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    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the sentence issued by the Court of Cassation on December 31, 2018, against the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, and his five-year imprisonment, after being convicted of criticizing Bahrain's participation in the Yemen war and his tweets on Twitter testifying about torture at Jaw's Central Prison.

    The Grand Criminal Court sentenced Rajab to five years in prison on February 21, 2018. The sentence is added to a previous one of two years in a case involving freedom of expression (FOE). The court convicted Rajab under Article 133 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes "broadcasting false rumors in wartime", article 215 on "insulting a foreign state in public" and article 216 on "insulting official bodies".

    Rajab is one of the most courageous defenders of human rights in Bahrain and suffers from constant harassment and ill-treatment in Jaw's Central Prison where he is currently imprisoned.

    Maytham Al Salman from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights stated after rejecting the appeal of Nabeel Rajab and the court’s decision to support the sentence against him in the case of criticizing the war on Yemen that : “Nabeel Rajab was sentenced for opposing war in Yemen and calling for a peaceful reconciliation for humanitarian reasons. Today, the United Nations and the international community are advocating Nabeel Rajab’s message and the War in Yemen can possibly end very soon after accepting the exchange of prisoners between parties involved in the conflict.”

    He added: “Nabeel Rajab should be rewarded rather than imprisoned for his call to end the war in Yemen for humanitarian reasons.”

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the continued detention of the activist Nabeel Rajab in prison is a continuation of the punishment imposed by the government against those who carry out their professional and humanitarian duty to advocate for human rights issues. The Government of Bahrain continues to punish human rights activists for their work in exposing human rights violations. The sentence against Nabeel Rajab reveals the persistence of the Government of Bahrain in violating human rights laws and its disregarding of international covenants and conventions ratified by Bahrain, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states: "No one shall be punished for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

    The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls upon Bahrain's allies to pressure the government of Bahrain to:

    - Immediate release of Nabeel Rajab and drop the charges against him

    - Stop targeting Human Rights Defenders (HRDs)

    - Respect international covenants and conventions, especially those relating to the need to preserve the right to freedom of expression

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    <p>&ldquo;Bahrain Center for Human Rights&rdquo; with the cooperation of &ldquo;Bahrain Interfaith&rdquo;, &ldquo;Salam for Democracy and Human Rights&rdquo;, and &ldquo;Maharat Foundation&rdquo; organized a seminar entitled &ldquo;The Restrictions Imposed on the Freedom of Opinion and Expression-Bahrain&rdquo;. The seminar discussed the use of regional laws as a mean to limit the freedom of expression in Bahrain. It reviewed the violations and constraints imposed on the citizens, organizations, and civil society that are making use of their right to freedom of expression, through judicial and legislative restrictions.</p>

    <p>The legal advisor Ibrahim Sarhan, from SalamDHR, reviewed the legal articles that the government of Bahrain uses to restrict freedom of expression. In the second panel, Hussein Al-Sharif, from &ldquo;Maharat Foundation&rdquo; discussed Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that emphasizes the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Additionally, he listed the international legislations protecting this right. In this context, he noted the importance of human rights activists&#39; knowledge of the gaps in internal laws and how these gaps can be used to their advantage.</p>

    <p>Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman, from Bahrain Interfaith, commented on the provisions of incitement to hatred in Bahrain, and ways of guaranteeing the right to express one&rsquo;s opinion through the scrutiny of the Bahraini law, and provided a precise definition of hatred, as well as the adoption of the Rabat Plan of Action. Finally, human rights activist Enas Aoun, from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights participated in a recorded video on the situation of prisoners of opinion and expression in Bahrain.&nbsp;</p>

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    <p><strong>Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:</strong>&nbsp; Ravina Shamdasani<br />
    <strong>Location:</strong>&nbsp;Geneva&nbsp;<br />
    <strong>Date:&nbsp;</strong>4 January 2019<br />
    <strong>Subject: Bahrain</strong></p>

    <p>We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and to ensure that all Bahrainis are able to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression without fear of arbitrary detention.&nbsp;</p>

    <p>Rajab has been imprisoned since June 2016 for tweeting in 2015 about Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s airstrikes in Yemen and allegations of torture inside Bahrain&rsquo;s Jau Prison. One such tweet read as follows:&nbsp;<em>&ldquo;We have the right to say no to the war in #Yemen and should struggle for peace and security but not bloodshed #Sanaa.&rdquo;&nbsp;</em>On Monday this week, Bahrain&rsquo;s highest court &ndash; the Court of Cassation &ndash; upheld Rajab&rsquo;s conviction and five-year prison sentence on charges of &quot;spreading false news and rumours in time of war&quot;, &quot;insulting foreign countries&quot; and &quot;insulting publicly the interior ministry&quot;. The UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention had last year declared Rajab&rsquo;s detention to be arbitrary.</p>

    <p>Monday&rsquo;s court decision brings into focus the continued suppression of Government critics in Bahrain through arbitrary arrest and detention, travel bans, harassment, threats, revocation of citizenship and other means. There have been numerous reports of human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and opposition figures being targeted for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. The UN Secretary-General&rsquo;s report on reprisals in September 2018 highlighted several specific cases where civil society activists and their families in Bahrain suffered reprisals for seeking to engage with UN human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council. In some of the cases, the activists were accused of terrorism-related offences.</p>

    <p>The arrest, detention and imprisonment of individuals for the exercise of their fundamental human rights is in violation of Bahrain&rsquo;s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it has ratified. We urge the Government of Bahrain to stop criminalising dissenting voices.</p>

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    <p><strong>Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:</strong>&nbsp; Ravina Shamdasani<br />
    <strong>Location:</strong>&nbsp;Geneva&nbsp;<br />
    <strong>Date:&nbsp;</strong>4 January 2019<br />
    <strong>Subject: Bahrain</strong></p>

    <p>We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and to ensure that all Bahrainis are able to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression without fear of arbitrary detention.&nbsp;</p>

    <p>Rajab has been imprisoned since June 2016 for tweeting in 2015 about Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s airstrikes in Yemen and allegations of torture inside Bahrain&rsquo;s Jau Prison. One such tweet read as follows:&nbsp;<em>&ldquo;We have the right to say no to the war in #Yemen and should struggle for peace and security but not bloodshed #Sanaa.&rdquo;&nbsp;</em>On Monday this week, Bahrain&rsquo;s highest court &ndash; the Court of Cassation &ndash; upheld Rajab&rsquo;s conviction and five-year prison sentence on charges of &quot;spreading false news and rumours in time of war&quot;, &quot;insulting foreign countries&quot; and &quot;insulting publicly the interior ministry&quot;. The UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention had last year declared Rajab&rsquo;s detention to be arbitrary.</p>

    <p>Monday&rsquo;s court decision brings into focus the continued suppression of Government critics in Bahrain through arbitrary arrest and detention, travel bans, harassment, threats, revocation of citizenship and other means. There have been numerous reports of human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and opposition figures being targeted for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. The UN Secretary-General&rsquo;s report on reprisals in September 2018 highlighted several specific cases where civil society activists and their families in Bahrain suffered reprisals for seeking to engage with UN human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council. In some of the cases, the activists were accused of terrorism-related offences.</p>

    <p>The arrest, detention and imprisonment of individuals for the exercise of their fundamental human rights is in violation of Bahrain&rsquo;s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it has ratified. We urge the Government of Bahrain to stop criminalising dissenting voices.</p>

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    Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Ravina Shamdasani

    Location: Geneva 
    Date: 4 January 2019
    Subject: Bahrain

    We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and to ensure that all Bahrainis are able to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression without fear of arbitrary detention. 

    Rajab has been imprisoned since June 2016 for tweeting in 2015 about Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes in Yemen and allegations of torture inside Bahrain’s Jau Prison. One such tweet read as follows: “We have the right to say no to the war in #Yemen and should struggle for peace and security but not bloodshed #Sanaa.” On Monday this week, Bahrain’s highest court – the Court of Cassation – upheld Rajab’s conviction and five-year prison sentence on charges of "spreading false news and rumours in time of war", "insulting foreign countries" and "insulting publicly the interior ministry". The UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention had last year declared Rajab’s detention to be arbitrary.

    Monday’s court decision brings into focus the continued suppression of Government critics in Bahrain through arbitrary arrest and detention, travel bans, harassment, threats, revocation of citizenship and other means. There have been numerous reports of human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and opposition figures being targeted for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. The UN Secretary-General’s report on reprisals in September 2018 highlighted several specific cases where civil society activists and their families in Bahrain suffered reprisals for seeking to engage with UN human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council. In some of the cases, the activists were accused of terrorism-related offences.

    The arrest, detention and imprisonment of individuals for the exercise of their fundamental human rights is in violation of Bahrain’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it has ratified. We urge the Government of Bahrain to stop criminalising dissenting voices.

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    <p><strong>Beirut, January 16th, 2019</strong>_ <strong>Human Rights Organizations call for a Radical Change in International Policies Tackling Human Rights Violation in Bahrain </strong></p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    <p>An international conference on the human rights situation in Bahrain was held in Beirut, on the 16th of January 2019 with the participation of international human rights organizations, experts, CSOs, activists and researchers. Members of prominent organizations such Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, IFEX, FIDH, Civicus and others have participated in the discussions of the topics of the conference.</p>

    <p>All participants have agreed on the emergency of implementing a new international strategy to deal with the ongoing deterioration of the human rights situation that has been happening under the silence of the international community, including the UK and the USA.</p>

    <p>Some of the topics discussed revolved around the harassment and prosecution of human rights defenders, the closure of civic and political space, the lack of democratic political pluralism, the ban on the entrance of UN special rapporteurs to Bahrain amongst others.</p>

    <p>Among the participants, some of the important statements were:</p>

    <p>Joe stork made a comment saying that &ldquo;the silence we are talking about is not international; it is enforced silence in Bahrain.&rdquo;</p>

    <p>Aya Majzoub, the researcher at Human Rights Watch, declared that &ldquo;We have 5 joint statements on Bahrain since 2012, last one was in 2015. Part of the reason that we haven&rsquo;t had another joint statement on Bahrain because no country is willing to take the lead.&rdquo;</p>

    <p>The senior Advisor in Human Rights First, Brian Dooley, said that &ldquo;for the time in generations, in Washington (US Congress), questions are being asked that haven&rsquo;t been asked before, this is an opportunity to be used.&rdquo;</p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    <p><strong>Recommendations:</strong></p>

    <ul>
    <li>Call on international diplomatic missions Bahrain to:</li>
    </ul>

    <p>-observe trials of {political} activists, Human Rights Defenders, Freedom of Expression</p>

    <p>-Report on due-process violations</p>

    <ul>
    <li>Raise profile of prominent Rights Defenders publically in the US and UK.</li>
    <li>Special Rapporteurs on torture to visit Bahrain and linking it to CAT obligations.</li>
    <li>Scoping missions to assess which countries/businesses/organizations have most leverage on Bahrain.</li>
    <li>Campaigning ahead of F1 races</li>
    <li>Messaging: more focus on broader trends of repression in Bahrain, not just prominent Human Rights Defenders, especially in Arabic Media.</li>
    <li>Use Parliamentary procedures in the UK and the US (US Congress) to raise questions about Bahrain.</li>
    </ul>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

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    Bahrain cracked down on peaceful dissent during 2018, virtually eliminating all opposition, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2019
    No independent media were allowed to operate in the country in 2018, and ahead of parliamentary elections in November, parliament banned members of dissolved opposition parties from being able to run. Peaceful dissidents were arrested, prosecuted, ill-treated, and stripped of citizenship. 

    “The Bahraini authorities have demonstrated a zero tolerance policy when it comes to free media, independent political thought, and peaceful dissent,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Despite the stream of arrests and convictions of dissidents, Bahrain’s allies have failed to use their influence to improve Bahrain’s rights record at home or abroad.” 

    In the 674-page World Report 2019, its 29th edition, Human Rights Watch reviewed human rights practices in more than 100 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that the populists spreading hatred and intolerance in many countries are spawning a resistance. New alliances of rights-respecting governments, often prompted and joined by civic groups and the public, are raising the cost of autocratic excess. Their successes illustrate the possibility of defending human rights – indeed, the responsibility to do so – even in darker times.

    In the days leading up to the November parliamentary elections, the government detained a former member of parliament, Ali Rashed al-Asheeri, after he tweeted about boycotting the elections. He was released on bail three days after the election. On November 4, the Bahrain High Court of Appeals overturned the previous acquittal of a prominent opposition member, Sheikh Ali Salman, sentencing him to life in prison on espionage charges. Salman is the leader of Bahrain’s largest political opposition group, al-Wifaq, which wasoutlawed in 2016.

    Nabeel Rajab, one of Bahrain’s preeminent human rights defenders, completed a two-year prison term for “spreading false news” in June. He then immediately began a five-year prison term for his tweets criticizing alleged torture in Bahrain’s Jaw Prison and the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. Duaa al-Wadaei, wife of a prominent exiled activist, Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei, was sentenced to prison in absentia on March 21 for allegedly insulting an officer at the Manama airport in 2016.

    In September, three female human rights defenders held in the Isa Town Prison, Hajer Mansoor Hasan, Najah Yusuf, and Medina Ali,said that prison officials assaulted them and restricted their family visits, phone calls, and time spent outside of their cells. The National Institution for Human Rights dismissed these allegations

    The oversight bodies that government set up in 2012 in response to a recommendation by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) once again in 2018 did not investigate credible allegations of prison abuse or hold officials who participated in and ordered widespread torture during interrogations since 2011 accountable.

    According to one human rights group, in 2018, the courts stripped 305 people of their citizenship, bringing the total since 2012 to 810. The majority of Bahraini nationals stripped of their citizenship were left effectively stateless. As of November, Bahraini prisons held 14 people on death row.

    Despite significant human rights concerns in Bahrain and its participation in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which is committing serious violations of international humanitarian law, the United States State Department approved five major weapons sales to Bahrain between January and November.

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    <p>After the eight-year anniversary of the start of mass democratic protests that took place on the 14th of February 2011, when tens and thousands of Bahrainis peacefully protested and called for reforms, &ldquo;Bahrain Center for Human Rights&rdquo;, with the cooperation of &ldquo;Bahrain Interfaith&rdquo;, organized an International Conference. Its goal was to discuss the necessary steps to put a stop to the deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain. The conference &ldquo;Bahrain: 8 years of Repression Under International Silence&rdquo; shed light on the repressive methods used by the Bahraini government since 2011, which focus on crushing civil society and dissent by arresting activists and human rights defenders, issuing death sentences and dissolving civil and political associations.</p>

    <p>Beirut hosted the International Conference on Wednesday, January 16th, as the Arab capital of international human rights organizations. Members of prominent organizations such Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, IFEX, FIDH, Civicus and others have participated in the discussions of the topics of the conference.</p>

    <p>Saloua Boukaouit moderated the first panel that discussed the situation of &ldquo;Human Rights Defenders in Bahrain&rdquo; and the panelists were Khalid Ibrahim (Director of the GCHR), Ahmed AlWedaei (Director of Advisory BIRD), Mohamad Najem (Co-founder of SMEX), and Kristina Stockwood (Advisory Board GCHR). Additionally, in the second panel, the moderator Annie Game (IFEX Director) discussed the &ldquo;International Perspectives towards Human Rights violations in Bahrain<strong>&rdquo; </strong>with Aya Majzoub<strong> (</strong><em>Researcher at HRW),</em> Brian Dooley<strong> (</strong><em>Senior Advisor Human Rights First), and </em>Devin Kenny<strong> (</strong><em>Researcher at Amnesty). </em>In the third panel which were entitled &ldquo;Civic and political space in Bahrain&rdquo;, the panelists were Fadi Al-Qadi<strong> (</strong><em>Independent)</em><strong>, </strong>Drewery Dyke<strong> (</strong><em>Salam Director), </em>and Joe Stork<strong> (</strong><em>Independent), </em>while Ariel Plotkin moderated the discussion.</p>

    <p>The conference issued recommendations after discussions in the form of round tables. There was a call on international diplomatic missions for observing the trials of political activists, human rights defenders and freedom of expression, as well as reporting on due-process violations; that was in addition to verify the status of the detainees of opinion and work to convince the king to end violations and activate the role of the parliaments of the European Union, the United States and Britain.</p>

    <p>Among the recommendations were to make use of influential international media and inviting special rapporteurs on torture to visit Bahrain and link it to the obligations of the Committee Against Torture (CAT). Scoping missions to assess which countries/businesses/organizations have most leverage on Bahrain was added to recommendations. The conference also recommended that attention must be paid in the Arab media to the issues of detainees, not just the prominent ones, and to launching a campaign ahead the Formula1 race.</p>

    <p>The conference included a video for Nabeel Rajab&rsquo;s daughter saying: &ldquo;Instead of honoring my father for his human rights activism in my country he has been subjected in inhumane conditions and ill-treatment in prison. I hope the entire world calls for Nabeel Rajab&rsquo;s immediate release and for the Bahraini authorities to drop the charges against him.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p>

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    Nabeel Rajab is one of the most prominent Arab human rights defenders and has been a leading voice in the Arab Spring in Bahrain. He played a key role in Bahrain’s 2011 pro-democracy uprising but has been imprisoned for several years for dissent. Nabeel stands convicted of “spreading false rumors in time of war” and “insulting public authorities”. 

    Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and deputy secretary general of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), has been detained in October 2014 on charges relating to a series of tweets in which he called to end the war in Yemen for humanitarian reasons.

    Nabeel Rajab is among the most respected rights activists in the Arab world, and his rights work has been recognized internationally.Instead of honoring him for his human rights activism in Bahrain, he has been subjected in inhumane conditions and ill-treatment in prison. 

    In February 2018, he was sentenced to five years in prison for his tweets documenting torture in Bahrain’s prisons. He has reportedly been subjected to inhumane conditions and denied medical care in prison. Human rights organizations are campaigning for his immediate and unconditional release. Foreign Policy (FP) listed Nabeel Rajab among the top 100 list of the most important Global Thinkers of this year. 

    ‪ForeignPolicy.com: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019-global-thinkers/?thinker=Nabeel-Rajab

     

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    Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) welcomes the decision of releasing the Bahraini football player, Hakeem Al-Araibi, detained by the Thai authorities, after Bahrain dropped extradition proceedings.

    Bahrain Center for Human Rights considers his release a result of cooperation between human rights organizations, governments and the football community in the past two months. Therefore, BCHR thanks Australia, people and government, and all other countries that contribute in his release.

    BCHR: “We have worked hard with many members of human rights organizations around the world to reach this result”.

    The case of the 25 year-old player who was a refugee in Australia since 2014, and a member of football club in Melbourne had become widely known. He was detained by Thai authorities in last November at Bangkok airport when coming from Australia to spend the honeymoon with his wife. Al-Araibi’s detention was in response to an international arrest warrant requested by Bahrain.

    The Thai judiciary began to consider the Bahraini authorities request to extradite him to carry out a previous sentence of 10 years imprisonment. The charges were a result of participating in the “Arab Spring” events in 2011 that included Bahrain, which the player completely denies.

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    <p><strong>Beirut, February 13th, 2019</strong>_&nbsp;<strong>Human Rights Organizations call for Accountability Regarding Human Rights Violations in Bahrain</strong></p>

    <p>A conference on the human rights situation in Bahrain was held in Beirut, on the 13th&nbsp;of February 2019 with the participation of international human rights organizations, experts, CSOs, activists and researchers. Members of prominent organizations such Human Rights Watch, FIDH, Amnesty International, Index on Censorship, and others have participated in the discussions of the topics of the conference.</p>

    <p>All participants have agreed on the need for accountability to deal with the ongoing deterioration of the human rights situation that has been happening since 2011.</p>

    <p>Some of the topics discussed revolved around the status of women HRDs, the shutdown on Freedom of Expression, the forms of electronic repression, the failure in implementing the BICI recommendations, and the lack of accountability in Bahrain.</p>

    <p>Among the participants, some of the important statements were:</p>

    <p>The head of FIDH, Dimitris Christopoulos, said that &ldquo;Treating Nabeel Rajab&nbsp;the way they did shows that human rights defenders threaten their system by advocating peace&quot;.</p>

    <p>The Advocacy Officer at&nbsp;<strong>Salam DHR</strong>, Joshua Cooper, said that &ldquo;it is clear that BICI process has long come to a halt. To answer why, involves answering why human rights as a whole&nbsp;have regressed in Bahrain, including in the absence of any political transition, the use of sectarian and security narratives, and a lack of international support.&rdquo;</p>

    <p>Jodie Ginsberg the CEO at&nbsp;<strong>Index on Censorship </strong>commented that<strong>&nbsp;&ldquo;</strong>I expect to see a clear commitment from Bahrain&#39;s allies that continued cooperation is dependent on Bahrain&#39;s commitment to uphold universal human rights.&rdquo;</p>

    <p>Aya Majzoub, the researcher at&nbsp;<strong>Human Rights Watch</strong>, declared that &ldquo;the recent victory in Hakeem Al-Araibi&rsquo;s case proves that the effort to put pressure on Bahrain has been successful in order to reform its human rights record .&rdquo;</p>

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    <p>The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) is concerned by the wave of arrests that have been carried in the run up to and on 14 February, which marks the anniversary of the 2011 uprising.</p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    <p>Around 40 arrests have been carried out so far as Bahrain marks the uprising anniversary. In the two days leading up to the anniversary, 28 arrests were carried out, with 11 further arrests in the morning of 14 February, including three minors. It is likely that further arrests will follow.</p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    <p>The majority of these arrests, which took place in over ten different areas, were carried out following unlawful house raids. A further arrest was carried out against a protestor.</p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    <p>Also in the lead up to the anniversary, dozens of peaceful protests have taken place in many cities, including Al-Manama. In the afternoon of 14 February, one protest was met by tear gas.</p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    <p>BCHR: &ldquo;Each year, we see a growing crackdown at this time of year. In 2017 we saw excessive force used against protestors, leading to many injuries. So far this year, we have seen a wave of arrests carried out, and expect that more could follow&rdquo;.</p>

    <p>Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the European Union and all international human rights organizations to put more pressure on the government of Bahrain to:</p>

    <p>&bull; Immediate and unconditional release of those arbitrarily detained</p>

    <p>&bull; Immediately put an end to violations of human rights, in particular the right to express opinions and freedom of peaceful assembly</p>

    <p>&bull; Accountability of those responsible for violations, regardless of their position</p>

    <p>&bull; Compensation of victims in fair compensation pursuant to the size of their injuries.&nbsp;</p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    <p><a href="/sites/default/files/photos%20websit%2014%20feb%20eng_0.pdf">To see more</a></p>

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    <p>Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the arbitrary detention of children Hussein Radhi Abdullah and Ali Hussein AbdulWahab. They were detained for five days after being charged with illegal gathering. These children were among the 10 cases of detention of children under the age of 18, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) monitoring from 11 to 17 February 2019.</p>

    <p>Arbitrary arrests were carried out during the same period. Some children were arrested by raiding their houses at early morning without a legal warrant. Others, including Hussein and Ali, were arrested from the street without knowing the reason for the arrest or even presenting the warrant. They are often investigated without a legal representative and are not allowed to communicate with the outside world. They are often subjected to psychological torture to force them to confess to the charges against them, thus arrest and imprison them, depriving them of their freedom and education.</p>

    <p>The centre asserts that the international law obligates the authorities of any State to respect and treat the child as a minor while Bahraini authorities classify those children as &ldquo;terrorists&rdquo; in an attempt to justify their detention. The government of Bahrain has signed to the convention &nbsp;on the Rights of Child that guarantees the safety of children which states in its 37th article that no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.</p>

    <p>Based on the above, Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the authorities in Bahrain to:</p>

    <p>&nbsp;-Immediate and unconditional release of detained children<br />
    - Commit to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the application of its provisions<br />
    - Stop targeting children and allow them to complete their education and exercise their rights guaranteed by international covenants and conventions<br />
    -Ensure fair trial for children who are found to be involved in cases in front of specialized courts and guarantee all their rights</p>

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    We, the undersigned organisations, call on the authorities in Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release Hajer Mansoor Hasan, Sayed Nazar Alwadaei and Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor, to ensure their convictions and sentences are quashed, and to drop all additional fabricated charges Mr Nazar Alwadaei is facing. On 25 February 2019, the Court of Cassation in Bahrain will issue its verdict in the appeal against the three-year prison sentence handed to all three individuals. If the sentence is upheld, they will have exhausted all legal remedies available to them.

    Ms Mansoor, Mr Nazar Alwadaei and Mr Mansoor are family members of Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, who has been tortured, judicially harassed, stripped of his citizenship and threatened by the Bahraini authorities due to his human rights work in the United Kingdom. The prosecution of his relatives is the latest attempt to intimidate him and silence his advocacy efforts. Last month, the UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention described the imprisonment of Ms Mansoor, Mr Nazar Alwadaei and Mr Mansoor as “arbitrary” and in reprisal to Mr Alwadaei’s activities, and called for their immediate release. 

    Mr Alwadaei’s family members were arrested in March 2017, while he was attending the 34th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. They were subjected to physical and psychological abuse and prosecuted on dubious charges of planting fake explosive devices to create terror among the population. The prosecution failed to present any physical evidence linking the three to the alleged crime, relying instead on “confidential sources” and confessions which the defendants claim were extracted under duress.

    On 31 October 2017, Ms Mansoor, Mr Nazar Alwadaei and Mr Mansoor were convicted by a Bahraini court following a long trial marred by due process violations, including allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, coerced confessions and denial of legal representation. On 20 December 2017, an appeals court upheld the sentence. Mr Nazar Alwadaei was issued an additional seven years’ imprisonment in two separate cases on 29 November 2017 and 26 March 2018 based on similar charges. He is now serving 11 years in total.

    Furthermore, we are concerned that the prison conditions in Isa Town Prison, where Ms Mansoor is held, are not in line with international standards. We are aware that she is not receiving adequate medical attention for a lump in her breast, which may be cancerous. We also understand that she has not been allowed to see her family since September 2018, due to the imposition of a physical barrier in the visitation room.

    We urge the Bahraini authorities to release Ms Mansoor, Mr Nazar Alwadaei and Mr Mansoor immediately and unconditionally, to ensure their convictions and sentences are quashed and to drop all additional fabricated charges against Mr Nazar Alwadaei . An impartial, effective and independent investigation into their credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment must be conducted and the results made public to ensure that all those involved can be held accountable following fair judicial proceedings.

    The treatment of Sayed Alwadaei’s family is indicative of Bahrain’s pattern of abuse, harassment and intimidation against human rights defenders, as highlighted by the UN Secretary-General in September 2018. We call on the authorities in Bahrain to end such actions and ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders and that the right to freedom of expression is fully respected.

    Signed,

    Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

    Amnesty International

    Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR)

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

    English PEN

    European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)

    Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

    Human Rights First (HRF)

    Human Rights Watch (HRW)

    PEN International

    Women’s March Global

     

     

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    <p>Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a new report entitled &ldquo;Women and Children under Repression&rdquo;, on the occasion of International Woman Day, in both, English and Arabic languages. The report is published to highlight the status of Bahraini woman under the Bahraini laws and decrees violating women&#39;s rights.</p>

    <p>In the report, the Center examines Bahrain&#39;s laws and legislations restricting the freedom of women and children and shows the extent of its non-conformity with the international treaties, covenants and agreements especially the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The report also documented abuses against women since the popular protests beginning in 2011.</p>

    <p>The report concluded with recommendations to the Government of Bahrain urging them to release all detained women. The report has also recommended enacting the Bahraini Nationality Act (2014), that guarantees the right of the individual in all matters relating to nationalities; Granting citizenship to every Bahraini child who has been stripped of his nationality and compensated for every right he was deprived of when he was stateless and; Amend the law to allow the Bahraini mother to transfer her nationality to her child.</p>

    <p>To read the full report click <a href="/sites/default/files/women.pdf">here</a></p>

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    <p><strong>The detention of Ali Marhoun and Mohammed Khalil reveals the continued targeting of athletes by the authorities</strong></p>

    <p>The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its deep concern over the continued targeting of athletes by the Bahraini authorities, and their ill-treatment. The security services recently arrested Mohammed Khalil, a player in Bahrain Bowling Team, and the player of the Al- Ma&#39;ameer Volleyball Club Ali Marhoun and his brother, the sports photographer Hassan Marhoun. They were arrested on the background of charges related to the political and legal situation in the country.</p>

    <p>On Tuesday, 29 January 2019, the police forces arbitrarily arrested the player in Al- Ma&#39;ameer Volleyball Club, Ali Jafar Marhoun (22 years old) and his three brothers, Mohammed, Houssein and Hassan (a sports photographer). They broke into their house in Al-Ma&#39;ameer by climbing the wall, and arrested them without presenting an arrest warrant or legal authorization for inspection.</p>

    <p>Public prosecution accused Ali of participating in placing a fake bomb on the highway. The three brothers were accused of the same charge before they were released on 19 February 2019. Ali remained in prison until the date of issuing this statement. Ali&#39;s family reported to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights that the police officers responsible for the arrest of Ali had beaten him during the house raid. Ali told his family that he was beaten during the interrogation for the purpose of enforced confession. He was subsequently detained for 30 days on pending investigation.</p>

    <p>On Friday, 08 March 2019, the police forces arrested the player in Bahrain Bowling Team, Mohammed Khalil Ebrahim. He was leaving Bahrain International Airport for official participation in an international championship in the UAE. Mohammed is facing a previous sentence of one-year imprisonment for gathering with others after his arrest in 2015. His family reported the invalidity of judgment against Mohammed, being that he was on duty at the time of the alleged gathering.</p>

    <p>Since the beginning of 2019, authorities have arrested four athletes, including Jawad Al-Khabbaz, a football coach and a former press photographer. He was fired from his job in Al-Watan after the peaceful protests in Bahrain in 2011, before his release after 20 days of detention.</p>

    <p>Bahrain has been under intense international criticism for its targeting of athletes and journalists, the most recent of which was the case of Bahraini player Hakeem Al-Araibi. Hakeem is a refugee in Australia who was arrested in Thailand on the orders of the Bahraini government before being released following an international campaign to support his cause.</p>

    <p>The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) strongly condemns the Bahraini government&#39;s continued targeting of activists, journalists and athletes as well as the various human rights abuses ongoing in the country. The Bahraini government usually accuses activists of cases where confessions are extracted under degrading treatment during interrogation.</p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    <p><strong>The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the international community to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to: </strong></p>

    <p>&bull; Immediately release all detained athletes and journalists in Bahrain</p>

    <p>&bull; Stop targeting activists, athletes and journalists</p>

    <p>&bull; Commit to international conventions and covenants ratified by Bahrain</p>

    <p>&bull; Investigate allegations of torture and hold the responsible accountable &nbsp;</p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

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    <p>Jean Todt,</p>

    <p>President Federation Internationale de l&rsquo;Automobile (FIA)</p>

    <p>8, Place de la Concorde</p>

    <p>75008 Paris, France</p>

    <p>Dear Jean Todt,</p>

    <p>We, the undersigned organisations, write to draw your attention to the human rights and press freedom violations committed by the Bahraini authorities, including against people protesting the Bahrain Grand Prix.</p>

    <p>The Bahraini Government attaches great importance to the Bahrain Grand Prix as a glamor status symbol of progress and international prestige. For this reason, the race has become a focal point for protests calling for political reform as well as a pretext for the authorities to further crack down on free speech and assembly.</p>

    <p>Leading human rights organisations have documented the spike in human rights abuses that occur each year around the time of the race. The Bahraini government uses such events, and the lack of global concern about such abuses, to sanitise&mdash;or &ldquo;sports-wash&rdquo;&mdash;its image abroad while continuing to abuse its citizens domestically.</p>

    <p>Since 2015, Formula One has had a human rights statement, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/201... it adopted after a mediation process</a> when Americans for Democracy &amp; Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) filed a <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-29762156">complaint</a>in the United Kingdom, where the main Formula One companies are based, under the <a href="http://www.oecd.org/corporate/mne/48004323.pdf">OECD</a>Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The guidelines<a href="https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/formula-one-commits-to-human-rig... emphasise the corporate responsibility</a> to carry out human rights due diligence and cooperate with legitimate processes in remediating impacts they have caused or contributed to. Its &ldquo;S<a href="https://www.formula1.com/en/toolbar/statement-of-commitment-to-respect-f... of Commitment to Respect for Human Rights&rdquo;</a> pledges: &ldquo;The Formula 1 companies are committed to respecting internationally recognised human rights in its operations globally.&rdquo;</p>

    <p>One case of Bahraini abuse is the imprisoned mother of four and Bahraini activist, Najah Yusuf, who was arbitrarily arrested and said she was tortured and sexually assaulted a week after Facebook posts criticising the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix were published on an account she comanaged.</p>

    <p>The posts in question called for &ldquo;No to Formula races on occupied Bahraini land,&rdquo; and criticised the Bahrain Grand Prix for being&ldquo;nothing more than a way for the al-Khalifa family to whitewash their criminal record and gross human rights violations&rdquo;. They also called for a &ldquo;Freedom for the Formula 1 Detainees&rdquo; march to put the spotlight on protestors jailed for criticising the Bahrain Grand Prix. These posts were all included in the evidence submitted by the Public Prosecution against her, and her social media activity opposing the Grand Prix was referenced in her court judgement.</p>

    <p>Formula One publicly <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/nov/14/f1-woman-jailed-bahrain-gr... concern</a> in November 2018 about Ms. Yusuf&rsquo;s case. The Bahraini Government continues to claim that her arrest and conviction &ldquo;has nothing to do&rdquo; with her protest of the Grand Prix. The Bahraini Government made similar claims in relation to other high-profile political prisoners, including Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and the family members of Bahraini pro-democracy activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei. Both Rajab and Alwadaei were present during the OECD mediation process that led to Formula One adopting its human rights policy in 2015.</p>

    <p>Moreover, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there are several reporters serving prison sentences who were arrested for activities and coverage related to the event. Ahmed <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/nov/14/f1-woman-jailed-bahrain-gr... is a priority</a> case due to his deteriorating health and because the timing of his prison sentence appeared to be related to the run-up to the race in 2014. The<a href="https://cpj.org/blog/2014/03/bahrain-racing-in-circles.php"> arrest of Sayed </a><a href="https://cpj.org/2014/03/freelance-bahraini-photographer-given-10-year-pr...</a><a href="https://cpj.org/blog/2014/03/bahrain-racing-in-circles.php">al-Mosawi</a>also appears to be linked to an effort to restrict protests and journalism in the lead up to the race in 2014. It is noteworthy that award-winning photographer <a href="https://cpj.org/2017/03/former-afp-photographer-arrested-in-bahrain-airp... al-Sheikh </a>was also detained shortly before the race in 2017. Together there is a <a href="https://cpj.org/2017/03/for">clear pattern of repression and detention of journalists</a> and restriction of press freedom by the Bahraini authorities around the races.</p>

    <p>With the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix fast approaching, we suggest Formula One take immediate action on these cases by:</p>

    <p>a. Publicly calling for Ms. Yusuf and Mr. Humaidan&rsquo;s immediate and unconditional release; and</p>

    <p>b. Sending a high-level delegation from Formula One and F&eacute;d&eacute;ration Internationale de l&#39;Automobile (FIA) leaders to visit Ms. Yusuf and Ahmed Humaidan in Isa Town Prison and Jau Prison, which are only 20 km and 24 km away from Bahrain&rsquo;s International Circuit, respectively. This is consistent with the actions of other sports federations, for example, FIFA&rsquo;s sending senior staff to monitor the hearing in Thailand of Bahraini refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi.</p>

    <p>Sincerely,</p>

    <p>1.Americans for Democracy &amp; Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)</p>

    <p>2.Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR)</p>

    <p>3.Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)</p>

    <p>4.Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)</p>

    <p>5.European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)</p>

    <p>6.Football Supporters Europe</p>

    <p>7.Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)</p>

    <p>8.Human Rights Watch (HRW)</p>

    <p>9.International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)</p>

    <p>10.International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)</p>

    <p>11.PEN International</p>

    <p>12.Reporters Without Borders (RSF)</p>

    <p>13.Transparency International Germany</p>

    <p>14.Women&#39;s March Global</p>

    <p>15.World Players Association, UNI Global Union</p>

    <p>&nbsp;</p>

    <p><strong>Copy to Ms. Sacha Woodward-Hill, General Counsel to F1</strong></p>

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    We, the undersigned human rights organizations, write to you in advance of the upcoming Formula One Grand Prix race in Bahrain, scheduled for 29-31 March, to raise concerns regarding the worsening human rights situation in the country and the specific human rights risks associated with the event. 

    We call on the Formula One Group to take concrete measures to safeguard human rights in Bahrain during the race, in accordance with its own “Statement of Commitment to Respect for Human Rights,” including instating a freedom complaints mechanism. 

    Bahrain's human rights situation has continued to deteriorate over the years, and we have seen a trend of increased repression by the authorities in the lead up to, and during, Bahrain's Grand Prix – notably the targeting and suppression of free expression in the context of the race. We are deeply concerned that the Bahrain Grand Prix has continued to take place in an environment of oppression, human rights violations, and constricted freedom of expression. 

    Targeting journalists for their coverage of protests surrounding the race has become commonplace. In 2012, 22-year-old videographer and journalist Ahmed Ismail Hassan was fatally shot by Bahraini security forces while covering protests around the Grand Prix. Witnesses stated that he was targeted because authorities saw his video equipment. In the seven years since, no one has been held accountable for his death. 

    In March 2016, Bahraini authorities refused to renew journalist Nazeeha Saeed's press credentials with foreign media outlets, seemingly as retribution for her previous coverage of police brutality during protests. She was then taken to court and fined for “working without a license.” 

    Additionally, journalists traveling to Bahrain for the 2017 Grand Prix were required to sign a form that stated they would only cover the Grand Prix or risk losing their visa – a strategy that has effectively muted coverage of protests and freedom of the press, while simultaneously bolstering Bahrain's reputation, thereby providing cover for abuses to continue unabated. 

    Other instances of human rights abuses occurred during the Grand Prix in April 2017, including the use of tear gas against protesters. Bahraini activist, Najah Yusuf, was arrested following her online criticism of Bahrain's Grand Prix, and has been subjected to arbitrary detention and torture. She was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in June 2018. 

    In 2012, 36-year-old father of five, Salah Abbas, was shot dead by Bahraini authorities after taking part in a peaceful demonstration on the eve of the Grand Prix. Protesters were concerned with the Bahraini government's use of the race to deflect attention from broader issues in the country, especially following the violent government crackdown on Bahrain's 2011 popular pro-democracy movement. 

    The 2016 Grand Prix was marked by the death of 17-year-old Ali Abdulghani, critically injured during his arrest in Shahrakan village, located within three miles of the Bahrain International Circuit. He was arrested in relation to his involvement in protests, and died on 4 April 2016, a day after the Grand Prix concluded. Witnesses state he was hit by a police vehicle and no credible investigation was ever carried out. 

    Authoritarian states use sports to raise their profile. Sporting bodies, including The Formula One Group, have a responsibility to protect and uphold human rights, including the right to free expression. The potential impact of interventions was recently demonstrated when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) successfully called for the release of imprisoned footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who had been held in a Bangkok prison awaiting extradition to Bahrain and risk of torture and death. 

    In addition, major sporting organizations, including the IOC and FIFA, have instated freedom complaints mechanisms which enable individuals, particularly journalists and human rights defenders, to report human rights and press freedom violations. 

    We call on the Formula One Group to follow in the footsteps of the IOC and FIFA and implement a similar freedom complaints mechanism as a concrete demonstration of its own “Statement of Commitment to Respect for Human Rights,” in which it pledges to understand and monitor the potential human rights impacts of its activities, to identify and assess any actual or potential adverse human rights impacts, and to consider practical responses to any issues raised. 

    A freedom complaints mechanism through the Formula One Group would be a step in the right direction to address human rights abuses surrounding the Grand Prix in countries like Bahrain, and would help to protect the fundamental right to free expression. 

    Sincerely,

    Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
    Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
    Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
    Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
    ARTICLE 19
    Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
    Center for Media Studies & Peace Building (CEMESP)
    Freedom Forum
    Independent Journalism Center (IJC)
    Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey
    Mediacentar Sarajevo 
    Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
    Media Watch
    Pakistan Press Foundation
    PEN America
    PEN Canada
    Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
    South East Europe Media Organisation 
    Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
    Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
    World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)

    Bahrain Interfaith 
    Bahrain Press Association (BPA) 
    Salam for Democracy and Human Rights

     

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    Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Bahrain Interfaith (BI), in cooperation with Media Association for Peace (MAP), organized a conference entitled " Protection of Religious Freedoms: A Human Duty ". The conference was organized in light of the deterioration witnessed by Bahrain in religious freedoms, in conjunction with the National Day of Religious Freedom in Bahrain and the commemoration of the demolition of the mosque Mohammed al-Barbighi. Religious scholars from various communities and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Maharat Foundation, and a number of activists and researchers have participated. 

    The conference was held in Beirut, on the 17th of April 2019. It focused on religious pluralism, civil coexistence among the different, religious diversity in Bahrain and the persecution of Shiites, as well as an assessment of the conditions of religious freedom in Bahrain. The speakers were: Dr. Ghassan abu Deeb the member of Global Forum for Religions and Humanity (GFRH), Sheikh Souhaib Habli the member of Tajamoo of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon, Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman the President of Bahrain Interfaith, Vanessa Bassil the founder of Media Association for Peace,  Ghiwa Farroukh the researcher at Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and Hussein Al-Shareef member at Maharat Foundation, in addition to Amnesty International’s Gulf researcher Devin Kenny. 
    The Center called again at the conference to make the 17th of April a National Day for religious freedom in Bahrain. That helps to find a new reality based on respect and appreciation for the beliefs of citizens, and the creation of a legislation deterrent to infringement or tampering with those beliefs. 
    The most important statements in the conference were: 
    Abu Deeb stated that “If we want to extract from the holy gospel or the Qur’an the theology of war we can, and if we want to extract the theology of peace we can also”. Sheikh Habli commented that “if Bahrain permits Buddhists for example to practice their religious rituals while do not permit Shiites… the problem then is political and has nothing to do with the doctrines and their differences”.  Hussein Al-Shareef spoke of a report issued by Maharat Foundation in 2018 entitled “"Hate speech on social media”. The report concluded that there is no conflict between the sects. Rather, the difference is political and this is what the media contributes to.  About Shiites in Bahrain, Kenny said “it is an issue of demanding democracy, and the violation is a violation of the same religion. The authorities prohibit the practice of religion in prisons. We as an organization do not follow the religious discourse, but call for equality at all levels”. At the end, sheikh al-Salman commented that “making the 17th of April a National day for Religious Freedoms in Bahrainis a reaffirmation of the need of Bahrain to protect the religious freedoms of all components and communities and provide legislative and legal immunity to all places of worship”. 
    The conference issued recommendations after discussions:
    Allowing the visit of the Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom of the United Nations to Bahrain to examine the deterioration of the religious freedoms of citizens; The formation of an international team of United Nations experts and specialists in the crimes of demolition and erasure of cultural, heritage and religious landmarks to study the crime of the demolition of 38 mosques in Bahrain; To put pressure on the Bahraini government to enact laws protecting religious freedoms, as well as to address the effects of the political crisis in Bahrain and to open the doors of serious dialogue leading to comprehensive national reconciliation; In addition to many other recommendations that were signed by the attendees so to be presented to the United Nations later on. 
    The conference also included a musical part presented by Israa Quaeq and a painting by the artist Hassan Qambar.

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    Human Rights Watch demanded the French President Emmanuel Macron not to hold back in criticizing Bahrain’s dismal rights record during King Hamad al-Khalifa’s visit to Paris on April 30.

    The organization also reported that Bahrain is approaching a near total shutdown on free speech as authorities have effectively dissolved and outlawed every opposition party and shuttered independent media. Peaceful dissidents, including political opponents and human rights defenders, are being harassed, arrested, and prosecuted on abusive charges. Many of those detained have alleged severe ill-treatment and torture in detention.

    In a rare move that triggered a diplomatic crisis between France and Bahrain, the French ambassador to Manama, Cecile Longe, boldly called out Bahrain on its abuse in a tweet last June. She expressed concern about the “treatment of human rights defenders and political opponents in the country,” and specifically criticized the upholding of Nabeel Rajab’s five-year sentence by the Manama Appeals Court. The Court of Cassation – Bahrain’s court of last resort – upheld his conviction in December.

    Nabeel Rajab is one of dozens of human rights defenders unjustly imprisoned for refusing to stay silent on his government’s rights abuses. His five-year sentence arose from tweets alleging torture in a Bahrain prison – which Human Rights Watch has documented – and criticizing the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen in which Bahrain is a participating member. In recognition of Rajab’s courageous human rights activism, the City Council of Paris awarded him honorary citizenship during a ceremony last June.

    King Hamad al-Khalifa can, with the stroke of a pen, quash the charges against Rajab and other political prisoners and order their immediate release. Earlier this month, the king issued an order reinstating the citizenship of 551 individuals who had been unfairly stripped of their nationality through court orders.

    Macron should hold the line on Bahrain’s abuses and ask the king to once again use his powers to correct the injustice perpetrated by the judiciary and release Nabeel Rajab.

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