On the eve of the Universal day of the child: Bahrain buries another child killed by the security forces

19 Nov 2011

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its deep concern for the continued assaults against children under the age of 18 on the hands of the security forces of Bahrain, as part of the brutal campaign against pro-democracy protesters and continuous crackdown on villages. Since the review of Bahrain record by the committee of the child rights[1] in June 2011, the death toll of children has risen to 5 children and hundreds of children were subjected to excessive force by policemen, arbitrary arrests, torture at detention, prosecution and sentencing by military court. Children trials are still ongoing on the criminal court for charges related to freedom of expression and assembly. The Bahraini government is a signatory of the International Convention for the Rights of Children, however while its Ministry of Human Rights prides itself of abiding by the rules and regulations of the convention, basic rights of children in Bahrain are being brutally violated by security forces without any actions from the authorities to end these violations.

Five children killed by illegal weaponry, suffocation of tear gas, being shot at face and run over

“Every child has the inherent right to life” - Article I of the International Convention for the Rights of the Child

Sayed Ahmed Shams is a 15 year old, born in September 1996. He is from Saar village and is a student in Al Duraz Secondary school. Sayed Ahmed was shot in the face by security forces which resulted to his death on 30 March 2011 while on his way to the American Mission hospital in Saar. He was attacked while playing outside his house[2].

The youngest to die is a 6 year old boy name Mohammed Farhan. On Friday April 29, police fired tear gas into his house in Sitra. The young boy suffocated and was taken to Salmaniya Hospital to be submitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). He passed away the following day.

Four months later on August 31, which was the first day of Eid, a Muslim holiday, a 14 year old, Ali Al Shaikh, was killed by riot police after being hit by a tear gas canister from a close range. Many international and local human rights organizations condoned Ali’s murder. Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said “The police have a duty to uphold the law, but it is completely unacceptable to throw heavy gas canisters at children. The authorities must investigate ‘Ali Jawad Ahmad al-Shaikh’s death immediately in a thorough, independent and impartial manner, and those responsible must be held to account”[3]. The ministry of interior claimed that Ali was dead before reaching the hospital and denied any police action in the area. However, no further explanation was given.

About a month afterwards on October 6, a 16 year old boy, Ahmed Al Qattan, was killed by a shotgun which is an illegal weapon. Security forces aimed at him at a very close range, causing the pellets to penetrate into his lung resulting to his death. Ahmed was immediately taken to the nearby hospital, Bahrain International Hospital. MOI, in their statement, “attributed the death to injury by birdshot and the report of Bahrain International Hospital reasoned the death to sever drop in the blood circulation that led to the heart to stop”. As previous killing, it was said that “legal procedures would be taken according to the results of the investigation”[4].

A day before the Universal children’s day, 19 November 2011, Ali Yousif Baddah, 16 years, was purposely run over by Bahrain security force while suppressing a peaceful protest in Juffair[5] . MOI confirmed the cause of death[6] . Photos of Ali after being hit are very graphics because of the severity of injuries. Ali’s funeral procession and mourners were attacked by rubber bullets and teargas, more injuries were caused.

To date, no one was held accountable for the death of any of these children, although an investigation has been conducted but no action taken against the responsible parties in the government.

More than a 100 case documented of arrested children

(a) “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” and (c) “Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age” - Article 37 of the International Convention for the Rights of the Child

BCHR has received many reports of children being arrested during home raids and daily crackdowns on villages. There have been 188 cases documented of children being arrested, although numbers are believed to be much higher. Many cases have been reported of parents having no access to their children for a long period of time while in detention. It should be emphasized that the detention of these children is unlawful and many cases fall under kidnapping or abduction.

Ali Khamis, 15 years old, hit by rubber bullet in the head

15 years old Ali Khamis from the village of Daih was hit on the night of 7 Oct 2011 with a rubber bullet in the head by riot police. After being hit, covered in blood, riot police took him to the fort and beat him severely. Ali says "I asked the riot police for water; they poured the water in my face and beat me. Then I woke up in hospital" Ali was taken to the military hospital where he had to have surgery for his head injury. Ali was considered a detainee while in hospital, his family was not allowed to see him and he was escorted by police and interrogated with 3 times.

The case of Ali Khamis shows how the Bahraini regime deals with injured children, it is not surprising that many other children who were not arrested at the time of the injury choose to remain anonymous and not be exposed. Zahir [not his real name] is a 16 years old protester who was hit with a tear gas canister in his eye and has lost it after this injury. A human rights activist witnesses his wound as he was carried into the house for treatment. Fearing hospital many of the injured protesters choose to get any kind of treatment at home. For protesters in Bahrain going to a hospital could lead to arrest and detention, even for children under the age of 18.

Zahir, 16 years old, hit in the eye with tear gas canister

Ahmed Mushaima (15 years) has been arrested from Daih on 22 Oct 2011 and detained for almost a month now. Although Ahmed was not injured or hurt at the time of the arrest, soon afterwards he was admitted into the military hospital with injuries. For the first 5 days Ahmed’s family were told nothing about their sons’ whereabouts and were denied visits. Ahmed mother was finally given a visit when she went to the police station crying that she will not leave without knowing that her son is alive. When Ahmed’s family saw him they say he looked very scared and would not give details of his detention or injury, but they said they noticed cigarette burns on his body. Unfortunately that is not surprising considering that the BCHR has documented cases of other detained children who were tortured in a similar manner.

Photos taken at time of arrest of Ahmed Mushaima

A similar case is of Ali Al Hayki, 16 years old, who was arrested during a crackdown on a peaceful protest in his village on September 11. His parents went looking for him at Nabih Saleh police station and they were told that his case will be taken to the Public Prosecutor the following day. When they asked to see him, the police gave them his shirt which was stained with blood, telling them that Ali has a head injury and had to be taken to the hospital. Videos of Ali's arrest do not show injuries so it is believed that he was injured after getting arrested[7] .

Trials at criminal and military courts

Regardless calls to end trial of children at courts that are not adequate to their needs, children under the age of 18 continued to be tried at criminal court and some were sentenced by the military court.

Mustafa Abduljalil AlMoqdad (16 years old) was arrested at dawn on 19 May 2011 after a house raid. He has been accused with others of kidnapping a policeman; he has been tried at National Safety court (military court) and was sentenced on Oct 2011 to 15 years’ imprisonment. He was not allowed access to his family and legal representation until the his first trial on 21 June 2011.

According to a testimony submitted to BCHR, Mustafa was tortured for two weeks after his arrest in the police stations of Qudhaybiya, Noaim and Dry Dock. He was beaten with a plastic cable on the bottom of his feet, on the back and all over his body. He was deprived from sleep for three days and was forced to stand for days. His lawyer requested medical examination at court but it was rejected. He is a student in the first year of secondary school, with GPA over 86%. His family has asked for their son to be allowed to take his exams which was denied.

Mustafa AlMoqdad, 16 years old, sentenced to 15 years imprisonment by military court

September 23 was declared “self-determination” day, protesters planned to go back to the pearl roundabout, the spot of pro-democracy protesters that was demolished and is under the control of the military now. One of the gathering points was Bahrain City Center, more than 40 were arrested that day amongst them 7 children, they were humiliated, insulted and tortured before taken to detention.

Bayan, 11 years[8], got arrested that day with her mother and was detained for three days. They have been treated badly. As shown in the photo below, they were handcuffed and thrown on the ground. Lawyer Reem Khalaf said that these detainees have been deprived from food, drink, use of bathroom and praying until the next day of their arrest. They were not allowed to call their families or a lawyer. Some of the children had clear beating marks when they first were seen. Several of the girls under the age of 18 were tried at the criminal court instead of the juvenile court. On 19 Oct 2011, they were sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for “illegal gathering”. Ashwaq Maqabi, 17 years old, is one of those girls sentenced. She has sickle cell disease and due to poor treatment in detention her illness has worsened. She was hospitalized more than once. Although she requested the prison management to take her to Salmaniya Hospital where she would receive proper treatment, she was treated in Bahrain Defense Hospital which is a military hospital and was deprived of proper medical treatment[9] . Four other girls (less than 15 year old) are currently going under trial in the same case at the juvenile court.

Left: Ashwaq Al Maqabi in the hospital. Right: City Center detainees, handcuffed and thrown on the ground

Aziz Jaffer, 14 years old, was arrested on September 1. He was taken to a horse stable where he was beaten and sexually harassed by security forces who touched his private parts. He was released a few hours later and summoned by the Public Prosecutor on September 16. He was held in detention for a week of interrogation, on charges that included inciting against the regime and the court extended his detention for another week to be released end of September.

Many cases have been reported of children getting arrested during home raids, peaceful protests or while playing in their neighborhoods.

Torture from the time of arrest

“Hit by electric wires and hoses while hanging from the ceiling with his hands tied, removing his toe nails and threatening to use "white weapons" and shot gun against him” torture testimony of a 17 years old boy

“Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age” - Article 37 of the International Convention for the Rights of the Child

More than 90% of the reported cases of arrested children included them being subjected to physical torture. All of the reported cases included children being psychologically abused, cursed at, insulted and humiliated. At least 2 cases of sexual assault have been reported to BCHR, although numbers are believed to be higher.

On September 22, Hussain Salman, a 15 year old from Bani Jamra, got arrested and was tortured by being beaten violently with a gun on his head and neck. He was released after three and a half hours of torture and beatings. A family member of Hussain Ali, 15 years old, said that Hussain was arrested during a home raid in Sanabis village. While trying to run away out of fear, he hit into a wall and fell unconscious. Riot police dragged him into their bus which caused injuries to his face. He adds that he was then tortured in to the bus and the police station afterwards. When his family visited him, they could see bruises on both his eyes. His knees were so swollen he could not bend them and he had a bulge on his arm. The police management asked his family for new clothes as his old ones which he was still wearing were covered in blood.

On 8 September 2011, self-determination 8, Kumail , 16 years old, was out buying dinner when riot police started attacking his village. He quickly hid in a house when he heard shooting. However riot police raided that house and managed to find him hiding on the roof. One of the police officers threw Kumail and his friend from the roof, which gave him a broken nose. They stabbed him with barbeque skewers and kicked him continuously while taking him to the hospital. He was beaten constantly along with other prisoners even after being taken to jail, as he reported to family.

Kumail (16 years) tortured by security forces

16 year old Mohammed from Karzakan was subjected to brutal torture by security forces. He fainted after they hit him with blocks of brick and was taken to the police station where he got kicked and slapped. Mohammed was taken out of the building to be torture and beaten for protestors to witness. When they transferred him to the prison hospital, his eyes were swollen and bruised and torture marks were visible all over his body. He was deprived of food and drinks including water, leading him to dehydration.

Mohammed Aqeel is a 17 year old who has been detained since April 21. According to his family, he has been subjected to severe torture which includes being hit by electric wires and hoses while hanging from the ceiling with his hands tied, removing his toe nails and threatening to use "white weapons" and shot gun against him. All this was to force Mohammed to confess to a crime he didn't commit. He told his family that the officer Isa Al Majali tortured him and insulted his religious beliefs, and when he realized Mohammed was not going to confess, he took him to what the prison management call "The Black Room". In that room they beat him with electric cables and hoses while hanging him handcuffed. They cursed and humiliated him and the Ahlulbait (Holy Household of the Prophet Mohammad), which hold a holy significance in the Shiaa faith. Mohammed was beaten and tortured continuously for two days at Adliya police station.

Mohammed Aqeel (17 years) electric shock

Victims of collective punishment

Children in Bahrain are victims of the continuous crackdown on villages and the brutal violence of security forces. BCHR receives weekly reports of children injured and harmed by tear gas, rubber bullets, shotgun pellets and other weapons.

14 year old Maryam Isa was going to her grandfather's house on September 12 when security forces fired a tear gas canister at her which lit her clothes on fire and burnt her leg and foot. After her family reported it to the police, she was transferred to the hospital for treatment. The police however refused to give copies of medical and police reports to her family in attempt to hide the truth.

Maryam Isa (14 years) burnt leg

Khadija Sayed Mohamed, lost her conscious and started to throw blood due to tear gas inhalation which is thrown with excessive amounts in the village of Saar on 23 Sep 2011. The abuse cases against children in Bahrain is continuous, every day there are victims of the brutal and violent crackdown of Bahrain’s security forces and their use of illegal weaponry against peaceful protesters for exercising their rights. All articles of Bahrain International convention of the rights of children were violated and many other international laws that Bahrain’s authority is the signatory.

Khadija Sayed Mohamed

Some articles violated of International Convention of the rights of children:

- Article 2/30: 2 - “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members. 30 - In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language. Violation: Children in Bahrain being targeted and discriminated against for being members in pro-democracy families and from Shiite sect. - Article 6: (1) States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life. (2) States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child. Violation: Children’s lives are at risk and danger at all time, whether they are playing in their neighbor hoods, at their homes or even schools - Article 9: (1) “States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will” (4)“Where such separation results from any action initiated by a State Party”, “that State Party shall, upon request, provide the parents, the child or, if appropriate, another member of the family with the essential information concerning the whereabouts of the absent member(s) of the family” Violation: Parents are kept for long periods knowing nothing about their children, despite their efforts of asking. Police stations denies having them, just to turn out that they have been there. - Article 13/ 14: (13-1) The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice. (14-1) States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Violations: like pro-democracy adults, children have no freedom of expression; they are being targeted, especially at school and expelled for expressing their opinions - Article 15: (1) States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly. Violation: children are being targeted (arrested, injured or killed) during peaceful protests whether for participating in those protests or for being around them - Article 19: (1) States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. Violations: dozens of children were subjected to physical, mental, injury and abuse from the security forces in Bahrain - Article 28: (1) “States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity” Violation: children are being targeted at schools, injured, arrested and expelled. Read: BCHR: Students paid the price of belonging to the majority sect - Article 34: States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Violation: two cases reported of sexual abuse and more are believed to have been committed - Article 37: States Parties shall ensure that: (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age; (b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time; (c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child's best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances; (d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action. Violation: torture and abuse is the way Bahrain government treats its opposition even children, more than a 100 case have been document and more are believed to have been committed

Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemns the violations of human rights against children and calls the international community and demands of Bahraini government to:

1. Immediate release of all children detainees who were arrested within arbitrary arrest campaign or for merely practicing their freedom of expression and assembly. 2. Stop the campaign of arbitrary detention of children. 3. Waive all sentences issued by military court on children less than 18 as it violates article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which state that “States Parties shall seek to promote the establishment of laws, procedures, authorities and institutions specifically applicable to children.” 4. In case of presence of evidence of a child committing crimes requiring punishment according to law, then they should be prosecuted in a trial consistent with international standards of fair trial and taking consideration of their age. 5. Urgent and neutral investigation in all cases of murder, torture and assault specially those against children and juveniles, and bring the perpetrators and implementers of such crimes to justice. 6. Providing full care for the victims of all these violation specially children and juveniles and providing them with suitable compensation and required treatment. 7. In case of detaining those less than 18 years old, this should be in special detention centers for children and juveniles that are under Ministry of Social Affairs supervision and not Ministry of Interior or any other security force. 8. Stop the repeated attacks on the Bahraini villages, especially those that affect children and juveniles. 9. Following the Convention on the Rights of the Child and implementation of all the recommendations of the Committee of Child Rights issued in 2002 and 2011. 10. Taking all measures to ensure that children and juveniles in detention or trial do not lose their right of basic education to guarantee for them a bright future far from deprivation and loss. 11. End the use of excessive forces and lethal weapons in dealing with peaceful protests, which caused death of more than 40 persons since Feb 2011.

For more on Child abuse in Bahrain read: Bahrain: Violations of the Rights of the Child worse than ever: Deaths by excessive force, and military trials at age of 15 , May 2011

[1]http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/4185 [2] photos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9li6tWJSAug
Body http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_M8lLRM5E8 His friend telling what happened at minute 3:00 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxBRld620zs [3]http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/4577 [4]http://www.policemc.gov.bh/en/new.. [5]http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/4843 [6]https://twitter.com/#!/moi_bahrain/stat.. [7]http://bhreporters.blogspot.com/20.. [8] Video of the child statement: (Arabic) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_piNPqu1RY [9]http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/4830