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Bahrain: Human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja faces reprisals in detention after protesting poor prison conditions

One of Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defenders, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence for his human rights work, has protested unfair prison regulations. We, the undersigned, call for his release from prison, and barring that, for improved standards in Jau prison.

Al-Khawaja is the Founder and Former President of both the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), as well as the former MENA Protection Coordinator for Front Line Defenders. He has been held in Jau prison, since his sentencing in 2011, along with other human rights defenders and activists including blogger Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace who collectively make up the Bahrain 13. 

In the past year, Al-Khawaja and other prisoners of conscience have protested repeatedly about the deteriorating conditions in prison, which mimic the general deterioration of conditions in Bahrain for human rights defenders and civil society. 

Since 16 October, all of the prisoners’ belongings have been confiscated, reportedly for the purposes of being searched. When Al-Khawaja and others asked for the confiscated items to be returned, they were told “they are still under investigation." On 10 November, the prison authorities restricted all access to television, radio, books, and there are no independent newspapers available. Now, the only newspapers prisoners infrequently receive are government-backed. In addition, family visits have been further restricted so that prisoners are barely able to have a meaningful conversation. At the same time, all phone calls are closely monitored. Meanwhile, prisoners have also lost access to pens or paper, and all daily activities have been cancelled. 

This complete restriction from all independent outside information, and increased restrictions on limited family contact leaves the prisoners feeling completely cut off from the world while facing further constraint in their daily lives. These steps have reportedly come at the direction of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior.

The undersigned are gravely concerned about Al-Khawaja’s claims that the main purpose of these restrictions is “primarily an act of retribution and secondarily for the of isolation - what the authorities are doing is tantamount to psychological warfare.”

After he sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior in November about the conditions in prison, Al-Khawaja was also denied the right to make any phone calls until 17 December, which the undersigned groups believe appears to be a reprisal against him for raising his complaint. 

In Al-Khawaja’s letter to the Ministry of Interior, he expressed that:

1. Even in oppressive countries that arrest, torture and try people, the authorities do not come back after six or seven years to retaliate against the prisoners who are essentially being held hostage because of things happening outside the prison and even outside the country.

2. What is happening is not a sign of strength and courage, but rather evidence of weakness and fear. It is proof that the person in power is feeling unstable, and because he cannot face the world he retaliates against people he's already holding hostage.

3. If you think that your actions will affect our determination and spirit, then you are committing a big mistake. On the contrary, it only strengthens our will and makes us more intent on continuing down the path we've chosen because it reaffirms the righteousness of our cause.

Al-Khawaja and the other high profile activists and human rights defenders have sent many letters of protest about these and previous prison restrictions, including the denial of medication and proper access to healthcare. We the undersigned are alarmed at reports that restrictions to proper medical care are ongoing despite numerous complaints by prisoners as well as international NGOs, the United Nations and other governments.

Yet every letter the detainees send receives a response dismissing their complaints by contending that the prison authorities are acting "according to the regulations."

According to Bahrain’s prison rules, male prisoners have the right to two hours of family visits a month (one hour bi-weekly) and a three-hour monthly visit for their spouses. In addition to violating their own prison rules, the government of Bahrain’s treatment of Al-Khawaja is in violation of a number of international legal principles. 

In particular, the prison authorities have failed to meet the standards set forth by the United Nations in the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known also as the Nelson Mandela Rules). Rule 43 states that collective punishment is prohibited as torture or cruel treatment, and that the restriction of family contact cannot be used as punishment and can only be limited as strictly necessary for maintenance and order of the prison. 

The interference with family visits, the confiscation of paper and writing instruments, and the revocation of phone use is in violation of Rule 58, which provides that prisoners are entitled to contact with their family, in writing, telecommunications, and in-person visits. 

The removal of the television, radio, and newspapers is in violation of Rule 63, which requires that prisoners be informed regularly of important news items. The confiscation of books is also in violation of Rule 64, which states that every prison should keep a library for the use of prisoners. Bahrain has failed to meet each of these minimum standards. 

The current situation in Bahrain is dire. Human rights defenders are in jail, banned from travel, are in exile or are being intimidated to prevent them from working. Many human rights defenders have been called for interrogation and some have been abused and tortured, leading to some even announcing their intention to quit their human rights work. 

We the undersigned call on the authorities in Bahrain to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally free Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and other human rights defenders from prison; 
  2. Provide proper access to medical care and sanitary conditions in prison;
  3. Allow Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and all prisoners proper access to families; and
  4. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Signed by:

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)

Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

CIVICUS, World Alliance for Citizen Participation

FIDH, under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Front Line Defenders

Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

PEN International

World Organisation Against Torture, under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Please circulate a link to this appeal using the hashtag #FreeAbdulhadi

Contacts:

Minister of Interior

Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa

@moi_Bahrain

Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs

Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa

@Khaled_Bin_Ali 

 

 

CARAM Asia Media Statement on International Migrants Day 2017 for the Protection of Migrant Workers’ Rights

CARAM Asia Bhd (541195‑T)

5th Floor, Wisma Hamid Arshat, No. 12-5,

Jalan Bangsar Utama 9, Bangsar Utama 59000,

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel:(603) 22827708, 22821669 Fax: (603) 22821155

Email: caraminfo@caramasia.org

URL: www.caramasia.org

“Governments need to abide by international rights standards and guarantee migrants’ rights protections.”

NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations 

On December 18, 1990, the General Assembly adopted the international Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, and it is on this day we celebrate International Migrants Day. We are supposed to be reminded of the enormous contribution migrants make to the global economy, to societies and communities in both source and destination countries. Instead, we are being reminded of the hardships they face on a daily basis.      

According to global estimates on migrant workers by the UN and the ILO, there are 244 million international migrants, of which 150 million migrants are in the global workforce and 75 million international migrants are living in Asia. South Asia and Southeast Asia are comprised of many heavily populous, low-income and developing countries, which aim to export manpower to ease unemployment at home and earn foreign exchange in the form of remittances. 

Despite the enormous contribution of migrant workers to the economies of their host countries and the remittances they send home, which help to maintain their families and boost the economies of their countries of origin, this sizeable population continues to endure hardship in silence.  The obligation of protecting migrant workers’ rights rests equally upon both source and destination countries. Unfortunately, governments commonly treat migrant workers as commodities. As a result, many migrants and migrant domestic workers suffer rights violations at the hands of employers, recruiting agents and other involved actors. Violations range from exploitation in the form of unpaid wages and wrongful dismissal, non-existence of employment contract or contract substitution, withholding of passports by employers, violence in the form of verbal/physical abuses, threats, wrongful arrest and detention, denial of medical care /treatment, and even torture. 

CARAM Asia, together with its 42 member organizations in 22 countries across Asia, urges all countries sending and receiving migrants to urgently provide protection mechanisms for migrant workers’ and to continue to work for wider ratification and practice of international conventions which provide migrants with rights protections including but not limited to: the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; ILO Convention 143 (Convention concerning Migrations in Abusive Conditions and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity and Treatment of Migrant Workers), and ILO Convention 189 for Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

In the six years since the International Labour Organization adopted Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers in 2011, governments in nearly 50 countries have adopted labour reforms and policies and updated their legislation to provide better employment protection for domestic workers, and 24 countries have already ratified the Convention.  Within Asia Pacific, only the Philippines has ratified Convention 189, meaning that many source countries in the Asia Pacific do not provide their own citizens working as domestic workers proper protections as stipulated under Convention 189. 

ITUC reports there are over 67 million domestic workers in the world, the vast majority of them women. More than 11 million are migrant workers. Outside the official figures, some 17 million children are believed to be trapped in domestic work, many in conditions of forced labour. As long as domestic work remains unrecognized as formal work and beyond commensurate protections, abuse, sub-par wages and excessive working hours will remain the standard. However, there are some good practices, such as allowing domestic workers to organize into associations or unions in some countries.  However, in some countries there are systems in place like the sponsorship system known as the Kafala system. A system whereby an individual’s right to work and legal presence is dependent on his or her employer.  With tight restrictions on changing employers, this dependency renders workers vulnerable to exploitation. Bad practices, such as travel bans and the Kafala style systems, need to be culled.

According to the UN Treaty Collection Report, globally only 49 countries have ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.  Again we need to emphasise that Asian countries which send their citizens out to various parts of the world to Asia and Middle East to work have not ratified these important conventions. These countries’ reluctance demonstrates a lack of commitment to securing protections for their citizens who go abroad to work.  It is clear that the objectives of the labour sending countries is to earn foreign remittances at any cost, and for the labour receiving countries it is to get work done with reduced wages regardless of violations of international labour standards.

Governments are enforcing strict new laws and cracking down on undocumented migrants as a “national security” measure. This is problematic as it catches up those who may be victims of forced labour or trafficking in persons, and those who may be undocumented due to the negligence and/or exploitation by employers or agents and/or syndicates.

Crackdowns have been implemented in these countries for many years, but this has not helped authorities to solve the problem of regularizing labour migration. It has further victimized this vulnerable group, and left many in detention or deported back home to crushing debts paid to agents in order to have migrated in the first place.  Rather than punish migrants, governments need to address the root causes of migration and resolve systematic issues in the recruitment process which allow agents and middlemen to take advantage of migrants.  

On September 19, 2016 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of commitments during its summit on large movements of refugees and migrants to enhance the protection of refugees and migrants. These commitments are known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (NY Declaration). The NY Declaration reaffirms the importance of the international protection regime and represents a commitment by Member States to strengthen and enhance mechanisms to protect people on the move. It paves the way for the adoption of two new global compacts in 2018: the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

CARAM Asia feels strongly that the voices of migrant workers should be included in the Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration drafting process, that migrant organisations and communities must be allowed to speak out on their own behalf, and that the Global Compact should be a rights-based document.  Global leaders need to address the root causes of migration and provide decent work opportunities in home countries so that migration becomes an option rather than a necessity, and provide proper protections for those who do chose to migrate. 

On this International Migrants’ Day, CARAM Asia and all member organizations in migrant sending and receiving countries reiterate our call to all governments to:

  • Ensure that basic human rights are respected for all migrants at all times as per international conventions and protocols;
  • Urgently take steps to ratify both ILO Convention 143 concerning Migrations in Abusive Conditions and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity and Treatment of Migrant Workers, and ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers;
  • Develop effective systems of global governance on migration which are based on fundamental human rights and putting an end to modern slavery;
  • Reform the private recruiting industry and ensure that it is regulated using ethical practices which uphold the benefits and rights of migrant workers;
  • Incorporate a rights based framework in every bi-lateral or multi-lateral agreement on labour migration and make them legally binding;
  • Stop labour trafficking and bring all racketeers to justice across the migration continuum;
  • Take responsibility to ensure migrant workers access full redress through migrant friendly mechanisms which can bring them justice.

CARAM Asia (Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility) is a regional network of 42 organizations in 22 countries across Asia and has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.  

This statement is issued by:  CARAM Asia Task Force on Migrant Workers’ Rights (MWR).

18 December 2017

Bahrain: Political Detainees between Suffering and Deprivation of Medical Care

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses great concerns over the increasing complaints of political detainees over depriving them of medical care in Bahrain’s prisons and refusing to take them to hospitals.

BCHE has documented many cases in which the prisons’ authorities neglected the health-related complaints of the detainees.

Elias Faisal Al-Mulla, 26 years old, was arrested on the 11th of May 2012, after raiding his house without presenting an arrest warrant. Elias was taken to the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation where he was subjected to psychological and physical torture that included, kicking, deprivation of sleep and food, preventing him from praying, forcing him to stand for long hours and pressing him to sign false confessions. 

On the 5th of May 2013, Elias was sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly killing a member of the security forces and setting fire to a security patrol.

In May 2015, he started to have a severe stomach ache but he was not taken to the Military hospital until the 1st of August 2015.

Despite the fact that Elias was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, and as a result suffering from ongoing vomiting, he was taken back to Jaw Prison [as he told his mother in a phone call]. 

On the 12th of August 2015, Elias’ doctor informed his mother that he suffers from cancer and that he needs to undergo chemotherapy treatments.

More about Elias health condition on the following link:

 http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/8411

Elias’ mother said that her son told her on the phone on the 16th of October 2017, that the administration of Jaw Prison refused to take [his] stool samples to Salmaniya hospital, the main public hospital in Bahrain. The hospital has already instructed to collect these samples on the 10th of September 2017 for examination in order to determine whether Elias  has been cured or not.

Not collecting and analysing these samples can significantly impact on the type of medications he is supposed to take. Elias was also deprived of getting his medicines which were previously prescribed by the hospital.

The postponement of collecting and transferring the samples for more than a month and at the same time depriving Elias of medical care have significantly affected his mother, causing her mental disorders.

His mother said that he has started to suffer from the same symptoms he was suffering from before, such as abdominal swelling, pain on the right side of the upper abdomen and pain in the joints, back and stomach.  He has also been suffering from severe diarrhoea since the 9th of July 2017, which has forced him to refrain from eating. In addition, he is still unable to have rest or sleep because of nausea, constant dizziness, blood clots in ankles and shortness of vision.

Despite all that both the administration of Jaw Prison and Salmaniya hospital refused to give Elias’ mother any updated medical report about the health status of her son. As a result, on the 17th of October 2017, she has lodged a complaint with the ombudsman and National Foundation for Human Rights over the deterioration of Elias’ health and the delay in allowing access to medical treatment.

Elias Al-Mulla is not the only one who has been denied medical care as BCHR has documented many other cases in which political detainees complained about being deprived of medical treatment [despite the fact that some of them have chronical diseases such as Sickle Cell Anemia]. It should be mentioned that the detainees usually go on hunger strike in order to be allowed to seek treatment in hospitals or to have access to medical care.

Ahmad Mirza, 33, who was born with Sickle Cell Anemia revealed to his family on the phone, on the 7th of May 2017 that the authorities in Jaw Prison do not provide the medications that he needs when he has severe pain.

Ahmad, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, said that he needs a gallbladder removal surgery. He was supposed to do the surgery in 2016. However, whenever Ahmad had an appointment, the Jaw administration did not allow transferring him to the hospital. The last missed appointment was in March 2017.

His family said that the health status of their son is deteriorating as the level of the bilirubin reached 985 whereas the natural level should be at 21 only. This, according to doctors during an examination in January 2017, has affected his liver and spleen.

Ahmed told his family that, although he has sent several letters to the prison’s authorities, demanding to take him to the hospital on time, they have not responded to his calls and letters. On the 3rd of December 2017, his family received a call from him saying that he had severe pain and that he was not taken to the hospital in spite of his insisting requests.

Habib Yaqoub, 24, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was born with Sickle Cell Disease, told his family that the authorities of Jaw Prison barely provide medical care although he usually suffers from severe attacks.  This has led to worsen his health condition. 

Based on the statements and complaints of many political prisoners, BCHR states that this negligence is in violation of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, including article 22 which states, “Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.”

It is also in violation of article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which emphasises on the right to have access to medical care.

Based on the above, BCHR calls on the government of Bahrain and Commission on the Rights of Prisoners to be adherent to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners especially when it comes to providing medical care and treatment.  

A Crime Outside Coverage: Report Monitoring Grave Violations in Supressing Al Duraz Peaceful Assembly in Bahrain

The four Bahraini human rights organisations, Salam Organization for Democracy and Human Rights (SALAM), Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR) and Gulf In itute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), call for an urgent inve igation on the recent raid on the peaceful sit-in in Duraz village, we of Manama the capital city, in solidarity with Sheikh Isa Qassim, whose nationality has been arbitrary revoked in June 2016. 

Read full report here: /sites/default/files/A%20Crime%20Outside%20Coverage.pdf

 

A Crime Outside Coverage: Report Monitoring Grave Violations in Supressing Al Duraz Peaceful Assembly in Bahrain

The four Bahraini human rights organisations, Salam Organization for Democracy and Human Rights (SALAM), Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR) and Gulf In itute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), call for an urgent inve igation on the recent raid on the peaceful sit-in in Duraz village, we of Manama the capital city, in solidarity with Sheikh Isa Qassim, whose nationality has been arbitrary revoked in June 2016. 

Read full report here: /sites/default/files/A%20Crime%20Outside%20Coverage.pdf

 

On Human Rights Day, we'll be thinking of our colleague Nabeel Rajab in a Bahraini prison

Today, on Human Rights Day, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights would like to remind of many activists behind bars for breaking the silence of oppression. We think of all those people who risk their lives for standing up against fascism, sectarianism and racism. From Palestine to Bahrain.  
 
Our President, Nabeel Rajab, is one of them, he is serving a two years sentence in the Jau prison in Bahrain for his human rights work. He is facing another trial in January and risks a further 15 years in prison for tweeting against the War in Yemen.
 
He founded the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and devoted his life to what he believed were basic freedoms long overdue to the Bahraini people. He travelled to the UN and many countries giving speeches to share the struggle of the Bahraini people for democracy and human rights with the outside world.  Nabeel Rajab dedicated his life to human rights values and the Universal Declaration for Human Rights.
 
For many of us around the world, the Human Rights Day is not a day of celebration but a day of anger and rage. For many of us it is yet another day, we’ll be living under colonial oppression, apartheid or dictatorship.

Today we must together remind our leaders that stable partners are governments that create a safe environment for free speech and peaceful expression. 

Sheikh Isa Qasim returns to house arrest after surgical operation. Other operations to follow

BCHR: Ayatollah Qasim returns to house arrest after surgery. Further operations to follow
 
Bahrain Center for Human rights said in a statement that Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim has been placed again under house arrest, after the end of an urgent surgery this week. Further surgical operations are expected to follow and medical care should be guaranteed for the Ayatollah.
Sheikh Qassim has been under house arrest and a security siege has been placed around his house for more than 6 months . His health has deteriorated a few days ago and he was transferred to the hospital for treatment after international pressure was placed on the government of Bahrain to allow him to receive medical care. Sheikh Isa Qassim’s nationality was revoked In June 2016, the Minister of Interior rendered him stateless. The cleric is one of over 480 people stripped of Bahraini citizenship since 2012. His village, Duraz, has been under a continuous police blockade since June 2016.
 
Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the government of Bahrain to immediately lift the security siege on his residence and enable him to continue his medical treatment which may require him to have further surgical operations. BCHR also calls for lifting the police blockade imposed upon Duraz
 
 Sheikh Maytham Al Salman(Senior advisor at BCHR) re-emphasized on the calls made by 4 UN experts to lift the house arrest imposed upon the Sh. Isa Qasim and not interfere with his medical treatment. 4 UN experts said in a public statement on the 7th of December, 2017 : As Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim recovers, he should be free to move around without restrictions and not be subject to de facto house arrest.
 
Al Salman said  “For over a year, the Bahraini government has intensified the reprisals against the country’s most senior religious leader Sheikh Isa Qassim in its attempt to silence all voices calling for democracy, social justice and respect of universal human rights. He was subjected to a series of violations, including the arbitrary revocation of his citizenship, his conviction on absurd politically motivated charges, and the murdering of peaceful protesters near his door steps and placing him under house arrest. Most recently, he was deprived of adequate medical care. Bahrain’s stability can only be achieved by ensuring the human rights of all are fully respected, and by promoting an all inclusive dialogue process that leads to sustainable stabilty.
 

Health of Ayatollah Isa Qasim worsens

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses grave concern of the health state of Ayatollah Isa Qasim, which has, recently, seriously deteriorated. He is still being held under house arrest despite his need of immediate medical attention. His family was kept waiting for over four hours at the police station before a doctor was allowed to access the Duraz area where he lives, an area that has been surrounded by police and under siege for over a year. This has further aggravated his health state.

According to his family: Ayatollah Isa Qassim is suffering from an aggravated case of abdominal hernia which is causing him severe pain, esophagus bleeding for over two months which cause has not yet been diagnosed and extreme fatigue; his ability of movement has been highly reduced.

Moreover, Ayatollah Isa Qasim already suffers from several chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. He has not been able to receive efficient medical care for almost a year and a half because he has been stripped of his nationality. Since 2011, non citizens in Bahrain or citizens with no ID card cannot seek medical care and will be reported to the Ministry of Interior (MOI).

On Sunday 26th of November, a doctor visited him and confirmed that he has to undergo an urgent procedure for his hernia, which, at his age, is highly risky.

After the authorities stripped him of his citizenship in June over allegations of extremism and money laundering, he could be deported at any time. Due to the way the Bahraini government has dealt with the false accusations, Sheikh Isa Qasim has been insisting that he only receives medical treatment from a surgeon and medical group he trusts.

Furthermore, there is no longer a valid reason for the ongoing house arrest as the peaceful assembly outside his house has ceased.

Due to Ayatollah Isa Qasim’s critical condition, BCHR calls on the government of Bahrain:

  • to allow Sheikh Isa Qasim to seek medical care without any restriction or intervention;
  • cease the house arrest he is under and,
  • drop all allegations against him. 

Health of Ayatollah Isa Qasim worsens

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses grave concern of the health state of Ayatollah Isa Qasim, which has, recently, seriously deteriorated. He is still being held under house arrest despite his need of immediate medical attention. His family was kept waiting for over four hours at the police station before a doctor was allowed to access the Duraz area where he lives, an area that has been surrounded by police and under siege for over a year. This has further aggravated his health state.

According to his family: Ayatollah Isa Qassim is suffering from an aggravated case of abdominal hernia which is causing him severe pain, esophagus bleeding for over two months which cause has not yet been diagnosed and extreme fatigue; his ability of movement has been highly reduced.

Moreover, Ayatollah Isa Qasim already suffers from several chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. He has not been able to receive efficient medical care for almost a year and a half because he has been stripped of his nationality. Since 2011, non citizens in Bahrain or citizens with no ID card cannot seek medical care and will be reported to the Ministry of Interior (MOI).

On Sunday 26th of November, a doctor visited him and confirmed that he has to undergo an urgent procedure for his hernia, which, at his age, is highly risky.

After the authorities stripped him of his citizenship in June over allegations of extremism and money laundering, he could be deported at any time. Due to the way the Bahraini government has dealt with the false accusations, Sheikh Isa Qasim has been insisting that he only receives medical treatment from a surgeon and medical group he trusts.

Furthermore, there is no longer a valid reason for the ongoing house arrest as the peaceful assembly outside his house has ceased.

Due to Ayatollah Isa Qasim’s critical condition, BCHR calls on the government of Bahrain:

  • to allow Sheikh Isa Qasim to seek medical care without any restriction or intervention;
  • cease the house arrest he is under and,
  • drop all allegations against him. 

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
BHR 001 / 0417 / OBS 047.1
Restrictions to freedom of movement /
Harassment
Bahrain
November 29, 2017
 
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.
 
New information:
 
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about ongoing obstacles to freedom of movement faced by Ms. Nedal Al Salman, Acting President and Head of Women and Children Rights at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR).
 
According to the information received, on November 26, 2017 at 2 pm, Ms. Al Salman intended to board a flight to Toronto via Dubai at Manama International Airport. After she was successfully checked-in, she was stopped at the emigration desk, her passport was seized by a policeman, and she was told to wait.
 
After one hour, the policeman came back to Ms. Al Salman to inform her that she “[could] not travel as [she was] under travel ban”. When asking the reasons for such a ban, the policeman answered that he had no idea, and that she “should check with the Public Prosecution Office”.
 
This travel ban will prevent Ms. Nedal Al Salman from attending the European Union (EU)-NGO Forum on Human Rights on December 5 and 6, 2017 in Brussels, where she had been invited by the EU.
 
Ms. Nedal Al Salman has already been banned from travelling several times since August 29, 2016, and most recently in April and June 2017, ahead of sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) in Geneva (see background information).
 
On September 19, 2017, she was summoned and charged by the Public Prosecution for “illegal gatherings” under trumped-up charges stemming from the new Anti-Terrorism Law, and placed under a formal travel ban.
 
The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing travel restrictions imposed on Ms. Al Salman, which is further evidence of constant reprisals conducted by the authorities against human rights defenders in Bahrain.
 
The Observatory recalls that more than 20 human rights defenders have been prevented to leave the country earlier this year, as a clear attempt to sanction their human rights activities (see background information).
 
The Observatory urges the authorities to immediately and unconditionally lift the travel ban against Ms. Al Salman and other human rights defenders in Bahrain, and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them.
 
Background information:
 
In April 2017, a new wave of summons and travel bans targeted at least 18 human rights defenders, including members of the BCHR, the Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO), the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS), the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR) and Salam for Democracy and Human Rights (Salam), as well as four political activists.
 
Between April 20, 2017 and April 26, 2017, 22 human rights activists, including four BCHR members, Mr. Enas Oun, Mr. Ahmed Al Saffar, Mr. Hussain Radhi and Ms. Nedal Al Salman, as well as BHRO member Ms. Jalila Al Salman, along with BHRS member Ms.Zainab Al Khamees, EBOHR member Ms.Fatima Al Halwachi,Salam member Ms. Ebtisam Al Sayegh, human rights lawyer Mr. Mohamed Al Tajer, journalists Ms.Faisal Hayat and Mr. Ahmed Radhi, Ms. Zainad Mohamed, Ms. Riyhanna Mosawi, Mr. Talal Salawi, Mr. Monther Al Khoor, Mr. Sayed Hadi Al Moosawi, doctors Mr.Taha Al Derazi and Ms. Rulla Al Saffar[1] and four members of the political society Waad were all summoned to appear before the Public Prosecutor for interrogation.
 
The 22 individuals were all accused of supposedly participating in “illegal gatherings” in the city of Deraz on January 6 and 14, 2017. Yet, none of the 22 participated in such alleged gatherings. Travel bans have been issued against the 22 individuals. The Observatory fears that the travel bans were preventively issued against the 22 individuals to prevent them from attending Bahrain’s Universal Periodic Review to be held in Geneva from May 1 to May 5, 2017 before the UN HRC.
 
Actions requested:
 
Please write to the authorities in Bahrain, urging them to:
 
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the freedom of movement of Ms. Nedal Al Salman and all human rights defenders in Bahrain, by immediately and unconditionally lifting the travel bans against them, as they only aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities;
 
ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against Ms. Nedal Al Salman and all human rights defenders in Bahrain, so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;
 
iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 5(b), and 12.2;
 
iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.
Addresses:
 
• Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587
• Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fax : 00973 17 21 05 75; ofd@mofa.gov.bh
• Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Fax: +973 175 31 284
• Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Email: info@interior.gov.bh
• H.E. Mr. Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri, Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: info@bahrain-mission.ch
• H.E. Ahmed Mohammed Yousif Aldoseri, Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Belgium, Fax: 0032 (0) 26472274; E-mail: Brussels.mission@mofa.gov.bh
• H.E. Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain in Paris, France. Email: ambassade@ambahrein-france.com
 
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Bahrain in your respective country.
 
***
 
Paris-Geneva, November 29, 2017
 
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
 
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and OMCT. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
·         E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
·         Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
·         Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
 
[1]               Ms. Rulla Al Saffar is the former President of the Bahrain Nurses Society.