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    First, “a Bahraini court ordered the suspension of all activities by Al-Wefaq, the island-nation’s largest opposition party. The Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry, which asked the court to issue the order, said Al-Wefaq’s shuttering was needed to “safeguard the security of the kingdom.”

    Second, “Bahraini authorities arrested prominent activist Nabeel Rajab at his home during the early hours of the morning of Monday, June 13. Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the founder of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, and he has reportedly been charged with ‘spreading false news.’”

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) strongly condemns the public prosecution’s renewal of BCHR’s president Nabeel Rajab’s sentence. Today, Rajab was remanded for an additional eight days in detention, pending investigation over charges related directly to his right to exercise free expression.

    Leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Deputy Secretary General of FIDH, was arrested on 13 June 13 2016 in the early hours of the morning without any immediate disclosure of a reason why. He was held at Riffa police station without any direct access to his lawyer, and he was not informed of his charges until the following day. On 14 June 2016, Rajab was brought to the public prosecution, where he was officially charged with "spreading false news and rumours about the internal situation in a bid to discredit Bahrain". This charge was in relation to statements he gave during past television interviews in early 2015 and 2016. The public prosecution remanded him to seven days in detention pending investigation.

    Since the arrest, BCHR has received information that Nabeel Rajab is enduring poor conditions and ill-treatment in his continuing pre-trial detention. He is currently detained in solitary confinement at the Riffa police station in a cell that is locked at all times, unlike those of other prisoners’. He is not allowed contact with anyone. Moreover, the living conditions in his cell are unsanitary and degrading. During their first visit, his family was allowed to spend only 15 minutes with him, under the strict and close supervision of a police officer. Based on information reported by his family, Rajab is being deprived of basic privileges.

    The arrest of Nabeel Rajab was widely condemned by international human rights bodies and governments, including the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who said that “such actions by the State authorities could potentially damage the human rights situation in the country.” In addition the United States, France and Germany have raised concerns while the United Kingdom has thus far stated that it is “seeking to establish the facts”. In addition, the Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) has condemned the arrest and called the Bahraini authoritiesto put an end to the persecution of human rights defenders in the country and to unconditionally and without further delay release Nabeel Rajab". Today, the office of the high commissioner stated issued a statement mentioning the case of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and other recent alarming issues in Bahrain.

     

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the Bahraini government to:

    • Immediately and unconditionally release Nabeel Rajab,  and all persons arrested and sent to prison for merely peacefully exercising their right to freedom of speech and expression;
    • Abide by international legislation upholding the right to freedom of expression, without any restrictions or arbitrary legal procedures;
    • End the politically-based retaliation against Nabeel Rajab-  and other human rights defenders, activists and social media users who peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech;
    • Invite, and allow entrance to Bahrain, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression (and)
    • Repeal all legal restrictions on civil society.
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    Amnesty International and the European Parliament have independently called on Bahrain to free prominent human rights defender and activist Nabeel Rajab, insisting charges against him be dropped and calling his detention "a shameless attack" on free speech. "Bahraini authorities must immediately release human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and drop all charges against him," Amnesty International said in its statement  on Friday, denouncing what the organization called Bahrain’s "barefaced assault on freedom of expression."

    Read the entire article here.

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    Six weeks ago the Bahrain launched a new, surprising, wave of repression, and the kingdom’s few remaining voices of dissent have now largely been silenced.

    Since May 30 the main opposition group Al Wefaq has been suspended, its leader Sheikh Ali Salman has had his jail sentence increased from four to nine years, activists have been prevented from attending the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister lashed out angrily at senior U.N. and U.S. officials, leading dissident Zainab al Khawaja was forced out the country, and prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was arrested and taken into custody.

    It’s time for President Obama to take a series of steps to reverse the dangerous decline. At the very least he should distance his administration from the crackdown. Here are four things President Obama can do immediately to take a stand on Bahrain:

    Read the full article here.

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    Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today urged the government of Bahrain to drop all charges against and immediately release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. The organization also urged the U.S. ambassador to Bahrain, William Roebuck, to attend in person Rajab’s hearing tomorrow, where a Bahraini court will consider charges related to his tweets and retweets critical of Bahrain’s treatment of prisoners and the Saudi-led war in Yemen. This unfounded prosecution constitutes a serious attack on freedom of expression in Bahrain, and occurs against the backdrop of a worsening crackdown on civil society and political dissent.

    Read the entire article here.

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    12 July 2016 - The High Criminal Court today postponed the trial of prominent Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab, President of Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), to 2 August 2016. The judge refused his lawyers’ request of release, thus he will remain detained pending his trial. The undersigned NGOs strongly condemn the persecution of Rajab and extension of his detention. We call on the government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release Rajab, and respect his human rights in detention.

    Rajab appeared before the court on charges of “insulting a statutory body”, “insulting a neighboring country”, and “disseminating false rumors in time of war”. These are in relation to remarks he tweeted and retweeted on his Twitter handler in 2015 about credible allegation of torture at Jau prison and the Saudi-led war in Yemen. He may face more than 10 years in prison if convicted, for which he was already detained from 2 April to 13 July 2015. Despite the charges having first been made over a year ago, today’s court hearing was Rajab’s first for this case.

    Since his arrest on 13 June 2016 on separate charges, Rajab has been detained in solitary confinement with no contact with other prisoners and in very poor conditions. He is currently being detained at West Riffa police station. He is being denied the minimum standards of the treatment of prisoners, which has been the cause for deterioration of his health, including the loss of 8 kgs since his arrest.

    Rajab’s lawyer states that he is being subjected to harassment in detention. His right to privacy is not respected during visits: all visits are under close monitoring by two police officers, who sit close to the family. Concerns over his deteriorating health is growing. His family, who saw him today, say he looked pale and seemed to have lost more weight since their last visit on 5 July.

    On 28 June 2016, after two weeks in solitary confinement, Rajab’s health deteriorated and he was transferred by ambulance to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) in Bahrain Defense Hospital after he suffered from irregular heartbeats. On 29 June 2016, the authorities transported Rajab back to the police station although his health was reportedly still unstable. Rajab suffers from additional illnesses that are only worsened due to his detention conditions. His blood tests have shown that he suffers from a urinary tract infection and low mononucleosis, and he’s awaiting the results of more blood tests. Rajab needs to have two different surgical operations, to treat gallstones and an enlarged gallbladder. He also suffers from enlarged prostate. There is a high risk of further deterioration of his physical and mental health due to prolonged periods of solitary detention.

    On 13 June 2016, the authorities arrested Rajab and charged him with “publishing and broadcasting false news that undermines the prestige of the state.” These charges were brought against him in relation to three televised interviews in 2015 and 2016 in which he mainly discussed the human rights situation and violations committed by Bahraini security forces. It’s not clear if Bahrain government plans to move forward with another trial on these charges, which are separate from the current trial.

    The arrest of Rajab, who is also Founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Deputy Secretary General of FIDH, was widely condemned in June by international human rights bodies and governments, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who said that “such actions by the State authorities could potentially damage the human rights situation in the country.” In addition the United States, France and Germany have raised concerns.

    The Office of the UN High Commissioner issued a statement mentioning the case of Rajab and other recent alarming issues in Bahrain, while the Human Rights Commission of the US Congress expressed concern about Rajab’s health during detention. Most recently, in July, members of the European Parliament demanded the release of Rajab in their open letter addressed to High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The European Parliament reiterated its demands for the release of Rajab and its condemnation of the widespread campaign against human rights and political activists in Bahrain.

    We, the undersigned, calls on the international community to press further for Rajab’s basic human rights to be respected, including to protect his health, and to publicly and clearly call for his immediate and unconditional release; and for an end to the government of Bahrain’s reprisals against human rights defenders.

    For more information on Nabeel Rajab, please visit this page, and for any further developments on his case please visit this page as it is regularly updated with the latest information.

     

    Signed:

        Bahrain Center for Human Rights

        Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

        Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

        European Center for Democracy and Human Rights

        Justice Human Rights Organisation

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  • 07/13/16--01:26: Crackdown In Bahrain
  • Baba, sumoud!” (“Daddy, stay steadfast!”)

    Ten-year old Malak Rajab called out these words as Bahraini police led her father, prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, from his home to waiting police vehicles in July 2012. His crime: insulting the Prime Minister in a tweet.

    I filmed Rajab and his young daughter in their front yard from the upstairs window of their house; I had to film clandestinely, as I had entered the country under false pretenses—Bahrain was denying entry to nearly all journalists and human rights defenders. But I captured the girl’s defiant resistance as she trailed after the police who had her father in tow.Later that day, I witnessed her fear as the reality settled in: she did not know when her father would come home.

    Read the full article here.

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    According to the information received, on July 12, 2016, the request for release filed by Mr. Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers was dismissed by the judge. Mr. Rajab remains in detention pending the next hearing.

    Mr. Rajab had been notified of today’s hearing on June 26, 2016. This hearing is part of a case over two charges related to statements he made on Twitter in 2015 about conditions of detention in Jaw prison and the war in Yemen. He may face up to 10 years of prison if convicted in that case, for which he has been already detained from April 2 to July 13, 2015.

    Meanwhile, investigations are ongoing in another case for which he was rearrested on June 13, 2016. Mr. Rajab is currently heldin solitary confinement at West Riffa police station. Over the past month, his health has drastically deteriorated while in detention (see background information). His family, who saw him today, reported that he was looking pale and seemed to have lost more weight since they last saw him on July 5, 2016.

    Read the entire article here.

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    12 July 2016 – On 20 June, Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior revoked the nationality of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s Shia community, rendering him stateless. In response, hundreds of demonstrators began a peaceful sit-in around Sheikh Qassim’s home in the village of Duraz, where he also preaches. Since then, the authorities have subjected Duraz to an unprecedented lockdown, in what is a form of collective punishment against the entire village. The government’s action violates the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, assembly, and movement for all the residents of Duraz and their families.

    Duraz is located in the north west of the main island. To its west is Budaiya and to its east is Barbar. Its south side faces onto the major Budaiya Highway, and on the other side are the villages of Bani Jamra and Saar. Duraz has an estimated population of 20-30,000 people.

    Restrictions of Free Movement

    In the days after the government’s decision to denaturalize Sheikh Isa Qassim, rendering him stateless, police established blockades closing off most of the roads leading into and out of Duraz. All major and minor entrances have been sealed off, and there are now only two entrances to Duraz. One is on Budaiya Highway and the other is the entrance to Saar from Barbar. The others are currently blocked with concrete slabs, sandbags, police cars, and barbed wire. At the two entrances left opened, there are queues to enter and leave which can take anywhere between 15 and 60 minutes to pass through.

    A variety of different security officials staff the checkpoints. Personnel at checkpoints include Public Security officers, traffic police, plain-clothes officers, and community police.

    Only persons with a Duraz address on their ID can enter the village. Reportedly, if a car containing a mix of residents and non-residents of Duraz tries to enter the village, police will only allow it through if the non-residents leave the vehicle.

    This restrictions on free movement intensified during Eid Al-Fitr, the celebration at the end of Ramadan, on 5-6 July. Families were not able to visit relatives resident in Duraz, and many were unable to participate in celebrations. The Abu Subh beach park, located in Duraz and typically busy during Eid, was virtually empty.

    The blockade is impacting the local economy significantly. Local businesses in Duraz have reported to local newspaper Al Wasat that customers and sales are down by as much as 90% in shops, salons and supermarkets, as regular non-Duraz customers can no longer visit.

    The government’s restrictions on entry and exit in Duraz collectively punish all residents of the village, as well as those with family in Duraz. As a result of these repressive measures, relatives, friends, and co-workers cannot visit each other freely. This is in violation of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which protect the freedom of movement and assembly.

    Restriction of Internet

    All major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – including the three largest, Batelco, Zain, and Viva – have enforced a daily internet blackout between 7:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. since 20 June. While the exact time when the blackout occurs varies day-to-day, it is always for those approximate hours. According to a Batelco customer that has spoken with BIRD, customer support reported that the blackouts are due to an unidentified “fault.”

    The blackouts affect not only Duraz but also the surrounding villages. Bani Jamra, Saar, Barbar and Budaiya have all experienced the blackouts to varying degrees.

    Additionally, the blackouts have had negatively impacted the village’s businesses. E-commerce traders and consumers, IT professionals, and office workers in and around Duraz cannot engage in their regular work activities. Shopkeepers’ card machines are rendered useless, as they use internet connections to process payments, and transactions can only be made by cash, potentially limiting customers.

    The UN considers access to internet to be part of our protected right to freedom of opinion and expression, and describes internet restrictions such as those imposed on Duraz to be “impermissible.”

    We, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn the collective punishment of an entire community following the Government of Bahrain’s unjust decision to render Sheikh Isa Qassim stateless. We call on the Government of Bahrain to:

    • End immediately the blockade of Duraz, allowing freedom of movement for all persons wishing to enter and leave the village.
    • End immediately the nightly internet blackouts, and allow people to freely express themselves online
    • End immediately all restrictions on the freedoms of assembly and association in Duraz and allow people to peacefully express their opinion.
    • Reinstate the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qassim and that of all people revoked of citizenship unfairly.

    Signed,

    • Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy
    • Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
    • Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    • European Center for Rights and Democracy
    • Justice Human Rights Organisation
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    After a border official stopped him leaving Bahrain last week, citing a security order, Mohammed al-Tajer said he checked with the departments in charge of passports and investigations and was told no travel ban was in place.

    The 50-year-old lawyer, who had been planning a short visit to Saudi Arabia, was not surprised. He had joined a growing list of people confined to their country as part of what rights groups describe as an attempt to crush the opposition.

    Tajer said some people found out when they headed to the airport last month to fly to Geneva to attend a meeting by the U.N. Human Rights Council. Others were informed when they tried to cross the King Fahd Causeway to Saudi Arabia last week.

    "There are 17 of us -- some of them are not rights activists or well known figures," Tajer, who has defended prominent Bahraini opposition activists, told Reuters.

    Read the full article here.

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    After a court extended Bahrain Centre for Human Rights president Nabeel Rajab’s detention in connection with some tweets for another three weeks yesterday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its condemnation of Bahrain’s constant obstruction of freedom of information and its repeated harassment of journalists and bloggers.

    Read the full article here.

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    14 July 2016 - The Government of Bahrain is targeting public sector employees found in photos and videos of sit-ins with arrest and further punishment. We, the undersigned NGOs, condemn the return of this practice, which violates people’s right to assembly.

    On 12 July 2016, Ali Abdulraheem, an official at the state Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), was summoned for interrogation at the Public Prosecution for participating at the open-ended sit-in at Diraz. Abdulraheem was subsequently arrested and remanded to 15 days in detention. The arrest of Abdulraheem comes after his photo was circulated through pro-government social media channels and groups calling for his arrest. In addition, a parliament member incited against him and demanded his arrest. He then congratulated his followers shortly after Abdulraheem’s arrest.

    “PM Jamal Abuhasan: Good news to Bahrain’s loyalists. With Grace of God, the official in LMRA, who participated in the unlawful sit-in, was arrested. #Bahrain”

     

    “A new joke under the sight of the government. An official in @lmrabh participate in an illegal gathering in front of the house of the terrorist #Isa_Qasim”

     

    Since 20 June 2016, thousands of citizens have been gathering at a peaceful sit-in in Diraz around the house of Shia spiritual leader Sheikh Issa Qassim, whose citizenship was revoked that day. After the sit-in began, many pro-government social media accounts have started to call for individuals to publish the photos of the protesters so they can be identified and consequently punished, including imprisonment, cutting their government services such as housing, and suspending them from their jobs, among other penalties. Reminiscent of the mass and widespread “witch hunt” of 2011, several Twitter handlers, some with thousands of followers, have started identifying protesters, publishing their photos, and calling them traitors.

     

    “Brothers/ Sister, please provide us with photos of individuals (protesters) in Diraz? We will expose those traitors, whether they’re businessmen or employees! Their punishment will be harsh. #Bahrain”

    “Whoever violates the country’s laws and stages sectarian protests must be punished and deprived of his privileges! Starting with housing, scholarships, and governmental jobs.”

     

     

    “The government should take photos of all the protesters [participating in the sit-in] in front of the house of the terrorist, get their details, and then cancel their housing requests, if they have any.”

     

    “From the house of Isa. I wonder how many [of the protesters] work for the government, and how many will be granted a house [by the government] soon. Have shame and patriotism.”

     

    In 2011, a similar “witch hunt” practice was observed and documented by the BICI, which concluded in paragraph 1637 of its report that some twitter accounts have targeted anti-government protesters, disclosed their whereabouts and personal details, and openly harassed, threatened and defamed certain individuals. Many of those individuals were later arrested and tortured by the government. The BICI has considered such online harassment to be in violation of the right to privacy while amounting to hate speech and incitement to violence. However, since 2011, no one who has participated in these campaigns has faced any consequences.

    We consider the government’s arrest and prosecution of Ali Abdulraheem and any other citizen for merely participating in a peaceful protest as a violation of the right to freedom of expression and assembly. We additionally express our grave concern over the mass targeting of peaceful protesters at the sit-in.

    We, the undersigned, call on the Government of Bahrain to respect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, immediately release Ali Abdeulraheem and all individuals arrested for merely practicing these rights, and to end the electronic hate campaign that is clearly intended to silence dissent and which is supported by the authorities without consequence.

     

    Signatories,

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

    European Center for Democracy and Human Rights

    Justice Human Rights Organisation

     

     

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    Today, 17 July 2016, the Bahrain High Civil Court ordered the dissolution of the largest opposition political society in the country, Al-Wefaq Political Society, and the liquidation of its assets. We, the undersigned NGOs, strongly condemn the escalation of the Bahraini government’s attacks on political societies, and its repressive acts against all forms of peaceful dissent.

    On 14 June 2016, Bahraini authorities ordered that Al-Wefaq Society be suspended, and then froze all its assets, halted all of its activities, and closed its headquarters following the Ministry of Justice’s request to the High Civil Court for an emergency order to shutdown the society. The court decision, and the execution of this order was quickly made and the society’s headquarters were sieged and closed, and its website was blocked throughout Bahrain. Although the court had set 6 October 2016, as the commencement of the case to dissolve Al-Wefaq, the hearing was brought forward to 23 June 2016, based on the Ministry of Justice’s request. The court twice moved the hearings to earlier dates than previously scheduled.

    On 28 June 2016, the defense team decided to withdraw and submitted a letter to the court stating that “in light of the court's decision to postpone the hearing to 4 July 2016 for our response; and while not permitting us to enter the headquarters of Al-Wefaq to get the necessary documents to prepare our defense and support it with documents; the defense team believes that it is impossible to carry out its work legally and professionally, due to the very short deadline and the refusal of allowing access to those documents.” (Find a copy of Al-Wefaq’s defense letter to court here.)

    The court accused Al-Wefaq with allegedly supporting violence, expressing its “solidarity with suspects convicted of instigating hatred of the political regime,” “calling for a coup d'état and demeaning the judiciary and executive bodies,” and calling for “demonstrations and sit-ins that could lead to sectarian strife in the country.”

    Despite the prevention of proper, or even adequate, legal representation, and the refusal of access to important documents to form defense pleading, today, 17 July 2016, the Bahraini judiciary took the decision to irrevocably dissolve Al-Wefaq and liquidate its assets after just one month since its closure.

    The suspension of Al-Wefaq Society in June was widely condemned by international human rights bodies and governments. Most recently, on 7 July 2016, the European Parliament adopted - with a large majority - a resolution condemning recent human rights abuses by Bahraini authorities, and strongly called for an end to the ongoing repression against the country’s human rights defenders, political opposition and civil society. In this resolution, MEPs stated that “free expression of legitimate and peaceful grievances must be allowed; notes with concern the Bahraini Government’s suppression of legitimate political opposition, including the extension of Sheikh Ali Salman’s sentence, the suspension of the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society and the freezing of its assets; calls for greater basic freedoms for all Bahraini citizens; insists on an immediate halt to the suppression of different political opinions in the country and the repression of their leading representatives, regardless of their political or religious affiliation.”

    This and other recent actions taken by the government of Bahrain are gravely concerning. Yesterday, 16 July 2016, the authorities announced the referral of Shia spiritual leader Sheikh Isa Qasim, and other religious figures, to court in order to be prosecuted over charges relating to their freedom of religion – essentially they’re being tried for practicing one of Shia’s main religious duties. This comes following the Ministry of Social Development’s closure of Al-Risala Islamic Society and the Islamic Enlightenment Society. Significantly, these were the two remaining bastions of the Shia Muslim community in Bahrain.

    On 20 June 2016, Sheikh Isa Qasim had his citizenship revoked, and reportedly is being threatened with forcible deportation. Last month, the Bahraini King promulgated a bill amending the 2005 Political Societies Law, placing a ban on participation in political decision-making based on discriminatory religious grounds. Furthermore, the court’s sentence against Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary-General of Al-Wefaq Society, was doubled to nine years’ imprisonment.

    Therefore, we, the undersigned NGOs, call upon the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union to denounce the government of Bahrain’s actions, immediately suspend arms sales to Bahrain, and to urge it to call off the decision to dissolve Al-Wefaq Society, and to respect the rights to freedom of association.

     

    Signatories:

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

    Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

    European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)

    Justice Human Rights Organization (JHRO)

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    Update: More HRDs and Civil Society Members Banned from Travel

     

    The list of travel bans imposed on human rights defenders and civil society members has doubled. BCHR has now documented 25 cases of travel bans, 23 of which have been imposed since June 2016. This violates the rights of those individuals to freedom of movement according to Bahrain’s own Constitution. The list is believed to be longer – however, individuals cannot find out they’re banned from traveling until they attempt to leave the country.

     

    4 July 2016

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its grave concern over the ongoing crackdown on human rights and on fundamental freedoms unfolding in Bahrain. Moreover, BCHR is alarmed over the increase of travel bans imposed on human rights defenders and other members of civil society, a practice used by the government of Bahrain to prevent international exposure of human rights violations.

    In the month of June 2016 only, BCHR documented 14 cases of Bahraini human rights defenders and civil society members who were banned from leaving the country, including the case of at least six individuals who were blocked from boarding their flights to Geneva on 12 June 2016 to attend the 32nd Session of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Nor were they permitted to leave the country by land.

    The detained human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, BCHR’s President, has been on travel ban since November 2014. Before his arrest and detention on 13 June 2016, Rajab was not allowed to leave the country - in a clear attempt to hinder his human right activism. The travel ban also restricted his ability to accompany his wife Sumaya Rajab, who needed medical attention abroad. Currently, Rajab is detained over charges in violation of his right to free expression (read more here: Updates on the Arrest and Detention of Nabeel Rajab.)

    Since August 2015, the authorities have been holding the passport of Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman, a well-known interfaith leader and human rights advocate. Al-Salman was selected from over 500 applicants to participate in the 2016 Draper Hills Summer Fellowship Program at Stanford University, which stated the selection was “based on the significant contributions that he has made to build more tolerant societies to counter violence and extremism in the Middle East.” The University called on the authorities to lift the travel ban on him.

    On 29 June 2016, journalist and torture survivor Nazeeha Saeed was informed that she was banned from traveling by Bahrain International Airport officials. She further enquired with the relevant authorities, who denied that there was a travel ban imposed on her. However, when she tried leaving the country again through King Fahd Causeway, she was again prevented from traveling. Similarly, human rights defender Ayat Al-Saffar tried to travel through the King Fahd causeway but she was informed that there was a travel ban imposed on her.

    On 18 June 2016, the human rights defender and member of Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO) Abdulnabi Al-Ekry was also notified of a travel ban imposed on him, as he was leaving to Paris via Sharja, UAE. Al-Ekri too was not notified of the reasons. His lawyer submitted an official letter to the authorities requesting clarification; however, two weeks later, no response has been provided yet.

    On 19 June, the Bahraini authorities prevented Sayed Saeed from joining the Bahraini human rights delegation going to Geneva. Saeed is the father of 15-year-old Sayed Hashimi, reportedly shot and killed by a teargas canister at the hands of Bahraini riot police back in 2011.

    Prior to and during the UNHRC 32, Bahraini authorities imposed travel bans on human rights defenders and civil society members who intended to participate in the Council. The list included Hussain Radhi of BCHR, Ebtisam Al-Saegh of Salam for Human Rights and Democracy, unionist and activist Ebrahim Al-Demistani, the parents of the victim of extrajudicial killing Ali Mashaima, and the father of the victim of authorities’ use of force Sayed Hashim, in addition to one more activist who preferred to remain unnamed.

    On 13 June, Jalila Al-Salman, the vice president of the dissolved Bahrain Teachers Society and member of BHRO, was on her way to participate in the Arthur Svensson Prize ceremony in Oslo, where she was scheduled to receive the prize for her union activism and commitment to human rights issues.

    On 8 June, Dr. Taha Al-Derazi, a former political prisoner and activist, was denied permission to travel to the United Kingdom together with his wife, and no information was provided as to the reasons behind the travel ban. Dr. Al-Derazi had participated in the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council back in 2015, and it is believed that the travel interdiction was meant to prevent him from participating in the 32nd UNHRC taking place in Geneva, starting on 13 June.

    Freedom of movement is a right preserved by international human rights laws, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of which Bahrain is a signatory. Placing a travel ban on human rights defenders and others is in direct violation to Article 12(1), which states that “everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.” The constitution of Bahrain guarantee the same. It states in Article 19 that “No person shall be arrested, detained, imprisoned, searched or compelled to reside in a specified place, nor shall the residence of any person or his liberty to choose his place of residence or his liberty of movement be restricted, except in accordance with the law and under the supervision of the judicial authorities.”

     

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

    • immediately and unconditionally lift the ban imposed on human rights defenders and other members of civil society;
    • guarantee the right to freedom of movement to all; and
    • provide space to human rights defenders and journalists to carry out their work without retaliation or reprisal.

     

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    The United States is deeply concerned by the decision of a Bahraini court to dissolve the opposition Al Wefaq political society and liquidate its assets. This ruling is the latest in a series of disconcerting steps in Bahrain, including the Government of Bahrain's revocation of Sheikh Isa Qassem’s citizenship and the arrest of human rights activist Nabil Rajab.

    We call on the Government of Bahrain to reverse these and other recent measures, return urgently to the path of reconciliation, and work collectively to address the aspirations of all Bahrainis. This is the best way to marginalize those who support violence, and bring greater security and stability to the region. For our part, the United States will continue to support steps by all sides to advance a political dialogue.

    Read full article here

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    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- A court in Bahrain ordered the country's main Shiite opposition group to be dissolved on Sunday, deepening a crackdown on dissent in the strategically important Western-allied kingdom.

    The order against al-Wefaq marks one of the sharpest blows yet against civil society activists in the Sunni-ruled island nation, which was rocked by widespread protests led by its Shiite majority demanding political reforms five years ago.

    Al-Wefaq is one of Bahrain's so-called "political societies," which are allowed under laws that technically forbid political parties. Its candidates claimed the largest share of seats in parliamentary elections in 2006 and 2010, though it fell short of securing a majority in either.

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    Today a Bahraini court dissolved the country's largest opposition group. The move is a sledgehammer in the face of Bahrain's already frail politics, smashing any residual hope that the solution to the kingdom’s crisis could be negotiated

    The Bahraini regime has now deliberately left itself with no partner to join in a political dialogue, and closed off the last real remaining way for people to voice their discontent peacefully. It’s a reckless move, and does nothing more than offer encouragement to those who are pushing for violent attacks against the government.

    Today’s decision wasn’t a surprise but was still a shock—it's the government’s single most repressive act in five years, and the culmination of a more than a month of intense crackdown designed to choke all remaining voices of dissent. It also represents a major challenge to other governments, which cannot ignore the severity or significance of this move.

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    With the 25th European Union-Gulf Cooperation Council (EU-GCC) Ministerial meeting set to take place in Brussels on 18 July 2016, we, the undersigned organisations, call on Ms Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as the ministers of EU member states, to raise a number of pressing human rights issues with the representatives of the GCC countries. In particular, we urge High Representative Mogherini and the EU ministers to call for an end to the Bahraini government’s intensified suppression of civil society and political opposition. We further urge the ministers to raise their concerns following the UN Secretary General’s decision to remove the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen from a UN register of children’s rights violators, after the regime and its coalition partners threatened to cut off crucial funding.

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    The Bahraini authorities have stepped up their pressure on Nazeeha Saeed, the France24 correspondent who was detained and tortured 2011.

    She has been prosecuted for “illegal reporting” on behalf of foreign media in what appears to be a renewed crackdown on free expression.

    Saeed was called to the public prosecutor’s office yesterday (17 July) and charged under a press law that prohibits Bahrainis from working for foreign media outlets without a licence.

    In May 2011, Saeed was tortured by police for reporting on the events of the Arab Spring in Bahrain. In November 2015, Bahrain’s authorities decided not to prosecute her torturers. To mark that year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the press freedom watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, renamed the Parisian street where the Bahraini embassy is located as Rue Nazeeha Saeed.

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    18 July 2016 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today deplores the dissolution of the main opposition political party in Bahrain, Al-Wefaq, and called for the resumption of an all-inclusive national dialogue aimed at peace and stability in the country and the region.

    In today's statement, Mr. Ban stressed that the dissolution of Al-Wefaq, similarly to other actions taken in the country – such as stripping Sheikh Issa Qassem and others of citizenship, a travel ban on human rights defenders, and the increased sentence for the Secretary-General of Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Ali Salman – risk escalating an already tense situation in the country.

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    Read full statement here

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