Heartbleed Internet Bug | Agenda

Heartbleed Internet Bug | Agenda

9 Apr, 2014

Joint-Statement by Bahrain Civil Society: Freedom of Association Must be Respected For Dialogue to be Possible

The undersigned civil society organizations would like to first express gratitude for the important role that the OHCHR has and continues to play in addressing human rights violations in Bahrain. Bahraini civil society has and will continue to work closely with the OHCHR to improve the human rights situation in Bahrain.

It is with disappointment that the undersigned independent civil society organizations in Bahrain have collectively decided to not attend the event organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights jointly with with the National Institute for Human Rights (NIHR) and relevant government agencies. It is important to note that the NIHR does not meet the Paris Principles, namely the requirements to guarantee pluralism and independence.

This initiative comes at a time when the Bahraini government continues to carry out attacks against and/or severely restricts the space and ability of independent human rights defenders and organizations working in Bahrain.   The majority of independent Bahraini human rights organizations, including the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, have been dissolved or prevented from registering as formal organizations in the country. Many independent Bahraini human rights defenders have been imprisoned for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and expression, and many have also been forced into exile for fear of attacks or imprisonment. This includes prominent human rights defenders Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, both of whom are still serving arbitrary prison terms for their work. Furthermore, in 2013, a draconian draft law on civil organizations was sent to Parliament. If approved, it will work to further restrict and control the work of civil society organizations.

Human rights defenders continue to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, ill treatment, defamation campaigns, harassment, unfair trials and incarceration.  We strongly believe that to have a genuine dialogue, the voices of these actors would need to be included in any process.  All the while, larger patterns of human rights violations are still rampant in the country, and no genuine accountability measures have been taken by the government to address past and ongoing violations.

In this context, the OHCHR has regrettably not invited civil society organizations to participate in the series of events that have been organized alongside the NIHR.   Instead, persons have been invited in an individual capacity.  We believe this to be a highly dangerous concession by the OHCHR for the holding of these meetings, as it begins a process within a framework that denies independent human rights defenders their fundamental right of association, which includes the freedom to join and create organizations.

We fear the adoption by the OHCHR of this framework is very likely to be used to justify and legitimize the repressive policies of the Bahrain government.   Moreover, by organizing this meeting, the OHCHR has greatly undermined our confidence that our voices will be respected and listened to within the proceedings of the meeting on an equal footing as the government.

This is especially disappointing considering that several civil society organizations members specifically highlighted this issue and the need for recognition of human rights organizations within any OHCHR event in a meeting with OHCHR representatives during the 25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Civil society in Bahrain is more than willing to participate in OHCHR organized events for the sake of promoting human rights in the country. We cannot, however, do so under circumstances that appear to propagate the systematic problems that have led to the current human rights crises within Bahrain.

We urge the OHCHR to ensure that any activities it is involved with are organized in a manner that fully respects the fundamental rights of human rights defenders.

 

With Assurances of our Highest Consideration,

 

Signed:

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain

Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Hope Defenders

Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

European Bahraini Organization for Human Rights

Ebtisam Alsaegh – Independent activist

6 Apr, 2014

Joint Report: Human Rights Violations in Bahrain during Formula One Race Period

On the morning of the Grand Prix race which will take place today at 6pm in Sakhir; BCHR (Bahrain Center for Human Rights), BIRD (Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy) and BYSHR (Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights), note their concern for the growing violations against civilians in Bahrain.

It has been evident that in the months preceding the race, many civilian protesters have taken to the streets to protest the FIA’s decision to schedule Bahrain for the Grand Prix. Protesters have taken up various methods to express their anger towards the race going ahead. One video posted on YouTube shows the incineration of F1 tickets, as well as people burning pictures of F1’s Bernie Ecclestone and Bahraini King, Hamad Al-Khalifa. Messages of protest have also taken to social media as well. Many pictures and statuses like this one were posted on Twitter and Facebook. Some protesters have even appealed to the international community by deploying more heartfelt messages. This video posted on YouTube, shares the voice of a Bahraini child who asks: “does the Grand Prix matter more than human beings?”. Unfortunately, as the race goes on, the world has come to the conclusion that it just might.

Reports of human rights violations have steadfastingly been reaching international NGOs in the run-up to the race. On the 1st of April, a video was leaked of a child being arrested by security forces. The boy was hit twice in the face with the officer’s gun and dragged away from a distraught woman who called after him. On the following day, 5 civilians were sentenced to 5 year sentences for illegal gathering and arson - their trial being neither fair, nor independent. On the 3rd of April, the first day of GP practices in Sakhir, people gathered in march for 20-year old deceased boy Hussain Sharaf’s funeral procession, an event which was interrupted and attacked by security forces. The procession took place in Eker village, where three photojournalists, Hamad, Amer and journalist Mazen Mahdi reported being shot with bird pellets. People on the ground not only reported the use of birdshot but also an exorbitant use of teargas as well. The account given also reported that mercenary forces came back with their jeeps to try and run over the crowd of protesters. On the same day, there were also reports of pellet shot injuries in Malkiya village protests, teargas reports on the streets of Al Qarya, and reports on the use of teargas in Bahraini homes.

On the first day of the training race, civilians faced similar conditions. Approximately 10 civilians were arrested at dawn during house raids on Friday. Two of these arrests were children, young Mohsen Zaher and Mohsen Jassim. An additional 16 people were arrested throughout the day in the towns of Eker, Nuwaidrat and Sitra, without any presentation of an arrest warrant. Yesterday, protesters took to the streets again as the qualifying stage of the GP proceeded. Protests took place all over the country including in the villages of Muharraq, Sanabis, Salmabad, Ghuraifa, Musalla and Bilad Al Qadeem. In the village of Saar