulting in the death of two children.
Character of reply: addresses some substantive issues
11. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Bahrain for its response to this communication. In its reply, the Government indicated that the protests held on 17 and 28 September 2012 were not peaceful, which compelled the security forces to deal with them in accordance with their legal powers. The Government also provided information on the investigation into the deaths of the two children, specifying that the Special Investigation Unit concluded that the incidents constituted cases of lawful self-defence, and ordered the closure of the cases. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur welcomes the carrying out of investigations, but would appreciate additional details on the proceedings, in particular on the elements leading to the conclusion on the lawfulness of the killings and its conformity with the international law principles of necessity and proportionality. Finally, the Special Rapporteur is grateful for the information provided on policy measures undertaken in 2011 and 2012 for better regulation of the use of force and ensuring accountability of officials who committed unlawful acts. In this regard, he would like to stress the importance of ensuring that the international law understanding of the principles of necessity and proportionality is applied stringently in all legislative and policy acts at domestic level. The effective implementation of those measures will be of crucial importance as well.
Communication date 18/03/2011 regarding Group concern (10 identifiable individuals), viollations alleged: Excessive use of force, date of government reply: 14/12/2012
JUA 18/03/2011 Case No. BHR 3/2011 State Reply: 14/12/2012 Alleged excessive use of force by security forces against protesters.
Character of reply: addresses some substantive issues
113. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Bahrain for its second reply, dated 14 December 2012, to this communication. The reply provides information on the Salmaniya case. The Special Rapporteur takes note of the conduct and results of the proceedings in this case, in particular of the retrial held in civilian courts against the medical personnel and the measures undertaken to ensure accountability for torture by the security forces. The Special Rapporteur would like however to refer to the observations made on this communication in his previous report (A/HRC/20/22/Add.4, para. 13) and requests that additional information be provided on whether the instructions given to security forces in the context of the demonstrations held in 2011 were in compliance with international standards on the use of force, providing inter alia that lethal force may be used only as a last resort with the sole objective of imminently saving another life. He would also appreciate updated information on the investigations conducted and any subsequent judicial proceedings into the alleged deaths and attacks against protestors and medical personnel, in accordance with the international standards on the duty of Governments to conduct thorough, prompt and impartial investigations on all suspected cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, leading to prosecution and punishment of all perpetrators. Information on the payment of compensation and redress to the victims or their families would be very much appreciated as well.
A statement of solidarity with the detained human rights activist, Mr. Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), issued by a group of human rights defenders from various Gulf and Arab countries
We are a group of human rights defenders from various Gulf and Arab countries announcing our absolute solidarity with the human rights defender and the prisoner of conscience, Mr. Nabeel Rajab, Deputy Secretary-General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), and the Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), and whom one year has passed since his arrest for his opinion against the government, and for demanding justice and human rights on 9thJuly 2012 after repeated arrests, ongoing investigations and judicial targeting.
Mr. Nabeel Rajab is a prominent human rights defender whom is well-known at both the international and local levels, and he became broadly recognizedduringthe past four years at least as a result of his international defense of human rights through the international human rights organizations,as he had a big role in standing with the victims whom rights were violated, and especially after the announcement of the state of national "emergency" in March 2011 which is after the protests Bahrain witnessed during that period.
We the human rights defenders believe that the human rights defender, Mr. Nabeel Rajab, is a prisoner of conscience and that the charges he is facingand which he got sentenced upon, are charges which relates to the freedom of opinion and expression which are guaranteed by the Bahraini Constitution,the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the international conventions which includes Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
And we believe that the continuing the imprisonment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab is a clear violation of the Bahraini Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Defenders, and the international conventions and treaties which were ratified by Bahrain.
Finally, we demand the Bahraini authorities to stop the sentence faced by Nabeel Rajab,drop all charges against him, and to release him immediately and unconditionally. We also call for the Bahraini authorities to respect the law, and for the effective application of the principles of human rights and values,and to open a horizon and aspace for the fundamental freedoms which its base is the freedom of opinion and expression.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned about the continued denial of access to medical treatment for prisoners of conscience, and partifularly in regards to the cases of injured prisoners in need of immediate treatment for injuries resulting from the brutal repression carried out by security forces in Bahrain.
On the 15th of June 2013, Sayed Jaffer Hashim Shubar, 40 years old, was shot with a pellet shotgun while participating in a peaceful protest in his home village of Bilad AlQadeem. A video which was published online shows his brutal arrest after being shot by a policeman from a very close distance. Link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usDMVjJIxOA&feature=c4-overview&list=UUgxq8SzhoGECQdjDCGhO0Dg
Photos taken from the video
Instead of publishing a statement about investigating the incident and prosecuting the policeman, in an absolute contrary, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) published a statement on the same day in which it referred to the protestors as 'rioters', 'thugs', and 'saboteurs', and that some were arrested under the pretext of 'enforcing the law and restoring order'. The MoI stated that "the Director-General of the Capital Governorate Police has announced that the security forces intervened to disperse saboteurs and rioters who had created chaos in Bilad AlQadeem village on Saturday." Link to the full statement: http://www.policemc.gov.bh/en/news_details.aspx?type=1&articleId=18807
On the 17th of June, Sayed Maher's family has received a call from the Nabih Saleh police station, instructing them to bring him clothes. When the family went as requested, the prison officials refused to receive the clothes and informed the family that there were orders to transfer Sayed Maher elsewhere. On the 23rd of June, the family went to the office of the Public Prosecution, and were informed that he was transferred to the Dry Dock prison. The following day, the 24th of June, the family went to the Dry Dock prison where prison officials denied having Sayed Maher in their facility. When they returned to the office of the Public Prosecution and informed them that they could not locate him, the family was told that they will be contacted whenever there is any news about Sayed Maher.
On the 25th of June, the family again went to the office of the Public Prosecution and they were sent to see Mr. Abdulminim at Dry Dock Prison. After following the given instructions, they were able to meet Sayed Maher for the first time, and they came to know that he will be kept in detention for 45 days pending investigation on charges of rioting and illegal gathering. The family now fears for his health condition and his life as he is still denied medical treatment.
This is not the first time that political prisoners are denied medical treatment in Bahrain. In a similar case, detainee Mohammed Sahwan, who was injured with 80 pieces of shrapnel in his head and neck after riot police fired a cartridge from a shotgun at him in 2011, was denied treatment after being arrested at the border to Qatar where he was attempting to travel for treatment. He is still being denied medical treatment, despite his deteriorating health condition. For more details on his case, see: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5392
Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights holds the Bahraini authorities responsible for the life, and the physical and psychological well-being of Sayed Maher Jaffar and all other political prisoners, and demands the following:
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses it concern due to the continued targeting of women for demanding their legitimate rights.
On Tuesday, 11 July 2013, the Fourth Criminal Court held its first session in the case of the 14 February Coalition cell where a group of political, human rights and field activists are accused. They are 49 in total, in addition to one woman, who is the detainee Rihanna Abdulla Al-Mosawi (38 years old). The Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a statement clarifying the legal breaches and violations practiced against the detainees and which violated their right in getting a public fair trial. Rihanna started a hunger strike two days ago in protest of her ill-treatment.
The detainee Rihanna Al-Mosawi, and for the first time, revealed to the Judge Ali Al-Dhahrani herself that she was stripped off her clothes twice while she was being interrogated at Riffa police station, however, the Judge merely noted down the complaint as a ‘morally improper treatment’. Al-Mosawi’s family stated that she had decided to end the silence phase after being shocked by the developments of the Ministry of Interior. After being accused of assembling and questioning her about that, the case turned into plotting a terrorist bombing that targets the Bahrain International Circuit for Formula One building, then it turned into contributing in establishing an organization that aims at disrupting the provisions of the Constitution which is the 14 February Coalition. The lawyer Manar Makki mentioned that those present at Court cried when they heard Rihanna speak about the violations she faced, especially being interrogating by masked men and reaching up to stripping her off her clothes and threatening her with rape.
Despite the unanimity of the members of defence that the detainees and defendants in the 14 February Coalition organization were subjected to physical and mental torture, starting from the moment and manner of arrest and all the way up to the trial’s lack of the most basic human rights procedures which guarantees receiving a fair and public trial, the Ministry of Interior refused to admit that and denied that Rihanna was subjected to torture and a degrading treatment. The Ministry of Interior said in a statement, ‘the mentioned allegations are incorrect and have no basis of credibility’. The Ministry of Interior claimed in its statement that the detainee had received several visits from her family and lawyers, ‘and none of them indicated at that time any sayings or statements related to the allegations that have been promoted on social media networks’. The Ministry of Interior, in its statement, neglected that these allegations have been made by the detainee directly in front of Court.
One of the members of defence of the 14 February cell defendants accused the Ministry of Interior of lying in its statement relating to Rihanna Al-Mosawi. Where he said in his personal account on Twitter in response to the Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior that, ‘what the Undersecretary does not know is that the Public Prosecution did not agree to bringing Mrs Rihanna Al-Musawi to assign a lawyer, and therefore the lawyer cannot request a visit to the detainee without the power of an attorney, and this is proof of the Assistant Undersecretary’s lie’. He added that what Rihanna had said before Court is documented in the torture complaint report, whose result was later unknown, and that the detainee Rihanna mentioned what had happened to her regarding stripping her off her clothes, before the Renewal Judge (20 June) as well, and the lawyers’ commitment to silence during the past period is merely a commitment to the principle of professionalism contrary to the violation committed by the Public Prosecution of the principle of confidentiality of the investigation by publishing information about the defendants in media in collaboration with the judicial panels and Bahrain TV, although the investigation in the torture allegation had not finished and no decision to transfer the case to a competent court was issued’.
The Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Maryam Al-Khawaja, condemned the Ministry of Interior’s inclination toward denying and lying about the statements made by the detainee Rihanna before Court regarding the violations she faced, instead of initiating a serious investigation in the incident that guarantees the detainee’s right.
The Head of Documentation and Monitoring at the BCHR, Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafda considered that stripping Mrs Al-Musawi off her clothes during interrogation at Riffa police station is conclusive evidence of what activists speak of regarding the systematic torture and the spread of impunity sponsored and endorsed by the regime. In a comment regarding the Ministry of Interior’s statement which denied Al-Musawi’s statement, Al-Muhafda said that the statement reflects the state of weakness, tension and reaction that the regime and its leaders are going through.
The Ministry of Interior’s statement is considered a bypass of the role of the judiciary in the investigation in the allegations stated by the detainee before Court, where the Ministry of Interior proceeded to discredit the allegations while the Court, who listened to her, was supposed to investigate it, and this is an indication of the absence of the elements of fair trials in Bahrain.
This is not the first time where women in Bahrain are arrested and have their rights violated, the Authorities had previously arrested more than 240 women in various cases revolving around their inherent right to freedom of expression and peacefully demanding their rights. Also imprisoned now are several detained women, among them Zainab Al-Khawaja, Siddiqa Al-Basri, Nafeesa Al-Asfoor, in addition to Rihanna Al-Musawi, while others wait for trials in malicious and fabricated cases.
Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands:
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned over the worsening crackdown and massive human rights violations committed by the Bahraini authorities following an alleged terror blast targeting a mosque at a pro-government area. There is particular concern in regards to how the authorities are using the incident to incite and promote sectarian hatred and violence.
On July 20th 2013, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) wrote on its Twitter account that a car had exploded outside a mosque in Riffa area which caused no injuries, and that the authorities were conducting an investigation.
Though the Bahrain Center for Human Rights is actively following the updates and encourages the government to perform a transparent, impartial investigation into the incident, the BCHR is alarmed over the nature of the 'required procedures' the Ministry of Interior has resorted to as during the past five days. The BCHR has documented a large number of human rights violations which include arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force, midnight house raids, attacking mosques and places of worship, and collective punishment.
Arbitrary Arrests, Excessive Use of Force, & House Raids
The BCHR has documented 60 cases of illegal arrests, 140 shotgun injuries, and over 150 house raids in just the last five days.
The majority of arrests occurred after policemen, accompanied by masked civilians, raided individuals houses without an arrest warrant and without providing any justifications for their presence. The other arrests occurred during peaceful protests or at police checkpoints.
On July 18th, 2013 Shaikh Zuhair Aashor was arrested by civilians at a checkpoint near a shopping mall. He was threatened with death in front of his family, and then abducted by the police. Aashor is an example of how individuals are often treated at checkpoints, and how they can be easily forced into disappearance.
The excessive use of force has resulted in many sever injuries which require urgent medical treatment. Most of the injuries documented by the BCHR are on the upper body, which suggests an attempt to kill.
Mahmood Mubarak, 25 years old, was shot by the police with a shotgun from a very close distance during a peaceful protest at Bilad AlQadeem, which caused him severe injury to his head and chest.
Attacking Mosques and Places of Worship
In an ongoing and escalating campaign of discrimination against Shiaa Muslims, the BCHR has documented 5 cases in the last five days in which Shiaa mosques and places of worship were attacked and vandalized.
While the authorities is publishing a large number of statements and updates in regards to the alleged blast near a mosque, the police forces have at the same time, attacked Shiaa mosques with an excessive amount of teargas. However, the government has not addressed these incidents in any statement and has not started an investigation.
The Head of Documentation and Monitoring at the BCHR, Said Yousif AlMuhafdah, has stated in an article in AlWasat newspaper (see: http://www.alwasatnews.com/3970/news/read/794520/1.html) that Matam Ansar AlAdalah, a Shiaa religious place, was attacked with excessive teargas which lead to suffocations. A video published online shows how large the cloud of teargas became, and how people were attempting to flee the location. (Link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHjvli4dXt0)
On July 18th 2013 an unknown group vandalized Imam AlSadiq mosque in the Salmabad area. Such acts have occurred with increasing frequency at different Shiaa mosques and places of worship after the alleged blast, although the authorities refuse to investigate the incidents.
Inciting Violence And Allowing Hate Speech
Since the alleged blast, a concerning number of government officials and other entities have incited violence and a sectarian divide without the interference of the authorities. A video published online showing Jassim Al Saeedi, member of parliament representing a constituency in Riffa, delivering a speech about the alleged blast accusing the Shiaa and opposition while referring to them as 'Iranians' and 'traitors'. He stated that there is an attempt to lead the country into a civil war as has been the case in some countries in the region and concluded "We can react, but we say: wait for us after Ramadan". Link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY6v9-g9wLg and a video where
Akhbar AlKhalij Newspaper Caricature
On July 21st the Akhbar Alkhaleej newspaper, which has strong connections to the Bahraini government, published a caricature drawing showing men praying at a mosque while two other men holding a knife and a stick saying "we will pray in turns, it's safer for us", while the other replying " If there is a real man among them, let them come nearby".
Billboard promoting hate speech at a pro-government area
A billboard in a pro-government area states that "Iranians are like landmines, you must not remove your foot from it otherwise it will explode on your face". This is another example of hate speech, which according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights "any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law". Bahrain has been a signatory to the covenant since 2006, and is therefore obliged to ensure that such instances of hate speech are transparently investigated, and offenders are responsible for their actions before the law.
Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) believes that the Bahraini authorities are deliberately using the incident to incite violence and a sectarian split in order to distort the image of the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain, and to commit further human rights violations under the pretext of 'taking the appropriate measures'. The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the UN and all other allies and relevant institutions to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:
Prisoner suffering from visual impairment goes on hunger strike to protest ill-treatment
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its grave concern in regards to the violations committed by the Bahraini authorities against people with special needs. The BCHR has recently documented several cases in which people with special needs got arrested without a warrant, were beaten, and then denied adequate medical care despite receiving medical and court orders in some cases.
Photo: Aqeel Hassan Jassim and his medical report (click on the report to view a larger image)
Aqeel Hassan Jassim, 28 years old and suffering from epilepsy, was arrested on the 20th of October 2012, during the lockdown on AlEker (Read more on /en/node/5487). His home was raided more than 30 times, and charged with attempting to kill a policeman. He was reportedly beaten at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) building. His family informed the BCHR that he was beaten by Officer Ahmed Farhan at Dry Dock prison as well, and there is a complaint against him at the Public Prosecution, yet he has not been held accountable. Despite a court order to transfer Aqeel to the hospital to receive treatment, the administration of the Dry Dock prison is refusing to do so since two weeks.
Photo: Qassim Ghuloom Ahmed and his medical report (click on the report to view a larger image)
On July 18th, 2013 Qassim Ghuloom Ahmed, 29 years old and mentally challenged, was abducted by masked security in civilian clothing from Malkiyah village. The medical report about his mental condition states that he receives treatment at the psychiatric hospital. Qassim was moved to the Dry Docks prison, and taken to the public prosecution for interrogation without the presence of a lawyer. Due to the lack of information to the family, the charges are unknown. The family are gravely concerned about his well-being.
Photo: Ali Abdulla Saad and his medical report (click on the report to view a larger image)
On the 14th of May 2013, Ali Abdulla Saad, a 29 year old man suffering from visual impairment, was arrested after a group of masked security forces in civilian clothing raided his home at 3.20am. His family inquired with the authorities numerous times about his whereabouts but with no avail. Five days later, Ali called his family and only managed to say that he is fine before the line was cut. As per information received by the BCHR, Ali was reportedly tortured and denied adequate medical treatment. Ali Saad started a hunger strike at the Dry Dock Prison in protest of ill-treatment and denial of adequate medical care. His family is now concerned for his life and health condition. (Read More: /en/node/6128)
Bahrain is signatory to the UN Convention of the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities since June 2007. Detaining Ali Saad and numerous others with disabilities is in violation with a number of articles, including article 14 which states that “States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others: (a) Enjoy the right to liberty and security of person; (b) Are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty.” And article 15, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights calls on the international community and the governments of the US, UK and other close allies of Bahrain to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:
By: Yumna Marwan
Published Wednesday, July 24, 2013
A blind Bahraini prisoner began a hunger strike Wednesday to protest ill treatment and medical neglect at the hands of Bahraini authorities, a local rights group said.
Ali Saad, who lost his eyesight as a result of a car explosion in 2009, has been detained for over two months, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights told Al-Akhbar.
The 28 year old began a hunger strike Wednesday to protest lack of adequate treatment in Bahraini jails.
“There’s a lot of concern about [Saad] because when he was first arrested he was just starting to cope with the fact that he was blind,” Maryam al-Khawaja, head of International relations at the BCHR told Al-Akhbar.
“In Bahraini prisons, you don’t have medical care or any kind of support for someone suffering from a recent disability,” al-Khawaja added.
Saad was arrested in 2009 and given a prison sentence of 10 years after being accused of taking part in the explosion that caused his disability.
But he was pardoned following the 2011 pro-democracy protests in the Gulf kingdom.
Saad was detained for the second time on 14 May 2013 following a raid on his house at dawn, the BCHR said, and has been in jail since.
According to Saad’s family, he was medically neglected when Bahraini authorities refused to send him to a medical complex for an appointment to treat his burn wounds.
continue reading on http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/16518
Washington, DC – Naji Fateel, board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and a prominent activist, is due to appear before the Fourth Criminal Court again tomorrow, July 25. His trial on terrorism-related charges resumes tomorrow.
Police arrested Fateel on Thursday, May 2, 2013, in a dawn raid of his house in the village of Bani Jamra. He was sentenced to six months in prison for allegedly engaging in “illegal gatherings.” Within days of his arrest, the BYSHR reported that he had been tortured in custody, including that he was electrocuted in his genitals, suspended from the ceiling and threatened with rape. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights also reportedthat Fateel had twice been taken to the Interior Ministry Hospital for treatment.
In addition, Fateel is one of 50 defendants charged in a separate trial on terrorism-related offenses in the 14th of February Youth Coalition Cell case that opened on July 11. During his initial hearing, Fateel rejected the charges against him and declared before the court that he had been tortured. The judge ordered the case to be postponed until 25 July, 2013. Others accused for their involvement with the coalition report having been forced to sign confessions under torture.
“These recent reports of torture do little to dispel the notion that Bahrain is working to end the culture of impunity identified in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI)” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley.
For more information or to speak with Dooley, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-370-3323.
Public Statement - Date: 25 July 2013
AI Index: MDE 11/023/2013
A decision by the Public Prosecution not to appeal against an acquittal verdict in a torture case brings to a close what to-date has been the only effort to obtain justice for the torture of Nazeeha Sa’eed.
Twenty third of July was the deadline for the Public Prosecution to appeal on behalf of Journalist Nazeeha Sa’eed who said she was tortured in 2011, but it decided not to.
The closure of the case initiated by the journalist is yet another example of Bahrain’s justice system’s inability to offer an effective remedy for victims of human rights violations. Many complaints of torture were dismissed by the authorities and in those cases where investigations of torture allegations and excessive use of force resulting in deaths were carried out by the Public Prosecution, those found responsible, usually low ranking security men, were either acquitted or received lenient prison sentences which they are appealing against.
Nazeeha Sa’eed, a 31-year-old Bahraini journalist who has worked as a correspondent for French Television news channel France 24 since June 2009 and for Monte-Carlo TV since 2004, was detained and tortured in 2011.
According to Nazeeha Sa’eed, in the evening of 22 May 2011, she was summoned to al-Riffa’a police station. She was first questioned by a policeman who told her that she was accused of being a member of a group that wanted to overthrow the monarchy and that she had spoken to some of the leaders of the opposition. She denied the accusation.
Nazeeha Sa’eed was then taken to another room, where a group of policemen and policewomen reportedly started beating her with a hose-pipe, punching and kicking her. She was then taken to another room, blindfolded and pulled by her hair into other rooms. She was reportedly beaten on her back and feet by one policewoman who later used electric shocks on Nazeeha Sa’eed’s arm. The policewoman also made her pretend to be a monkey and forced her to drink an unidentified liquid while she was blindfolded. The policewoman pushed Nazeeha Sa’eed’s head down a toilet and said, “This water is cleaner than you, you Sh’ia”. She also accused Nazeeha Sa’eed of fabricating her television reports.
Nazeeha Sa’eed was then questioned again. She was asked about the sources of her media reports on deaths of protestors. When she replied she had received the information from doctors, her investigators told her that these doctors were lying and that she had fabricated the information. When her blindfold was eventually removed, Nazeeha Sa’eed could see there were nurses detained in the room with her.
Ten hours after she arrived at the police station, Nazeeha Sa’eed was taken to the officer in charge, who asked her to sign some papers. But she was too afraid to ask to read them before signing. The officer told her, “whatever happens in this police station is my reputation and You don’t want to ruin it.”
Following her release Nazeeha Sa’eed filed a complaint with the Public Prosecution Office (PPO). The PPO carried out an investigation and it referred the case to a lower criminal court. On 4 March 2012 the lower criminal court returned the case to the PPO arguing it was a felony case and not misdemeanour, and therefore not within its jurisdiction. The PPO then referred the case to the High Criminal Court which acquitted the policewoman in October 2012 despite the overwhelming evidence that Nazeeha Sa’eed had been tortured.
Two forensic reports, prepared by two Ministry of Interior forensic experts who examined Nazeeha Sa’eed’s body on 24 and 25 May 2011 respectively, noted marks of torture and beatings on several parts of her body. In the PPO’s investigation two policewomen, from the same police station, testified for Nazeeha Sa’eed, confirming her torture and beatings.
The Public Prosecution appealed against the verdict. However, on 23 June 2013 the High Criminal Court of Appeal confirmed the verdict issued on 22 October. The Public Prosecution had 30 days, as stipulated in the law, to appeal the verdict before the Court of Cassation, but it declined to do so. The Public Prosecution has also refused to give the 23 June verdict by the High Criminal Court of Appeal to Nazeeha Sa’eed and her lawyer.
The government has recently set up several human rights bodies, including two Ombudsmen, one in the Ministry of Interior and the other in the National Security Agency, to investigate human rights abuses by the security forces. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to ensure that Nazeeha Sa’eed and other victims are afforded effective remedy.
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on
+44 20 7413 5566
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK
Observers representing Front Line Defenders at the trial of Bahraini human rights defender and blogger Mr Naji Fateel, on 25 July 2013, have condemned the trial for its failure to meet internationally accepted legal standards and due process guarantees.
Naji Fateel is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), and a blogger who has been active in reporting human rights violations in Bahrain. Naji Fateel was not allowed to appear before the court during the hearing and it is believed that this is a result of his public allegations that he had been tortured during his detention.
On 11 June 2013, during a separate trial, Naji Fateel rejected the charges of establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution, and declared before the court that he had been tortured. Front Line Defenders published photographs corroborating Naji Fateel’s account of torture.
Observers attending the trial reported that other detainees also showed signs of physical injuries.
Following Naji Fateel’s original arrest on 2 May 2013, he was held incommunicado for three days, during which time it is reported that he was tortured. Approximately four weeks later, he was sentenced to 6 months in prison on charges of attending illegal gatherings. These charges were dropped, and he is currently facing charges accusing him of the establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution, under article 6 of the controversial Terrorism Act.
The lawyers representing Naji Fateel have requested that the judges be disqualified from hearing the human rights defender's trial, on the grounds of bias. The claim is made on the basis that the judge is a member of the royal family, and not impartial. The defence has also communicated to the Supreme Judicial Council that the trial proceedings fall short of the minimum standards of fair trials.
Front Line Defenders continues to believe that Naji Fateel’s arrest, trial and sentencing have been motivated solely by his peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights. Front Line Defenders would like to reiterate to the Bahraini authorities the importance of investigating the allegations of torture made by Naji Fateel, especially given the photographic evidence revealing marks of torture. The Bahraini authorities should suspend all charges against him until an impartial investigation is completed. Furthermore the Bahraini authorities are required by international law to uphold the minimum standards of fair trial.
For more information on his arrest and trial, please see Front Line Defenders urgent appeal issued on 2 May 2013 and subsequent updates on 9 May, 23 May 2013 and 12 July 2013. - See more at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/23383#sthash.hILvM4T3.dpuf
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is gravely concerned in regards to the ongoing arbitrary and violent arrest campaigns carried out by the Bahraini authorities without an arrest warrant or legal basis. The BCHR is especially concerned about the use of torture and threats as a policy to extract confessions which is in most cases followed by the denial of adequate treatment during imprisonment despite in some cases presented medical reports.
On July 23, 2013 Ali Mansoor Ahmed AlQassab, who is 18 years old and suffering from a severe form of the sickle cell disease, was reportedly brutally arrested after masked men in civilian clothing accompanied by security forces raided his house while he was there alone. According to the family, he stayed at home alone and did not to join the family outing because he was tired as he had just returned back from Hamad Town Hospital. He tried to escape when he heard unusual movements outside the house but they soon broke the front door, handcuffed and blindfolded him, searched the house, tore pictures of political leaders, and then took him in a car. AlQassab was taken to the public prosecution without a lawyer, and given 45 days in detention pending investigation on charges related to illegal gathering, rioting, and attacking the Karzakkan municipality.
On July 24, 2013 the father received a call from Ali but the line was cut after few seconds. The following day, Thursday July 25, 2013 Ali called his family again from the Dry Docks prison and informed them that he was taken to the Public Prosecution without a lawyer and was forced to confess. He also informed them that
“the public prosecutor threatened him that if he does not confess, he will be taken back to the Central Investigations Building where he was forced to stand for 24 hours, was beaten all over his body with kicking and punching, and one of the officers beat him with a flat wooden stick on his genital area several times”.
AlQassab said that he asked about several individuals whom he does not know. Before ending the call, he asked his family to bring him clothes and medicine and informed them that he is detained at the Dry Docks Prison Block 3.
On Friday July 26, 2013 his mother received a call from the Salmaniya Hospital informing her that her son has been admitted to the hospital and he is in the sickle cell room, and the line was cut. His brother later called the hospital and asked the nurse to confirm that his brother is at the hospital, after few moments, a policeman replied and asked him to call later. After several calls, the policeman replied saying that Ali had been at the hospital but now has been taken back to the Dry Docks prison.
Photos taken from the hospital
The family went to hospital despite what they were told by the policeman, and headed to the sickle cell ward where they were able to see him. At first the policeman informed them that visits are not allowed, but they were able to stay for a while and took some pictures of him. AlQassab informed his mother during their visit that he suffers from pain in his foot, back, and chest. According to his medical reports, as a result of suffering from a severe form of the sickle cell disease, he has avascular necrosis of the right hip joint which is bone erosions due to the Sickle Cell Disease vascular occlusions. This has caused a permanent disability so he uses a walking stick. His medical reports also indicate that he is consistently admitted to the hospital due to severe pain in various parts of his body.
Photo: Medical report of Ali AlQassab (Click to view a larger image)
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is concerned that AlQassab’s health condition will deteriorate as a result of the prison treatment and conditions, and that he will not be provided with the necessary adequate medical treatment given the systematic policy of denying political prisoners adequate medical care. More importantly, given AlQassab’s documented medical condition with his hip joint affected with avascular necrosis it would be very difficult for him to participate in clashes or rioting activities that require physical exertion on his hip joints.
This is not the first time that BCHR has documented a case in which sickle cell patients are subjected to violent arrests as the Center has recently released a new report on the issue of sickle cell disease in Bahrain, and the government crackdown on the provision of healthcare. Link to the report: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/sites/default/files/field/image/Sickle%20Cell.pdf
Based on the above, the BCHR calls for the following: