Bahrain: Systematic Attacks on Activists’ Relatives to Pressure Them to Stop Their Activity
June 15, 2011 The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is deeply concerned about the escalation of the fierce campaign against the political activists and the human rights defenders, which has reached a dangerous level. Family members and relatives have been assaulted, arrested and harassed in a desperate attempt from the regime to put pressure on the activists to stop their activities.
On June 8, 2011, airport authorities prevented the wife of human rights activist Abbas Al-Omran (member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights who is residing abroad) from travelling with her children for summer vacation. The authorities did not give any justification for the ban and refused to inform her of the authority responsible. Mrs. Omran is a mother of three children and has no political activities, but the pace of harassment against her increased after her husband appeared in the media to talk about abuses occurring in Bahrain. She was dismissed from her position at Bapco in April, her house was raided at dawn on May 19, 2011 by the security forces, then she was summoned for interrogation for several hours at the criminal investigations department on May 20, 2011.
The family of detained human rights activist Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, (former president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and former Director of the Middle East in the Front Line) was subjected to various types of harassment, which affected a number of family members. On June 2, 2011, his daughter Zainab Khawaja (27 years old, mother of a one year-old child) was summoned for interrogation for several hours at a police station in Hoora. AlKhawaja’s Family has already learned that the authorities have exercised strong pressure on Mr. Abdul Hadi, to force him to apologize to the king in front of the camera, threatening the arrest of his daughter Zainab and the rape of his other daughter, Maryam Al Khawaja, both human rights activists. In addition, his two sons-in-law, Wafi Al Majid and Hussein Ahmed, are detained in prison after being arrested with him on April 9, although they are not involved in any political or human rights activities. In addition, on May 2, 2011, his wife Khadija al-Musawi was dismissed from her work as director at the School of Kanoo at the request of the Ministry of Interior.
Mrs. Farida Ismail, the wife of activist and Secretary General of the National Democratic Action (WAAD) Ibrahim Sharif, detained since March 17, was dismissed from her work at the Ministry of Education on 31 May 2011 without going through the investigation committee. She was told that the investigation will be scheduled later, but was not scheduled until this day.
On May 7, 2011, the riot police attacked house of Mrs. Zahra Atiya’s father. She is the wife of Sheikh Yasser Saleh son of Sheikh Abdullah Saleh, Vice Secretary General of the Islamic work Society. During the raid, police threw a sound bomb and broke into the house where Mrs. Atiya was severely beaten and threatened with assault to force her to disclose the whereabouts of her husband and his father. Her father was handcuffed and beaten, her mother was threatened with electric shocks and with the raping her daughter if she did not tell them the Sheikh’s location. In addition, Mrs. Zahra was arrested and investigated for several hours. On the evening of May 8, 2011 their house was attacked again; her father was the only one there and he was beaten and threatened with his daughter’s assault.
The Bahrain Center has documented in detail in previous statements the attack against the family home of human rights activist and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, on April 18, 2011. The attack included tear gas bombs that caused asphyxiation of Mr. Nabeel Rajab’s family, especially of his mother who lives with him in the house. She is advanced in age and has chronic diseases, including shortness of breath, and would have lost her life had it not been for the oxygen equipment kept in the house that prevented asphyxiation. In a direct threat to their lives, a second tear-gas bomb attack occurred at dawn while the family slept on May 21, 2011 at his home and the home of his brother, Nader Rajab. (See previous statement) 
A number of sons of detained Dr. Abdul Jalil Singace (political activist and head of the human rights office at HAQ oppositional movement) were either arrested or summoned to interrogation. His son, Hussein, was arrested after a night raid on the house on March 25, his daughter, Zahra, was summoned for interrogation, followed by the arrest of his other son, Hassan, from his workplace on May 11, 2011.
Because he is living abroad, the authorities have failed to arrest the activist Ibrahim al-Madhoun, a member of the Shura of Alwefaq political society and a prominent speaker on international media regarding developments in Bahrain. They resorted to raiding his house at three in the morning on 23 March and arrested four of his sons (Hamed, Taher, Khalil, Jihad (15 years)), four of his sister’s sons as well as two other relatives. Later, two of his sons (Hamid and Khalil) were accused of kidnapping a policeman and sentenced to 20 years in prison. 
Members of Sheikh Riadh Alheni Alstrawi’s family were also subjected to harassment and detention, he is one of the members of the media center of the Revolution of February 14 in Bahrain. His mother was arrested from her home in Hamad Town for several hours on April 26, 2011, although she is over the age of 65 and has chronic diseases. His brothers, Hani and Khaled, were also arrested on the same date, and his wife was later summoned to the police station, all to force him to surrender himself to police.
Among those arrested include Mustafa, son of Sheikh Abdul Jalil Miqdad (active member of Alwfa oppositional movement), Ghazi Farhan, son-in-law of dissident and political activist in London, Said al-Shihabi, Ahmed and Hussein Ayad, nephews of human rights activist Said Ayyad, Hasan (16 years old), son of al-Shaykh Muhammad Ali Al Mahfoddh, the Secretary-General of the Islamic Action Society.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Mushaima, son of the detained opposition leader in the HAQ movement, Hassan Mushaima, has been detained since September 2010. He was sentenced in February 2011 to one year imprisonment for his conviction on charges of delivering images of the events in Bahrain to foreign channels after the court ignored complaint that the detectives had taken his confession "under torture, beatings and coercion ."
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights finds that the targeting of relatives of human rights activists and politicians through night raids on their houses, detention, assault, harassment, dismissal from employment and travel bans, reveals the heightened pressures faced by activists and defenders in Bahrain. In addition to arrests, torture and abuse they face personally, they are pressured through the targeting members of their families, showing the desperation of the authorities to stop political activism and media, despite all the campaigns of security, and acts worthy of street gangs, not state institutions or the law. The above mentioned acts can only be seen as a direct violation of agreements signed by Bahrain, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Defenders of 1998, which promises not to pressure, threaten or retaliate against activists who exercise their legitimate rights.
Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the following:
- All forms of targeting and prosecution of relatives of political and human rights activists in Bahrain be stopped, and those affected be compensated for harassment. - The cease of harassment and release of all detained activists, giving them full freedom to exercise their human rights activities as guaranteed by international conventions. - Commitment in all cases, to the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, in particular article 1 which states that "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels,” and article 12.2 which states that "the State shall take all measures necessary to ensure that everyone has the protection of the competent authorities, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, adverse discrimination facto or de jure, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a result of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in this Declaration.” - Respect ensured for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the right to privacy in all circumstances in conformity with international standards of human rights and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.