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    More than 3,000 people have been imprisoned in Bahrain since the 2011 Arab Spring as the government continues its crackdown on dissidents. Over 100 have been killed.

    The small Arab monarchy is also home to the U.S.’ biggest regional naval base and historically a large consumer of U.S. arms. Those sales had been frozen by the U.S. following the country’s attacks on protesters, but President Trump recently lifted those sanctions, allowing for the sale of $2.8 billion worth of American fighter jets.

    Read full article here.

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    On 21 June 2017, a panel discussion held on the sidelines of the 35th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, examined the criminalisation of peaceful expression in Bahrain.  “Freedom of expression and assembly in Bahrain are currently under attack,” said the panelists. The side event was co-organised by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Americans for Democracy and Human Rights (ADHRB), Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Index for Censorship, PEN International, Women Human Rights Defenders – International Coalition, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

    Read full article here.

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    For the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June, REDRESS is sharing videos with the stories behind some of the torture survivors that they assist in their own words. In "Tortured and Exiled", former Bahrain MP Jawad Fairooz describes his painful feelings of homesickness after being tortured and forced into exile to the UK.

    Watch his video and that of other torture survivors here.

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    Speaking on behalf of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, the Chair of the Subcommittee, Mr Pier Antonio Panzeri, stated: “Nabeel Rajab’s detention violates his right to freedom of expression. I call on the Bahraini authorities to grant lawyers and family members access to Nabeel Rajab, to drop all charges against him and to free him immediately.”

    Read the statement here.

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    The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the refusal of Bahraini government to lift a ban on Al Wasat newspaper which led to its closure this week.

    The Association also stressed that “its doors are open to any journalist who wants to have any legal opinion or an appointment with a lawyer, and for journalists to be paid all the end of service entitlements according to the labour laws in the Kingdom of Bahrain“. 

    Read the article here.

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    At approximately 11:45pm on 3 July, Bahrain security forces arrested without warrant WHRD Ebtisam Al-Saegh following a raid on her home. In May 2017, Al-Saegh was detained, sexually assaulted and tortured at the National Security Agency in Muharraq, where her family believe she is now being held.

    Five civilian cars and a bus arrived at the defender's home, following which masked officers in plainclothes raided the house and arrested her without presenting a warrant. Her family reported that all those raiding the home were wearing masks, body cameras, and weapons.

    Read article here.

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    At approximately 11:45 p.m. local time in Bahrain, on the night of 3–4 July, long-time human rights defender Ebtesam al-Saegh was detained by state security for the second time in as many months. When Ms. al-Saegh was last detained in the final days of May, the officers torturing her – using physical violence, sexual abuse, and threats to murder her and her children – openly told her they were from Bahrain’s notorious National Security Agency (NSA), and were equally open about the fact that they were torturing her precisely because she was a human rights defender.

    Ms. al-Saegh has been a vital advocate for human rights in Bahrain at a time when voicing such opinions inside the country has become extraordinarily dangerous. She has been one of the few people left willing to speak openly on behalf of human rights in Bahrain, and has done so persistently and courageously at increasingly steep personal cost.

    Read article here.

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    Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Dr. Dubravka Simonovic
    OHCHR-UNOG,
    8-14 Avenue de la Paix
    1211 Geneva 10, ​
    Switzerland
     
    Assistant Secretary-General Andrew Gilmore
    High official on reprisals against human rights defenders
    cooperating with the UN
     
    Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practise
    Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
    CH-1211 Geneva 10,
    Switzerland

     

    Dear Special Rapporteur,

    Dear Chair-Rapporteur,

    Dear Assistant Secretary-General,

    On 3 July at approximately 11:45 PM Bahraini security forces raided the home of prominent WHRD  Ebtisam Al-Saegh and arrested her. Ebtisam Al-Saegh is currently affiliated to SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights (SALAM DHR) and is well-known for her cooperation with the United Nations mechanisms in exposing human rights violations in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

    According to reports from the ground, the Bahraini security forces descended on her house from five civilian cars and a bus. Her family received no explanations as to the reasons behind her arrest, nor have they heard from Ebtisam Al-Saegh on her current whereabouts since then. She is believed to have been detained in Isa Town women’s prison and transferred by the Bahraini National Security Agency (NSA) in an unknown location in the morning of July 4. She is at high risk of torture and sexual violence due to her human rights work. Inmates from Isa prison who are normally allowed out of their cells in the morning have not been allowed to today, allegedly because of Ebtisam Al-Saegh’s presence in the prison and torture and ill-treatment she might be facing.

    This is the second time that Ebtisam Al-Saegh is arrested this year. On 26 May, Ebtisam Al-Saegh was summoned by the Bahraini National Security Agency (NSA) to be interrogated in Muharraq. She later revealed that during her seven-hour interrogation, she was sexually and physically abused by her interrogators, beaten all over her body, kicked in the head and stomach. They subjected her to verbal abuse, groping of breasts and rape. The interrogators also threatened her with the safety of her husband and children if she did not quit her human rights activism and her association with the SALAM organization.

    During the interrogation, she was asked to disclose information about other Bahraini human rights activists, both in Bahrain and abroad; additionally, she was interrogated on her participation at the UN Human Rights Council 34th session in March 2017. Following the interrogation, Al-Saegh was immediately hospitalized in a state of shock.

    Bahrain has a long record of stifling dissent by targeting activists, such as harassments, beatings, arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and torture in detention, unlawful detentions and intrusive surveillance.

    While these patterns of repression are well documented, little attention has been paid to the toll of this repression on women activists. Women involved in advocacy campaigns or public event at the UN such as Ebtisam Al-Saegh have been particularly targeted and face an array of abusive practices their male colleagues are less likely to have to contend with – from sexual violence to imposing humiliating positions or questioning during interrogations. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, in addition to being blindfolded as her male colleagues, reported that the officers held her legs open during most of her interrogation and sexually abused her.

    According to a recent investigation by BCHR submitted to the CAT, sexual violence and sexual harassment are routinely being used to torture women into confessing to crimes in Bahrain.

    As you highlighted in a joint statement,  when women like Ebtisam Al-Saegh are tortured or ill-treated, they are specifically at risk of forms of violence that target them because of their gender.

    We respectfully urge you to issue an urgent and public communication to the Bahraini authorities concerning the particular risk faced by Ebtisam Al-Saegh to be subjected to further torture and sexual abuses.  It will greatly help raising her profile of women rights defender, calling attention to the particular risk she faces, and ensuring she receives appropriate remedies.

     

     

     

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    As she was getting ready for bed on 3 July, Bahraini women’s rights defender Ebtisam Al-Sayegh was arrested by masked officers. Her whereabouts remain unknown.

    Just before midnight, five civilian cars and one minibus arrived at Al-Sayegh’s home. Two female officers demanded she handed over both her mobile phone and her national identity card. No arrest warrant was presented and the officers did not answer questions from her family on why she was being arrested. Her family believe these officers are from the Bahraini National Security Agency.

    Read the article here.

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    In response to news about the arrest of human rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh by the Bahraini authorities on the night of 3 July 2017 Samah Hadid, Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International in the Middle-East said: 

    “The Bahraini authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Ebtisam al-Saegh whose only crime is speaking up against a government committed to crushing all forms of dissent.” 

    “We are deeply concerned about Ebtisam’s wellbeing. When she was arrested in May 2017, she was beaten and sexually assaulted by members of the Bahraini National Security Agency. Bahraini authorities have failed to investigate those claims and we fear that she is at high risk of torture as long as she remains in custody.”

    Read the article here.

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    A Bahraini human rights activist has reportedly been arrested, a month after she complained of being beaten and sexually assaulted by security forces.
    Amnesty International said Ebtisam al-Saegh was detained on Monday night during a raid on her home by about 25 plain-clothes officers wearing masks.
    No warrant was presented, but Ms Saegh was later seen by witnesses at the Issa Town detention centre, the group added.
    It expressed deep concern about her wellbeing and called for her release.

    Read the article here.

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    A Bahraini activist was arrested at her home late on Monday by masked and armed state security officers, a rights group said on Tuesday.

    The arrest of Ebtisam al-Sayeh comes a month after she complained of being tortured and sexually assaulted when she was summoned for questioning, according to the London-based Bahrain Centre for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).

    Amnesty International on Tuesday urged Bahraini authorities to release the human rights activist, who it said was at "high risk of torture".

    Read the article here.

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    According to Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers and a social media statement published by his family on 4 July, the Bahraini judiciary will issue a sentence on 10 July in one of the two cases for which he is under investigation.

    On 3 July, Rajab had his last hearing on the case related to press interviews he attended in 2015 and 2016, under the charges of “publishing and broadcasting false news that undermine the prestige of the state”. Neither him, nor his lawyers attended the trial however. The lawyers have boycotted the trial since 14 June, in protest of the court’s decision to hold the hearings in Rajab’s absence. Rajab is still at the MOI hospital recovering from a major surgery he has sustained in April. Despite his doctor’s statement at the Ministry of Interior (MOI) hospital that he cannot be discharged, the judge went ahead with the hearing, allegedly without his lawyers defence plea being heard by the court.

    Nabeel Rajab is the president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and a prominent human rights defender, that has spoken out nationally and internationally against human right violations in the Kingdom. The Bahraini authorities have unlawfully detained Rajab for more than a year now, and subjected him to solitary confinement for most part of his time in jail. His charges were based on press interviews criticizing the ban on foreign press in Bahrain in 2015 and 2016, and on alleged tweets and retweets concerning the use of torture against political prisoners, and the war in Yemen led by a Gulf coalition including Bahrain. He faces three year-imprisonment for the case related to press interviews, and 15 years for the case on tweets and retweets.  

    Rajab’s pretrial detention has been marred by allegations of mistreatment. His health has gravely deteriorated while in solitary confinement. On 5 April Rajab underwent surgery for bleeding ulcers. Shortly after he was sent back to solitary confinement where he developed an infection. On 8 April he was rushed back to the MOI hospital. The Bahraini authorities have denied him access to his family for almost two weeks, as well as cutting off communication with his lawyers.

    BCHR urges the international community to call on Bahrain to release Nabeel Rajab and other human rights defenders and activists from unlawful detention for merely exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of speech and of expression.

     

     
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    July 5, 2017

    The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

    Description of the situation:

    The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and detention of Mrs. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, Monitoring and Documentation Officer at the NGO Salam for Democracy and Human Rights.

    According to the information received, on July 4, 2017, at approximatively 12:45am, armed, masked and plain clothed officers from the Bahrain security forces raided Mrs. Ebtisam Al-Saegh’s home and arrested her without any warrant. It is feared that the security forces officers might belong to the National Security Agency (NSA).

    Read article here.

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    Responding to the reports about the arrest of rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh on Monday in a midnight raid, human rights organizations – Amnesty International and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) condemned the crackdown on the activist. Al-Saegh’s arrest comes nearly a month after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by the National Security Agency (NSA) officials in May. The rights groups claimed Tuesday she was at the risk of torture again.

    Read article here.

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    The trial of Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been delayed yet again. He was due to stand trial on Sunday 2 July, but this was postponed until 3 July and again until 10 July. 

    “My father’s fate is unknown. He might end up in a prison cell for the next 18 years, so it’s difficult and tiring for him and for our family,” Rajab’s son Adam Rajab told Index today. “However, that does not mean he will ever stop his struggle for rights and freedom.”

    Read the article here.

     

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    Early morning on 6 July 2017, masked men raided the home of detained WHRD Ebtisam Al-Saegh, who was arrested following a previous raid on 3 July and is currently held in an unknown location. The 6 July second house raid came one day after the family made a complaint at the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman Office and the National Institute for Human Rights.

    Read the article here.

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    Fears grow for Ebtisam al-Saegh, who was detained in raid following tweet criticising kingdom’s ruler and security forces.

    Ebtisam al-Saegh, who works for Salam for Human Rights and Democracy, was detained during a night-time raid on Monday by about 25 security officers after she tweeted criticism of the country’s ruler and security forces, according to Amnesty International.

    Read the article here.

     

     

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    His Excellence William V. Roebuck
    Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain
    U.S. Embassy Manama
    BLDG 979, Road 3119, Block 331, Zini
    Manama, Bahrain

     

    Re: Situation of Nabeel Rajab

    7 June 2017

    Your Excellency,

    We write to alert you to the precarious situation facing Mr. 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 the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). According to Mr. Rajab’s lawyers, the Bahraini judiciary will issue a sentence on Monday 10 July in one of the two cases for which he is being prosecuted. He is on trial in two cases relating to his right to freedom of expression, which could result in up to 18 years of prison, with other cases pending.

    Mr. Rajab is likely to be sentenced in absentia to three years in prison on charges of “publishing and broadcasting false news that undermines the prestige of the state.” This relates to press interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016. These charges relate solely to the exercise of Mr. Rajab’s freedom of expression and are reprisals against his work exposing human rights violations in Bahrain.

    Mr. Rajab has been hospitalized since April and been unable to attend the trial. Despite this, the Lower Criminal Court has insisted on holding court sessions. His lawyers have boycotted the trial since 14 June, in protest of the court’s decision to hold the hearings in Mr. Rajab’s absence, as he is still recovering at the Ministry of Interior Hospital from a post-surgery infection and not able to attend his hearings. Monday’s hearing with be the fourteenth hearing since the trial began. To date, the court has held eight hearings during Rajab’s hospitalization which he has been unable to attend.

    We respectfully request your Excellency’s presence at the upcoming court hearing to ensure adequate protection of Mr. Rajab’s internationally protected rights, including rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), acceded to by Bahrain in 2006, and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. His fair trial rights and freedom of expression are being systematically denied by the Bahraini Government[1] as follows.

    Since 19 June, Mr. Rajab has been prevented from contacting his lawyers and has had little contact with his family, apart from a visit in early July. The denial of regular communication raises fears for his health and safety. We believe it is a new form of harassment with the aim of transferring him back to prison. His health has steadily worsened during his lengthy detention and on 5 April he underwent surgery for bleeding ulcers, but was returned to the prison shortly afterwards. Due to the unhygienic detention conditions, Mr. Rajab developed a post-surgery infection and was rushed back to the Ministry of Interior hospital three days later. He has been slowly recovering ever since.

    Mr. Rajab has been arbitrarily detained on spurious charges for over a year, over nine months of which has been in solitary confinement. This long-term isolation has been coupled with sleep deprivation, unsanitary cell conditions, and chronic physical pain, resulting in deteriorated mental health, including severe depression. In May, the Committee Against Torture expressed particular concern over Mr. Rajab’s solitary confinement and called for his release[2].

    We support your dialogue with Bahrain; however, we are equally convinced that this relationship is only sustainable if it is founded on the mutual respect of democratic freedoms and human rights. Mr. Rajab is currently being punished for holding these same ideals. We urge you to stand by him now, and to call on the Bahraini government to grant his release immediately on humanitarian grounds, in light of the critical state of his mental and physical health and to immediately drop the expression-related charges.

    We also urgently seek your assistance in verifying Mr. Rajab’s status and safeguarding his health by requesting permission from the authorities to visit him at the Ministry of Interior Hospital. The government has so far denied requests by human rights groups to visit him and examine his condition.

    We also urge you to take action to ensure that the fair trial and due process rights of Mr. Rajab are adequately protected and to press for the Bahraini authorities to implement their own commitment to invite the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein to visit the country[3].  This visit which was postponed indefinitely, would be a critical step in encouraging the Bahraini government to engage with the recommendations and decisions of UN Human Rights bodies concerning Bahrain, including those calling specifically for the immediate release of Mr. Rajab.

    Should you require any further information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    We look forward to your response.

    Yours sincerely,

     

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    Front Line Defenders

    Gulf Center for Human Rights

    IFEX

    International Federation for Human Rights

    Pen International

    World Organization against Torture

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

    European Center for Democracy and Human Rights

     

    [1] For more info, please see: http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/8758

    [2] Committee Against Torture, CAT/C/BHR/CO/2-3, Concluding Observations on the Second and Third Periodic Reports of Bahrain, 29 May 2017, paras. 20, 21(e), 32, 33(b).

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    The tiny island kingdom of Bahrain is increasingly turning to a particularly draconian tool of repression: stripping dissidents of their citizenship.

    Rights activists say authorities have revoked the citizenship of 103 people so far this year, already more than in 2016. All were convicted of terrorism-related crimes in trials that rights activists say lacked due process and transparency.

    Read article here.

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