21 October 2012

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights issue an urgent appeal regarding the siege which has been ongoing for more than 2 days now on the village of AlEker. President of BYSHR, Mohammed AlMaskati, was able to get into the village despite the siege at approximately 9 am local time. A gathering of more than 100 people outside the entrance of AlEker which included medics, members of political societies and activists was dispersed by excessive force using sonic bombs and teargas and another gathering of AlEker residents inside the village was also attacked with excessive use of tear gas. Human rights defenders Zainab Al Khawaja, BCHR’s Said Yousif AlMuhafdhah and BYSHR’s Naji Fateel were arrested after peacefully matching towards Al Eker holding symbolic amount of food and medical supply to break the siege. According to the lawyer they are being charged with obstructing traffic despite walking on the pavement. Please refer to the last BCHR urgent appeal about the situation in AlEker: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5486.

According to AlMaskati’s testimony of what he witnessed, all entrances to AlEker are blocked. When people are allowed to leave (only from the main entrance), they are harassed and verbally attacked, in addition to getting thoroughly searched. AlMaskati stated that during the past two days, security forces have imposed an ongoing curfew, informing residents through loud speakers that they are not allowed to leave their homes. Security forces also used loud speakers to threaten the residents and used insults and sectarian derogatory terms.

Photo: School closed, students and teachers were not allowed into.

Photo: Residents had to bring food into the village on foot

Security forces have reportedly forbidden mosque caretakers from opening mosques for prayers for the past two days, and in one instance they raided a mosque breaking furniture inside. In addition, the village’s elementary school was closed today (Sunday 21st October) and it was surrounded by security forces who refused to allow students into the school. The residents of AlEker are suffering from food shortage, as the usual food deliveries from outside the village were prohibited from entering. Some residents have been attempting to bring food into the village on foot from other areas.

Photo: Houses broken by riot police during raids

Residents of AlEker confirmed to AlMaskati that more than 36 their homes had been subject to arbitrary house raids without warrants. The raids were reportedly very violent, insides of their homes were broken and electronic belongings were confiscated. People inside the homes were subjected to physical and verbal assault demanding they disclose whereabouts of relatives.

The Residents who were in constant need of access to medical care were prohibited from exiting AlEker to go to the hospital. Ambulances have not been allowed into the area. Two people were arrested and later released after reported ill treatment and torture. Family of one of those arbitrarily arrested, namely Aqeel Hassan Jassim, informed AlMaskati that their son has Epilepsy and constantly needs medical care to avoid seizures.

The area claimed to be the “crime scene” by the ministry of interior is a deep area covered in water which has now been covered with sand. Many were arbitrarily arrested as part of the “AlEker case” and were reportedly brought to the “crime scene” and videotaped there according to local residents.

According to lawyer Manar Maki, a group of lawyers made a request to be present during the interrogations of those arbitrarily arrested in what is now being called “AlEker case”, but their request was rejected.

Photo: Activits Zainab Al Khawaja, Said Yousif and Naji Fateel

Photo of Zainab Al Khawaja being arrested today while marching to Al Eker

There were many attempts to break the siege on Al Eker village. A group of members of political societies, doctors and activists was dispersed with the use of excessive force this morning. Activists, Said Yousif, Zainab Al Khawaja and Naji Fateel walked to Al Eker holding only symbolic amount of food and medical supply, however, denied entry and arrested. According to an eye-witness Zainab Al Khawaja was dragged by security force. The three activists are being charged with obstructing traffic. ( Video shows that they were peacefully walking not obstructing the traffic)

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls on the international community to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to respect and guarantee human rights for all people under all conditions. It calls on the authorities to stop subjecting the citizens of Bahrain to acts of ill-treatment and collective punishment during the process of investigation of the death of the policeman. The BYSHR and the BCHR believe that an independent, fair and transparent investigation has to be carried out to look into the causes behind the death of the policeman as well as the death of dozens of civilians.