Bahrain: Mass hunger strike at Jaw Central Prison
On 10 October 2019, a group of inmates in Jaw Central Prison started a mass hunger strike to demand an improvement of the poor conditions in the prison, and that measures are taken by the prison administration regarding family visits and other matters that prisoners consider retaliatory and restrictive.
Prisoners in Bahrain suffer from severe and variable measures and a continuous restriction on their basic rights. More than 500 prisoners went on a hunger strike a few months ago for the same mentioned reasons. They broke their strike after administrative promises to meet their demands, but these promises were not fulfilled. The prisoners therefore resumed their hunger strike, which indicates that their poor conditions have not been improved.
Among the hunger strikers, 13 are sentenced to death in various cases, including a Sudanese national, as well as human rights activist, Naji Fateel, another group of activists are sentenced in political and other various cases.
The hunger strikers are demanding that prison guards:
- respect their families during the visits;
- remove glass barriers that prevent direct contact with parents, and to facilitate the procedures followed during the visit time;
- extend the visit time to one hour instead of half an hour and increase the number of monthly allowed visits, currently only one visit a month is allowed,
-giving married prisoners the right to meet with their wives and give them extra time.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) has previously showed concern about the conditions inside the prisons which lead prisoners to go into hunger strikes as an expression of their protest against what they are subjected to.
According to former prisoners who spoke to BCHR, conditions in the prison are bad in terms of the treatment of prison guards for prisoners. The guards search the cells in humiliating ways such as destruction and confiscation of personal properties. They mention as well the absence of uniform law and standards within the prison to deal with prisoners, where each official comes with a group of guards who perform different procedures from the procedures carried out by other groups that enter the cells and inspect each time.
BCHR considers that prisoners are subjected to abnormal procedures and sometimes to deliberate measures taken to further restriction on prisoners, particularly those convicted on political issues. What they are subjected to is considered a violation of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
Therefore, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls upon the Bahraini authorities to:
- Stop all unnecessary and inhumane measures against prisoners;
- Meet the demands of prisoners and ensure that the hunger strike is not repeated;
- Establish specific mechanisms for dealing with prisoners and hold police officers accountable (prison guards and those responsible for the abuses suffered by prisoners).
Violations by Military Judiciary of Trying Civilians
“Death Courts” is a report issued by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) to highlight the violations of military justice to try civilians before and after the amendment of the Military Justice Act.
In order to guarantee a fair trial, military judiciary must not have the jurisdiction to try civilians. However, the report examines how military courts in Bahrain have expanded powers and jurisdiction to prosecute civilians after constitutional amendments in 2017. The report is based on the study of Bahraini laws and legislation related to the prosecution of civilians in military courts and shows the compatibility of Bahraini laws with the International Bill and international laws. The report reviews the state of military justice and the violations of the trials.
The report concluded with recommendations to the Government of Bahrain urging them to repeal the constitutional amendment and the Military Justice Act, and also calling them to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty. In addition, BCHR made recommendations to the international community to confront the death penalty and to review the situation of courts in Bahrain.
Read full report
Bahrain: The Deprivation of Life
On the occasion of the 17th World Day Against the Death Penalty, The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the ongoing use of death sentences in Bahrain and call for the abolition of this practice in the kingdom. This anniversary comes at a time when detainees in Bahrain are exposed to the most severe violations of the basic rights.
Bahrain’s use of the death penalty is in breach of Bahrain’s international commitments. While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights make clear that all people are entitled to the equal protection of the law without discrimination, Human Rights Defenders are either in prison, exile or under threat. Whoever expresses his views is harassed, arrested or has his family members targeted as a tool of pressure to stop his activism. Death penalty is the most brutal of all shapes of restrictions which authorities in Bahrain apply to guarantee a complete closure of civic and political space.
In Bahrain, death sentences continue to be imposed in violation of major international standards, including the right to a fair trial and the principle of non-discrimination. The most recent cases were on 27 July, 2019, when authorities in Bahrain executed both victims of torture Ahmed al-Mullali and Ali al-Arab. On 06 May 2016, the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence of detainees Ahmed Issa al-Mullali and Ali Ahmad al-Arab. The court largely based its judgment on confessions obtained under conditions of torture of Al-Mullali, Al-Arab and others, where detainees were subjected to ill-treatment and incommunicado detention in circumstances that can be considered as enforced disappearance. The executions took place despite reported concerns that the convictions were based on confessions extracted under torture.
BCHR and other human rights organizations have repeatedly called on Bahraini authorities to restrict the use of the death penalty and reduce the number of crimes susceptible of such punishment. Today, BCHR reiterates its concern over the continued use of the death penalty in Bahrain, and also calls on the International Community, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to support the adoption of the resolution calling for a universal moratorium on the death penalty.
Therefore, BCHR call on the government of Bahrain to:
- Commute immediately all death sentences;
- Dismiss any and all judgments made with confessions obtained under conditions of torture;
- Abolish the death penalty.
The International Day of Non-Violence
Today marks the International Day of Non-Violence, which coincides with the anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, the spiritual leader of India, who worked to spread the culture of civil rights around the world as a result of the struggle he led.
On this day, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) would like to join the democratic and human rights world in celebrating this anniversary which will promote respect, human rights and principles that encourage the renunciation of violence and hatred.
It is very unfortunate that this anniversary is passing amid the increasing violence in Bahrain in various forms, especially the violence faced by people exercising their rights such as the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
BCHR continues to record cases of ill-treatment and torture of persons arrested for expressing their opinions or for issues related to freedom of expression such as peaceful protests.
On this occasion, BCHR would like to reiterate its call on the Bahraini authorities to stop using violence in all its forms and to hold accountable the perpetrators of these violations, which are rejected by all human rights principles, covenants and international conventions that work on the principle of non-violence.
Bahrain: Religious freedom threatened in Ashura
Shiite cleric tried for contempt of a sect
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Bahrain Interfaith express both their deep concern about the continued deterioration of Religious Freedom level in Bahrain. This comes as the Bahraini authorities continue to exercise restrictive procedures and punish people related to speeches and religious opinions, especially Shi'a clerics.
During Ashura in Muharram that was on the first of September this year, the Bahraini authorities made a series of summons and interrogated dozens of preachers, clerics and religious leaders for sermons delivered on religious occasions related to the performance of Ashura rituals. Some of them were charged. They were abused by being deprived of their own rituals. Authorities continued to restrict the revival of these rituals by attacking banners and religious phrases held in Ashura in different parts of Bahrain.
(For detailed Ashura-related violations, read this statement)
One of the government's most recent violations of religious freedom is the arrest of Sheikh Abdul Nabi Al-Nashaba, whose case will be heard on 27 September by a Bahraini court. He is a Shiite cleric who faces charges of contempt for a sect following a sermon he gave early at a religious event in April 2019.
In detail, Bahraini authorities arrested Sheikh al-Nashaba on July 28, 2019 (about a month before Ashura began) after receiving a call from the Qudaibiya police station asking to be present without explaining the reasons and was arrested upon arrival. The following day, al-Nashaba was brought before the Public Prosecution, which ordered his detention for 15 days pending investigation on charges of “contempt of sect” and no lawyer was allowed to appear during the investigation session.
45 days after his arrest on pending investigation, the Public Prosecutor ordered on Thursday 12 September, 2019 to extend and transfer the case to the court and set a trial date on September 27, and also requested his release under the guarantee of residence.
It is noteworthy that Sheikh al-Nashaba was previously interrogated on the same charge after being summoned on April 10, 2019 to the Nabih Saleh police station, but was released after interrogation.
In other cases, on September 9, Hamad Town Police Station in Roundabout 17 summoned Mullah Mahdi al-Manami, a religious preacher, and arrested and interrogated him. The next day he was brought before the Public Prosecution, which released him after he was charged with inciting hatred against the regime.
Bahrain faces a lot of international criticism over restricting religious freedoms and the restrictive procedures against clerics and individuals participating and/or related to religious events. The UN Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has expressed grave concern over reports stating that Bahrain's government is preventing Shi'a prisoners from accessing worship books and other religious texts in prisons, as this contravenes Bahrain's international human rights obligations. This was as a comment on a press release issued on Thursday 22 August, 2019, by “Bahrain Interfaith”.
BCHR and Bahrain Interfaith therefore call on the government of Bahrain to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Sheikh Abdul Nabi Al-Nashaba and drop all charges related to religious freedom.
- Commit to international conventions and laws that enshrine religious freedom, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Stop the practice of restrictions on religious freedom and public freedoms.
- Work on promoting and spreading a culture of respect for freedom of religion among society through procedures issued by official authorities.
Bahrain: Ashura Reveals False Allegations of Respect for Freedom of Religion
Bahraini Shiites celebrate “Ashura” on the month of Muharram every year in honor of Imam Hussein, the son of Prophet Muhammad’s daughter. Every year, Bahrain witnesses numerous violations related to Ashura, which reveal the false claims of the government to respect the constitutionally and legally guaranteed freedom of religion.
With the beginning of Muharram this year (2019), which was on September 1, the Bahraini authorities have taken several measures that are considered official harassment. Authorities have summoned preachers and clerics for participating in religious lectures related to Ashura, interrogating and arresting some of them, and assaulting Ashura's rituals by removing banners bearing religious phrases.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) monitored, from 1 to 8 September 2019, a large number of summonses, where 23 religious preachers from the Shi'a community were summoned for investigation after delivering religious sermons. They are: Sheikh Abdulmohsen Al-Jamri, Sheikh Mounir Maatouq, Mahmoud Al-Ajimi, Mulla Qasim Zainuddin, Sheikh Fadhel Al-Zaki, Sheikh Jaafar Al-Sayegh, Sheikh Issa Eid, Sheikh Sadiq Rabie, Sheikh Jawad Al-Mirza, Sheikh Hamed Ashour, Sayed Jaber Al-Shahrakani, Al-Sheikh Mohammed Ali Al-Mahfouz, Sheikh Zuhair al-Khal, Sheikh Issa al-Momen, Sheikh Hussein Al-Asfour, Sheikh Hassan Al-Ali, Mulla Mahdi Al-Manami, Sheikh Aziz Al-Khodran, Sheikh Hani Al-Bina, Sheikh Abdul Amir Malallah, Sheikh Hassan Al-Shakhoori, Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaie. Three of them were arrested before being subsequently released; they are Mulla Qasem Zain El-Din, Sheikh Mahmoud Al-Ajimi, and Sheikh Mounir Al-Maatouq.
The authorities also summoned five preachers: Ali Hammadi, Ahmed Al-Awainati, Sayed Hadi Al-Biladi, Sayed Hani Al-Wadaie and Abdullah Al-Bouri. The authorities additionally summoned 6 Ma’tam officials and 3 social activists.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) also monitored a number of attacks on Ashura rituals in various areas in Bahrain by police forces. BCHR recorded at least 17 attacks on Ashura manifestations in different areas in Bahrain through the removal of banners and religious phrases related to Ashura. Among these areas are Muharraq, Bilad Al Qadeem, Al Markh, Abu Saiba, Al Musalla, Al Malikiyah and Nabih Saleh.
BCHR believes that the Shiite clerics and preachers pay the tax of participating in these occasions every time through summonses and investigations leading to arrest and imprisonment.
BCHR believes that these measures, which are still being carried out by the Bahraini authorities, are a clear restriction and an infringement on the freedom of religion, which the Government of Bahrain has stated to respect on many occasions. It is certainly a violation of the rights of individuals and groups to exercise their religious freedoms that the authorities must respect and promote respect for. It is also very unfortunate that the headlines of respect for human rights and freedoms are merely media allegations and have nothing to do with reality.
Bahrain Center for Human Rights therefore calls on the Government of Bahrain to:
- Stop the restrictions on the participants in Ashura rituals.
- Launching more freedoms, especially religious freedoms.
- Work on increasing respect for freedom of religion and public and personal freedoms.
Bahrain: Former MP Osama al-Tamimi is in danger and his family lives in fear every moment
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its concern about the increasing harassment of former MP Osama al-Tamimi. He suffered a stroke in the brain that makes him lose his ability to move and speak normally, hours after his arrest and interrogation. Al-Tamimi's health is deteriorating as his kidney stopped functioning, which necessitates an urgent dialysis session.
The Tamimi family says they are being harassed by policemen as they surround their house and ask anyone who enters for their identity, as if al-Tamimi is under house arrest.
Now, according to al-Tamimi’s daughter who posted on her Instagram account, a group of policemen are breaking the doors of his house, apparently in an attempt to arrest al-Tamimi, who is in the hospital. She said she was scared because she was alone with her younger brother at home as her mother accompanied her father in the hospital. His brother-that looks like him- saw an arrest warrant issued against al-Tamimi that justify all these actions by the police.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) issued earlier a statement detailing the arrest of former MP Osama al-Tamimi and the fears that his health would deteriorate.
Based on the above, BCHR calls on the Government of Bahrain to:
- Allow al-Tamimi to leave Bahrain for treatment abroad before his health deteriorates
- Stop harassing the Tamimi family who are concerned about his health and afraid of arbitrary actions they are subjected to.
Urgent: The health of former MP Osama al-Tamimi is deteriorating after being interrogated by the Ministry of Interior in Bahrain
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its concern about receiving information on the deterioration of the health of former parliamentarian Osama al-Tamimi. He started dialysis after his kidney has stopped functioning. That was after a noticeable deterioration of his health after being summoned and interrogated by the Ministry of Interior in Bahrain.
On Tuesday afternoon, 06 August 2019, police raided the house of former MP Osama al-Tamimi and arrested him arbitrarily after breaking his door and confiscating his personal phone. That happened in front of his family, who had no knowledge of the reason for his arrest. The forces that raided the house did not inform the family of the reason of the arrest, nor did they present a warrant.
Hours after the arrest of al-Tamimi, the Ministry of Interior published a statement in which it announced that the arrest of al-Tamimi came on the background of a case of fraud and forgery filed against him in court. However, after hours of interrogation, Tamimi suffered a relapse that necessitated his immediate transfer to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed his condition as a stroke, that made him lose his ability to move and speak normally.
Although al-Tamimi was not informed of his continued detention, especially as the police left the hospital after his family arrived, he was prevented from traveling when his family was trying to take him abroad for proper treatment. Since then, Tamimi is still undergoing treatment because of his deteriorating health. He started a new stage in dialysis after one of his kidneys stopped functionning.
Tamimi had been subjected to harassment before his last arrest, where he was summoned for investigation more than once. In June of this year, he and his family were targeted by the police. He had then to turn to the US Embassy to get him and his family safely out of Bahrain, but the embassy refused to do so. Al-Tamimi has previously spoken of being harassed and threatened by security agents at different times, and Amnesty International published in its statement on 8 August the details of the harassment of al-Tamimi.
In 2014, Tamimi was shot by unknown assailants before his membership in the Bahraini parliament was overthrown. That was after his repeated criticism of the performance of the prime minister and interior minister and his arrest for a year on charges of insulting a security man. Al-Tamimi's gym was hit by unidentified gunfire once and arson again without the Ministry of Interior reaching the unknown perpetrator.
BCHR fears that the arrest of al-Tamimi is in retaliation against him, given the previous campaigns of threats, prosecution and targeting because of a position against the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain and demanding that those responsible be held accountable. In particular, the manner in which he was arrested highlighted the arbitrary use of power by the authorities, and which is contrary to the principles of human rights. His denial of travel for treatment abroad suggests a violation of the right to liberty of movement, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights indicates.
Accordingly, BCHR calls on the Bahraini authorities to:
- Allow al-Tamimi to travel and receive appropriate treatment and ensure that it is not delayed or procrastinated so as not to experience new health relapses.
- Ensure that al-Tamimi is not summoned and prosecuted again.
BCHR also calls on all Bahraini allies to pressure the Government of Bahrain to:
- Ensure all human rights, especially those related to freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of movement.