Summary of violations and government actions since the release of the BICI Report.
image from Reuters Photo Report
15 Dec 2011
Death of three civilians
23 Nov 2011, Abdul Nabi Kadhem (44), fatally wounded when his car was intentionally hit by fast-moving police vehicle, forcing him to collide with a standing wall of a building. This was the morning of the ceremony for the release of the report.
7 Dec 2011, Zahra Saleh, (27), was hit with metal rod in head on 18 Nov. The government insists that the protesters were the ones who had hit her and that she had turned to the security forces for protection. My colleague went to the hospital, as well as a member of AlWefaq party, to try to speak to Zahra; both of them were stopped, questioned then turned away by Ministry of Interior employees. Also, in Bahrain, it is highly unlikely for anyone to turn to police for protection, especially someone who was supporting the protest movement as was seen on her facebook page.
11th Dec 2011, Sajida Faisal (5 days old) from teargas suffocation according to her parents. (details)
Attacks on all-types gatherings:
- Mourners have been attacked in Aali. - Religious processions were attacked in Muharraq by the security forces, then by the thugs. - Ministry of Interior yesterday prevented an "authorized" sit-in by sacked workers in front of the civil service bureau, and dispersed the crowds by force. - Protests, small or large, continue to be attacked in the same way. Security forces continue to shoot excessive amounts of teargas on residential areas as collective punishment (http://yfrog.com/od8xblij, http://yfrog.com/mgpzaphj). Teargas used is made in USA, France and Brazil.
Injuries showed the continued use of: Shotgun, tear gas and rubber bullets. Tonight there were heavy attacks on protesters in several villages, this came after a huge protest earlier in the day in front of the United Nations building due to a visit by OHCHR staff to the country http://mypict.me/index.php?id=331492144.
Tomorrow protesters have planned to set up a similar "Pearl square gathering" with tents but along the Budaiya Highway. The organizers have urged people not to block the roads, and to remain peaceful at all times.
It is important to note that despite the many injuries we saw today (including pellets in eyes), protesters are still not able to seek medical attention at the hospital as it continues to be under the control of the army, and instead have to attempt to treat themselves at home.
· Arrest continued following the daily protests. Arrested people not necessary protesters. Many are children under 18.
· We have received a number of cases from families that their detained relatives are still being subjected to torture.
· Religious places "matam" attacked with tear canisters in two occasions, in Aali during mourning of AbdulNabi, and later after attacking a religious procession in Muharraq.
· Several journalists have faced harassment including brief detention and being tear gassed (EPA/DPA, Reuters, NYTimes, Washington post) Details
· Trials continued of teachers, doctors and others. Three athletes were sentenced up to 1 year. (It's not clear if these are included in the recent pardon for athletes). Human Rights Watch observer was banned from entry to court. Teachers trial adjourned to the 19th. Mustafa AlMoamen, brother of Ali AlMoamen who was killed on 17th February, was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment today for illegal gathering and inciting hatred against the regime, not first case where close relative of someone killed is imprisoned. The judge is a member of the royal family. Trials of doctors postponed until January 9th. Continuation with case against 28 doctors charged with misdemeanors, adding charge of possession of white weapons. Case against 139 people for illegal assembly postponed until March.
· New batch of government employees including teachers has been suspended from work for up to 10 days (no salary). New sacking happened at ministry of Justice (Minster is a member of the formed committee to follow up BICI recommendations). News in papers yesterday of reinstatement of 480 sacked workers not true as my colleague met with the health workers who stated that no one had been returned to work.
· The case of dismissed workers can be example of how the king is not obliged to BICI recommendations. On 1 July Bassiouni told the media "King PROMISED me to return those dismissed for expressing their opinions" and the govt issued PR releases saying "PM gave the private sector 10 days to reinstate wrongfully sacked employees", however thousand still sacked.
· Attempt to hinder and hijack civil society associations: the recent dismiss of the legitimate elected board of the Bahrain Bar Society: bahrainrights.org/en/node/4890
· Conditions at central prison "Jaw" has even worsen after the publication of report. Less hours outside cell, restrictions on excise of religious rituals, no hot water for showers, families not allowed to bring winter clothes, despite number of detainees suffering from Sickle Cell and other health problems.
· Hunger strike started at cell 7 in the Dry Docks prison, and the Central police station against arbitrary arrest, torture and demanding their release. Two of the detainees who were taken to court today fainted as they are entering their 5th day or hunger strike. When the trial hearing adjourned, detainees Sayed Ahmed Neama, Mohamed Saleh and Abdullah Maki were beaten by the police in front of the lawyers.
· Violence inciting increased online by the pro-gov, some with real names like the ex-colonial Adel Falifel, sending threats directly to Human Rights defenders while no action taken against him (this is a country which arrested people for their pro-democracy online posts). Adel Fulaifal is a known torturer from the 90's and the reason he was not held accountable is because of Decree 56 which was issued by King Hamad granting amnesty to all those guilty of crimes of torture during the 90's. Many still hold positions in government.
· The National Commission said its priorities are the dismissed workers and students, and the religious places, which are indeed priority, but how come the martyrs and detainees are not on the very top priority list?
· It seems the PM is now publicly inciting against the pro-democracy protesters video
Government Actions since the report:
· Interview with the King yesterday, in which he "denied systematic rights abuses during the handling of protests earlier this year" and insisted some protesters were being trained in Syria.
Labyrinth of follow-up committees:
o National Commission: 18 members appointed by the king, mostly members of the Shura council, human rights activist (Abdullah AlDurazi), minister of justice, others. After their first meeting they have been divided into new 3 sub- committees to deal with legislative issues, judicial issues and national reconciliation. Two members of Alwefaq were invited by they have rejected the invitation. Following their first meeting the commission announced that "All proposals brought forward for discussion will be approved by consensus".
o Government work group: formed by the PM as per the king order. They have to study the BICI report and to cooperate with the National Committees to implement the recommendations.
Reform to Ministry of Interior:
o Appointment of John Timoney, the former Miami Police Chief known for brutality and Former Metropolitan police Chief John Yates known for a phone hacking scandal.
o Bahrain's head of public security Tariq bin Dinah was dismissed then appointed security adviser.
o Minister said there would be cooperation with international organizations to develop a curricula to train ministry personnel. This will lead to the drafting of a code of conduct for the police force. He confirmed the commencement of a study to draft legislations that would guarantee visual and audio recording for all official questioning of detainees.
o The Prime Minister today participated in the Ministry of Interior's celebration of the "policeman day".
o Authorities in Bahrain say prosecutors have charged 20 members of the security forces for alleged abuse of protesters they are responsible for "instances of excessive force and mistreatment of detainees".
o Royal pardon to 100 athletes, not unconditional release with dropping of all charges. No other releases, not even those mentioned in the tortured cases.
o National Security Head Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa promoted to General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Defence and the king's advisor with Minster rank.
o A new head (Adel bin Khalifa Hamad Al Fadhel) was appointed for the National Security Apparatus. Its responsibilities have been amended so that the NSA has no right to arrest suspects, while its duties are limited to collecting intelligence information, and detecting and uncovering detrimental activities relating to spying, and collaboration with foreign countries and terror in order to safeguard national security, institutions and systems. The NSA shall refer to the Interior Ministry all cases requiring arrests. [We have called for the dissolution of the National Security Apparatus and the Special Security Apparatus and the return of their jurisdictions to the regular security apparatuses; ]
o Government announced that the Red Cross allowed access to the prisons. This might be the only real step, but if these visits actually start now and not after two years [we are calling on Bahrain to sign the Optional Protocol against Torture, which involved that there will be a standing committee to visit the prisons any time and that the visits could be sudden]
o The Interior Minister issued an order to the public prosecutor to investigate all deaths and torture cases implicating the police. Both the Minister of Interior and the public prosecutor should should be investigated and tried for violations against human rights.