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Bahrain: Continuous Targeting of Bahraini Opposition Former MPs

Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemns the continuous targeting of former Members of Bahraini Parliament because of their political opinions and criticism of government officials and bodies.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights has monitored the cases of former MPs, both Sunni and Shia Muslims, that have been punished in a variety of ways because of their political opinions. It demonstrates the constraints on freedom of expression and opinion against all citizens, including MPs in Bahrain.

Former MP, Jawad Fairooz, a member of al Wefaq opposition party and president of Bahrain SALAM for Human Rights confirmed that he was threatened during his time as MP from 2006 to 2011. Mr Fairooz was warned by a media personality that the State does not accept his activism and questioning of the government, and revenge against him will be sought “sooner or later”. On 2 May 2011, Mr Fairooz was arrested during the severe national security crackdown against anyone who showed support for the popular national demonstrations in February 2011. He was left in solitary confinement for more than 43 days and was subjected to physical and psychological torture before being released in August 2011 (1).

Mr Fairooz further stated that one of the investigators in the security apparatus said to him: “who do you think yourself to question and hold accountable the ruling family figures, even if they are ministers”.

Mr Fairooz was charged in a military court and was sentenced to imprisonment for 15 months in November 2012 after he was charged for an offence relating to freedom of opinion (2). The sentence coincided with the decision by the Interior Minister to strip 31 Bahrainis of their nationality, which included Mr Fairooz. His house was attacked on numerous occasions with Molotov cocktails and his pension fund has been ceased. His family has been targeted too, with his wife being briefly arrested in 2011, and has been harassed at work. Mr Fairooz was travelling outside of Bahrain when his citizenship was revoked, thus forcing him to seek asylum.

Mr Fairooz was not the only MP that was subjected to arrest and torture in the security crackdown in 2011, as another MP, Matar Matar, was also arrested on 2 May 2011 and was tortured as well according to reports (3). He too was released in August 2011 (4).

In November 2012, former MP Jalal Fairooz had his citizenship revoked whilst he was travelling abroad. His wife was targeted at her workplace and his daughter was expelled from her university as a form of retaliation against him.

In September 2013, former MP Khalil Al-Marzooq, the chairman of al Wefaq in Parliament, was arrested. He was detained for more than a month and was released on 24 October 2013 (5).

Further, in May 2014, Osama Al-Tamimi’s Parliamentary membership was revoked. Mr Al-Tamimi was also prevented from accessing his pension fund (6). He was arrested again in October 2014, charged with abusing police officers, with sentencing against him still on-going. His business place was attacked by armed forces in May 2012 after his criticism of the Prime Minister of Bahrain (7).

In December 2014, former MP Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary General of al Wefaq and leader of the largest parliamentary opposition, was arrested and remains imprisoned following investigations of charges against his political statements (8). On a previous occasion, a tear-gas canister was directed at him, which caused major injuries to another who received the blow. Sheikh Ali Salman has been called in numerous times for investigations since 2011, and was investigated by the Military Prosecution. His house has been repeatedly hit with tear-gas canisters.

On 25 December 2014, former MP, Khalid Abdil-Aal, was called in for questioning by the Public Prosecution because of criticisms he tweeted in April 2014, charging him with the offence of “slandering the Ministry of Interior” (9).

In addition, on 14 January 2015, former MP, Jameel Kadhim, chariman of the consultative council of al Wefaq, was sentenced to 6 months in prison following the charge of “disrupting elections”. The Justice Minister brought forward the case against Mr Kadhim because of tweets he made where he suggested “political money runs in the election” (10).

As a result of this rhetoric, the Inter-Parliamentary Union has described Bahrain as one of the most dangerous of 7 countries in the middle-east for MPs that are active in human rights (11).

Bahrain Center for Human Rights has expressed its grave concerns regarding the absence of freedoms of expression and opinion in Bahrain, and that Bahraini MPs have paid a hefty price for exercising their rights in this regard. What they are experiencing from arrests and judicial-hounding to imprisonment is seen as revenge against their human rights and political activities.

In light of what has happened, Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the following from the Bahraini Government: 

1- The prompt release of Sheikh Ali Salman and Jameel Kadhim along with all activists, political or otherwise, that are in Bahraini prisons, aswell as to drop the charges against them.

2- Cease revengeful crackdowns against former opposition MPs, which are being carried out in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

3- Ensure that all MPs are able to exercise their rights and duties in inspecting and questioning senior officials in Parliament without fear of reprisals.

 

[1] http://www.redress.org/case-docket/allegation-letter-concerning-jawad-fairooz

[2] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3714/news/read/714144/1.html

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14439733

[4] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3322/news/read/600526/1.html

[5] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4310/news/read/898764/1.html

[6]http://www.alhurra.com/content/%D8%A5%D8%B3%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%B7-%D8%B9%D8%B6%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A-%D8%A3%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%87%D9%86%D8%A7-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%82%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A9/250040.html

[7] http://www.bahrainrights.org/ar/node/5282

[8] http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/7215

[9] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4493/news/read/947534/1.html

[10] http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/7229

[11] http://www.ipu.org/press-e/pressrelease201412081.htm

Bahrain Prisons: The Cemetery of the Living

Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the main source of international norms in the treatment of prisoners, and since the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners is the detailed source for the application of the rules in the treatment of prisoners, and since the basic principles of the treatment of prisoners are a guiding source for Member States of the United Nations to harmonize their legislation with these principles, and since the decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations (A/RES/70175/) to adopt the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the Nelson Mandela Rules.

We, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, publish this report concerning the prison conditions in Bahrain on the occasion of Nelson Mandela International Day, in which we shed the light once more on the conditions of prisoners and prisons in Bahrain that are crowded with political prisoners and jurists.

Read report

Bahrain Center for Human Rights: Nelson Mandela Still Suffers in Bahraini Prisons

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a statement on the occasion of “Nelson Mandela International Day” which is celebrated every year on the 18th of July. The “Center” took the opportunity to renew the call for improving the conditions of prisoners and detainees in Bahrain according to the Nelson Mandela Rules. Mandela was kept in prison for 27 years before serving as President of South Africa and was deprived of the minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners during his incarceration.

The “Center” also called attention to its launching of a special report on that occasion on the conditions of prisoners and prisons in Bahrain entitled “Bahraini Prisons: A Cemetery for the Living”, in which it reviewed Bahrain’s laws and legislation, as well as the extent of violations that are committed against prisoners.

The “Center” added that laws and legislation are not enough to improve the situations of prisoners and prisons in Bahrain amid ongoing violations against prisoners and detainees. The Government of Bahrain must therefore apply local laws and international rules regarding the treatment of prisoners.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights concluded its statement by calling upon the Government of Bahrain to allow human rights and humanitarian organizations to inspect the conditions of prisons and implement international procedures through special rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council and related task forces.

 

FREE DETAINED HRDs! FREE ALL PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE!

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), in cooperation with Amnesty International, Media Association for Peace (MAP), Committee to protect Journalists, Maharat and the Gulf Center for Human Rights, organized a solidarity stand with prisoners in Bahrain and human rights defenders Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Al Khawaja.

The conference was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the presence of a number of journalists from various Arab and foreign stations, as well as jurists from several organizations.

The Bahraini Human Rights lawyer, Mr. Ibrahim Sarhan, opened with a talk about the tragic situation of the detainees in Jaw prison. He referred to the denial of the most basic human rights, calling the prison "cemetery of the living." He added that the government in Bahrain must abide by the laws accurately, because laws without rights are considered as nothing. He also called for the urgent need for the immediate release of Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab and all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain

It was followed by a speech of the representative of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Mrs. Sabah Faour, which she called for pressure on the authorities to release the detainees and to ensure that all prisoners are able to receive appropriate treatment and get all their rights. It also stressed the importance and the need to end all forms of retaliation against jurists and to allow human rights organizations to operate freely from all forms of harassment.

The representative of the Maharat Foundation Mr. Hussein Al-Sharif, spoke about their cooperation with other organizations in order to release the detainees. Al-Sharif says that Bahrain is not alone in suffering from the suppression of freedoms, but there are other forms in most Arab countries such as Egypt and Lebanon.

Also, a speech was held by the Amnesty International representative Devin Kenny, who reiterated that prisoners of conscience should be released, saying that the expression of opinion is not a crime.

In addition, a statement by CPJ delegate Ignacio Miguel Delgado confirmed that the press in Bahrain suffers from repression of freedom and public opinion, and this is professionally rejected.

The conference ended with the Chairperson of the Peace Information Organization, Mrs. Vanessa Basil, who returned and confirmed the main objective of this stand, wich is the release of Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja, Nabeel Rajab and all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

Terrorising People by the Law of Terrorism:

The «War on Terrorism» is a modern term that has emerged after the events of September 11, 2001, which claimed the lives of nearly 3000 civilians of different nationalities. This terrorist act also resulted in thousands ofcasualties and nancial losses in billions.Following this terrorist incident, the United States adopted war on terror by various means including legal legislation. Later, it was followed by many countries both democratic and authoritarian, creating excellent opportunity for the latter to legislate laws that are outwardly anti-terrorism and within the context of international cooperation inthe ght against terrorism, while they wererepressive against peaceful dissidents and carrying within a hidden agenda against human rights activists, politicians and civil society organisations. How? This is what we are going to explain substantively and systematically in this report.

In this report, we will apply the analytical methodology on the Bahraini law and study some of judicial applications of the law as available. We will also do a brief comparative study of the relevant local and international anti-terror legislation, and the extent to which it is in line with the international law, international conventions and human rights treaties. The study will try to determine the impact of Bahraini laws on Bahrain civil society and the judicial decisions against citizens and human rights activists.
 

Read full report.

Urgent Press Release: Sheikh Isa Qassim transferred to the hospital

Various sources have confirmed to Bahrain Center for Human Rights that Sheikh Isa Qassim was transferred to the hospital at 9:35 pm Bahrain time after being delayed for Several hours.

Sheikh Isa Qasim has been under house arrest for almost 400 days and denied the right to medical care without  the governments permission. His hospital visits are usually under strict security measures.

Sheikh Qassim was transferred to the hospital after the deterioration  of his health status. While the reasons for his health deterioration have not been revealed yet, he has lost his ability to move and walk recently due to and the problem severe pain in his hips and pelvic area, according to the initial diagnosis.

The residents living close to his house have also confirmed the arrest of his son and son-in law by security officers during  accompanying Sheikh Isa in the ambulance cars . They are still being held at the police station.

 

Bahrain: Bahrain’s Judiciary convicts itself

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a statement welcoming  that the Secretary-General of Bahrain's Al-Wefaq sheikh Ali Salman was acquitted  (but still has years ahead in prison for various other  charges)with fear of an appeal for a trial that lacked the basic principles of justice and the failed to guarantee the independence of the judiciary system. 

Sheikh MaythamAl  Salman advisor of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) confirmed that the trial was groundless and comes in the context of the PA's attempts to quell voices calling for political reforms, dialogue and national reconciliation.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights issued a statement stating that the trial lacked principles of justice and failed to guarantee the independence of the judiciary. 

The proceedings revealed numerous violations of the right of defense and non-response to lawyers' requests.

"The center said": that this trial was clearly based on a telephone that was tampered with, as revealed by technical reports of criminal justice professionals, and that the telephone call was in response to a US/Gulf mediation attempt to begin dialogue and reconciliation in 2011.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) stated that Salman was a positive in corresponding  to a proposed initiative by the US administration mentioned in the memoirs of Hillary Clinton and in the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.

The Center ended its statement by demanding that the Government of Bahrain immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against  the Secretary-General of the Al-Wefaq Society Ali Salman

 

Political speech is not a crime: Urgent appeal to stop the trial of opposition society leader Sheikh Ali Salman

 

We the undersigned call on Bahraini authorities to drop all charges and ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary-General of Bahrain's largest political opposition society, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, who has been serving a four-year prison sentence for charges in response to political speeches he delivered in 2014, and who is now facing a potential death sentence in a groundless new trial on politically motivated charges. 

Since his incarceration in 2014, several international bodies have spoken out against the imprisonment of Sheikh Ali Salman. On 30 December 2014, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson urged Bahrain to immediately release Sheikh Ali Salman as well as all other persons convicted or detained for “merely exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly.” In addition, the European Union expressed concern about the sentence issued against Sheikh Ali Salman, and the United States Ambassador to the United Nations called the sentence against Sheikh Ali Salman a blow to freedom of expression.  

However, despite the growing concern over the silencing of Sheikh Ali Salman and the subsequent 2017 dissolution of the political opposition society al-Wefaq, Bahraini authorities announced on 27 November 2017 the start of a new trial against him on charges of spying for Qatar. 

The latest trial against Sheikh Ali Salman reinforces the closing of democratic space in the country; as the 2018 elections for Bahrain's lower house of parliament approach, the government has forcibly dissolved Wa'ad, the largest secular leftist society, and indefinitely suspended Bahrain's only independent newspaper Al-Wasat, in addition to upholding its arbitrary decision in 2017 to dissolve the political opposition society al-Wefaq. 

On 24 April 2018, the High Criminal Court adjourned the new trial against Sheikh Ali Salman until 21 June, when it is expected to issue a verdict in the case. The Public Prosecution Office has called on the High Criminal Court to hand down the “maximum penalty” – which in this case could be a death sentence. 

NGOs have decried this use of the judiciary to punish opposition activists for publicly expressing views that oppose the Bahraini government. The trial is in violation of Sheikh Ali Salman's rights to liberty, fair trial, free expression, and free association. 

We, the undersigned, call on Bahraini authorities to: 
1. Drop all charges and ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Sheikh Ali Salman and the cancellation of the sentence issued against him in the previous case; 
2. Stop prosecution of political dissidents and human rights activists for reasons related to freedom of expression; 
3. Stop the arbitrary use of domestic legislation, including some articles of the Penal Code and the Law on the Protection of Society from Terrorist Acts, to criminalize the peaceful practice of freedom of opinion and expression; 
4. Release all detainees who have been arrested for reasons related to exercising their fundamental rights to expression, organisation and peaceful assembly guaranteed by international laws. 

Signed,

Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Bytes for All (B4A)
Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)
Center for Media Studies & Peace Building (CEMESP)
Freedom Forum
Independent Journalism Center (IJC)
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey
Maharat Foundation
MARCH
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Media Watch
National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)
Norwegian PEN
Pakistan Press Foundation
PEN American Center
PEN Canada
Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
South East Europe Media Organisation 
Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)

Bahrain Interfaith 
Global Human Rights Geneva 
MENA Monitoring Group 
No Peace Without Justice 
Vivarta Limited

Jailed Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab named an honorary citizen of the city of Paris

(Paris, 6 June 2018) Today, the Council of Paris has unanimously awarded honorary citizenship to activist Nabeel Rajab, in recognition of his fight for freedom, democracy and human rights. Yesterday, the Bahrain High Criminal Court of Appeal upheld Nabeel’s five-year jail term for Tweets condemning the use of torture in Jaw Prison and the bombings of the Saudi coalition in Yemen. Sentenced to a total of seven years imprisonment resulting from trials that made a mockery of justice, his health has steadily deteriorated. FIDH and Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) welcome the award of this prestigious distinction, and reiterate their demand for his immediate release.

Read more.

No Right to Rights: A Report into Human Rights Violations Committed by BAHRAINI Authorities

The most recent constitution of Bahrain defines it as a constitutional monarchy. The King is responsible for appointing the Prime Minister – the current incumbent has been in the position since 1971. Citizens of Bahrain have no power to change the Prime Minister. The King also has power to appoint government ministers and 50% of the National Council, as well as the country’s judiciary. This situation led the people of Bahrain to take direct action in 2011, organizing a large sit-in around the Pearl Roundabout, with the aim of strengthening their rights. However, authorities used excessive force to end the sit-in, leading to several deaths and significant numbers of injuries. Since that time, and up until the point of writing, authorities have continued to violate the human rights of Bahraini citizens. 

Over the course of 2017 (between January and December, to be precise), the number of politically-motivated detentions increased, as did reports of torture and ill treatment carried out in order to force confessions during interrogations. Moreover, political and social media activists continued to be targeted, both by the security forces and by the judiciary. Human rights defenders have also been targeted. Politically-motivated court cases were pursued in a manner falling far short of the minimum basic standards for fair trials as stipulated by international law. This is not to mention the fact that civilians have been tried in military courts. 

Authorities have also employed anti-terror laws against opposition activists and peaceful protesters. The UN and a host of other international organizations have called for these laws to be revised, since their broad-based and vague clauses violate standards of human rights and fair trial. There have been widespread restrictions on civil, religious and political freedoms, and violations on the right to privacy. What’s more, a number of opposition activists and Shia religious clerics have had their citizenship revoked, with several subsequently being deported. 

The report that follows is a summary of the human rights violations documented by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights over the course of 2017. A number of other violations were reported, but it has not been possible to verify them due to fear on the part of victims, who have been unwilling to share their testimonies. The volume of violations reported during 2017 also meant that it was beyond the capacity of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights to investigate all of them. 

Click here to read full report.