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Bahrain’s authorities strive to muzzle and intimidate the independent channels that cover the violations in Bahrain

Bahrain is involved in jamming and pressuring on the satellite channels covering human rights condition in Bahrain, such as Al-Jazeera English and Lulu channel.

14 August, 2011

Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern about the permanent campaigns by the government of Bahrain that muzzle, blur the facts and restrict publishing the information and freedom of media, which have increased in the last years and worsen since the beginning of the brutal repression campaign against the protesters last February and after imposing the state of emergency, that ended in the beginning of June 2011. The latest jamming was on lulu channel, Bahraini opposition channel broadcasting from London, also, pressuring on Al-Jazeera English to prevent re- broadcasting “Bahrain shouting in the dark", that shows the repression campaign against pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain.

According to the information Bahrain Center for Human Rights has received, the Bahraini opposition Lulu channel which started broadcasting last month from London (July 17, 2011) had been jammed intensively after 4 hours of broadcasting, and according to a report by a telecommunication company, the jamming signals are from Kingdom of Bahrain. It seems like Bahraini authorities are trying to prevent what this channel broadcasts to Bahrainis, especially after broadcasting scenes of deaths ,arrests and attacks on the current and ongoing protests in Bahrain, and at the same time preventing any different media from Bahrain’s official television , which the citizens and observers questions its reports that are characterized with inciting violence against protesters , moreover , inciting sectarian, fabrication and falsification, and which described killing protesters as “cleansing.”

According to the Lulu founders' statement, Lulu channel was not allowed to broadcast from Bahrain, forcing them to start broadcasting from abroad. However, the continuous jamming, despite their continuous attempts to re- broadcast on different frequencies, resulted to remove the channel from the satellite channels [1].

The channel sought to highlight the other opinion which is against the Bahraini government and broadcasting scenes and news of the current events in Bahrain, which are not covered by any official media but only slightly and called sabotage.

On the other hand, Bahrain’s government pressured on Al-Jazeera English after broadcasting a documentary film about the events of Bahrain’s revolution on August 4, 2011. Exactly after broadcasting it, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister attacked Qatar and Al Jazeera on Twitter, also the son of King Hamad Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad described the channel indecently, calling it “A despicable channel”, this however, warned of a diplomatic crisis between the two countries led to stop re-broadcasting [2] the documentary, "Bahrain shouting in the dark" after what Al-jazeera website has posted times of re-broadcasting the film on Monday ,Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, but all these times were omitted without giving any explanation.

Click for a larger view

The 50 minutes film documents the revelation’s events in Bahrain and the subsequent brutal repression, deaths, attacks on medical staff, military control on the hospitals and torturing wounded protesters by Bahraini and Saudi security forces. Mr. Al Anstey, managing director of Al-Jazeera English said: “The film-maker was not given access to many things. We were not given free access. We were denied comment by the Bahraini authorities. Our producer (of the documentary) was unable to access certain areas. Some sections of society also refused to comment. ” he also said “Many times we have requested Bahrain but denied (permission and access)”[3].

Bahrain’s government controls the media in the country especially audio-visual media, and there is not any independent privet channel broadcast from Bahrain. The authority had blocked Al Wefaq’s National Islamic Society website last September 2010 after announcing its intention to launch a visual and audible media via the Internet [4], at the same time Alwasat newspaper was denied from broadcasting audio and video reports on its website [5]. Furthermore, some activists were imprisoned [6] just because they sent some videos and pictures about the violations in Bahrain to the media outside Bahrain; Lots of detainees were imprisoned and sent to military court in this recent security campaign with charges related to speaking to the international media [7]. It is worth mentioning, that is the last appearance of an opposition critic on Bahrain’s television was in 2008, Ibrahim Sharif, Secretary General of the National Democratic Action Society - Wa'ad (detained since March and was sentenced to five years in prison for the moment) and after broadcasting the show, Minister of Information Jihad Bukamal was isolated from his office, and it’s currently managed by Shaikh Fawaz Al Khalifa who oversees the exclusionary sectarian policy and non-professional in Bahrain TV.

Furthermore, Bahrain’s authorities have jammed several other satellite channels which broadcast news reports on the events in Bahrain in February and March, including “Al-Alam” an Iranian channel and “Al-Manar” which is Lebanese [8].Also, blocked PressTv’s website in Bahrain that broadcasted numbers of English reports and talk shows about the protests in Bahrain.

The official visual and audio media had played a serious role in fueling sectarian strife and incitement among the society sects, hit the internal fabric, endangering civilians in danger, falsification the facts and information, establishing public trials and hold dissidents and protesters on TV, not allowing any contrary voice with the authority to speak on TV, but disconnected every call criticizing those shown on the television [9] in the recent months. Many victims have fallen to this role, dozens of citizens have been subjected to various types of harassment including raids on their houses at night and arresting them after these televised trials [10].

This organized campaign restricting freedom of visual media and flowing of information contradicts Bahrain as a member in Human Rights Council and its claim in respecting freedom of speech and opinion, and violates Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Bahrain, which provides that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the government of Bahrain represented in the media the following:

• Stop all forms of harassment by the government on the independent media and their crews and allow them to operate and broadcast news about Bahrain. • Cancel all procedures that would restrict flowing of information and freedom of speech and opinion. • Release all those who were arrested because they exercise freedom of speech and to deal with the media. • Bahrain’s government has to restrict with its international obligations and respect for all forms of freedom of expression and publication as provided in the international covenants and treaties. • Punish all those who are responsible in spreading lies and inciting sectarian and removed them from their offices in the Information Affairs Authority and Bahrain Tv . • Oblige to codes of ethics on the media and all the international treaties and conventions, especially the International Covenants on Civil and Political, Social and Cultural Rights. • Give all spectrums of the society the same amount of freedom to express their views about various issues without excluding any category based on the basis of sectarian or ideological or political.

--

[1]http://english.aljazeera.net/vid.. [2]http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/wo.. [3]http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/index.php?id=40.. [4]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/3366 [5]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/3327 [6]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/3513 [7]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/4260 [8] http://manamavoice.com/news-news_read-6708-0.html [9] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkgN51pEAnk [10]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/4121

The Morning Star: It's business as usual for merchants of death

Ridha Buhmaid, killed with live ammunition by the Bahraini army on Feb 18, 2011

29 August 2011 by Paddy McGuffin, Home Affairs Reporter

A huge surge in British arms exports to the Middle East and north Africa shows that for all its talk it is "business as usual" for the government, campaigners said today.

The Foreign Office has pledged to revoke export licences to regimes where they may have been used to suppress democratic protest during the "Arab spring" uprisings. But the most recent figures show that arms exports between February and June increased by almost 30 per cent on the same period the previous year.

And while the Foreign Office revoked an estimated 160 armaments export licences in February, around 600 remain in place - including licences to sell shotguns and ammunition to Bahrain where the monarchy has brutally suppressed peaceful protests.

In the second quarter of 2011 Britain exported £30.5 million worth of armaments to countries including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen.

Among weapons sold to the regimes were sniper rifles and other small arms, ammo and sub-machine guns.

Concerns were first expressed by campaigners earlier this year that the weapons - sold by British arms manufacturers and granted export licences from the government - may have been used in the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests across the Middle East and north Africa.

Reports that armaments sold to Bahrain and armoured vehicles sold to Saudi Arabia had been used to quell demonstrations against the Bahraini monarchy led to the Foreign Office promising an urgent review of all military exports to the region.

But campaigners said the new figures showed that Britain continued to breach its own arms export rules, which state that the government will "not issue an export licence if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression."

Campaign Against Arms Trade spokeswoman Kaye Stearman told the Star: "This is very, very shocking, but sadly not surprising. It just goes to show that all the government's fine words about defending democracy and not selling arms to tyrants were just that - words. It is business as usual."

In the first quarter of 2011 Britain approved export licences to Bahrain for components for assault rifles, combat aircraft and machine guns.

During the same period it approved licences for the export of components for combat vehicles, military helicopters, sniper rifles and military support aircraft to Saudi Arabia.

The government claims that it has some of the most rigid and transparent export controls in the world, a claim rejected by campaigners.

War on Want chief executive John Hillary said: "It is outrageous that Britain should still be exporting arms to a region in such crisis. We've seen the murderous consequences of these arms exports in country after country.

"It is unacceptable for the government to be supporting arms export licences to the Middle East."

morningstaronline.co.uk

Human Rights Watch: Arbitrary arrests central to rights crisis in Bahrain

Opinion: Challenging Manama’s narrative

Egregious violations of Bahraini rights have occurred in the wake of the protests.

Faraz Sanei - August 29, 2011 GlobalPost

NEW YORK — On the afternoon of April 12, plain-clothes security officials arrested Ghazi Farhan, a businessman, in his office parking lot.

They blindfolded and handcuffed him and took him to a detention facility, where officers interrogated him, beat him with a hose, and forced him to sign a confession that he had participated in anti-government demonstrations. Authorities kept Farhan in incommunicado detention for 48 days, and prevented him from meeting with his lawyer and his family to prepare his defense. Today Farhan is having trouble sleeping. Until recently he shared a two-person cell in Jaw prison with a convicted murderer. On Aug. 6, after his family complained, authorities moved him to another cell. But as recently as July 27, Farhan asked his family to cancel a visit because prison guards were beating and harassing him, presumably to stop his wife from talking about conditions inside the prison.

Farhan’s case is typical of the hundreds of Bahrainis caught up in Manama’s campaign of retribution, which began on March 17. That is when security forces began their massive crackdown, targeting nearly everyone associated, however tenuously, with the anti-government protests in February and March.

It is this calculated campaign of arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention, serious allegations of abuse in prisons, and show trials before special military courts that is at the heart of the rights crisis in Bahrain today. It is this reprisal campaign that Manama has tried desperately — and some would say successfully — to hide from world attention.

By most accounts, Farhan was not really involved in the protests and was instead busy running his businesses. Perhaps he was arrested because his wife, Ala’a al-Shehabi, was a familiar face at the Pearl Roundabout, the center of anti-government protests and activity for a month. And his father-in-law, Saeed al-Shehabi, is the London-based leader of an opposition group. (On June 21, the special military court sentenced Saeed al-Shehabi, in abstentia, to life in prison, along with seven other prominent opposition leaders and activists.)

On May 30, two days before King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa declared an end to martial law, a military prosecutor brought Farhan before a special military court and charged him with two counts of participating in illegal gatherings and one count of spreading false information. Both his wife and his lawyer met with him for the first time since his detention after the two-minute court session ended. On June 9, Farhan had his second court session. The court did not permit Farhan’s lawyer to meet with him to prepare his defense, but the judges did allow him to present three witnesses on Farhan’s behalf.

Twelve days later, on June 21, the court sentenced Farhan to three years in prison. His wife, who reviewed his case file, said the court convicted Farhan based on a two-line forced confession regarding his participation in protests, a Facebook printout with a highlight around the words “the people are demanding their freedom from the government,” and four messages he had sent from his private email to his work account that included YouTube links and pictures of anti-government protests.

Since mid-March, Bahraini authorities have mounted an aggressive public relations campaign aimed at advancing a narrative that focuses exclusively on what allegedly happened during the protest period between Feb. 14 and March 16 — and ignores everything that has happened since.

Officials obsessively harp on what they claim protesters did, the “human rights” they violated, and the crimes they allegedly perpetrated. Yet the majority of those sentenced by the special military courts were essentially convicted for speaking out against the government. This despite the fact that the crown prince had publicly stated at the time, on several occasions, that the demonstrations at the roundabout were not against the law.

Some protesters may have committed crimes of violence, and those who did should face justice. But most of those arrested, detained and put on trial were, like Farhan, denied a fair trial and are now sitting in prison, awaiting trial or convicted on politically motivated charges. Authorities say they will continue to try some of the detainees in special military courts after King Hamad issued a decree on Aug. 18 allowing these courts to retain jurisdiction over certain criminal cases.

The new decree seems to override an earlier one, issued by King Hamad in late June, which seemingly transferred all cases pending before the special military courts to civilian courts. Human Rights Watch opposes prosecution of civilians in these special military courts and believes that civilians charged with genuine criminal offenses should be tried in an independent civilian court that meets fair trial standards.

The Bahraini government has made some positive steps. An independent international commission of inquiry is looking into human rights violations associated with the period of unrest. Al-Wefaq, the largest legal opposition group, has held several large rallies without interference. And authorities have released a few hundred detainees during the past several weeks, though most are merely out on bail and charges have not been dropped.

But even the positive steps will count for little as long as people like Farhan remain unjustly imprisoned, abused, and deprived of their rights with impunity.

Except for the clearly excessive use of lethal force against peaceful protesters prior to March 17 that left seven protesters and bystanders dead and hundreds of others injured, the most egregious and systematic rights violations occurred in Bahrain after security forces violently suppressed the public protests.

To lose sight of this is to miss the mark on the rights crisis that is unfolding in Bahrain today. And squander the opportunity to provide real justice and accountability for the victims of this campaign of retribution.

Faraz Sanei is a Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch

GlobalPost

Bahrain’s Use of NSN Technology to Torture Activists Shows Need for Corporate Accountability and Home Government Oversight

By Meg Roggensack Senior Advisor, Business and Human Rights Human Rights First

29 August 2011

Nokia Siemens Networks is once again in the headlines for its role in providing technology that enabled a repressive government to surveil, interrogate and detain activists. In 2009, the story focused on Iran’s brutal repression of pro-democracy activists. Now, the focus is the Bahraini government’s brutal interrogation of human rights campaigners using intercepted private communications. A story by Bloomberg Markets raises fresh questions about the responsibilities of companies that sell this technology, and whether home governments should adopt some oversight of these sales. In 2009, NSN responded that it was required as a condition of sale to provide intercept technology, a standard feature of such contracts to serve legitimate law enforcement purposes; that on balance, the company believed that providing mobile communications technology would benefit the citizens of Iran by enabling greater communication; and that the technology provided had restricted functionality. NSN subsequently sold this business unit, acknowledging that the technology had both good and bad uses and that the company should have better understood the human rights implications associated with these sales. NSN has since adopted policies in an effort to address these concerns. In addition to a specific human rights policy on product misuse, the company says it will beef up its human rights impact assessments to identify prospective sales raising the risk of misuse, and to ensure more thorough due diligence and senior management involvement in any decisions on requests to disclose communications.

NSN competes for this business with a range of other US, European and Asian companies. In the absence of meaningful home government oversight or regulation, it’s up to these companies to police themselves. As Bloomberg’s report outlines, there are significant human rights risks associated with sales of intercept technology to governments with poor human rights records. At a minimum, these companies should have policies and procedures in place to ensure that they can identify which sales raise the potential risk of misuse, and to lay out procedures for advance review of such sales, and, as possible, the inclusion of safeguards in any service contracts.

Both US and European governments should take the opportunity to investigate whether existing contracts, particularly ongoing service arrangements, pose similar risk of abuse by governments seeking to stifle popular expression. In addition, home governments should determine what level of ongoing oversight may be appropriate, consider how best to collaborate with other home governments on a common strategy, and assess possible regulatory and diplomatic responses to this challenge.

Bloomberg’s story is a wake up call – to industry and to home governments. “Business as usual” has given repressive [Mid East] regimes a potent tool to track and suppress dissent, undermining the global community’s shared interest in promoting peaceful democratic transition in the region. It’s time for a new strategy, rooted in respect for human rights and greater transparency and accountability.

humanrightsfirst.org

HRF: Bahrain’s Military Trial of Doctors a Travesty

August 28, 2011

Washington, DC — Today’s trial of doctors and other medics in Bahrain’s military court exposes that the country’s judicial process is a farce, Human Rights First said. The authorities reintroduced the military courts last week after having said they would abolish them and in today’s proceedings adjourned the health professionals’ case until September 7. It will resume again in the military court on that day. “To hear the cases of civilians in a military court that falls far short of international standards of justice is totally illegitimate,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “When the Bahraini authorities announced on June 26 that they were transferring all cases from military courts to civilian courts they lied to the defendants, to their families and to the world.”

The return to military trials undermines the Bahrain Government’s claim to take human rights violations seriously. The King of Bahrain appointed a commission, headed by Cherif Bassiouni, to investigate abuses. But the reversion to military courts exposes the monarchy’s real intentions to continue its crackdown on peaceful activists. The United States Government should publicly condemn these trials as shams and ask the Bahraini government to drop charges against those prosecuted for the peaceful expression of their opinions.

More than a dozen doctors and other medical professionals appeared before the military court today, including Roula Al-Saffar, the head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, who spent over four months in custody. She studied at Widener University in Pennsylvania and at the University of North Texas, and worked for many years as a nurse at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

“I met some of those on trial today when I was in Bahrain last month, “ said Dooley. “They told me credible and consistent stories of having been tortured in detention. The U.S. government should make clear that continuing with discredited military courts to try pro-democracy activists will have consequences for the relationship between the United States and Bahrain.”

humanrightsfirst.org

Bloomberg: EU May Probe Bahrain Spy Gear Abuses

By Vernon Silver - Aug 24, 2011

European Union legislators asked the EU to investigate whether companies have aided human rights violations by selling surveillance gear to repressive governments.

Marietje Schaake, who is a Dutch member of the European Parliament, and five of her colleagues in the assembly, requested the probe today after Bloomberg News reported that a monitoring system sold and maintained by European companies had generated text-message transcripts used in the interrogation of a human rights activist tortured in Bahrain. The legislators made their request in writing to EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is also vice president of the European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s executive body in Brussels.

The probe would determine whether any European security and communications companies contributed to “human rights violations, in particular in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Iran,” the request says.

The surveillance technology in Bahrain was sold by Siemens AG (SIE), and later maintained by Nokia Siemens Networks, followed by NSN’s divested unit, Munich-based Trovicor GmbH, Bloomberg reported yesterday, citing Ben Roome, a Nokia Siemens spokesman. Egypt, Syria and Yemen also purchased monitoring centers from the business now known as Trovicor, according to two people familiar with the installations. The equipment plays a surveillance role in at least 12 Middle Eastern and North African nations, they said.

Supporting Export Ban

Barbara Lochbihler, a German member of the EU Parliament who signed the letter and sits on the Subcommittee on Human Rights, said she plans to speak with company officials about the uses of their products. She supports a European export ban of such technology to regimes that could abuse it, she said.

“As a deputy from Bavaria I´m very interested in the follow up of what happens with the company Trovicor and also with Siemens,” she said in an e-mail. Munich, where Trovicor and Siemens are based, is the Bavarian capital.

The other legislators asking for an inquiry are the Netherlands’ Hans van Baalen, Estonia’s Tunne Kelam, the U.K.’s Sarah Ludford and Slovenia’s Ivo Vajgl, according to a copy of the letter provided by Schaake’s office.

The European Commission will revisit the EU’s corporate responsibility strategy this fall, said Cristina Arigho, a spokeswoman for the commission. She said the EU is also considering how to support the implementation of United Nations principles on business and human rights, passed in June, which say corporations have a duty to respect human rights.

For Law Enforcement

Monitoring centers are sold around the globe by many suppliers, and form the heart of what the industry refers to as lawful interception surveillance systems. The equipment is marketed largely to law enforcement agencies for tracking terrorists and other criminals.

The clusters of computers typically tap into communications networks, scan and sort calls and data -- sometimes by keywords or voice recognition -- and send the results to operators at police and intelligence agencies.

The company behind the Bahraini monitoring center started in 1993 as the voice and data-recording unit of Siemens. In 2007 it became part of Nokia Siemens Networks, the world’s second biggest maker of wireless communications equipment.

NSN, a joint venture with Espoo, Finland-based Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), sold the unit, known as Intelligence Solutions, in March 2009. It’s now called Trovicor.

Sold to Iran

Siemens and Trovicor declined to comment for the Bloomberg investigation; Siemens said it no longer had records of the business, while Trovicor said contracts prevented it from disclosing clients or countries where it does business.

NSN said a major reason it sold the business was the risk of human rights abuses. The company has since established a human rights policy and due diligence program, Roome said.

In 2009, the company disclosed that it delivered a monitoring center to Iran, prompting hearings in the European Parliament, proposals for tighter restrictions on U.S. trade with Iran, and an international “No to Nokia” boycott campaign.

NSN issued a statement yesterday reiterating its concern for human rights.

“Nokia Siemens Networks has stated clearly that such abuse, if it has occurred, is wrong and is contrary to its Code of Conduct and accepted international norms,” the statement said.

Tracking Terrorists

“Partly as a result of the issues raised by the potential for misuse of its technology, Nokia Siemens Networks is the first telecommunications equipment provider to adopt a human rights policy specifically addressing the issues of new technologies and privacy, access to information, and freedom of expression,” it said.

NSN’s Roome and Siemens spokesman Wolfram Trost declined to comment on the inquiry request. Birgitt Fischer-Harrow, Trovicor’s head of marketing communications, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment. There was no response at her office phone.

The Netherlands’ Schaake helped sponsor and pass a nonbinding parliamentary resolution in February 2010 that called for the European Commission to ban exports of such technology to regimes that could abuse it.

The Bahraini government said it is taking allegations of abuse seriously and an independent committee is investigating alleged torture.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain does not advocate the abuse of human rights,” Luma Bashmi of the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority wrote in an e-mail yesterday to Bloomberg.

“The committee will investigate any allegations regarding the Bahrain Defense Forces” and security operations and submit its report by October 30, she wrote. “At that point the government of Bahrain can and will address all of these issues in a just manner.”

bloomberg.com

British Medical Association (BMA) action on Bahrain

26 August 2011

Since the outbreak of civil unrest in Bahrain in February 2011, the BMA has been taking action to promote medical impartiality and immunity there.

The BMA has expressed serious concern in letters to the Bahraini Government sent in August, as the trial of 20 healthcare workers before a military court is due to resume on 28 August Read our latest letters

Letter writing campaign The BMA first wrote to the Government of Bahrain in March 2011. This and subsequent letters have expressed the BMA’s profound concerns at attacks on health professionals and other breaches of medical neutrality.

Following the criminal charges brought against healthcare workers, and allegations of torture and ill-treatment used against those detained, we have implored the Bahrain Government to recognise international standards in human rights and medical ethics, and called for an immediate, independent, thorough investigation into the allegations.

In letters to the UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, the BMA has urged those with influence in Bahrain to help.

Download PDF copies of the letters on bma.org.uk

Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) debate

The criminal prosecution of medics in Bahrain prompted a policy debate at the 2011 ARM in June.

The motion up for debate, which was passed by an overwhelming majority, reiterated the fundamental duty of doctors to treat patients according to medical need without discrimination of any kind; insisted that political or judicial interference in this duty is totally unacceptable; and condemned any persecution of healthcare staff for fulfilling this duty.

The BMA is continuing to monitor the plight of medical workers, including those on trial, and of individuals requiring medical treatment in Bahrain.

bma.org.uk

Letter on the Guardian , 28 August 2011

The trial of 20 Bahraini health workers was due to resume on 28 August before a military court, despite assurances from the king of Bahrain that future hearings would be before a civilian court (Bahrain's underclass plays out cat-and-mouse routine of protest and repression, 9 August). A further 28 health professionals are also facing criminal charges. All are charged with felonies or misdemeanours and appear to have been brought to trial solely because they have fulfilled their fundamental ethical undertaking to treat patients according to medical need without discrimination of any kind.

Political or judicial interference in this central duty of the medical profession is totally unacceptable. The BMA is also deeply concerned by reports indicating that the proceedings of the military National Safety Court of First Instance do not meet international standards for a fair trial. Events in the Middle East are a reminder that healthcare workers will always be needed in situations of civil unrest, whatever the political background to the conflict. Healthcare professionals are committed to the deepest humanitarian values that transcend factional interests and political differences. A respect for mediçcal neutrality in times of conflict is of the most profound importance.

Professor Vivienne Nathanson

Director of professional activities, British Medical Association

guardian.co.uk

Irish Times: Bahraini activist duo's trial set for September

29 August 2011 The trial of two Bahraini pro-democracy activists who had been released on bail earlier this week has been postponed until September 7th, writes Niamh Griffin.

Lawyers for Dr Rula al-Saffar, head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, and Jalila al-Salman, deputy head of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association, asked that the cases be struck out. But this was rejected, according to rights group Front Line.

Jim Loughran, spokesman for the Dublin-based group, said the lawyers had then asked for the pair to be tried by a civilian court instead of a military court, but this was also denied.

irishtimes.com

Related:

Military trial of doctors and teachers, and more updates from Bahrain

28 August 2011

The trial of the doctors took place this morning and was postponed until September 7th when defense witnesses are supposed to be called in. The trial took place in a military court or a "national safety court" as per the government. List of medical staff undergoing military trial (Via BYSHR)

Leaders of the Bahrain Teachers Society, Mr. Mahdi Abu Dheeb (Chairman, detained since last April), and Ms. Jalila Al Salman (Deputy Chair , released last week after 5 months of detention) will be presented before a military court on 29th Aug, 2011.

Several released detainees have told activists that they have been threatened by prison security guards that they will be tortured after the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry leave.

Recently we have been receiving numerous cases in which riot police enter villages at very high speeds and run over protesters with their cars. The following are pictures and videos of the victims. (Advise: Graphic)

youtube.com/watch?v=_YU8ycQx88s youtube.com/watch?v=YunIlcBrTJ0 youtu.be/Arjy5-Qxy_s yfrog.com/kgaammdj

Ministry of Interior announced that two Asian workers were attacked in village. An individual from the same village then released a video showing what appears to be men in civilian clothing accompanied by riot police arranging metal rods and water on ground for incriminating photo of the alleged incident.

Young child being taken away by riot police: video

Bahrain authorities now block the twitcam Internet feature which allows people to take videos and directly upload them to the internet through Twitter.

Video taken via a hidden camera during one of the disciplinary committees' interrogations which caused hundreds of dismissals (Arabic): youtube.com/watch?v=LTFNnN1lXSo

Video taken via a hidden camera at a check point (Arabic): youtube.com/watch?v=chB7hflEOjo

University of Bahrain president today announced the return of 389 of the expelled students, and the referral of 38 others to the courts.

Bahrain Polytechnic announced the reinstating of 31 expelled students.

In a case that raises serious concern armed thugs opened fire and severely beat other civilians (MOI Statement). It is very disturbing that pro-government groups now have access to guns that are being used in violence against other civilians. The threat of widespread violence is quickly increasing due to the regime's policies and the way they have dealt with the recent uprising. Especially with the latest information about the arming of groups.

Summary translation of victim testimony from AlWasat newspaper:

At the Bahrain International Circuit after 12pm on the 26th August, a fight started after an event at the circuit, after which the victim and his friends decided to leave. On their way out a man in civilian clothing in a pickup told them they were not allowed to leave, and when they tried to leave he shot at them with a gun. They were then chased and stopped, after which they were taken to a secluded area where they were severely beaten and forced to insult political opposition figures. They were also asked if they had taken parts in the protests that took place in February/March. Others arrived in other cars carrying different types of weapons and took turns beating them. The assailants then received a call telling them to let them go, after which they were going to drive the victims back to their car but received a call not to go to that area as there were police units there. They let the victims go and told them to run, and when they did, they started shooting their guns. The victim giving the witness account suffered an injury to the head. Another witness said that the shooting that took place at the circuit happened in front of the police units. Another young man was shot several times in the leg.

One of the most widespread protests in months, Bahrain buying weapons from Russia and other updates

27 August 2011

On night of 26/27 August, the security forces have heavily attacked numerous areas in Bahrain where there were protests, starting with the weekly "rally for self-determination" and we have received news of injuries: A protester in Duraz got shot in the eye with rubber bullet Another protester injured in the head in Sitra.

The riot police, according to many of the injuries reported in the past several weeks, are clearly targeting the head and upper body of the protesters. The riot police are extensively shooting teargas into people's homes and this is a picture of a child who was subjected to the teargas.

According to our sources on the streets, alongside the regular teargas the riot police are using a strange looking teargas which is much more powerful and affects the nerves.

So far we know that two boys, 15 and 18 were arrested on that night.

What one person collected inside their home: tear gas collection

A house in Noaim caught fire due to the teargas being shot directly at peoples homes. This is not the first instance of homes burning due to teargas attacks.

With the rising sectarian tension in the country, and especially with people like Adel Fulaifal, former torturer and right hand to Ian Henderson, and Mohammed Khalid, former member of Parliament, calling for violence; the news of Bahrain buying Ak103 Kalashnikovs and grenade launchers from Russia is very disturbing.

There has been news about forming armed "protection units" with Adel Fulaifel in charge of training them in the local media, and this raises concern about a drastic increase in violence we may witness in Bahrain. Adel Fulaifal has been on Twitter for some time, where he writes against the Shiaa, and calls for violence. In one instance he wrote: (translated) AlMuharraq is nothing but an island and soon the corpses of Wali AlFaqih and all his followers will float (in its waters). To read his account: (Arabic) @ADEL_FELAIFIL

The appeal hearing of the 21 prominent figures has been changed from the 9th of September to the 6th.

Zainab Al-Khawaja visited her husband in prison and here is her account of the visit about the torture and his trial amongst others is at the bottom of this email.

As copied from Twitter: "Visited my husband Wafi a couple of hrs ago at Dry Dock prison, he told me about what happened in court & the charges against him. The charges against Wafi are 8 or 9, among them: participating in illegal gatherings in many places including at the roundabout. Another one of the charges against my husband is: writing msgs that spread hatred against the regime The one Wafi laughed about was "حرض على الصمود والثبات" These are the exact words, they even asked him if he did it. Among the charges against Wafi: asking ppl to go on strikes and spreading information about civil disobedience. There are 13 ppl in the same case as Wafi & with similar charges: Isa Ahmed Thaani Khamis, Hameed Abbas Abdulwahad Al-Saafi, Ali Hassan Salman Hassan Al-Sitri, Jaffar Hassan Salman Hassan Al-Sitrim Abdulla Hassan Abdulla Al-Saif, Mohd Ali Ebrahim Aal-Hmaid Mohammed Hassan Yousef Saif, Hussain Abdullah Yousef, Hussain Ramadan Mohammed, Hamza Hassan Alhawaj, Abdulwahab Nasser Kadhum The 13th person is Canadian citizen. Wafi told us today about when he was detained underground at fort. He was tortured so badly he coudnt stand for days. He had to crawl Wafi said he urinated blood for weeks, and was hospitalized for 4 days after severe torture He says those 4 days in the hospital, every night at 12 police would come in throw them of their beds and beat them badly He said he was electrocuted not only at the fort but also when he was brought to Dry Dock Even tho Wafi hadnt told us much be4 abt being subjected to torture, we assumed that he had been. Most if not all prisoners are"