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- 11/21/16--01:39: _Amnesty: UK 'utterl...
- 11/23/16--02:29: _Amnesty slams UK fo...
- 11/23/16--02:39: _UK gov't urged to c...
- 11/23/16--02:49: _Video: UK MP Margar...
- 11/24/16--00:59: _Bahrain foreign min...
- 11/24/16--02:15: _Prominent Activist ...
- 11/24/16--02:27: _Ayatollah Qassim’s ...
- 11/24/16--02:37: _Bahrain drops charg...
- 11/25/16--09:37: _Bahrain Continues T...
- 11/28/16--01:31: _To silence dissiden...
- 11/28/16--03:06: _Sayed Alawi Forcibl...
- 11/28/16--08:12: _Bahrain Must Cease ...
- 11/29/16--00:58: _35 Days Following h...
- 11/30/16--01:48: _Good News! - Charge...
- 12/01/16--02:43: _Bahrain: Human Righ...
- 12/01/16--03:02: _Sports journalist j...
- 12/03/16--03:18: _NGOs Urges UK PM to...
- 12/05/16--01:56: _Attacks on Civil So...
- 12/05/16--02:15: _May acknowledges hu...
- 12/05/16--02:24: _Bahrain upholds dea...
- 11/21/16--01:39: Amnesty: UK 'utterly disingenuous' about human rights in Bahrain
- 11/23/16--02:29: Amnesty slams UK for whitewashing Bahrain human rights abuses
- 11/23/16--02:39: UK gov't urged to call for release of Bahraini activist
- Immediately and unconditionally release Ghada Jamsheer, and all other women jailed for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression;
- End the politically-based targeting of women human rights defenders in Bahrain; and
- Abide by international human rights standards.
- 11/28/16--01:31: To silence dissidents, Gulf states are revoking their citizenship
- Immediately and unconditionally release Faisal Hayyat, Nabeel Rajab, and all internet users arrested and imprisoned for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression; and
- Abide by international human rights standards, including the ICCPR and UDHR, by upholding the right to freedom of expression without any restrictions.
- 11/30/16--01:48: Good News! - Charges Dropped, Ebrahim Sharif Remains Free
- 12/01/16--02:43: Bahrain: Human Rights Lawyer Charged
- 12/01/16--03:02: Sports journalist jailed for three months in Bahrain over a tweet
- 12/05/16--01:56: Attacks on Civil Society - BCHR Event in Berlin on 8 December
- 12/05/16--02:15: May acknowledges human rights issues in seeking Gulf trade deal
- 12/05/16--02:24: Bahrain upholds death penalties over bomb attack on police
British ministers have acted like overexcited cheerleaders for Bahrain’s woefully inadequate human rights reforms, Amnesty International has said, ahead of an expected visit next month by Theresa May on the sidelines of the annual Gulf Cooperation Council summit.
Ministers ought to be confronting the awkward reality that the institutions set up in Bahrain with UK support “are seriously flawed and widely seen as a PR exercises”, Amnesty said.
Read the full article here.
In a 55-page report which was published yesterday, the human right’s organisation has accused the British government of attempting to distemper human rights abuses in Bahrain by “cheerleading” the Bahraini government’s “woefully inadequate reforms”.
“Amnesty International has documented serious human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment and excessive use of force by security forces with little accountability. The government has continued to severely restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, to imprison critics and opponents as prisoners of conscience,” the report said.
Read full article here:
The UK government should call for the release of a prominent Bahraini political activist who was charged with “inciting hatred of the political system” after he criticiced the recent visit to the Gulf kingdom by Britain’s Prince Charles, a rights group has said.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement that Ebrahim Sharif, former leader of the National Democratic Action Society, could face a prison term of up to three years, adding that it is a "clear violation of his right to free expression".
Sharif, whom authorities released pending trial, told Human Rights Watch that officers from the Cyber Crime Directorate called him in for questioning on the morning of November 13. He said they questioned him about his comments in the Associated Press article, after which a public prosecutor charged him with violating article 165 of Bahrain’s penal code.
Read full article here:
Bahrain Mirror: UK Member of Parliament Margaret Farrier said that she, in addition to other MPs, are working on establishing a human rights parliamentary group concerned with human rights affairs in the Gulf. She clarified that she is "just waiting for the confirmation that I can go ahead" and launch its work.
In an exclusive interview with Lualua TV (Saturday November 19, 2016), MP Farrier said that the group is "an all-party parliamentary group on democracy and human rights in the Gulf". She added, "As the name suggests, I reached out to other member of parliament from all parties and so we got together, and it's basically to discuss these issues of human rights abuses and the revocation of citizenship in some of the Gulf countries as well.""We're just at the very beginning but hopefully in the next few weeks we'll have our first meeting and being together some NGOs and some good speakers," she went on to say.
Read full article here
Bahrain's foreign ministry rejected on Wednesday the findings of an Amnesty International report published this week, which said torture and other forms of ill-treatment persist in the Gulf kingdom.
Read full article here.
Adam Nabeel Rajab, the son of Bahraini prominent activist Nabeel Rajab, said that his father has been transferred to the hospital due to heart problems, after spending 3 years in solitary confinement in prison.
Read the full article here.
The Fourth High Criminal Court adjourned the trial of the Shiite majority spiritual leader, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim until December 4, to hear the defense witnesses and plea.
Read the full article here.
He was charged with “inciting hatred” against the Gulf monarchy’s rulers, and therefore facing a possible three-year jail sentence.
Now I’m delighted to report that the charges against him have been dropped, according to a tweet issued by Bahrain’s UK embassy.
Read the full article here.
Marking the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses grave concerns over the continued targeting of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Bahrain. In the past few weeks, BCHR has noticed a rise in the number of women who have been summoned for interrogation over vague charges all relating to “illegal assembly”, jailed, or banned from leaving Bahrain. In line with BCHR’s WHRD campaign on twitter, we strictly condemn this pattern of targeting women human rights defenders.
On 15 November 2016, Nedal Al-Salman, Head of International Relations and Women and Children Advocacy at BCHR, was interrogated on charges of “illegal assembly,” after being summoned by the Public Prosecution. Additionally, Enas Oun, Head of BCHR’s Monitoring and Documentation Section, was summoned on 13 November 2016 and accused of organizing an assembly on 20 June 2016 in the Al-Dair area, around 11:45 pm. Both have been subsequently released. It is not the first time that Nedal Al-Salman and Enas Oun have been targeted for their human rights work. On 29 August 2016, when Al-Salman was about to travel to Geneva to participate in the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 33rd session, the authorities at the airport informed her that she was not allowed to leave the country. The decision was based on an order by the public prosecution. On 22 August 2016, Enas Oun was also stopped by the authorities at Bahrain’s international airport when she was intending to travel to Tunisia to participate in a human rights workshop. The authorities informed her that the decision was also based on an order issued by the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID).
Ghada Jamsheer, blogger, writer and President of the Women’s Petition Committee (WPC) - a network of women’s rights defenders that campaign for a reform of family laws in Bahrain, was also targeted by the authorities. She was detained and arrested upon arrival at Bahrain International Airport on 15 August 2016. On 22 June 2016, a ten-month combined prison sentence was upheld against her for charges relating to criticism she allegedly made on Twitter regarding corruption at King Hamad hospital Up to this day, she is still detained at the Isa Town Detention Center for Women, known for ill-treatment and poor health conditions.
In April 2016, Taiba Darwish, a Bahraini citizen, was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison over charges of “harbouring wanted suspects.” According to the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights (EBOHR), Darwish was subjected to ill-treatment while being detained. She was also forbidden from having contact with her family and the outside world for prolonged periods.
The Bahraini government’s attempts to shatter women’s voices are not new. During the 2011 uprising period, many Bahraini women activists exposed human rights violations via Twitter, blogs and other social media platforms. The authorities tried to silence activists through the use of detention, arrests and sometimes, imprisonment. Since 2011, BCHR has documented the arrest of more than 300 women. Some women, such as prominent journalist Nazeeha Saeed, have been subjected to torture while in prison. Zainab Al-Khawaja and Maryam Al-Khawaja, daughters of jailed human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, were both targeted by the bahraini authorities for engaging in human right activism. Zainab Al-Khawaja was sentenced to two years and four months in jail, and fined 3000 Bahraini dinars (USD$ 7900) for tearing up a photo of the king, an offense made criminal by article 214 of the 1976 Penal Code. She was released on humanitarian grounds. Both sisters now live in exile in Denmark.
In the past years, BCHR has monitored the process in which the right to freely exercise freedom of expression has been criminalized. Most arrests were motivated by comments made on Twitter, or through other social media platforms, and materialized into charges of “insulting the king,” “inciting hatred against the regime,” or “insulting the Ministry of Interior.”
By arresting women for engaging in human rights activism, the Bahraini government also breaches Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to freedom of expression on any platform “every individual has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of the frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art or through any other media of his choice.”
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the Bahraini government to:
SINCE the small Gulf states became independent from Britain in the latter half of the 20th century, their ruling families have sought fresh methods to keep their subjects in check. They might close a newspaper, confiscate passports or lock up the most troublesome. Now, increasingly, they are stripping dissidents, and their families, of citizenship, leaving them stateless.
Bahrain is an energetic passport-stripper. Its Sunni royals have dangled the threat of statelessness over its Shia majority to suppress an uprising launched in 2011, during the Arab spring. In 2014 it deprived 21 people of their nationality. A year later the number was up tenfold. Last year the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s Shias, Isa Qassim (pictured) lost his. “Gulf rulers have turned people from citizens into subservient subjects,” says Abdulhadi Khalaf, a former Bahraini parliamentarian whose citizenship was revoked in 2012 and now lives in Sweden, as a citizen there. “Our passports are not a birthright. They are part of the ruler’s prerogative.”
Read the full article here.
As of 27 November 2016, Sayed Alawi Hussain Alawi has been forcibly disappeared for over a month following his arrest at the hands of Bahraini security forces with absolutely no contact with his family or lawyer, and with implication of governmental human rights parties to protect the perpetrators of this crime. Bahrain Center for Human Rights is appalled by the continuous disappearance of Alawi and the blatant endorsement of the crime by official parties.
Sayed Alawi Hussain Alawi, a 43-year-old resident of Duraz, disappeared on 24 October 2016, around 4pm. His family told BCHR that he didn’t return home since leaving for work on that day. After they filed a disappearance report at the Budaiya police station, the police officers told them on the same day that Alawi was being detained at the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID), and asked the family to cancel the disappearance report.
Since then, CID has continued to deny any information or confirmation of the detention of Alawi. His family approached the Dry Dock detention center where they also denied holding Alawi. In addition, the family appointed a lawyer who has tried to get information on his case at the public prosecution with no success. As such, for over a month the family continues to be in the dark on the whereabouts and wellbeing of Alawi, who has not called them once since his arrest.
On 25 October, Alawi’s family filed a complaint with the Ombudsman for arbitrary and illegal arrest, as no arrest warrant was ever seen. They have also called upon the National Human Rights Institute (NHRI), a governmental body whose members are appointed by the king, to act on the case. On 25 November 2016, the NHRI said in a public statement that Alawi is detained at the Dry Dock Detention and that it’s working on facilitating his communication with his family. The NHRI didn’t mention anything about the violation of enforced disappearance. Even though, neither Alawi’s family nor his lawyer have had any contact with him.
Additionally, on 26 November 2016, the head of the Human Rights Committee at the Bahraini Parliament stated that he has contacted the public prosecution and obtained information from them that Alawi is indeed “detained pending investigation” and that “all the formal procedures have been taken properly and correctly according to the rules applicable in the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
His family announced today 28 November that he had called them and that he had sounded very tired. His wife couldn't recognize his voice. After a month of disappearance and denial of whereabout, the authorities finally stated that he was in their custody.
BCHR finds it appalling that enforced disappearance, absence of formal arrest warrant, depriving a detainee from access to a lawyer during investigation, or to their family for over a month, are considered “proper” and “correct” procedures and “according to the rules applicable in the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
The complicity of official human rights representatives of the government in hiding the crime of enforced disappearance and lack of due process, while showing minimum respect for protecting the human rights of the victim showcases the culture of impunity in Bahrain.
The act of enforced disappearance directly violates many basic human rights, including the right to liberty, right to security and dignity, right to recognition before the law, right to fair trial, and the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel and inhumane treatment. It also puts the family in a state on ongoing stress and anxiety for not knowing anything about the wellbeing of their relative.
45 human rights organizations have signed a letter asking King Hamad to immediately and unconditionally release imprisoned journalist Faisal Hayyat, and to cease the judicial harassment of all journalists in Bahrain.
28 November 2016
To: Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
King of Bahrain
Hon. Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein
High Commissioner for Human Rights
Mr. John F. Kerry
United States Secretary of State
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
The Right Honorable Boris Johnson
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
We, the undersigned, express our deep concern with the Government of Bahrain’s campaign targeting journalists and activists exercising their right to free expression. On 9 October 2016, the Public Prosecution charged Faisal Hayyat, a sports journalist and social media activist, with insulting a sect and a religious figure. The government’s repeated harassment of Faisal and other online activists demonstrate the ongoing criminalization of free expression in Bahrain.
Faisal Hayyat is a renowned journalist and has appeared on various sports channels and has written for local Bahraini newspapers, Alalam, Albilad, and Akhbar Al Khaleej. He directs and presents short video programs online that provide critical perspectives on local politics.
Bahraini officials previously arrested Faisal in April 2011 for his involvement in the 2011 pro-democracy protests. The Bahraini security forces detained him for 84 days. During his detainment, authorities subjected Faisal to physical and psychological torture, including sexual harassment and degrading treatment. He has been vocal about this and recently published a letter on social media to the Bahraini Minister of Interior detailing the torture to which the government had subjected him. Government authorities never provided compensation for the abuse and never held any officials accountable. In the letter Faisal mentions, “I write this and I know it may cost me my freedom.”
On 7 October, Faisal published tweets commenting on events from early Islamic history. Two days later, Faisal was arrested and charged with “insulting a sect.” The government is therefore treating Faisal Hayyat’s opinion on events of Islamic history as a criminal liability. The government’s decision to prosecute him infringes both his freedom of expression and religion.
The undersigned NGOs believe Faisal has been targeted as part of a silencing campaign against critical voices of the government. Recently, the Bahraini government has brought further criminal charges against human rights defender Nabeel Rajab for an open letter published in the New York Times, and against political opposition leader Ebrahim Sharif for an interview he gave with the Associated Press. Furthermore, the opposition politician Fedhel Abbas received three years in prison for tweets criticizing the war in Yemen.
We, therefore, call on the authorities to respect Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which mandates that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression.” The Bahraini government must also respect Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which mandates that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontier.”
As organisations concerned with the right to freedom of expression, we call on the Government of Bahrain to:
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Afghanistan Journalists Center
Africa Freedom of Information Centre
Albanian Media Institute
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
Bahrain Press Association (BPA)
Burundi Child Rights Coalition
Bytes for All
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Center for Independent Journalism – Romania
Centre for Independent Journalism – Malaysia
European – Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR)
European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
Free Media Movement
Gulf Centre for Human Rights
Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Independent Journalism Center – Moldova
Index on Censorship
Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
International Federation of Journalists
International Press Centre
International Press Institute
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms – MADA
Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
Reporters Without Borders
Social Media Exchange – SMEX
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media
Union de Jeunes pour la Paix et le Developpement
Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters – AMARC
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
The Ombudsman said that it looked into the complaint submitted by the wife of kidnapped Sayed Alawi, claiming that "it followed the professional procedural steps in this complaint with respect to investigating his place and conditions and guaranteeing his legal rights."
It added in its statement on Sunday (November 27, 2016), "it was revealed to the Ombudsman through coordinating with the competent parties that the said person was apprehended pursuant to the law of "protecting the society from terrorist acts" as his detention decision was issued from the Public Prosecution."
Read the full article here.
Former prisoner of conscience Ebrahim Sharif had his one year prison sentence upheld by the Appeal Court in the capital, Manama, on 7 November. Ebrahim Sharif was arrested on 12 July 2015 after he made a speech at a public gathering in which he spoke about the need for change in Bahrain, highlighting the political opposition’s commitment to non-violence and urging the government to introduce key economic reforms to avoid further bankruptcy. Amnesty International has seen the speech and can confirm that, in it, he did not advocate violence. On 24 February the High Criminal Court in Manama convicted him of “incitement to hatred and contempt of the regime” but acquitted him of “incitement to overthrow the regime by force and illegal means” and sentenced him to one year in prison. The prosecution appealed against the sentence imposed for “incitement to hatred and contempt of the regime” and the acquittal of the second charge of “incitement to overthrow the regime by force and illegal means”. He was released from Jaw prison, south-eastern Bahrain, on 11 July, after serving his sentence.
Read full article here
(Beirut) – Bahraini authorities have charged a prominent human rights lawyer with offenses that violate his right to free expression.
Mohamed al-Tajer, who has defended opposition figures and rights activists, told Human Rights Watch that a public prosecutor brought three charges against him on November 10, 2016: insulting government institutions, inciting hatred of a religious sect, and misusing a telecommunications appliance. In a private WhatsApp voice message that public prosecutors cited in support of the charges, al-Tajer says, “It’s clear that there’s a team in the public prosecution and Cybercrimes division whose only job is to sit at computers and intercept every word about Sunnis, Saudi Arabia, hatred of the regime, or insults against the king.”
Read full article here
A Bahraini criminal court has sentenced a sports journalist to three months in prison for a tweet that allegedly defamed the Sunni sect of Islam.
Faisal Hayyat was arrested on 9 October, but it was unclear about the specific nature of his offence. A few days earlier, he posted an open letter on Facebook to Bahrain’s interior minister in which he referred to the conditions in which he was detained, and tortured, in 2011. He referred to government corruption and urged for an end to restrictions on civil and political freedoms.
Hayyat’s conviction has been condemned by the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) as a violation of Hayyat’s right to free speech.
Read full article here
SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Gulf Institute for Human Rights, The European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights, and the Bahraini-German Organization for Human Rights and Democracy dispatched a jointly-signed letter to the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, pressing her to use her time at the upcoming GCC Summit to work for the release of all detained human rights defenders in the GCC region as well speaking out for genuine reforms towards true democracy.
The letter highlighted Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as countries that have significantly curtailed rights to freedom of expression and association. In addition, emphasizing on the highly inflammatory steps taken by authorities in Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to arbitrarily revoke the nationalities of human rights defenders and political dissidents, rendering the vast majority stateless.
The letter pressed the UK Government to use its leverage in GCC countries to more strongly push for democracy and human rights, and Prime Minister Theresa May in particular to push for following concerns at the upcoming GCC Summit:
• Work to release human rights defenders and all prisoners of conscience and ensure their protection from any harassment, torture and persecution.
• Push the Government of Bahrain to actively work to create a suitable arena for national reconciliation and dialogue.
• To ensure law enforcement agencies publicly make commitments to investigate all types of discrimination and persecution in Bahrain.
• To push for the immediate suspension of punishments against critics and dissidents practicing their rights to freedom of opinion and expression.
• To end the practice of revoking nationality as a method of reprisal against political opponents and to begin a procedure to return nationalities of unlawfully deprived citizens.
• Work to implement legal and policy changes needed to ensure the genuine promotion and protection of all human rights for all people in Bahrain and the region.
• Halt the deprivation of citizens in the rights to freedom of religion in worship and practice.
On 8 December the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), would like to invite you to an event organized together with FIDH and Human Rights Watch (HRW), named “Attacks on Civil Society”.
During the event, which will be held at the House of Democracy and Human Rights in Berlin, from 1pm, representatives from the three NGOs will discuss about the ongoing crackdown on civil society and opposition in Bahrain.
Sayed Yusuf al-Muhafdha, BCHR vice-president, will present the latest cases of freedoms' suppression and the clamp down on the opposition.
Jean Marie Rogue, EU Liaison Officer at FIDH, will focus on travel bans imposed on human rights defenders and other activists in Bahrain, and will highlight the case of Nabeel Rajab, currently detained on charges related to freedom of expression.
Wolfgang Büttner, press officer and associate advocate at Human Rights Watch, will present HRW's latest campaign on the crackdown on social media activism in the Gulf region.
Moderator of the event will be Elena Mocanu, BCHR advocacy officer based in Copenhagen, who will introduce BCHR and its recently released report Digital Rights Derailed in Bahrain.
The event will be live-streamed by London-based Bahraini opposition satellite TV station LuaLua TV.
Theresa May has said the UK must not “turn our back” on the human rights abuses of foreign countries as she prepares to court Gulf states over a post-Brexit trade deal on a trip to Bahrain.
The prime minister has been urged by campaigners not to set aside human rights concerns in pursuit of a potentially lucrative free-trade arrangement with Middle-Eastern countries.
But May, who will become the first British leader and the first woman to attend the annual gathering of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) annual summit, said on Sunday that the UK must seek to “transform the way we do business” with the region.
Read the full article here.
A Bahraini court on Sunday upheld three death sentences and seven life terms against a "terrorist" group convicted of killing police including an Emirati officer in a bomb attack, a judicial source said.
The court of cassation in October ordered a retrial in the case of the 10 defendants found guilty of planting a bomb in March 2014 in a Shia-majority village west of Manama, which killed an Emirati officer and two Bahraini policemen.
An appeals court had upheld the three death sentences and life terms for the other seven defendants, who were also stripped of their citizenships.
Read the full article here.