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    On 14 March at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland issued a statement on human rights issues in Bahrain, Vietnam, Colombia, Egypt and South Sudan. In the section about Bahrain, the Swiss intervention highlighted the repression against the civil society and expressed concern over freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, the use of torture, excessive force and reprisals against human rights defenders. In the statement, Switzerland called on the Bahraini government to release all human rights defenders and detainees who are in prison for exercising their fundamental human rights, including Nabeel Rajab. 

    Read the full statement in French below. 

     

    Monsieur le Président,

    La Suisse s’alarme de la répression contre la société civile constatée dans de nombreux pays et en violation des obligations internationales de ces derniers. Au Bahreïn, celle-ci concerne tant les défenseurs des droits de l’homme et l’opposition politique que toute personne qui exerce son droit à la liberté d’expression et se montre critique à l’encontre du gouvernement. Le recours à la torture, l’insuffisance des garanties de procès équitable, les cas d’usage excessif de la force dans le contexte des manifestations pacifiques ainsi que les représailles contre les victimes qui constatent des violations de droits de l’homme ou les personnes qui coopèrent avec les Nations Unies sont préoccupantes. La Suisse appelle le gouvernement à garantir le respect des droits de l’homme de tout individu, à libérer toute personne détenue du seul fait d‘avoir exercé leur droits fondamentaux, notamment Nabeel Rajab et d’autres défenseurs des droits de l’homme, et à collaborer pleinement avec les procédures spéciales de ce Conseil.

    La limitation du droit de réunion pacifique au Vietnam est une autre source de préoccupation. La Suisse appelle le gouvernement à permettre la tenue de tout rassemblement pacifique et à protéger les manifestants contre toute forme de menace et de harcèlement. En Colombie, la Suisse s’inquiète des menaces grandissantes auxquelles font face certains pans de la société civile, dont de nombreux représentants subissent des intimidations, sont attaqués, voire assassinés du fait de leur engagement en faveur des droits de l’homme. Elle encourage le gouvernement à poursuivre ses efforts dans la protection de ces personnes.

    Par ailleurs, la Suisse encourage l’Egypteà assurer un environnement sûr et propice pour la société civile. Elle constate avec préoccupation une limitation exercée envers les activités de la société civile et des défenseurs des droits de l’homme, avec des procédures judiciaires non-fondées engagées contre des ONG ou leurs représentants, également visés par le gel de leurs avoir ou des interdictions de voyager non justifiés. Dans le contexte de l’actuelle révision de la loi sur les ONG, la Suisse salue les efforts de l’Egypte pour saisir cette occasion pour permettre à la société civile d’assumer pleinement le rôle-clé qu’elle peut jouer dans le pays, conformément à l’engagement pris lors de la candidature à ce Conseil.

    Enfin, la Suisse est gravement préoccupée par la restriction illégitime de l’espace de la société civile au Soudan du Sud et par l’augmentation concomitante généralisée du discours haineux. Elle condamne les violations des droits de l’homme commises à l’encontre des journalistes et des acteurs de la société civile et appelle le gouvernement à créer un environnement favorable au respect des droits de l’homme.

    Je vous remercie.

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    Bahrain's parliament has invited the U.N. human rights chief to visit and promised him unrestricted access to prisons and Shi'ite villages, local media said on Wednesday, following his criticism of the kingdom's record.

    A senior official at the United Nations human rights office in Geneva welcomed the invitation and said any visit would have to address issues including reports of torture and a crackdown on activists and political parties in the Sunni-ruled state.

    Continue reading here

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    On Thursday 16 March, Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) held the event "Human Rights in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring - the Kingdom of Bahrain" in collaboration with the Central Library in Copenhagen.

    The event took place at the library on Krystalgade 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark between 17.00-18.30. The focal point of the event was the state of human rights in a post-Arab Spring setting in Bahrain and in the Gulf, starting with a screening of an excerpt of the documentary We Are The Giant, which tells the stories of citizens turned activists in their plight to peacefully confront injustices in their homeland and to stand up for their belief in the universality of human rights, taking point of departure in stories related to the revolution in Tunisia, Syria and in Kingdom of Bahrain.

    BCHR screened the segment on Bahrain, where the Danish-Bahraini women human rights defenders Maryam and Zainab Al-Khawaja recount their experiences promoting peaceful activism, and authority-led reprisals against civic and political rights in Bahrain. In their interviews, the Al-Khawaja sisters explain the personal cost incurred by their work, and the need to continue speaking out against human rights abuses.

    Following the screening, speakers Zainab al-Khawaja (Bahraini human rights activist), Isabel Bramsen (PhD Fellow at Copenhagen University) and Lars Erslev Andersen (Senior Researcher on International Security at the Danish Institute for International Studies) held presentations on the topic. Elena Mocanu (Advocacy Officer at BCHR) was the moderator of the event.

    Zainab Al-KhawajaZainab al-Khawajaspoke about her own experiences as a human rights activist in Bahrain and shared three stories of what it is like to live in Bahrain today. Her presentation centred around human rights abuses carried out by the Bahraini government regarding torture, forced confessions, unfair trials and recent executions. Zainab reported that there is “no feeling of safety in Bahrain” and that the situation is worse than in 2011. She spoke about her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, and the sacrifices that the Bahraini people are doing in their fight for human rights. Concluding her presentation, she emphasized the role of Western powers in causing and perpetuating the conflict and that there is a lot of things citizens of these countries can do to pressure the leadership.

    Isabel Bramsen introduced her research on the uprising in Bahrain and explained how the regime has changed tactics since the crackdown on human rights in 2011. She meant that the Bahraini government has changed their strategy from a very direct crackdown of human rights to a more “de-energized repression”.  The opposition movement has also evolved, which Isabel termed a “divided escalation”. In the presentation, she also clarified the context of the Arab Spring, and where Bahrain is placed within it, making comparisons to countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. Finally, she raised the question of the situation today and what we can do to make a change.

    Lars Erslev AndersenLars Erslev Andersen gave the last presentation of the evening in which he delivered a socio-political analysis of the factors impacting the 2011 uprisings in Bahrain. In commenting on on the locals’ motivation in taking part in demonstrations,  he listed political, economic rights, freedom of speech and more reasons related to the fight for human rights. Lars also pointed out the royal family Al Khalifa’s version of the story (“The King’s Tale”), in which they describe the protests as a form of sectarian violence. Another topic of his presentation was the role of the US, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Lars drew attention to the support that Bahrain gets from its allies.

    Watch the presentations here and here.

    Photo credits: Lars Erslev Andersen, Bahrain (2011)

       

     


     

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    17 March 2017 - Mohammad Sahwan, a victim of excessive use of force by police in 2012, died of sudden cardiac arrest yesterday in Bahrain’s Jau Prison. Mohammad Sahwan is the first political detainee to die in Jau Prison since 2011. Today, his funeral in Sanabis was attended by thousands and met by excessive use of force from the police. We, the undersigned organizations, condemn the government’s treatment of Sahwan and its attacks upon his funeral procession today.

    Sahwan was previously injured in April 2011, after the king declared a state of National Safety and enabled the security forces to violently suppress the Arab Spring protests. Sahwan was shot in the back, legs, and head by police with birdshot pellets from a shotgun. Sahwan was never treated for the 80 birdshot pellets which entered his head. His family told local press in 2012 that his life was at risk as a result of the denial of care. He was unable to receive full treatment for these injuries and prevented from receiving medical care, despite multiple requests, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). On 16 March 2017, Sahwan reportedly collapsed and died of sudden cardiac arrest.

    A Bahraini court sentenced Sahwan in May 2012 to 15 years in prison under the anti-terrorism law. BCHR reported in 2012 that Sahwan was detained and tortured to confess to various crimes. Sahwan told his lawyer that a police officer said to him: "We have examined you at the hospital and saw more than fifty bullets of shotgun in your head, and they are all on the right side of your head. I shall hit you with all tools I have on your left side until you see the shotgun coming out of your head from the right side and blood is scattering out of your head unless you sign this statement."

    Sahwan’s funeral was held today, Friday 17 March, in his hometown of Sanabis. A crowd numbering in the thousands marched in his funeral procession. Funeral-goers also demonstrated against the political and human rights situation in the country. Security forces responded to the funeral march with excessive use of tear gas and birdshot against demonstrators. At least one protester suffered a birdshot pellet injury in his eye.

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD): "We are saddened by the passing of Mohammad Sahwan, who never received justice in life for the police violence he suffered, and it is outrageous that his funeral procession was hit by excessive force again today. No independent investigation was ever carried out into his abuse. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture must be allowed to enter Bahrain and conduct an impartial investigation into the treatment of detainees."

    "Bahrain has long used coerced confessions and broad anti-terror legislation to arbitrarily detain its citizens, and it is deeply troubling to see that another prisoner has now died inside Jau,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB).“Now, however, Bahraini authorities feel even more emboldened by their relations with Washington and London - especially after the election of President Trump and Brexit - to attack funerals and protestors with impunity. There must be consequences for the government’s actions from the international community.”

    Although Mohammad Sahwan is the first political detainee to die in Jau Prison, in 2014, Hassan Al-Sheikh, an inmate serving time on drug-related offences, died after being tortured by security forces and left in solitary confinement overnight. In 2016, an inmate in the Dry Dock Detention Centre, Hassan Al-Hayki, died amid credible allegations of torture. BIRD, ADHRB, and BCHR called for an independent investigation at the time of his passing. The government’s Special Investigative Unit launched an investigation, but after just nine days declared there to be no suspicion of wrongdoing. Four days later, the authorities charged al-Hayki’s lawyer with “publicly spreading false information with the intention of influencing the judicial authority in charge of the case” after he allegedly disagreed with the SIU’s findings, telling “a local newspaper that there were injuries and bruises on the body of the deceased that proved beyond any doubt a criminal suspicion.”

    The Government of Bahrain violated Mohammad Sahwan’s right to liberty (article 3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 9, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), right to not be tortured (article 5, UDHR and article 7, ICCPR) and right to a fair trial (article 11, UDHR and article 14, ICCPR).

    We condemn the Government of Bahrain’s arbitrary detention and torture of Mohammad Sahwan, as well as his consistent denial of access to medical care. We additionally condemn the excessive use of force employed against Mohammad Sahwan’s funeral today. Finally, we call for the release of all arbitrarily detained and unfairly convicted persons in Bahrain, and for the uninhibited access to healthcare for all prisoners.

    Signed,

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)

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    Shia protesters and police clashed in Bahrain on Friday following the funeral of a prisoner who died while serving a 15-year sentence for taking part in anti-regime demonstrations, witnesses said.

    The Gulf state's interior ministry announced the death of the 45-year-old on Twitter on Thursday, saying he died while exercising at Jaw prison, south of Manama.

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    The United Arab Emirates summoned the Swiss ambassador on Sunday to denounce a statement Switzerland made to the United Nations Human Rights Council the week prior criticizing fellow Gulf state Bahrain's human rights record.

    The UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Swiss ambassador "it was better if such issues were resolved through established bilateral channels between Bahrain and Switzerland," according to a statement posted on state news agency WAM.

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    20 March 2017 - Political opposition leader Ebrahim Sharif was today charged with "inciting hatred against the regime" under article 165 of Bahrain's penal code for messages he wrote on social media. Sharif was previously imprisoned from 2011 to 2015, and then again from 2015 to 2016 on similar charges stemming from his involvement in the pro-democracy movement and speeches he delivered. He could now face up to three more years in prison. We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the prosecution of Ebrahim Sharif on charges related solely to his free expression, and we call on the Government of Bahrain to cease all judicial harassment of peaceful opposition activists and human rights defenders.

    Ebrahim Sharif is the former Secretary-General of the National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), a secular opposition group. Sharif was released following questioning by the public prosecution this morning. However, it is currently unclear whether the case will be transferred to the courts, or if the government has imposed a travel ban on the political leader after today's new charges. The authorities have charged Sharif under articles 165 and 172 of Bahrain’s penal code, which respectively criminalize “inciting hatred” against the government (article 165) and against “factions of society” (article 172). The charges violate his right to free expression as enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Bahrain acceded to in 2006. Sharif’s interrogation comes two weeks after Bahrain’s Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs (MOJ) launched legal proceedings to dissolve Wa’ad over unsubstantiated allegations of “incitement of acts of terrorism and promoting violent and forceful overthrow of the political regime.” The first court hearing for the dissolution was held today.

    During this morning's questioning, the public prosecution presented to Ebrahim Sharif seven tweets he posted that covered a variety of topics. We, the undersigned, have reviewed Sharif’s tweets, and could find nothing to support the charges against him.

    The tweets included a response to a statement by Tunisia's Minister of Interior and a tweet of Amnesty International campaign materials on Bahraini prisoners of conscience. Among the tweets Sharif was questioned over were messages related to Abdulla Al Ajooz, a Bahraini teenager who died in February 2017 during arrest. Sharif questioned the official narrative of Al Ajooz's death and referred to the deceased as a "martyr." Sharif’s tweets also criticized the MOJ decision to dissolve political opposition societies, asking, "What remains of the decor of the democratic state?"

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD): "One by one, the Government of Bahrain has sought to silence every single outspoken critic of the regime's abuses. Now they have come to Ebrahim Sharif, the last openly critical opposition leader in the country. The Bahraini government is destroying all civil society space and creating an environment of violence."

    Ministry of Justice Tries to Dissolve Wa’ad

    Today also saw the first court session for dissolution proceedings launched against Wa'ad by the MOJ. The Bahraini government is accusing Wa'ad of inciting violence and filed for the group’s dissolution earlier in March, though it provided no evidence  of its allegations. Wa'ad's lawyers requested time to respond to the charges, and the next court date is set for 17 April 2017.

    The government has targeted Wa’ad in the past, including suspending the group for a communiqué it alleged “was critical of the armed forces and disseminated false news to cause sedition and divisions between citizens” in 2011. Authorities closed its offices and blocked its website. The society’s headquarters was also twice burnt down and vandalized, and the home of one of its senior figures, Munira Fakhro, was repeatedly attacked. In November 2014, the government again suspended Wa’ad in the run-up to that year’s election cycle for the lower house of the National Assembly.

    The attempted dissolution of Wa’ad follows a pattern set in 2016, when the Government of Bahrain took similar measures to dissolve the largest political group in the country, Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society. On 14 June, a Bahraini court approved the society's suspension within hours of receiving a request from the MOJ. Authorities immediately enforced the order, freezing Al-Wefaq’s assets, blocking its website, and closing its headquarters. On 17 July 2016, after the judiciary expedited the legal proceedings, Bahrain’s High Civil Court affirmed the order and formally dissolved Al-Wefaq. An appeals court upheld the dissolution on 22 September. Al-Wefaq’s final appeal was dismissed in February 2017. Al-Wefaq’s legal team faced significant obstacles to preparing their defense and ultimately resigned over government interference, which included security forces preventing them from entering the society’s headquarters to obtain necessary documents. Al-Wefaq’s Secretary-General, Sheikh Ali Salman, is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence on charges of “publicly inciting hatred, inciting civil disobedience of the law, and insulting public institutions” as well as “attempting to overthrow the regime.” Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience. The dissolution of Al-Wefaq and attempted dissolution of Wa’ad violate the right to association protected under article 22 of the ICCPR.

    Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB): “Bahrain’s international allies - and particularly its key military partners like the US and the UK - cannot sit idly by and allow the government to tar all peaceful opposition and dissent as a security threat. These partners are obligated to push back on government action that is so blatantly counterproductive to securing stability in Bahrain, such as targeting leaders like Ebrahim Sharif and closing all avenues for political engagement.”

    Ebrahim Sharif: Further Information

    In 2011, police arrested and tortured Sharif. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison by a military court, alongside a group of leading politicians and human rights defenders known as the Bahrain 13. Authorities released Sharif in June 2015. At the time of Sharif’s June 2015 release, the US State Department lifted an arms ban on Bahrain, citing "meaningful progress on human rights." However, he was re-arrested weeks later after he gave a speech calling for continued peaceful opposition. Sharif was sentenced to one year for "inciting hatred against the regime" and acquitted on charges of "inciting change of the regime"; he completed his sentence in July 2016.

    In November 2016, Sharif was again charged with "inciting hatred against the regime" after he told the Associated Press that Prince Charles's visit to Bahrain threatened to "whitewash" an ongoing crackdown of dissent. Sharif's charges were dropped following a media outcry and international pressure. That same month, the authorities interrogated Wa’ad’s then Secretary-General Radhi al-Musawi and banned him from travel.

    We urge the Government of Bahrain to drop all charges against Ebrahim Sharif and to release all individuals imprisoned for exercising their rights to free expression, association, or assembly as protected under the UDHR and ICCPR. We additionally call on the government to lift restrictions on independent political and civil society space in Bahrain with a view toward resuming a legitimate national dialogue process.

    Signed,

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

    European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)

     

     

     

     

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    The Bahraini authorities have once again displayed their ruthless determination to silence activists and crush all signs of dissent by charging prominent political figure Ebrahim Sharif with “inciting hatred against the regime” in a series of tweets, said Amnesty International.

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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is highly concerned about the deterioration in Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja’s health. Al-Khawaja requires urgent access to a specialised medical professional for an eye examination to prevent lasting loss of  vision and potentially more severe neural complications. Al-Khawaja has been serving a life sentence in Jau prison since June 2011, when he was imprisoned on false charges, in an attempt to silence his criticism of the Bahraini government’s brutal response to anti-government protests in the country.

    According to updates received from his family, in the past three weeks Al-Khawaja has developed problems in his right eye. He has complained about complete vision loss during daylight hours and of headaches on the right side of his head and behind his right eye.

    His family has consulted an ophthalmologist in Norway, who concluded that, from the description of the symptoms, Al-Khawaja “is experiencing temporary loss of vision due to disturbances of blood supply to his eye (amaurosis fugax). Typically vision disappears rapidly (like a curtain), it is not accompanied by pain and gradually comes back. (...) Amaurosis fugax is usually caused by small blood clots (emboli) that obstruct the blood vessel to the eye. Sometimes episodes like this can be a warning sign of more severe episodes, like a large emboli that does not get removed and can cause lasting loss of vision in the eye or even cerebral strokes. (...)  I would therefore strongly recommend your father being examined by an eye doctor. If what he is experiencing is indeed amaurosis fugax it is very important to identify where the emboli come from and get him started on drugs that reduce the tendency of his blood to make emboli. He should then also be examined for conditions like temporalis arteritis (usually accompanied by pain in the forehead upon touch and sometime pain in large joints like shoulders and hips). This to prevent lasting visual loss and more severe episodes like cerebral strokes so the possible repercussions can be severe."

    Read the ophthalmologist's letter here.

    The prison authorities have canceled his medical appointment and informed Al-Khawaja they would take him to an eye doctor if he agrees to a full strip search, which he has refused to do, due to the invasive nature of the search.

    Al-Khawaja is not alone; other prisoners have had their medical appointments and hospital visits cancelled despite long waiting periods.

    In addition to lack of access to medical care, prisoners are kept in locked cells most of the day, without means to access a toilet or bathroom, while shouting, screams and banging on cell doors from prisoners in neighbouring building 6 are heard throughout the day. Since 15 January 2017, when the Bahraini authorities executed alleged victims of torture, all daily newspapers have been forbidden. The prison inventory has been shut down and inmates can no longer  access educational or shia television channels, despite the lack of political content featured on these channels. Family visitation hours have been cut  from one hour to half an hour, and due to the arbitrary visitation schedule, relatives are having  difficulties  reaching the prison on  time for scheduled visitations. Meetings between imprisoned fathers  and  their imprisoned sons have been canceled, as have  visits by higher officers, whilst letters of complaint and requests are no longer answered. When walking outside their cells, prisoners are handcuffed and chained from their wrists to their ankles.

    Since 20 March prisoners have testified that inmates are being denied access to paper and pencils in order to prevent them from writing, and that they have been denied access to tissue or toilet paper.

    The implementation of these new regulations has led to  political prisoners  boycotting family visits in a form of protest.

    The degrading and dehumanizing treatment of prisoners following the execution of the three individuals on 15 January 2017 violates basic principles on the treatment of prisoners. 

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on Bahrain to:

    • Allow Al-Khawaja to receive urgent and comprehensive medical care in order to prevent him suffering from blindness, and severe neural complications, without being subjected to an invasive, degrading, and unnecessary strip search
    • Allow access to access medical care, in a timely manner,  to all individuals currently detained
    • Allow minimal facilities and basic hygiene items for detainees,in accordance with the basic principles on the treatment of prisoners

     

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    In early March, a group of masked men accompanied by police officers arrested my brother-in-law in Bahrain. Three days later, my mother-in-law was arrested as well. My brother-in-law, Nazar, said the police tortured him and forced him to implicate other family members in wrongdoing. They told him they were out for revenge for actions I had taken as a human rights activist. I was arrested, severely tortured and tried by a military court. The move to target my relatives and the family of my wife is a heinous new low in a series of accelerated acts of repression carried out by the Bahraini government since the election of Donald Trump.

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    Maybe Washington’s allies in the Bahraini regime learned the art of reprisals from their old colonial masters. The  British used collective punishment to attack dissidents in Ireland, Kenya and elsewhere. Now family members of those who criticize the Bahrain government are being threatened, targeted, summoned and intimidated.

    On Monday, on her return to Bahrain from speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, activist Ebtesam al-Saegh told me she was held at Bahrain’s airport for seven hours, questioned about her work, and her family threatened.

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    Bahrain’s decision to file charges against Ebrahim Sharif underscores the country’s tactical use of judicial harassment to suppress freedom of speech. 

    Ebrahim Sharif, the former secretary-general of the secular opposition group National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), was charged with “inciting racial hatred against the regime” under article 165 of Bahrain’s penal code. The alleged offenses stem from tweets Sharif posted.

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    23 March 2017 – The Fifth High Criminal Court in Bahrain today sentenced scholar and activist Khalil al-Halwachi to 10 years in prison. The government arrested and charged al-Halwachi with possessing weapons in 2014; he has been in pre-trial detention since that time. In addition to weapons possession, the prosecution further charged al-Halwachi with “insulting the judiciary” for raising violations during judicial proceedings in a letter to the judge. The court sentenced Khalil al-Halwachi in a case with thirteen other defendants. The judge sentenced three of those defendants to death, two of them in absentia.

    We, the undersigned organizations, condemn the court’s decision today to sentence Khalil al-Halwachi to 10 years in prison on terror charges and call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately release him and drop the charges against him. We further condemn the issuance of three death penalties passed down in today’s court and call on the government to institute a moratorium on the death penalty with a view towards abolition.

    The Bahraini security forces arrested al-Halwachi, a Bahraini citizen and Swedish resident, on 3 September 2014 during a house raid where they did not present a search or arrest warrant. The authorities transported al-Halwachi to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) and subjected him to torture and ill-treatment to coerce a false confession from him. Authorities interrogated al-halwachi regarding his association with then-dissolved Amal political society. The government eventually charged al-Halwachi with possessing weapons, leading to allegations of being part of a terror cell.

    Throughout the trial proceedings, al-Halwachi maintained that the weapons alleged to have been in his possession were planted by Bahraini security forces. This claim, in addition to the torture of detainees to extract coerced confessions, is consistent with malfeasance and due process violations committed by Bahraini authorities in previous politically-motivated cases. In 2011, following the mass arrest of doctors, nurses, and medics for treating injured protestors, the Bahraini government similarly alleged the medical personnel had been in possession of weapons. The prosecution presented a “box” of weapons in court, saying they were found amongst the medical staff. According to the doctors’ legal counsel, “the defense objected vociferously to the presentation of the weapons in court, saying they had not been registered as evidence and had not been presented at the first trial.” During al-Halwachi’s trial, when he attempted to raise his concern regarding the unfair judicial proceedings, the authorities punished him by removing him from the courtroom and charging him with “insulting the judiciary.”

    The Bahraini government has subjected al-Halwachi to pre-trial detention at Dry Dock Detention Center since his arrest. Beginning in 2014, the courts have postponed al-Halwachi’s trial more than 20 times over his two-and-a-half year detention period. During this time, al-Halwachi has not enjoyed regular access to a lawyer. While in pre-trial detention, al-Halwachi has suffered a number of different health problems, including most recently a stroke.  Al-Halwachi has reportedly not received adequate medical care for his health problems and now has limited mobility as a result of the stroke.

    The daughter of Khalil al-Halwachi, Fatima al-Halwachi who is the Deputy-Chairman of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR), commented on her father’s sentencing: “My father was a teacher who has absolutely nothing to do with the prosecution's allegations that he is part of a terror cell. His only involvement in the case was being a private tutor for one of the other's who was accused. The charges against him are fabricated purely for political reasons for the purpose of putting yet another forward-thinker with visions for his country behind bars. Sweden and the European Union must publicly call for my father's release and prevent people like him from being unjustly imprisoned."

    The Government of Bahrain has contravened a number of obligations under international human rights law. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) protects against arbitrary arrest and detention. It also stipulates that detainees must be brought promptly before a judge and are entitled to a trial within a “reasonable time.” Additionally, Article 14 of the ICCPR also outlines a number of due process guarantees, including a “to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of one’s defense and to communicate with counsel of one’s choosing.”

    We, the undersigned organizations, condemn the sentencing of Khalil al-Halwachi to 10 years in prison. The Government of Bahrain subjected al-Halwachi to an extremely lengthy and unfair judicial process. Additionally, the Bahraini authorities have not provided al-Halwachi with adequate medical attention, leading to a drastic deterioration in his health. We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately release al-Halwachi and to drop all charges against him. He must promptly receive adequate medical care for his health problems. Additionally, we urge the Bahraini government to end its use of capital punishment by imposing a moratorium on the death penalty.

    Signed,

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

    European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)

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    In modern Bahrain, the truth behind violent deaths is hard to establish. And the fact that they are largely ignored by the international media means you may well be reading about the following events for the first time.

    On December 23 2016, a female journalist, Eman Salehi, was shot in front of her son. Activists have claimed the killing was carried out by an army officer they accuse of being a member of the ruling Al Khalifa family. This has not been confirmed. And in January 2017, three young Bahrainis were executed after what was widely considered to be an unsafe trial for allegedly killing three policeman.

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    A Bahraini court sentenced three Shi'ite Muslim men to death on Thursday after they were convicted on charges of terrorism and involvement in 2014 bomb attacks that injured a number of police officers.

    he High Criminal Court also sentenced 14 other people linked to the same case to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life in jail, state news agency BNA reported, quoting a state prosecution statement. At least were sentenced in absentia, the statement said.

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    A large number of Indian workers in Bahrain have sought the support of the Ministry of External Affairs, continuing the trend of difficulties faced by labourers from India in Gulf countries. 

    The problem came to light when a group of workers employed with a Bahraini private company appealed to the government for help through social media networks. They said at least 500 workers had not received salary for months and were living on food handouts.

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    Datteren til den fængslede danske statsborger Abdulhadi al-Khawaja opfordrer regeringen til at lægge hårdere pres på Bahrain.

    Siden april 2011 har den dansk-bahrainske statsborger og menneskerettighedsaktivist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja siddet fængslet i golfstaten Bahrain.

    Trods omfattende tortur, langvarig sultestrejke og et forværret helbred har alle forsøg på at få den anerkendte aktivist og systemkritiker løsladt været forgæves.

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    Mustafa Hamdan, 18, died this morning at the Salmaniya Medical Complex, two months after security forces shot him in head and rendered him comatose. We, the undersigned, consider Hamdan’s death an extrajudicial killing by the Bahraini Government. We condemn state violence employed against peaceful protesters, the denial of medical care, and a systemic  culture of impunity within Bahrain’s security forces, which has seen no one held accountable for Hamdan’s shooting.

    Hamdan was shot on 26 January, when security forces attacked demonstrators at a peaceful sit-in in Duraz village in the middle of the night. Masked, plainclothes security forces shot Hamdan in the back of the head at a protest with live ammunition. He later succumbed to this wound.

    The undersigned spoke to a witness who was meters away from Hamdan when security forces shot him. The witness states that he was shot by plain-clothed officers from a distance of approximately fifty meters. The witness also reported that there was a large security forces presence that night, including approximately nine civilian cars with plainclothes officers armed with shotguns loaded with birdshot pellet, pistols and live-ammunition rifles.

    According to the same witness, the authorities arrested three people in Duraz that night and took them to the Criminal Investigation Unit (CID) where they were detained for several days. The three individuals were later released. According to our sources, the authorities also arrested one of the medics onsite; he is reportedly still detained. The undersigned were unable to speak to the arrested individuals.

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, BIRD: “Mustafa was unquestionably killed at the hands of Bahrain’s security forces. Their reckless shooting at protesters is the action of violent gangsters, not a responsible state. Now he is dead, and the Government of Bahrain is too cowardly to even acknowledge their responsibility, fostering a continued culture of impunity.”

    Hamdan was denied the immediate emergency medical care he needed to survive. A resident of Duraz rushed Hamdan to the Bahrain International Hospital. The hospital refused to admit him without a Ministry of Interior (MOI) official present. Sources in the medical field report that the authorities require an MOI official to be present when patients present with injuries that could be sustained during a protest. When the people with Hamdan requested an ambulance take him to the public Salmaniya Medical Complex, this too was refused. Hamdan’s brother arrived and took him to Salmaniya, where 35 members of the security forces and Hamdan’s mother were waiting for them. Hamdan’s mother was reportedly intimidated by the security forces. A medic at Salmaniya told the undersigned there was a “massive” number of security force personnel waiting at the hospital.

    Hamdan was finally accepted at Salmaniya Medical Complex, having suffered a skull fracture, concussion and internal bleeding from the shooting. Hamdan has been in a comatose state since the shooting.

    The Government of Bahrain has released no statements about Mustafa Hamdan’s shooting. No branch of the security forces has accepted responsibility or faced public investigation. It is suspected that Bahrain’s National Security Agency (NSA), its domestic intelligence agency, was involved in the attack. The government restored the NSA’s law enforcement powers weeks before Hamdan’s shooting. These powers had previously been stripped in 2011, after the NSA conducted mass arrests and tortured detainees, leading to the death of one person in their custody. The government’s decision to re-empower the NSA also walks back one of the only recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) that had been fully implemented.

    Husain Abdulla, Executive Director, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB): “This violent attack on a peaceful gathering - just weeks after the authorities decided to reinstate law enforcement powers for the NSA - is further incontrovertible evidence the Bahraini government is abandoning the reform program inaugurated by the BICI. Mustafa Hamdan is now another tragic, needless sacrifice to the government’s continued failure to institute even basic human rights protections recommended by countless independent institutions - from the BICI to the UN.”

    The people who shot Hamdan belonged to the security forces. Bahrain’s public security forces have at times operated in plain clothes for  years, and the ammunition used that night - including birdshot pellets - are hallmarks of the Bahraini security forces. Bahrain’s National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR) issued a statement on 30 January acknowledging the head injury of Mustafa Hamdan but blamed the violence of “two groups of masked men exchanging rockets and fires shooting” without reference to the security forces. The NIHR failed to launch an investigation into the shooting. The NIHR’s membership is royally appointed and the institute consistently absolves the Bahraini government of blame of human rights violations, and is not considered independent by NGOs.

    The village of Duraz has been subjected to a police blockade since June 2016, when authorities rendered stateless Sheikh Isa Qassim, the most senior Shia cleric in Bahrain. Qassim’s home in Duraz has been the site of a peaceful sit-in since that time. Police have blocked off nearly all entrances to the village and established checkpoints at the remaining two, excessively restricting the right to freedom of movement of Duraz’s residents, business owners and visitors.

    Mustafa Hamdan was the victim of excessive use of force at a peaceful demonstration. His right to life and freedom of assembly, as protected under articles 6 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain acceded to in 2006, were violated by the Bahraini security forces. The Government of Bahrain infringed upon Hamdan’s right to health when they did not allow prompt medical care for his injury without MOI officials present at the Bahrain International Hospital.

    We, the undersigned, are appalled by the extrajudicial killing of Mustafa Hamdan. We call for an independent investigation into his death and denial of medical care at Bahrain International Hospital, as well as for all responsible parties to be held accountable. We further call on Bahrain to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions  to visit the country.

    Signed,

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

    European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights

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    Protests in Bahrain, a staunch American ally and home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, erupted days after Egyptians overthrew Mubarak, with the tiny island nation's Shiite majority calling for greater equality and representation in the government and the public sector.

    King Hamad, a Sunni in the Arab Gulf's only Shiite-majority nation, maintained his authority, often through harsh crackdowns.

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    A young Bahraini man died in hospital on Friday, nearly two months after he was shot in the head by gunmen in civilian clothes outside the home of the country's top Shi'ite Muslim cleric, activists and a local newspaper said.

    Mustafa Hamdan, 18, had been in a comma since a Jan. 26 raid on the home of Ayatollah Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain's Shi'ite community, in the village of Duraz, near Manama.

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