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    2 April 2015 – Today at approximately 4:00 PM local time (GMT+3), Bahraini security forces and police arrested Nabeel Rajab, prominent human rights defender and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). Reports indicate that over 20 police vehicles surrounded his home in Bani Jamra, after which security forces presented him with a warrant charging him with spreading false news relating to statements concerning acts of torture and inhumane treatment at Jaw Prison. In a statement shortly following his arrest, the Bahraini Ministry of Interior confirmed the charges against Nabeel, stating that he “posted information that could incite others and disrupt civil peace,” and that he “illegally defamed a statutory body.”

    Last month, protests broke out in Jaw Prison over security personnel’s treatment of inmates and children in the facility. Prison personnel responded with excessive force, and several inmates allege that government forces engaged in retaliatory acts of torture. Rajab’s organization has thoroughly documented human rights abuses in the prison, and Rajab himself has been outspoken regarding the recent bout of cruel treatment and torture.

    In an opinion piece that he published on Huffington Post last week, Rajab stated, “Prisoners have rights and prisons should be centers of rehabilitation. In Bahrain, inmates are punished for being inmates, and punished collectively. Torture is a crime against humanity, yet it is a constant feature in Jaw.”

    Said Yousif Almuhafdah, Vice President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said: “We have witness testimony and photographic evidence showing that human rights abuses are being carried out in Jaw. The violations are undeniable, yet rather than address the truth, they are calling Nabeel a liar and a criminal.”

    This is not the first time that the government has punished Rajab for exercising his internationally-guaranteed right to free expression. In May 2014, Rajab completed a two-year prison sentence after taking part in peaceful assemblies and protests criminalized by the government. That October, the government arrested him on charges of “denigrating public institutions” less than 24 hours after he returned from participation in the United Nations Human Rights Council and spoke before the European Parliament. A Bahraini court sentenced him to six months in prison on these charges, and his appeal is scheduled for 15 April.

    Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, said: “Bahrain has carefully chosen this timing for Nabeel’s arrest, one week after the UN Human Rights Council’s session ended and on the eve of the Easter holiday.”

    As the government continues its campaign to silence dissent, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), and the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) condemn the latest arrest of Nabeel Rajab, and call for the government to drop any and all charges imposed against him in relation to his rights to peaceful expression and assembly.

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said: “In arresting Nabeel, the government has once again demonstrated a fear of dissent. We demand that the government release Nabeel Rajab and immediately cease its campaign of persecution against this peaceful human rights defender.”

    The aforementioned organizations call on the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States and other national and international bodies to:

    •     Publicly call for the Government of Bahrain to immediately release Nabeel, and vacate his earlier sentence;

    •     Apply pressure on the Government of Bahrain to halt any further judicial harassment of Nabeel Rajab and other human rights defenders in Bahrain;

    •     Urge the Bahraini government to repeal any and all laws that infringe upon internationally protected rights; and

    •     Insist that the Government of Bahrain to ensure that civil society organizations and human rights defenders in Bahrain may conduct their work without fear of retaliation or reprisal.


    Document Type: 
    Feature: 

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    Families of some inmates at Jaw Prison in Bahrain have been allowed no contact with them since unrest broke out there on March 10, 2015. Authorities should immediately allow all prisoners to make phone calls to their families and resume scheduled visits.

    Many prisoners were able to make phone calls to their families again on March 24, families and other sources indicated. But family members of four inmates told Human Rights Watch that they have received no phone calls from their imprisoned relatives since March 10 and have been told by police and prison staff authorities that they cannot visit. Credible sources said the number of these inmates may be as high as 80.

    “Families that have received no word from their imprisoned relatives are understandably becoming very anxious,” said Joe Stork deputy Middle East and North Africa director. ”The Bahraini authorities need to allow all Jaw Prison inmates to contact their families at once to let them know they are safe.”

    An outbreak of violence on March 10 led the prison authorities to send the security forces into buildings 1, 3, 4, and 6 of the prison. The relatives of the four prisoners said that before March 10 they had received regular calls from the detained men and had been able to visit them.

    Government-controlled newspapers have reported that the March 10 unrest was the result of violence by prisoners after an altercation between prison guards and three visitors on March 10. Local rights groups allege, however, that security forces used excessive force against prisoners, many of them held on politically motivated charges, and that poor prison conditions contributed to the unrest.

    Bahrain authorities should investigate whether the force used by prison authorities was lawful and strictly necessary, Human Rights Watch said. On March 19, a government-controlled newspaper reported that a team of investigators visited Jaw Prison and spoke to 124 inmates, “regarding the conditions of the facility and services provided.” The report added that the investigators received 15 complaints “regarding different issues.”

    A family member of Ahmed Mushaima, held in building 4, said the family has not heard from him since he called from prison on March 8, although he previously had called every two days. On March 23, the family was able to visit Ahmed’s father, Hasan Mushaima, one of 13 high-profile opposition leaders in building 7, but prison staff told them that Ahmed Mushaima was forbidden to attend that meeting. He is serving a 1-year sentence for insulting Bahrain’s king.

    A family member of Ahmed Humaidan, an award-winning photographer serving a 10-year sentence for allegedly attacking a police station, told Human Rights Watch the family has had no communication with him since March 10. The family member said Ahmad, held in building 4, normally called the family twice a week. He tried to visit on March 30, but a police officer denied him entry and told him no visits were allowed.

    A family member of Jaffar Ali Aoun, also in building 4, said that the family has not heard from him since March 8. He typically called his family three times a week. The ombudsman in the Interior Ministry has not replied to emails requesting information, the family said, and when they called the ombudsman, a staff member told them only that “there are a lot of detainees.” On March 26, a family member went to Jaw Prison for a scheduled visit but said he was told by a police officer that all visits were cancelled.

    The wife of the human rights activist Naji Fateel said she has not heard from her husband since March 10. On March 24, she attempted to make a scheduled visit but said she was told by a member of prison staff that visits were “suspended indefinitely.” Fateel, who is also held in building 4, is serving a 15-year sentence for allegedly establishing a group that aimed to change the constitution. His trial was marred by allegations of torture and there was a lack of evidence of that he had engaged in criminal activity.

    A September 2013 report from the ombudsman detailed serious overcrowding in Jaw Prison. Bahrain set up a 12-member commission on the rights of prisoners and detainees that month. In August 2014, the commission issued a report on conditions at Dry Dock Detention Center, but it has yet to report on conditions at Jaw Prison.

    Article 37 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states that “prisoners shall be allowed under necessary supervision to communicate with their family and reputable friends at regular intervals, both by correspondence and by receiving visits.”

    “If Bahrain wants to be viewed with any credibility, its commission on the rights of prisoners and detainees should ensure that visiting rights at Jaw Prison are restored without delay,” Stork said.

     

    Link to the full article here.

    Document Type: 
    Feature: 

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    This is the story of two families from different countries who share the same pursuit of human rights despite immense personal costs. The first comes from Bahrain, while the second hails from Egypt. Human rights defense has passed from one generation to another in these families of courageous men and women, some of whom are in jail on lengthy sentences for standing up for their beliefs.

    By

    Khalid Ibrahim

    First part in Bahrain:

    Al-Khawaja Family

     

    Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja:

    After the popular uprising in Bahrain during February 2011, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja resigned from his work with Front Line Defenders, where I used to work with him. When I asked him why, he said: “I want to be with my people while they struggle in pursuit of freedom.” That answer summarizes the life of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, the prominent, internationally known and admired prominent human rights defender who faced imprisonment, torture, harassment, and intimidation as the price for demanding freedom for his people in Bahrain.

    Description: Abdulhadi Alkhawaja.jpg

    Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja participating in a peaceful demonstration in February 2011

     

    Al-Khawaja faced immense violations to his civil and human rights as a peaceful citizen beginning from the monstrous way in which he was arrested on 9 April 2011. This was followed by brutal torture, resulting in a broken jaw and requiring several operations, then finally by an unfair trial in which the simplest of international standards for fair trials and due process were missing. Al-Khawaja was sentenced by the National Safety court – a Bahraini military court – on 22 June 2012 to life imprisonment. As the sentence was being pronounced, Al-Khawaja raised his fist and said: “We will continue on the path of peaceful resistance.”

    The picture below was taken by one of the policemen in the courtroom who thought that by taking such a picture he would humiliate Al-Khawaja. Instead Al-Khawaja’s beloved ones hung this picture all over the walls of their houses; to them, this picture in actual fact embodies his strength and courage as well as his rejection of all methods of oppression and terror.

    Description: http://www.gc4hr.org/uploads/original/Bahrain_16_09_2014_Abdulhadi9.jpg

    In prison, he was extremely mistreated, which is why he carried out a hunger strike along with his fellow inmates several times asking to be released and for better treatment towards them in prison. On 8 February 2012, he started a hunger strike on his own, calling for their collective freedom, which led to a dangerous deterioration of his health. On 28 May 2012, Al-Khawaja announced the suspension of his hunger strike on the 110th day, after having been force-fed. On 25 August 2014, he started a new hunger strike after having been in the same prison for three and a half years, protesting his arrest on charges related to freedom of expression. This time he stayed on hunger strike for 30 days.

    In this next picture, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is in the last days of his first hunger strike:

    Description: http://www.gc4hr.org/uploads/original/Abdulhadi73.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

    On 2 March 2015, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a co-founder of the GCHR and former President of the BCHR, began a three-week water-only hunger strike in protest of his continued arbitrary detention, poor prison conditions, and restrictions on family contact, lack of investigation into torture of prisoners and other mistreatment of political prisoners. (For an update, see http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/972)

    One should admire that Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is doing his best to support human rights movements in the Middle East and North Africa and he has many relationships with human rights defenders in Syria, Palestine, Western Sahara, Tunisia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other countries of the region. He has always strongly believed in the necessity of full solidarity and coordination between human rights defenders in order to achieve the ultimate goal, which encompasses building free and prosperous societies in which citizens can enjoy their freedoms fully whether civil or human rights.

     

    Khadija Al-Mousawi:

    It would not have been easy for Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and the rest of his family to reach this rare level of struggle, resistance, sacrifice, selflessness and bravery without the outstanding contributions and the heroic role of Khadija Al-Mousawi, Al-Khawaja’s wife and partner in life. She is a unique woman who is characterized by her strong and brave personality as well as her adoption of sacrifice for freedom. Al-Mousawi always thinks of the victims of oppression in Bahrain and forgets what she and her family are going through, despite suffering severe violations denounced worldwide.

    Description: https://sp.yimg.com/ib/th?id=HN.607991683898871430&pid=15.1&P=0

    Khadija Al-Mousawi and her husband Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

    And the next tweet shows a clear idea of her true conviction in what her family members are doing as peaceful activists even though their activities expose them to direct harassment and risk of arrest by the government of Bahrain. She is proud of their work and strongly supports them at all times, becoming a big part of what they do at heart in planning, implementation and evaluation.

    Zainab Al-Khawaja:

    No one has caused severe discomforts to the government of Bahrain or any of its authorities like the human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja has. No one can predict what she might do next since she could be anywhere, at the gate of any prison or ministry protesting and telling the world about the oppression and discrimination experienced by the Bahraini people, as well as the deprivation of their basic human rights. They have tried to jail her on trumped up charges, however, even in jail, she can expose their incredible and unreliable claims by using international law mechanisms and the support of the international community.

    Zainab Al-Khawaja is the voice of the Bahraini people tweeting for their freedom and their hopefully blissful future. She is the daughter of her father, a brave woman with no fear, who used her twitter account to expose the black record of the Bahraini government in the field of human rights. The decision to target her is due to her enormous courage.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Look at her in that picture standing alone majestically with her head held high calling for freedom in front of the Bahraini Security forces with their weapons. She really is a lioness, the courageous daughter of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja.

    Description: http://previous.presstv.ir/photo/20121229/geraphian20121229183325700.jpg

    And in another photo, though she is surrounded by police officers on all sides, she keeps on protesting peacefully and asking for the freedom of her Bahraini people.

    Description: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/files/2013/03/03605998.jpg

    Zainab is in danger now since she could be arrested at any minute. On 4 December 2014, she was sentenced to three years in prison with a fine of 3000 Bahraini Dinars, on charges of tearing up a picture of the Bahraini monarch during a court session held in October 2014. She has paid 100 Bahraini Dinars bail for her release until the next appeal, which is to be held on 15 June 2015. She also faces other sentences amounting to over four years in prison. See http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/847 and an Update: http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/926. Although the Khawajas have been jailed, tortured and are still being harassed they are proud of what they do: defending the civil and human rights of oppressed Bahraini people. There she is again, Zainab saying a beautiful and touching statement on behalf of her family claiming that freedom deserves every type of sacrifice, in the following tweet:

     

     

    Maryam Al Khawaja:

    Maryam Al-Khawaja participated in the February 2011 protests and later left the country to tell the whole world the truth about what is actually happening in Bahrain. Nothing could stop her from taking trips to all continents and not only in order to rally support for the honorable cause of the people of Bahrain but also as Director of Advocacy of the Gulf Center for Human Rights. She has also done her best to support human rights movements in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Syria, Iraq and other countries.

    Description: http://thorphography.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/M%C3%B8ller_Thor_Raftoprisen-2013-13.jpg

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Maryam is no exception; she also has traits from the Al-Khawaja family in terms of courage and sacrifice even given the threats of harassment by the Bahraini government. She has incessantly received messages threatening her with murder but she still chose to go back to Bahrain several times because of her love for her country and her commitment to working from within Bahrain.

    On 01 December 2014, a court sentenced Maryam Al-Khawaja to one year in prison based on trumped up charges of assaulting a lieutenant and a police officer in the Bahrain International Airport. Back on 30 August, when she went to Bahrain to visit her father who was on a hunger strike, Maryam was stopped and immediately arrested as soon as she got off the plane. She released a report explaining the details of her decision related to boycotting the sentencing court session. See: http://gc4hr.org/news/view/831

    Maryam continues her work now out of the country vigorously hoping that she will return to her country, when it will inevitably be free someday.

     

    Second part in Egypt:

     

    Seif Family

     

    Ahmad Seif:

    Let’s start with the first man of the family, the human rights activist, champion of the poor, and a man humble by nature, the man with the greatest of accomplishments, whose name is Ahmad Seif Al-Islam Abdel Fattah. His picture below has deep meaning and it can summarize all that he has done in his life, taking a humanitarian stand and defending prisoners of conscience. He has faced successive authoritarian governments in Egypt which have tried by all means to suppress his strength and perseverance. Despite their efforts to bring him down, he conquered them.

    Description: http://www.madamasr.com/sites/default/files/photos/news/Lawyer_Ahmed_Seif_Mahalla_Trials_2008-Copyright.jpg

    Ahmad Seif at court during one of his defense cases

    On 4 September 2012, Ahmad Seif wrote in his diary (known as “Kharbashat”) about his loyalty to the principles of human rights and his big dream of freedom for Egypt, which he believed to be possible. He wrote: “I promise to work hard in order to stay loyal to the standards of international human rights. Help me fulfill this promise. I might be a dreamer but why not dream? Wasn’t our revolution a dream that we thought was far-fetched?” https://ahmedseif.wordpress.com/

    On 9 December that year he also talked about the close tie between human rights and human dignity to Amnesty International. He said, “Of course when I became more involved in human rights, I found it has a much wider scope than torture, though all of it arises from the original basic rule, which the UDHR also upholds, and that is respect for human dignity. All that violates human dignity is an abuse to human rights.” http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/feature-stories/human-rights-defender-egypt-ahmed-seif-el-islam-20081209

    Many stands taken by this amazing man in his lifetime can be highlighted. Foremost of which would be his choice to live in prison for five years rather than run away from his country despite the chances he had to do so. He also would not accept any governmental job; instead he would prioritize his work as a civil activist. Ahmad Seif had also participated in founding the Hisham Mubarak Law Center in 1999 and took a lead in its administration since its inception as the center worked to address human rights violations and to provide support to victims of these violations, who otherwise had nobody to stand up for them. http://www.hmlc-egy.org

    And after having lived a lifetime full of challenges and difficulties, as well as achievements, he died on 27 August 2014 after having fought sickness, while his son Alaa and his daughter Sanaa were jailed in Egyptian prisons. You can hear him on this video apologizing to his son Alaa saying: “I am sorry Alaa that you did not inherit democracy, instead you inherited prison.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C0uQ_I68sU

     

    Dr Leila Soueif:

    This lawyer would not have been able to pursue his mission if it weren’t for the presence of his wife and life partner, activist and doctor Leila Soueif, by his side. She supported him with a strong will that could not be diminished and always participated in his human rights activities. At the same time, she was a human rights defender in her own right, founding both the Assemblies that work for the Independence of Universities (Movement of March 9th) as well as the Egyptian Organization Against Torture. Dr Leila was a friend and champion to her husband, as well as the mother of three children Alaa, Mona and Sanaa who chose the same hard path to freedom their parents did.

    Description: http://yanair.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/alalam_634998629779880789_25f_4x3.jpg

    Dr Leila and Alaa, who is holding his son Khalid, and behind him stands his wife Manal

     

    Alaa Seif:

    Alaa Abdel Fattah is a well-known Egyptian blogger. He is a firm human rights defender who has founded, along with his wife Manal Baheyeddin Hassan, the blog “Manal and Alaa’s bit bucket” which during 2005 was awarded the best Arabic blog by Reporters Without Borders”. http://manalaa.net/node/22139

    Alaa was arrested and imprisoned several times because of his human rights activities in support of freedom of expression, freedom of opinion as well as freedom of assembly and because of his desire to build state institutions that protect the rights of citizens without exception. On 11 June 2014, a court in Egypt sentenced him, along with 24 others to 15 years in jail and a fine of 100,000 pounds (US$14,000) on trumped up charges related to participating in a peaceful protest held on 26 November 2013 in Cairo. Police used force to disband the demonstration that was organized by the group “No to military trials for civilians” two days after the government issued a law restricting the right to peaceful assembly. http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/06/11/egypt-15-year-sentences-25-peaceful-protesters

    On 23 February 2015, during a re-trial of the case, Alaa was sentenced to five years in prison for violating a law banning unauthorized protests. See: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/23/egyptian-activist-alaa-abd-el-fattah-sentenced-five-years-jail

     

    Manal Baheyeddin Hassan:

    Meeting Manal Baheyeddin Hassan recently in Beirut, I found her full of excitement and prepared to support a human rights movement and the protection of activists digitally. Despite the fact that her husband Alaa is still behind bars, she would not hide her optimism concerning a future of freedom and prosperity, clearly projected by the smile on her face in this picture below which the blogger and activist Hamzoz caught on camera.

    Description: https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpa1/v/t34.0-12/10833765_10153649318741959_1478337046_n.jpg?oh=c95b4a86226b2b4f6432338f3870fbb9&oe=54A1B566&__gda__=1419864459_ebbc27f4592877391e4c81d4f6366e18

    And here is another paradox in the life of this family of fighters which Ahmed Seif mentioned before he passed away: “My daughter Mona was born while I was in jail, which is exactly what happened with Alaa, my son, whose son Khalid was born while he was in jail, as though history is repeating itself.”

     

    Mona Seif:

    Which leads us to Mona Seif, the human rights activist who is characterized by her infinite love for her family members and her ferocious defense of them as well as her constant participation in the Egyptian revolution, which succeeded in ousting Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011. She has also been a prominent social networking figure and keeps actively working on increasing public awareness of civilians tried by the military.

    In this picture here, Mona is beside her father in an Egyptian courtroom where Ahmed Seif was pleading in defense of a group of prisoners of conscience, sitting beside him and looking at him with love and tenderness that transcends time and space to meld with the dreams and goals for which he died.

    Description: https://scontent-vie.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/10428449_10152684625639454_1701587154503554487_n.jpg?oh=6c8b82bc225d6b1f965185b6d3e304e7&oe=559A098E

    On 30 June 2014, Mona wrote on her Facebook page about her younger imprisoned sister Sanaa. Mona has affectionately described Sanaa as the last of the successive line:

    “Sanaa is with me every moment of every day I talk about her to all the people around me I talk to her, I apologize to her when I’m weak, And in my mind I let my guards down with her.”

     

    Sanaa Seif:

    And we get to the youngest, Sanaa Seif, who worked with all the means she had available for the sake of her imprisoned brother Alaa. In the picture below she is alone in front of Kobba palace, before she was arrested, asking for freedom for her brother Alaa Abdel Fattah and 23 others sentenced to 15 years in jail.

    Description: https://scontent-vie.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfp1/t31.0-8/p960x960/10431412_10152546462711340_2893044243371694997_o.jpg

     

    On 26 October 2014, the misdemeanor court in Cairo issued a sentence of three years in jail for 23 human rights activists, Sanaa included, and it also imposed on the 23 activists an additional three-year period of security inspection as well as a 10,000 Egyptian pound fine (around US$1,398) plus an imposed payment compensating for the damage caused by the uproar.  http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/113998/Egypt/Politics-/BREAKING-Activist-Sanaa-Seif,--others-sentenced-to.aspx

    A New Generation that Gives Hope:

    Finally, after having introduced all members of the two families who are activists, it would only be fair to end the story with the new generation that gives hope. Let us first share what Mona wrote to her nephew, whose name is Khalid and who was born while his father was still in jail. It’s a very short sentence but it provides hope for a warm and bright future to everyone: “And with Khalid, a new journey begins… It carries so much love that it can feed us all and more.”

    Description: https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/p600x600/10489676_10152476293544454_7484468412383250594_n.jpg?oh=1a3c7d4ec63b49e10d79f8e79c378f6d&oe=55AA0D8A&__gda__=1438283676_5c4c3a609ca1e7601443cefc5abd5a11

    The reality, there is big hope in Bahrain as well as in Egypt for the new generations of Jude and Abdulhadi junior – the grandchildren of Abdulhadi Senior and the children of Zainab – as well as the grandchildren of Seif and the children their age who would hopefully not have to live under the current oppression ruling their countries. Instead, they should find free and prosperous societies that respect humans and their rights to generous and fruitful lives, in part because of their grandparents’ sacrifices.

     

     

     

     
     
    Document Type: 
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    Brussels, 7 April 2015,

    Dear Ms Vice-President/High Representative,

    On 2 April 2015, at approximately 4:00 PM local time (GMT+3), Bahraini security forces and police arrested Nabeel Rajab, prominent human rights defender and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). Reports indicate that over 20 police vehicles surrounded his home in Bani Jamra. In a statement shortly following his arrest, the Bahraini Ministry of Interior confirmed the charges against Nabeel, stating that he “posted information that could incite others and disrupt civil peace,” and that he “illegally defamed a statutory body.”

    Nabeel Rajab has been accused of insulting a statutory body (by denouncing acts of torture in Jaw prison) and spreading rumours during wartime (by criticising Bahrain’s involvement in the current conflict in Yemen). Nabeel remains under solitary confinement in prison, as is not expected to be released before 11 April 2015, at the earliest. For these two charges, Nabeel Rajab faces up to 10 years in prison.

    In an opinion piece that Nabeel published on Huffington Post last week, Rajab stated, “Prisoners have rights and prisons should be centres of rehabilitation. In Bahrain, inmates are punished for being inmates, and punished collectively. Torture is a crime against humanity, yet it is a constant feature in Jaw.”

    This is not the first time that the government has punished Rajab for exercising his internationally-guaranteed right to free expression. In May 2014, Rajab completed a two-year prison sentence after taking part in peaceful assemblies and protests criminalized by the government. Mr Rajab is currently facing another trial for a previous tweet he wrote in September 2014. His appeal for this 6 months sentence was scheduled for 15 April. It however took place on 5 April and was then delayed until 4 May, the prosecutor arguing the existence of new evidence under this case. Further, Nabeel’s home was raided that same day and all the electronics in his home (whether his own or not) were seized for evidence.

    Nabeel has previously reached out to the EU to seek support for his case and long standing battle for Human Rights in Bahrain. In past occasions, the European External Action Service and the European Parliament have issued formal statement demanding his immediate release, as well as of others fellow human rights defenders and Bahraini citizens labelled criminals by the Government for peacefully speaking their mind about the human rights violations and democratic deficit in Bahrain. Despite these gross human rights abuses and the blatant injustice they suffer, the EU institutions have not used their full leverage on the matter.

    Nabeel’s case is just an example of the many injustices committed in Bahrain and in the Gulf Region daily, because they dare to speak out and to defend basic human rights and ideals. Injustice does not stop there; the treatment detainees receive in prisons amounts to grave torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, putting their physical and mental health at grave risks, as well as the health and security of their relatives.

    The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (representing Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy) and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of FIDH and OMCT, urgently seek to raise awareness of the human rights situation in Bahrain and the Gulf Region and call upon the European Union to stand firm against these abuses of freedom suffered by many. We also urge you to ask for the charges brought against Nabeel, and other unjustly imprisoned Bahrainis, to be dropped immediately and for their unconditional release.

    07.04.2015_FIDH ECDHR Joint Letter on Bahrain

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    On 5 April 2015, authorities in Bahrain arrested human right lawyer Taimoor Karimi, who had his citizenship revoked in 2012. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the authorities’ continued targeting and harassment of activists whose citizenship was illegally revoked.

    On 5 April 2015, ten Bahrainis who had their citizenship revoked had an appeal hearing against the court’s initial sentence of deportation and a BHD100 fine that was issued on 28 October 2014. The trial was postponed to 6 May; however, after leaving the court, a policeman called back lawyer Taimoor Karimi, seized his driving license and asked him to stay at the courtroom. He was asked to pay the fine of BHD100, an amount he didn’t have at the time. He was immediately arrested without allowing him to contact his lawyer or family.

    Karimi was kept in a room in the public prosecution until 2 pm. Then he was handcuffed and transported to Passport and Residency Directorate where he was kept for five more hours without taking care of his basic needs, including food, drink or being allowed to use the toilet and pray until he started calling and banging on the door. He suffers from high blood pressure and wasn’t given his medicine or allowed to contact his family.

    Security forces attempted twice to take Karimi to Jaw Prison but failed to do so because of administration issues so he was taken back to the Passport and Residency Directorate twice. He was finally detained in Jaw Prison and was allowed to call his family after a full day between detention centers. At Jaw Prison, he was kept in the cell for foreigners and wasn’t allowed in the cells where Bahrainis are detained. On 6 April, his family paid the fine but he wasn’t allowed to leave before being sponsored by one of his relatives. Karimi and his sponsor were told to be present at the Passport and Residency Directorate after his next appeal hearing.

    It is important to note that nine other Bahrainis are facing the same situation and are required to find sponsors or else they’ll be deported by force. The Government of Bahraini revoked the citizenship of more Bahrainis in 2014 which increases the number of individuals at risk of deportation. Moreover, their bank accounts were seized on orders from the authorities and they’re unable to even change the ownership of their properties.

    BCHR believes that the authorities are deliberately harassing and humiliating those whose citizenships have been revoked, and particularly those who have had undertaken human rights activities. The actions taken by the Government of Bahrain are in direct violation of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that guarantees everyone “the right to a nationality” and states that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.”

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the Government of Bahrain to:

    • Immediately halt the deportation of the nine Bahrainis, which is in violation of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
    • Immediately reinstate the nationality of the 31 whose citizenship was revoked in 2012, and;
    • Accede to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
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    We in the Bahrain and international human rights NGO community condemn the arrest and detention of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights defender in the Kingdom of Bahrain. On 4 April, the Bahrain Public Prosecution Office renewed Mr. Rajab’s pretrial detention for a further 15 days. We call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Rajab and to drop all charges against him.

    On 2 April 2015, security forces surrounded Mr. Rajab’s home and arrested him in relation to two new charges involving a series of recent tweets and an opinion piece published in the Huffington Post. The first charge is for “insulting a statutory body” in connection to his documentation of mistreatment and torture in Bahrain’s Jau Prison. The second charge of “spreading rumors during wartime” relates to his reporting on civilian deaths in Yemen, in contravention of a government prohibition of any public mention that is critical of the conflict. If he is convicted on all current charges, Mr. Rajab could face more than 10 years in prison.

    At the request of the public prosecution, Bahraini authorities advanced Mr. Rajab’s scheduled appeal hearing from 15 April to 5 April, only to adjourn it to 5 May. This appeal concerns the six month sentence handed down to Nabeel Rajab on 20 January in relation to a tweet critical of the Bahraini Ministries of Interior and Defense.Mr. Rajab’s continued harassment and prosecution is a clear violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 19 of the UDHR states that, “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression…” while Article 19 of the ICCPR provides that, “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include the freedom to seek and impart information and ideas of all kinds…”

    We therefore call on the government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Nabeel Rajab from custody and drop all charges against him. We further call on Bahrain to ensure free and peaceful expression, and to cease all harassment of and restrictions against civil society and human rights defenders in Bahrain.

    Sincerely,

    • Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

    • Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

    • Bahran Human Rights Society (BHRS)

    • Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

    • CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

    • English PEN

    • European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)

    • FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    • Index on Censorship

    • International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

    • No Peace Without Justice

    • OMCT, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    • Rafto Foundation for Human Rights

    • VIVARTA

    • World Movement for Democracy

    Background:

    Mr Nabeel Rajab is the President and Co-Founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and a member of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Advisory Board.

    Bahrain authorities have previously prosecuted Mr. Rajab on politically motivated charges. They have never presented any credible evidence that

    Mr. Rajab has advocated, incited or engaged in violence. Mr Rajab was detained from 5 May to 28 May 2012, for Twitter remarks criticizing the Interior Ministry for failing to investigate attacks carried out by what Mr. Rajab said were pro-government gangs against Shia residents. On 28 June 2012, a criminal court fined him 300 Bahraini Dinars (US$790) in that case. Authorities again detained Mr. Rajab on 6 June 2012, for another Twitter remark calling for Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa to step down. On 9 July 2012, a criminal court convicted and sentenced him to three months in prison on that charge. A court of appeal overturned that verdict, but in a separate case a criminal court sentenced him to three years in prison for organizing and participating in three unauthorized demonstrations between January and March 2012. An appeals court reduced the sentence to two years, which Mr. Rajab completed in May 2014.

    In September 2014 Mr. Rajab traveled to Europe to call for stronger international action on Bahrain. He met with representatives of various governments, the European Union, the European Parliament, and participated in the 27th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

    On 1 October 2014, less than 24 hours after his return to Bahrain, Mr. Rajab was summoned to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) Cyber Crimes Unit for interrogation, where officers arrested and interrogated him for a number of hours in relation to a tweet he published while abroad. This arrest ultimately lead to Mr. Rajab’s conviction on 20 January 2015, on charges of “insulting public institutions,” referring to the Bahrain Ministries of Defense and Interior. The Bahraini government charged him in relation to a tweet in which he criticized members of the Bahraini security forces who have joined the ISIS extremist group. Mr. Rajab was charged under Bahrain’s penal code which unduly restricts and criminalizes, “[offending] by any method of expression the National Assembly, or other constitutional institutions, the army, law courts, authorities or government agencies.” The court sentenced him to six months in prison. Following international attention in his case, Mr. Rajab was released on bail pending the completion of his appeal.

    Most recently, Mr. Rajab was arrested on 2 April 2015 on separate charges of insulting a statutory body, and spreading rumors during wartime. The former charge is related to Mr. Rajab’s documentation of human rights abuses at Bahrain’s Jaw Prison on social media. The latter is related to his documentation and criticism of Bahraini involvement in the Yemeni conflict in an opinion piece written for the Huffington Post.

    Simultaneously, Mr. Rajab’s previous case has been reopened by the public prosecution, impeding his appeal. If these charges are upheld, and he is convicted of the new charges, Mr. Rajab may face over 10 years in prison.

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    On Tuesday 20 January, Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. He will appeal this decision on February 11, 2015. But, in the meantime, he was demanded to pay a bail sum of 200BD in order to avoid detention before a decision is made on his appeal. Below is coverage of the case by the media, NGOs and response from the international community.

    Campaign Updates

    Coverage by Media, NGOs and the International Community’s Response and Statements

    Media Association

    Date

    Link to Coverage

    World Organization Against Torture 16.03.2015

    Bahrain: Ongoing Judicial Harassment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab

    INDEX 15.03.2015

    Bahrain: Rights Defender's Appeal Hearing Postponed

    Global Voices 14.03.2015

    Bahrain's Leading Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Faces Prison for ISIS Tweets

    FIDH 06.03.2015

    Ongoing Judicial Harassment of Mr. Nabeel Rajab

    FIDH 02.03.2015

    Bahrain: Summoning of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

    INDEX 27.02.2015

    Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab summoned by police and fear new arrest

    Press TV 27.02.2015

    Bahraini police summons rights activist Nabeel Rajab

    Reuters (Canada) 11.02.2015

    Bahrain puts off rights activist's appeal hearing to March 4

    Gulf Times 11.02.2015

    Bahraini activist's appeal postponed

    FIDH

    02.02.2015

    100 MEPs call for dropping the charges against Nabeel Rajab

    RT TV (RUS)

    23.01.2015

    Nabeel Rajab: We may criticize RT, but we should respect their freedom of expression

    Fairplanent (GER)

    22.01.2015

    BAHRAIN SHOWS ITS DISDAIN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

    Rafto

    22.01.2015

    “A Clear Violation of Nabeel Rajab’s Right to Freedom of Expression”

    United States

    22.01.2015

    U.S. 'disappointed' by Bahrain's sentencing of democracy activist

    United States

    22 .01.2015

    Daily Press Briefing

    Gulf times

    21.01.2015

    Bahrain activist gets jail term over tweets

    Euro News

    21.01.2015

    Bahrain court sentences prominent rights activist to six months in jail

    L’orient LE JOUR (FR)

    21.01.2015

    15 ans de prison pour 3 personnes accusées d'avoir mené une attaque - L'Orient-Le Jour

    DW (GER)

    21.01.2015

    Bahrain, die Menschenrechte und der "Islamische Staat"

    Euronews (GER)

    21.01.2015

    Bahrain: Menschenrechtler Radschab zu Haftstrafe verurteilt

    BBC News

    20.01.2015

    Nabeel Rajab: Bahrain’s Activist Sentenced for Tweets

    International Business Tines

    20.01.2015

    Bahrain Activist Nabeel Rajab Sentenced to Six Months in Prison for a Tweet

    Middle East Eye

    20.01.2015

    Bahraini human rights activist sentenced to six months over tweets

    The Times of Israel

    20.01.2015

    Bahrain activist gets 6 months in jail over tweets

    Fox News

    20.01.2015

    Bahrain activist Rajab jailed for 6 months over tweets, but can remain free pending appeal

    Reuters

    20.01.2015

    Bahrain sentences rights activist to six months in jail

    The Huffington Post

    20.01.2015

    Nabeel Rajab, Bahraini human rights activist, jailed for tweet

    UPI

    20.01.2015

    6-month prison sentence for activist’s tweets in Bahrain

    Blouin News

    20.01.2015

    Bahrain human rights activist sentenced for a tweet

    RT News

    20.01.2015

    Bahrain sentences leading activist Nabeel Rajab for tweet

    Press TV

    20.01.2015

    Bahrain Shia activist sentenced to 6 months in jail for tweets

    Le Monde (FR)

    20.01.2015

    un militant des droits de l'homme condamné à la prison pour des tweets

    L’Express (FR)

    20.01.2015

    un célèbre militant chiite condamné à la prison pour des tweets

    Itele (FR)

    20.01.2015

    Nabil Rajab, célèbre militant des droits de l'Homme, condamné à 6 mois de prison

    RTL info (FR)

    20.01.2015

    un célèbre militant chiite condamné à la prison pour des tweets - RTL Info

    Numerama (FR)

    20.01.2015

    6 mois de prison pour un tweet au Bahreïn. Mais que peut-on dire maintenant ?

    France24 (FR)

    20.01.2015

    Bahrain sentences Shiite activist to jail over tweets

    DW (GER)

    20.01.2015

     Sechs Monate Haft für einen Tweet

    TT (GER)

    20.01.2015

    Bahrain verurteilte schiitischen Aktivisten zu sechs Monaten Haft

    Rtl (GER)

    20.01.2015

    Bahrein: Sechs Monate Haft für Menschenrechtsaktivist

    Amnesty International

    20.01.2015

    Bahrain: Six Months Sentence for Nabeel Rajab Blow to Freedom of Expression

    Index on Censorship

    20.01.2015

    Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab Sentenced for a Tweet

    Human Rights Watch

    16.01.2015

    Bahrain: Drop Twitter Charges Against Rights Advocate

    World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)

    16.01.2015

    Bahrain: Press Release: Court Should Drop Spurious Charges Against Nabeel Rajab on 20 January

    Index on Censorship

    15.01.2014

    Tell Bahrain to Drop Charges Against Activist over Tweet, Demand Human Rights Organizations

     
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    From: Nabeel Rajab
    President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    Isa Town Detention Center
    Bahrain

    Dear President Obama,

    I write to you from a Bahraini jail cell, and this message was never meant to go beyond its walls. Even though I have never advocated for violence nor harmed another living soul, I have spent 28 of the last 36 months in a Bahraini prison for actions that can only be counted as crimes in a nation that stifles free expression and criminalizes open assembly. I have documented my government’s use of torture. I have reported on civilian casualties in Yemen. I have held a different opinion than that of a king. In retaliation, I may spend the next ten years of my life in jail.

    While my government punishes me for demanding an end to its assault on civil and political rights, other GCC states, especially Saudi Arabia, subject human rights defenders to harsher abuse. Their repression can be seen in the flogging of free speech activist Raif Badawi and the death sentence against the religious scholar and human rights advocate Nimr al-Nimr. Saudi courts even sentenced Raif’s lawyer, Waleed abu al-Khair, to 15 years in prison. We as human rights defenders are targeted for giving voice to the marginalized, people seeking to take the reins of their own destiny; our governments do everything in their power to prevent us from acting upon the best ideals of our conscience.

    The message you directed toward your Gulf allies last week laid the foundation for real change. Your words tacitly acknowledged what we in the region understand: only democracy can bring stability to the Middle East. And while democracy may take time to develop, the process cannot begin unless our right to free speech is protected. Right now, our governments divide us along religious lines, preventing us from collectively challenging extremism within our societies. As well, our rulers aggressively punish critics of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. We simply ask, however, for greater democratic participation in our nation’s affairs, and the ability to freely express our contempt for violence and extremism.

    I thank your administration for calling for my release, and the release of my fellow human rights defenders. I urge you to defend our right to free speech when you meet with the monarchs of the Gulf, and call for:

    • The immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners;
    • An end to the criminalization of free speech and expression, including any laws against criticism of government institutions or defamation of a king;
    • The cessation of all acts of torture and reprisal in GCC detention centers; and
    • The protection of free and open civil society space capable of fostering long-term stability and growth in the region.

    The citizens of Bahrain and her neighbors have extraordinary potential. With unshackled voices, we can build stability and challenge extremism. What we need today is space for tolerance, plurality, and honest dialogue, the foundations of a democratic process that the reprisals against me and my colleagues seek to undermine.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Nabeel Rajab

    Click here to read publication of the letter on New York Times

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     I am on trial for saying what everyone knows: Bahraini authorities are turning a blind eye to the Islamic State

    Imagine, for just a moment, if a U.S. soldier left his post to travel to Iraq and join the Islamic State. Imagine that he filmed himself in Iraq as proof of his defection. Imagine if it then emerged that the Department of Defense was distributing books and materials, which spread hateful ideologies that encouraged the soldier’s defection.

    What would happen?

    American society would immediately self-reflect: What led our serviceman to join the jihadi group? Where did the United States go so wrong, to produce terrorists out of soldiers? The press would demand answers from the government. The secretary of defense would be compelled to make a statement; maybe the president would, too. They might argue that the evidence is refutable, but their political opponents and the public would demand an adequate explanation. An inquiry might be launched. Due process would be followed.

    Eventually, a respected conclusion would emerge. It might find that the government was responsible, or partially responsible, for the spread of hatred and inculcation of terrorist ideologies and tighten regulations. Someone might lose his or her job, or even be brought to criminal prosecution. Or the inquiry might exonerate the government and Americans could rest on the knowledge that, against severe public scrutiny, the United States successfully demonstrated the integrity of its armed forces.

    If that scenario seems unrealistic, then know that something very similar to what I described has happened in my home country — Bahrain. Except there, the government engaged in no such self-reflection.

    Last year, four Bahrainis traveled to Iraq where they joined the Islamic State. In a video filmed and uploaded on YouTube, they call on their fellow Bahrainis to join the terrorist organization. One of them, Mohammad Isa Albinali, formerly a lieutenant in the Ministry of Interior and going by the name Abu Isa Al Salmi, looks straight into the camera and declares King Hamad of Bahrain, the prime minister, the crown prince, and the government of Bahrain infidels for their alliance with the United States and for leaving in peace “Rejectionist” Shiites in their husseiniyas, where they “insult” Islam and Islamic figures.

    Around the same time, two books published by the Ministry of Defense were leaked to the press and to my organization, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. One was titled The Light of the Sunni Faith and the Darkness of Heresy, another The Light of Unity and the Darkness of Paganism. Later, I acquired a Saudi Arabia-published book at the Bahrain Defense Forces library titled From the Doctrine of the Shiites.

    These books describe Shiite Muslims as “Rejectionists,” a favored term among hard-line Sunnis, and present our ideology in a twisted fashion, to appear as though we reject the fundamentals of Islam itself. A typical passage from the Doctrine of the Shiites reads: “The Rejectionists, who in our era are called Shiites, say that the Quran we have is not the one which was received by the Prophet Muhammad, but has been changed, added to, and had parts removed from it.” This is inflammatory for all Muslims, who believe the Quran to be the unchanged word of God.

    The majority of Bahrain’s citizens are Shiites, estimated at up to 60 percent (exact figures do not exist). But the overwhelming majority of the security forces are Sunni, many of them recently naturalized Pakistanis, Yemenis, Syrians, and Iraqis. These men are imported to Bahrain for the express purpose of filling the rank and file of the Bahrain Defense Force and the police. They are regularly deployed to break up protests in the streets of Bahrain. The majority of protesters are Shiites.

    The math is simple: The police and army are almost all Sunni, predominantly clashing with Shiite protesters.

    Government ministries distribute texts vilifying Shiites to the police and army.

    Government ministries distribute texts vilifying Shiites to the police and army.An estimate of 100 Bahrainis have gone to join the Islamic State, at least one of whom, but possibly more, have come from the security institutions. Bahrain’s security forces demolished dozens of Shiite places of worship in 2011. The Islamic State, for its part, is hateful of all Islamic sects and thoughts which do not align with their own and have demolished Shiite mosques and national heritage sites alike. How the terrorist Mohammad Isa Albinali considers the Bahraini government to be protectors of the Shiite is beyond comprehension, considering the evidence. But then, it seems that nothing short of genocide is enough for Islamic State.

    On Sept. 28, 2014, I tweeted the evident conclusion: “many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator.”

    On Oct. 1, 2014, police arrested me and charged me with insulting the Ministries of Interior and Defense. In January, the criminal court sentenced me to six months imprisonment for my tweet, a sentence which the appeal court will decide whether to uphold or acquit me of on Tuesday, May 5.

    Meanwhile, Bahrain’s government has made no move to stem the tide of homegrown terrorism. Not only does the government continue to distribute hateful books, but Islamic State sympathizers are allowed to freely advocate on the terrorist group’s behalf without suffering any government response. If you are a supporter of the Islamic State, you can find forums and write your thoughts about the terrorist group’s latest battlefield victories and defeats. Meanwhile, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights’ website has been blocked by Bahraini Internet service providers since 2006.

    Bahrain has extremely tough anti-terrorism laws. Suspects can be detained up to six months before they see a judge, and over 70 people have been sentenced to life for terrorism — in most if not all cases, the defendants were tortured and coerced to confess. But the government has not targeted Islamic State sympathizers or financiers with these laws. Instead, the focus has been on local street protesters. The law also allows the state to revoke the citizenship of terrorists, and in January the state stripped 72 people of their citizenship, around 50 of whom were human rights activists, journalists, bloggers, religious clerics, and opposition activists. The rest were actually terrorists who had joined the Islamic State or al Qaeda affiliates in Syria, but their inclusion with peaceful rights activist says more about how Bahrain considers the civil rights movement and political opposition than it does their commitment to fighting terrorism.

    This presents an unresolved dilemma. Bahrain, like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, is a member of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, but the government in Manama turns a blind eye to supporters of jihadi groups. In February, Bahrain sent fighter jets to Jordan to help bomb Islamic State-held territories in Syria in response to the barbaric immolation of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh. Yet it is doing nothing to stop indoctrination at home. Saudi Arabia was perhaps the first country to see the tragic consequences of this contradiction, when in November Saudi Arabian al Qaeda fighters returned home from Syria and opened fire on a Shiite mosque in the Eastern Province, killing seven.

    The United States, Britain, France, and other major parties in the war against the Islamic State also face a dilemma. They are working with Bahrain and other Gulf countries to bring security and stability in the region, yet they have been ineffectual in stopping the flow of men and cash from these countries to Iraq and Syria. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been the most heavily criticized for their contradictory role in the operations, but Bahrain deserves to be in the spotlight, too. Not just because it is allowing terrorists and their supporters freedom, but because it is using most of its antiterrorism capacity against mostly peaceful activists.

    When Bahrain would rather imprison me for calling out their idiosyncratic security policies rather than address those policies, how can the United States work with them to eradicate the Islamic State? Ultimately, the United States, Britain, European countries, and other powers need to put further pressure for their Gulf allies to challenge terrorism at home. Or else, the cycle of violence will only perpetuate and spread.

    Click here to read the full article published on Foreign Policy

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    Following Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain’s (ADHRB) successful mediation of a complaint to the United Kingdom National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises—concerning Formula One Management’s lack of due diligence considerations regarding possible human rights impact in Bahrain—Formula One has committed itself to respecting human rights in Bahrain and other countries in which it conducts business. ADHRB praises Formula One’s decision to adopt a human rights policy and examine its impact in Bahrain, and thanks the OECD National Contact Point of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for their role in the successful mediation process.

    In 2014, ADHRB submitted a complaint to the OECD regarding Formula One’s links to adverse impacts on human rights in Bahrain in relation to its annual race. The UK National Contact Point for the OECD accepted that the complaint merited examination “on issues relating to Formula One World Championship Limited and Formula One Management Limited’s management systems, due diligence, human rights policy and communications with stakeholders and business partners,” and suggested that the parties mediate in order to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution.

    Following the successful conclusion of those mediation proceedings, Formula One has for the first time in its history publicly committed to respecting internationally recognized human rights in all of its operations. Included in this commitment is a promise to develop and implement a due diligence policy in which Formula One analyzes and takes steps to mitigate any human rights impact that its activities may have on a host country, including on the human rights situation in Bahrain. The new policy represents a significant first step in addressing human rights abuses occurring in Bahrain during the annual Formula One race.

    Playing a key role in the mediation was Nabeel Rajab, member of ADHRB’s advisory board and the President of Bahrain Center for Human Rights. While the mediation process was on going and only two weeks before the 2015 race, authorities in Bahrain detained Mr. Rajab. ADHRB understands that this arrest amounts to a signal that the government will broach no criticism or dissent before or during the race, which has previously attracted significant anti-government protests. ADHRB does not link Formula One Management in any way to the arrest. The US State Department has called for his immediate release.

    “Formula One’s development of a human rights policy is a big step forward for the advancement of human rights, both in Bahrain and throughout the world,” said Husain Abdulla, the Executive Director of ADHRB. “We hope that this policy shows the Government of Bahrain that it cannot torture its citizens, that it cannot put down peaceful protests, that it cannot silence dissent without serious and actual repercussions and accountability.”

    ADHRB welcomes the engagement of Formula One during the mediation, and will work to monitor the conduct of Formula One Management in upholding its new human rights policy regarding the human rights impacts in future Bahrain races. ADHRB will continue to scrutinise adverse human rights impacts during events held by Formula One Management in Bahrain, and hold them to account with the standards set in their new human rights policy and internationally recognised human rights law.

     

    Joint Statement between ADHRB and Formula One Management

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) and Formula One entered into mediation in order to discuss the matters raised by ADHRB in its complaint under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (“Guidelines”) to the UK Government’s National Contact Point.

    As a result of that process, Formula One Group has committed to taking a number of further steps to strengthen its processes in relation to human rights in accordance with the standards provided for by the Guidelines. Formula One also takes this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to respect internationally recognised human rights. Formula One’s written policy commitment to respect human rights is available at http://www.formula1.com/content/fom-website/en/toolbar/legal-notices.html.

    ADHRB has agreed to stop further pursuit of its complaint and stated that it “welcomes this opportunity to engage on human rights issues in Bahrain”.

    Both parties would also like to thank the NCP and mediator for their work on this matter.

    The participants in the mediation on behalf of ADHRB were Husain Abdulla (Executive Director of ADHRB), Nabeel Rajab (ADHRB Advisory Board Member) Ahmed Ali (ADHRB Advisory Board Member) and Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei (ADHRB Board Member).

     

    Formula 1 & ADHRB – Public Statement re. F1 Bahrain – 10-4-15

     

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    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    This report reviews the current human rights situati on in Bahrain, a small but strategically located Gulf kingdom with a population of just under one and a half million, which has been ravaged by internal dissension since 2011.

    Amnesty International has monitored human rights developments in Bahrain for many years but never more closely than in the past four years, which have seen widespread violations by government security forces. These have included torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, unfair trials, the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience – persons sentenced to prison terms for peacefully exercising their rights to free speech, association or assembly – and unlawful killings, with those responsible all too frequently escaping accountability. Anti-government elements have also carried out several bomb explosions and other violent acts targeting the security forces.

    This report documents many of these human rights violations and recommends a series of measures that the government should take if, as it has repeatedly professed in UN and other fora, it is committed to ending abuses and upholding the rights of all Bahrainis without discrimination, and to ensuring accountability when abuses do occur. As the report shows, although the government has introduced a number of legal and institutional reforms in recent years to improve human rights, these have so far proved inadequate and have failed to ensurean end to serious rights violations, and justice and appropriate redress for the victims of abuses by state forces.

    Four years ago, popular protests in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, sparked off a series of events that have polarized Bahraini society and opened deep divisions between the country’s ruling Sunni Muslim minority and an opposition that draws its strength mostly from the Shi’a Muslim majority, who make up some two thirds or more of the Kingdom’s predominantly Muslim population. The government’s heavy handed response to the protests that began in February 2011 as mass protests elsewhere swept aside longstanding Arab rulers in Egypt and Tunisia, saw protesters beaten and shot, a period of martial law, and opposition activists detained, tortured and imprisoned after grossly unfair trials, eliciting an outcry both at home and abroad. To its credit, the government responded by appointing a group of international lawyers and human rights specialists – the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) – to investigate alleged human rights violations, setting it a tight timetable to complete its task. In November 2011, the BICI submitted its report to Bahrain’s King personally, and he publicly committed the government to accepting its findings and implementing its recommendations. In essence, the BICI concluded that security forces had committed torture and other ill-treatment, unlawful killings and that Bahrain’s courts failed to deliver fair trials, and recommended far-reaching legal and institutional reforms to halt and prevent any repetition of such abuses and further investigations to ensure that those responsible for the human rights violations that had occurred were held accountable.

    The King’s unconditional acceptance of the BICI findings and his stated commitment to ensure full implementation of the BICI recommendations engendered high hopes but more than three years on, these have all but evaporated and tension within the Kingdom remains critically high. The government has introduced reforms but these have been undermined by its imposition and use of other repressive laws and regulations to imprison peaceful critics, including human rights defenders, and ban peaceful protests in Manama. Meanwhile, compliant courts have sentenced political opposition leaders to lengthy prison terms and continue to jail those who take to the streets to show their defiance on charges of “illegal gathering.”

    Bahrain, today, continues to go through a political and human rights crisis. The government proclaims its commitment to real and meaningful reform – indeed, it claims that it has already made improvements that exceed those that the BICI said were urgently needed. In practice, however, serious violations continue to occur and do so on an extensive scale, and the sense of grievance among victims, their families and their community remains acute. To date, Bahrain’s allies - the USA, the UK and other EU states – have generally refrained from publicly criticizing Bahraini human rights violations and have appeared to accept the government’s claimed commitment to reform at face value, perhaps while lending support for institution-building and human rights training. As this report shows, however, such quiet engagement has yet to produce real and sustained improvements in Bahrain and now warrants review. The Bahrain government should be left in no doubt that it cannot continue to count on the support of its allies unless it moves swiftly to institute genuine safeguards for the human rights of all Bahrainis, ensure proper accountability for human rights violationsand comply fully with its obligations under international law and human rights treaties to which it is party.

    In order to address the current human rights crisis, the Bahraini authorities must, as a matter of priority, take the following steps:

    • Bring Bahraini laws in line with international law and standards and ensure these are respected and implemented in practice;
    • Release all those detained for lawfully exercising their right to freedom of expression, association or peaceful assembly;
    • Start a full and comprehensive legal reform of the judiciary to ensure its full impartiality and independence from the executive authorities;
    • Ensure thorough investigations, including where necessary re-opening closed investigations, into all cases of torture or other ill-treatment, death in custody and killings committed by the security forces with a view to delivering truth, justice and adequate reparation to the victims and their relatives;
    • Ensure fair retrials of all those convicted after unfair trials and without the use of “confessions” extracted under torture or other ill-treatment.
    The international community, in particular the UK, US and EU governments, must:
    • Raise concerns publicly and in private about human rights abuses in Bahrain with a view to ensure full compliance with Bahrain’s international human rights obligations;
    • Push for a more comprehensive and prompt reform of the justice system in order to ensure accountability.

    Click here to download the full report

    Click here to read the the PDF link

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    2 April 2015 – Today at approximately 4:00 PM local time (GMT+3), Bahraini security forces and police arrested Nabeel Rajab, prominent human rights defender and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). Reports indicate that over 20 police vehicles surrounded his home in Bani Jamra, after which security forces presented him with a warrant charging him with spreading false news relating to statements concerning acts of torture and inhumane treatment at Jaw Prison. In a statement shortly following his arrest, the Bahraini Ministry of Interior confirmed the charges against Nabeel, stating that he “posted information that could incite others and disrupt civil peace,” and that he “illegally defamed a statutory body.”

    Last month, protests broke out in Jaw Prison over security personnel’s treatment of inmates and children in the facility. Prison personnel responded with excessive force, and several inmates allege that government forces engaged in retaliatory acts of torture. Rajab’s organization has thoroughly documented human rights abuses in the prison, and Rajab himself has been outspoken regarding the recent bout of cruel treatment and torture.

    In an opinion piece that he published on Huffington Post last week, Rajab stated, “Prisoners have rights and prisons should be centers of rehabilitation. In Bahrain, inmates are punished for being inmates, and punished collectively. Torture is a crime against humanity, yet it is a constant feature in Jaw.”

    Said Yousif Almuhafdah, Vice President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said: “We have witness testimony and photographic evidence showing that human rights abuses are being carried out in Jaw. The violations are undeniable, yet rather than address the truth, they are calling Nabeel a liar and a criminal.”

    This is not the first time that the government has punished Rajab for exercising his internationally-guaranteed right to free expression. In May 2014, Rajab completed a two-year prison sentence after taking part in peaceful assemblies and protests criminalized by the government. That October, the government arrested him on charges of “denigrating public institutions” less than 24 hours after he returned from participation in the United Nations Human Rights Council and spoke before the European Parliament. A Bahraini court sentenced him to six months in prison on these charges, and his appeal is scheduled for 15 April.

    Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, said: “Bahrain has carefully chosen this timing for Nabeel’s arrest, one week after the UN Human Rights Council’s session ended and on the eve of the Easter holiday.”

    As the government continues its campaign to silence dissent, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), and the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) condemn the latest arrest of Nabeel Rajab, and call for the government to drop any and all charges imposed against him in relation to his rights to peaceful expression and assembly.

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said: “In arresting Nabeel, the government has once again demonstrated a fear of dissent. We demand that the government release Nabeel Rajab and immediately cease its campaign of persecution against this peaceful human rights defender.”

    The aforementioned organizations call on the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States and other national and international bodies to:

    •     Publicly call for the Government of Bahrain to immediately release Nabeel, and vacate his earlier sentence;

    •     Apply pressure on the Government of Bahrain to halt any further judicial harassment of Nabeel Rajab and other human rights defenders in Bahrain;

    •     Urge the Bahraini government to repeal any and all laws that infringe upon internationally protected rights; and

    •     Insist that the Government of Bahrain to ensure that civil society organizations and human rights defenders in Bahrain may conduct their work without fear of retaliation or reprisal.


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    Once again the government of Bahrain denies political activists and human rights defenders the right to temporary release on humanitarian grounds for the funeral of a close relative. Prominent human rights defender Abdulhadi and political activist Salah Al-Khawaja were prevented from attending the funeral of their eldest brother Abdulaziz, who passed away in Bahrain on April 22.

    It is important to note that Abdulhadi is serving a life sentence due to his human rights work and Salah is serving five years for his political activism; both are prisoners of conscience and torture survivors.

    The government of Bahrain not only punishes activists by stripping them of their freedom, but also by denying them basic humanitarian rights such as the participation in the funeral of a close relative. This is not new as Salah Al-Khawaja was also a prisoner of conscience in 1994 when his father passed away and  he was denied temporary release at that point as well.

    The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) deplore in the strongest terms this inhumane decision by the Government of Bahrain, adding to its already internationally well-known black record in the field of human rights.

     

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses grave concern over the ongoing practice of violent arrests and enforced disappearances of people arbitrarily arrested, especially children.

    On the night of 13 April 2015, Ahmed Abdulla Al-Arab (16 years old) was arrested by security men in civilian clothes after they chased him on the road in the village of Bani Jamra. Witnesses told his mother that the arrest was accompanied by sounds of shooting and they heard the screams of Al-Arab, causing fear that he might have been injured. Witnesses told his mother that he was put in the car boot and taken away.

    His mother Fatima Haroun went immediately to the Budaya police station to ask about him, but the responsible officer there told her that her son was not there. She told BCHR that she recognized some of the security men who used to raid her house looking for Al-Arab, and when she asked them about her son one of them said to her: “We have taken him to his [detained] uncle and he will get a life sentence and you won’t see him again ever.”

    She went to ask about him at the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) where she was given no information. She went to the ombudsman to file a complaint about her son’s enforced disappearance where she was told they can’t file anything as long as he is not officially detained. She also approached the National Institution for Human Rights for help. She was kept in the dark about the whereabouts and well-being of her son up until the night of 17 April 2015 when the boy finally called for a few seconds to confirm that he was at the CID. Until the time of writing this report, the family still has no contact with him and they were not informed of his whereabouts or allowed a visit.

    His mother told BCHR that Al-Arab has been wanted by the security forces since he was 14 years old, they have raided their house many times looking for him and she was threatened that they will kill him if they arrested him. Their last statement that he was taken to be with his uncle increases his mother’s fear, as her brother Ali Haroun has been reportedly tortured after he was deported from Thailand to Bahrain.

    The family had no information on the charges against Al-Arab. His family was not presented a memo showing the charges or order of arrest or search warrant on any of the occasions where their house was raided and searched in an attempt to arrest the boy.

    The BCHR has documented many cases where people report that they were subjected to torture and degrading treatment in the Criminal Investigation Directorate during period of enforce disappearance.

    Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other relevant international associations and human rights organizations to apply pressure on the government of Bahrain to:

    • Immediately release Ahmed Abdulla Al-Arab and all people who are arbitrarily arrested and detained in absence of legal proceedings and known charges;
    • Immediately reveal full information on the whereabouts and wellbeing of Ahmed Abdulla Al-Arab and allow him direct contact with his family and lawyer, as well as medical care if needed;
    • End the practice of enforced disappearance, and depriving arrested individuals of their right to a lawyer, and contacting their families;
    • End the practice of torture as a means to extract confessions, and to provide guarantees for the safety and security of detainees; and
    • Investigate all credible claims of torture, and hold accountable those found to be responsible for this practice, particularly the higher ranking individuals who ordered or supervised the practice.

     

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    The trial of leading opposition figure Sheikh ‘Ali Salman resumed on 22 April in Bahrain.

    The court refused requests for his release on bail and set 20 May for the next hearing.

    He is a prisoner of conscience.

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    Bahrain Center for Human Rights has started an on-line petition in support of Nabeel Rajab on a crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together. 

    Please click the link below to support the campaign.

    https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/25802-freedom-for-nabeel-rajab?locale=en

     

    Latest news about Nabeel Rajab:

    - On April 2, 2015, at 4:00 pm, over twenty police cars surrounded Mr. Rajab's house and policemen arrested him on charges of “spreading false news”. The arrest relates to a tweet from Mr. Rajab denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison . Mr. Rajab was then sent to the General Directorate of Anti Corruption Economic and Electronic Security to be interrogated.

    - On April 3, 2015, Mr. Rajab was interrogated in the presence of his lawyers by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) regarding two new charges brought against him. The first charge is “insulting a statutory body” (Article 216 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) referring to the Ministry of Interior in relation to tweets he posted denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison . The second charge is “disseminating false rumours in time of war” (Article 133 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) in relation to tweets he published about the Saudi-Arabia led coalition air strikes in Yemen. If sentenced on the second charge, Mr. Rajab could be facing up to 10 years imprisonment. Mr. Rajab refused to sign the police minutes of the investigations.

    - On April 5, 2015, the Court of Appeals held a hearing in the case against Mr. Rajab concerning “insulting statutory bodies”. Though the appeal proceedings had been closed and the verdict hearing had been scheduled for April 15, 2015, the court informed Mr. Rajab's lawyers on April 4, 2015, that the Court had decided to re-open the case after receiving from the Public Prosecution a “supplementary defence memorandum”. The court handed over a copy of that memo to Mr. Rajab's lawyers and adjourned the appeal to May, 4, 2015 in order to receive the reply to the Prosecution's memo. According to Mr. Rajab's lawyers, no new material arguments or grounds would justify the re-opening of the case.

    - On May 4, 2015, during the appeal the verdict has been postopned to May 14.

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    (Beirut) – Bahraini authorities should order an independent investigation into allegations that security forces used excessive force to quell unrest in Jaw Prison on March 10, 2015, and mistreated prisoners in the aftermath, Human Rights Watch said today. Security force members or other officials found to have used unlawful or disproportionate force should be held to account, Human Rights Watch said.


    Human Rights Watch spoke separately in mid-April by phone to three recently released Jaw Prison inmates who said they saw security forces fire teargas into prison buildings and systematically beat inmates as they cleared cells when quelling the unrest on March 10. The three alleged that following the unrest, security officials subjected prisoners, including some held on political grounds, to physical and psychological abuse and did not allow them medical treatment for their injuries, including head and leg wounds.

    “The more we learn about Bahrain’s response to the Jaw Prison unrest, the more troubling the picture becomes,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “The authorities need to allow independent medical access to the prison at once and ensure their access to building 10, where the most serious abuses are alleged to have taken place.”

    The March 10 unrest began following an altercation in the visiting room that morning between prison staff and family members visiting an inmate. One family member told Human Rights Watch that at least 10 inmates witnessed the incident.

    One of the three prisoners Human Rights Watch interviewed, who was there, said that other inmates forcibly ejected the four or five prison officers then on duty there, in building 4 of the prison, after they learned of the altercation, while other inmates forcibly ejected prison staff from buildings 1 and 6. He said that at the time, no prison officers had been in another of the prison’s 10 buildings, building 3, for two months, following an earlier altercation between staff and inmates.

    The prisoners described the use of teargas, birdshot, and beatings as riot police retook the four buildings, and said that prisoners had been moved outside for weeks, repeatedly beaten, doused with cold water, and forced to shout pro-government slogans. Some were taken to rooms where there were no closed-circuit TV cameras and beaten there, they said.

    Article 54 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states that “[o]fficers of the institutions shall not, in their relations with the prisoners, use force except in self-defence or in cases of attempted escape, or active or passive physical resistance to an order based on law or regulations. Officers who have recourse to force must use no more than is strictly necessary.…”

    Teargas can cause serious medical problems, even when it is used with restraint. As a riot control method, teargas should only be used where necessary as a proportionate response to quell violence.

    Bahrain has ratified and is bound by the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In April 2013, however, the authorities effectively cancelled the visit of the UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez. In the same year a royal decree provided for creating a Bahrain Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission, which has yet to report on conditions in Jaw Prison.

    “These allegations make it all the more necessary for the UN special rapporteur on torture to be promptly allowed into Bahrain to report on the treatment of detainees, some of whom have done nothing more than criticize the Bahraini authorities,” Stork said.

    The Former Inmates’ Accounts
    Riot police led an operation that afternoon to retake control of the four buildings, firing teargas and sound grenades at inmates of building 3 who had spilled into the open area outside the building, a former prisoner who had been held in that building said. He said riot police forced the inmates back inside, then fired teargas into the corridors, despite the enclosed space, apparently to force prisoners into their cells. Then the police entered the building and cleared the cells one by one.

    The former prisoner said that a building 3 inmate using a smuggled mobile phone had taken at least five photos that subsequently circulated on social media, including three showing injuries sustained by inmates apparently as a result of being struck by sound grenades or teargas canisters fired by police on March 10. Another shows a cloud of gas at the entrance to a prison door that has been bound with a fire hose to keep riot police from entering, supporting the claim that riot police fired teargas into the corridors.

    Two former inmates of building 4 separately described a similar pattern. They said that riot police used teargas to clear inmates from the open areas outside their buildings, then fired teargas into corridors to force inmates into their cells. One also alleged that riot police fired at least three rounds of birdshot into the cellblock corridor, seriously injuring one prisoner in the thigh. He said that riot police then entered the cellblock, dragged prisoners from their cells, and beat them in the corridor. “As soon as I left the room the beating came from all sides,” he said, adding that he was beaten for what seemed like five minutes by three or more officers.

    One of the former prisoners from building 4 said that before the riot police entered the building, some inmates had beaten two prison staff unconscious and left them in the shower area.

    All three former prisoners said that after riot police regained control of buildings 3 and 4, they forced the inmates to pass through a human corridor of officers who beat them with helmets, sticks, and even broken table legs into separate open areas outside each of the two prison buildings. All three said they had been beaten in that way.

    One former prisoner from building 4 said that prison authorities kept him and other inmates in an open area outside the building for at least three weeks, in tents erected several days after the unrest. He said that on March 25, prison authorities ordered inmates to leave one tent, five at a time, saying that a phone had been smuggled in, and made them strip to their underwear, stand for over an hour with their hands raised above their heads, and walk on their haunches in a circle while dousing them with cold water. Then, he said, officers made the inmates do exercises while chanting “A’ash a’ash ‘bu Salman” – an expression of support for Bahrain’s king.

    The former prisoner from building 3 told Human Rights Watch that prison authorities held him and other inmates from that building in the open for three days and nights surrounded by scores of riot police who forced them to crouch, stand, or dance, before erecting a tent for them. He said the police repeatedly beat the inmates and threw cold water on them, yelled sectarian insults, and forced them to chant “A’ash a’ash ‘bu Salman.” He said that officers forced some inmates to put their shoes in their mouths or shaved their heads. He said that he was injured on March 10, but received no medical attention before he was released from the prison weeks later.

    One former prisoner said he was among a group of inmates that the prison authorities ordered taken to building 10 after the unrest, some of whom the authorities accused of having “encouraged” the strike. He said that on March 16 or 17, the day after their transfer to building 10, riot police officers beat him and two other inmates from his ward in the toilet room, where there are no cameras. Officers repeatedly beat inmates in the toilet room and administration rooms, which also have no cameras, he said, and treated one inmate, Naji Fateel, “like an animal.” Fateel was among as many as 80 inmates who had not made contact with their families by early April, Human Rights Watch had reported. He was finally allowed to call his family on April 12.

    A family member of Jaffar Aoun, another who had not been allowed to contact his family, said that Aoun made a two-minute phone call to them on April 4, and told them he had been moved from building 4 to building 10, and that he had a dislocated shoulder and knee and back injuries. He did not say how he was injured or whether he had received any medical treatment.

    A family member of Ahmed Mushaima told Human Rights Watch that he has not contacted his family.

    Abduljalil al-Singace, who is held on politically motivated grounds, has been al-Qala’a hospital since April 1 after going on hunger strike on March 21. His family told Human Rights Watch that that the hunger strike was to protest the mistreatment of Jaw detainees after the March 10 unrest. Al-Singace told the family member that prisoners in buildings 1, 3, and 6 were forced to stay outside in tents, that prisoners have been forced to sing pro-government slogans, and that inmates in building 10, whom prison authorities deem responsible for the unrest, have been repeatedly beaten. He also said that since the unrest began, the 13 high-profile prisoners held on politically motivated grounds, who are kept apart from the rest of the prison population in building 7, have been made to wear the grey uniforms of criminal convicts.

     

    Read full article here.

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  • 05/06/15--03:16: Nabeel Rajab's case update
  • 12th May 2015 – The Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemns the arrest and detention of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights defender in the Kingdom of Bahrain. We call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Rajab and to drop all charges against him.

    An update regarding the latest incidents about Nabeel Rajab’s arrest and detention is shown below.

    UPDATE:

    On May 11, 2015 the Bahraini High Court extended Nabeel Rajab´s detention for 15 days.

    On May 4, 2015, the appeal verdict for his previous sentence was once again postponed to May 14, 2015. Meanwhile, on May 11, 2015, Nabeel Rajab is to appear in front of the public prosecution for his current charges, and it will be decided whether his detention should be extended or he will be released.

    On April 5, 2015, the Court of Appeals held a hearing in the case against Mr. Rajab concerning “insulting statutory bodies”. Though the appeal proceedings had been closed and the verdict hearing had been scheduled for April 15, 2015, the court informed Mr. Rajab's lawyers on April 4, 2015, that the Court had decided to re-open the case after receiving from the Public Prosecution a “supplementary defense memorandum”. The court handed over a copy of that memo to Mr. Rajab's lawyers and adjourned the appeal to May 4, 2015 in order to receive the reply to the Prosecution's memo. According to Mr. Rajab's lawyers, no new material arguments or grounds would justify the re-opening of the case.

    On April 3, 2015, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) regarding two new charges brought against him interrogated Mr. Rajab in the presence of his lawyers. The first charge is “insulting a statutory body” (Article 216 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) referring to the Ministry of Interior in relation to tweets he posted denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison. The second charge is “disseminating false rumors in time of war” (Article 133 of the Bahraini Criminal Code) in relation to tweets he published about the Saudi-Arabia led coalition air strikes in Yemen. If sentenced on the second charge, Mr. Rajab could be facing up to 10 years imprisonment.

    On April 2, 2015, at 4:00 pm, over twenty police cars surrounded Mr. Rajab's house and policemen arrested him on charges of “spreading false news”. The arrest relates to a tweet from Mr. Rajab denouncing the torture of detainees at Jaw Prison. Mr. Rajab was then sent to the General Directorate of Anti Corruption Economic and Electronic Security to be interrogated.

     

    The United States through a statement from the Department of States called on the Bahraini authorities to drop the charges against Nabeel Rajab and to release him immediately.

    Nabeel Rajab’s harassment in Bahrain infographic 

    Coverage by Media, NGOs and the International Community’s Response and Statements about Nabeel Rajab

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    The Bahrain 13 are a group of opposition leaders, rights activists, bloggers and Shi’a clerics arrested in connection with their role in the February 2011 protests. They played an influential part in the protests including mobilizing the public opinion against the government, organizing protests and shaping legitimate political demands. This month they are featured in the Champions for Justice to shed light on the escalation of prisoner abuse in Bahrain. The Bahrain 13 in particular have been subjected to mistreatment since they were first arrested in 2011, which was well documented by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. More recently, they have been separated from the rest of the prisoner population and made to wear uniforms designating them as criminal convicts, unlike other political prisoners.

    Dr. Abdujalil al-Singace is a mechanical engineer, prominent blogger, and human rights activist who has promoted human rights as a member and leader of multiple political societies. In 2011, Dr. Singace was arrested in the peaceful protest movement. Dr. Singace was subjected to torture and ill-treatment, including forced standing, verbal and sexual assault, beatings, and prolonged solitary confinement. In June 2011, he was sentenced to life in prison for allegedly plotting to topple the government. Dr. Singace continues to face deteriorating health conditions as a result of torture in addition to his previous medical ailments that have only worsened under the minimal care provided while he remains in prison. Since March 2015, he has been on a hunger strike to protest the mistreatment of Jaw prison detainees. As of April 1st, Dr. Singace has been in al-Qala’s hospital and there is serious concern of his deteriorating health.

    Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is a leading human rights defender who played a prominent role in Bahrain’s 2011 peaceful protests movement. In April 2011, government forces stormed his daughter’s apartment, severely beat him and arrested him. Al-Khawaja was sentenced by a military court to life in prison based on confessions obtained under torture. Since his arrest, Al-Khawaja has been subject to many instances of abuse from his captors and has engaged in multiple hunger strikes to protest prison conditions. The Government of Bahrain has refused to investigate these allegations and al-Khawaja has been denied adequate care since his detention, despite the fact that he is at risk of further health complications.  

    Description: HusainAbdulwahab Hussain is a philosopher and social critic with a long history of activism in Bahrain. Hussain worked as both a teacher and a social worker until he was dismissed from his posts on account of his political activities. He joined many human rights defenders in organizing the 2011 protest movement against the Bahrain government and was subsequently arrested on March 17, 2011. He and his daughter were both beaten during the arrest and Hussain was subjected to torture and mistreatment during his incarceration. Hussain has been consistently denied access to medical care while in prison, despite his suffering from a chronic neurological disorder. 

    Description: \\ADHRB3\Users\Public\Documents\ADHRB\Advocacy\Campaigns\2013\Prisoners of Conscience\5. Hassan Mushaima\HASAN_MUSHAIMA PICHassan Mushaima is a Bahraini Political activist, teacher and Secretary General of the al-Haq movement. In 2011, Mushaima was tried in absentia while receiving medical treatment in the UK for allegedly plotting a coup.  The government of Bahrain dropped their previous charges as a concession to the opposition and as a result Mushaima returned to Bahrain. However, in March 2011, in an apparent change of heart, security forces arrested Mushaima. Despite his advanced age and frail health, Mushaima was subjected to all forms of torture and ill-treatment. During his trial, he was not permitted to testify, nor was his lawyer allowed to speak in his defense. He was sentenced to a life in prison by military court. Despite the fact that his medical condition requires immediate attention, he has been denied adequate medical treatment and necessary checkups. In April 2014, Mushaima’s family announced that he was cancer free, but currently still continues to serve his life sentence in prison.

    Description: http://birdbh.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Parweez.png Sheikh Abdulhadi al-Mukhodher is a Shia cleric and prominent opposition activist. In March 2011, he was arrested and held in solitary confinement. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges including “plotting to overthrow the government” in a military court trial deemed unjust by many international human rights organizations. Al-Mukhodher was previously arrested for his participation in opposition politics in 2010. During his time in prison, authorities forbade his family from asking him about torture, looking for signs of injury under his clothing or giving him news on the situation outside. In January 2013, his final appeal was rejected, resulting in severe limits on visitations. He went on a hunger strike in February 2013 to protest the ban on visitation and his treatment in prison.

    Description: Makhdour Mohammed Hassan Jawad is a well-known, independent human rights activist, who has campaigned specifically for human rights on behalf of detainees and prisoners. He has been arrested multiple times for his relentless criticism of the Bahraini government’s human rights. In 2011, he was arrested after publically condemning the King and calling for the release of several detained human rights defenders. Mohammed has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of “conspiring to topple the regime and collaborating with terrorist organizations”. In prison, Mohammed suffers serious health issues as a result of alleged torture, including being hung by his hands and beaten with a hose, electrocution and sexual harassment.  

    Description: http://www.islamtimes.org/images/docs/000259/n00259614-b.jpgMohammed Habib al-Miqdad is a prominent Bahraini-Swedish religious leader, scholar, social activist, and president of Al-Zahra Charity Institution for Orphans. He is well-known for speaking out against injustices related to corruption, discrimination, arbitrary detention and torture. After his arrest in April 2011, al-Miqdad claims he was blindfolded, handcuffed, and repeatedly tortured by the son of the Bahraini king, Nasser Bin Hamad. In June 2011, al-Miqdad was sentenced to life in prison for inciting attacks on policemen and plotting to overthrow the Bahraini monarchical government and “establishing a terrorist organization abroad.” In 2013, he was admitted to the hospital due to severe stomach pains which lasted over a year before the Bahraini authorities allowed him treatment. Doctors confirmed that his difficulty ingesting food was a direct result of severe torture and injury to the abdomen.

    Description: http://birdbh.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Mahroos.pngSheikh Mirza al-Mahroos is a prominent religious leader and vice president of Al-Zahraa Society of Orphans. Al-Mahroos was violently beaten and arrested during an early morning house raid on 1 April 2011. Over a period of two months in prison, Al-Mahroos was allegedly subjected to daily beatings, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and humiliation. Al-Mahroos also reported that he suffered from severe pain both in his legs and his stomach that the authorities refused to provide adequate medical treatment for. Despite having the proper documentation, Al-Mahroos was not permitted to visit his wife who later died in early 2014 from a chronic disease. Al-Mahroos’ daughter, Zainab, who was born 28 days after his arrest, has been denied a passport without proper justification from the authorities. Al-Mahroos was sentenced to a 15-year prison term on charges of conspiring against the government and plotting to overthrow the regime and is currently serving his sentence in Jaw Prison.

    Description: AlkhawajaSalah al-Khawaja, brother to Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is a well-known political activist. During the uprising in 2011, he sought to document events and contact international media. In March 2011 during his arrest, he was thrown from the roof of the house on the orders of the commanding officer. While in detention, Al-Khawaja was subjected to torture and ill-treatment that included beatings, being doused with cold water, having guards spit in his mouth, as well as being forced to kiss the shoes of his interrogators. In April 2015, he and his brother were prevented from attending the funeral of their eldest brother Abdulaziz, who passed away while they were in prison. He is serving out a 5 year sentence in prison.

    Description: SharifIbrahim Sharif is a leading opposition politician and General Secretary of the Wa’ad Party. He is an advocate for peaceful and moderate reforms towards democracy and the rights of the Shia majority in Bahrain. He is known for his ideas and speeches about a range of political issues, and his loyalty to the Arab culture. In prison he has been subjected to torture, beatings, humiliation and verbal abuse. He has been routinely denied contact to his family. Following a series of unfair trials, Ibrahim is now serving five years in prison for his peaceful protests and advocacy for justice, rights, and democracy in Bahrain.

    Description: IsmaelMohammed Ali Ismael is a political activist and close relative of Abdulwahab Hussain. He was arrested on 23 March 2011 and detained for two weeks at Al Qa’lah, where was subjected to electrocution during interrogations in an attempt to extract a false confession. The interrogations took place without the presence of any legal counsel. Ismail was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison by a special military court on charges that included “collusion with a terrorist organization” and “plotting to overthrow the regime.”

    Description: AlnooriSheikh Saeed Al-Noori is a religious cleric and member of Al Wafaa. Al-Noori has been known to speak out and criticize the government on human rights violations. He was arrested on 15 August 2010 by the security forces for unspecified activities intended to “undermine security and stability in the country.” Before his arrest, he had participated in the organizing of demonstrations demanding the release of detainees and prisoners. At his hearing before the public prosecutors on 28 August 2010, Al-Noori showed signs of beatings and possible torture on his hands and feet. He stated that he had been hung by his arms, handcuffed, and beaten. Al-Noori was released on 28 February 2011, but was arrested again by security forces on 17 March 2011 during a home raid because the government viewed him as being “closely aligned with those seeking more radical changes in the power structure.” The alleged torture continued even during his second arrest and Al-Noori was sentenced to life in prison.

    Description: Muqdad2Sheikh Abduljalil Al-Miqdad is a prominent political leader and the founder of the Al Wafaa, a Shia opposition political group in Bahrain. In 2010, due to his political views, he was prohibited from leading prayers. In March 2011, he was arrested and allegedly subjected to torture including being beaten with belts, being spat on and being drenched in water.  After his arrest, he went through a humiliating three hour interrogation by an individual who identified himself as the personal representative to the King. The authorities then allegedly threatened to rape his wife if he did not apologize for his actions on camera. Sheikh Abduljalil is currently still in prison serving a life sentence.

     

    We call on the Bahrain government to investigate allegations of torture & mistreatment of the Bahrain 13 and all other prisoners. We also urge them to provide adequate medical treatment to all of those suffering from ailments as a result of this alleged mistreatment as well as any pre-existing conditions. Finally, we call for the immediate release of the Bahrain 13 from prison and all prisoners of conscience currently detained in Bahrain.

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    Dear President Obama,

    Martin Luther King linked the fight for freedom, equality, and justice for African-Americans to the struggle of people around the world face: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Today I write to you about the struggle of my people in Bahrain.

    In Bahrain, we have suffered from injustice and inequality for decades, and we’ve been fighting for our rights for even longer. The royal Al Khalifa family and their government target and suppress all voices that express the slightest opposition to their many violations against their people.

    The government authorities have constantly and systematically focused on targeting Shia Muslims. The government demolished 38 Shia mosques in 2011, they allow hate speech against Shia to go unchecked in the media, they have imprisoned thousands of Shias and continue to use excessive force against Shia protesters. Shia are not allowed in the army, or to rise to important government positions. We are treated as second-class citizens.

    The struggle and sufferings of the people of Bahrain are not unlike the struggles of African-Americans under Jim Crow-era laws, or the struggle of black South Africans under apartheid.

    Let me tell you the story of my friends in Jaw Prison, Bahrain’s largest long term sentence prison for men, where the treatment of prisoners reflects the discrimination of Shia outside the prison walls.

    On 10 March at Jaw, hundreds of Shia men and children were subjected to collective beatings, torture, and starvation. Prisoners used smuggled phones to upload photos of their torture to social media. Guards attacked the Shia prisoners and mocked their sect. The guards deprived them of practicing their beliefs and performing prayers. Some families have not heard from their imprisoned loved ones for weeks.

    In addition, the authorities prosecute anyone who dares to report these crimes. Most recently, they arrested my colleague, prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. He faces up to 10 years in prison for posting tweets about these and other human rights violations. The torture and abuse is continuing as I write. Unfortunately, no one seems to be able to stop it or even care.

    Despite of this discrimination, we aim to achieve equality, freedom, and democracy, which we deserve as much as any other people. We believe in Martin Luther King’s words, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” To take Dr. King’s words for Bahrain: “Our goal is freedom, [we] believe we are going to get there because however much she strays away from it, the goal of [Bahrain] is freedom.”

    We urge you to walk in the steps of US rights champion Martin Luther King and support our struggle. Be the voice of the people of Bahrain when you meet our crown prince.

    Sincerely,

    Sayed Yousif AlMahafdah
    Human rights defender and a former political detainee in Bahrain
    Vice President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    @saidyousif

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