AFP: 101 Bahrain prisoners on hunger strike: commission
07 Sep 2011
MANAMA — More than one hundred prisoners are hunger strike in Bahrain after being jailed following a government crackdown on Shiite-led protests in February, an independent commission said Wednesday.
The Bahrain Commission of Inquiry said in an emailed statement that 84 inmates, including doctors and nurses who treated protesters and opposition figures, are on hunger strike in prison.
Seventeen others have been hospitalised by the ministry of interior due to their refusal to eat and their deteriorating health condition.
Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab told AFP this week that more than 200 Shiites jailed for their role in the month-long anti-government protests had joined the protest.
Rajab said the action was started last week by 12 of the 47 doctors from Manama's Salmaniya hospital who were arrested during the crackdown on the Shiite-led protests.
The government has accused them of inciting the overthrow of the ruling Al-Khalifa family.
According to the statement, the commission has invited an international experts on hunger strikes to evaluate the health and well-being of the prisoners.
One expert, Dr. Sondra Crosby, was to be granted permission to visit all 101 prisoners to provide advice and counselling to the participants on the challenges of a hunger strike.
The commission, which has been charged with investigating the crackdown on protesters and opposition figures, is to release its findings in a report on October 30.
The commission says the entire report will be made public. Twenty-four people died during the repression of popular protests between mid-February and mid-March, according to official figures from Manama. Four protesters have since died in custody.
RSF: Detained Blogger Abduljalil Al-Singace On Hunger Strike
6 SEPTEMBER 2011
Several detainees in Gurayn military prison, including the blogger Adbuljalil Al-Singace, have begun a hunger strike and have issued a joint letter denouncing their imprisonment and the frequency of arbitrary detention and unfair trials in Bahrain.
Singace, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court on 22 June, is suffering from various ailments affecting his mobility. Reporters Without Borders is very worried about his physical condition and urges the authorities to free him and all the other prisoners of conscience.
The Bahraini authorities lifted a state of emergency in 1 June and began a national dialogue on 1 July. They also announced that cases of civilians pended trial by court martial would transferred to civilian courts. But the convictions of civilians already handed down by military courts were never reviewed.
Bahrain was ranked 144th out of 178 countries in the press freedom index that Reporters Without Borders published in October 2010. It was also included in the “countries under surveillance” in the latest Reporters Without Borders list of “Enemies of the Internet.”
One blogger sentenced to life imprisonment, another to 15 years in jail
Reporters Without Borders is shocked by the long jail sentences that a military court passed today on 21 activists accused of belonging to terrorist organizations and trying to overthrow the government. Eight of them, including human rights activist and blogger Abduljalil Al-Singace, got life sentences. Thirteen others received sentences ranging from two to 15 years in prison. Ali Abdulemam, a blogger who was tried in absentia, was given 15 years.
“The only crime committed by Abdulemam and Al-Singace was freely expressing opinions contrary to those of the government,” Reporters Without Borders said. “These sentences, handed down at the end of trail that flouted defence rights, are typical of the intransigence that the authorities have been showing towards those identified as government opponents, who have borne the full brunt of their repression. The international community must call the government to account on its strategy of stifling all dissent.”
The head of the pro-democracy and civil liberties movement Al Haq, Singace was rearrested on 16 March after being held from September to February. He was previously arrested in 2009 for allegedly trying to destabilize the government because he used his blog (http://alsingace.katib.org) to denounce the deplorable state of civil liberties and discrimination against Bahrain’s Shiite population.
Abdulemam is regarded by fellow Bahrainis as one of his country’s Internet pioneers and is an active member of Bahrain Online, a pro-democracy forum that gets more than 100,000 visitors a day despite being blocked within Bahrain. A contributor to the international bloggers network Global Voices, he has taken part in many international conferences at which he has denounced human rights violations in Bahrain. He was also detained from September to February but avoided being rearrested and has been in hiding for several months.
Human rights activists reported many irregularities during this trial and have been calling for an end to trials before special military courts now that the state of emergency has been lifted. According to the defendants themselves or their families, some of the defendants were tortured or mistreated while in detention.
Amnesty LiveWire: Testimonies from Bahrain: Memories of a jailed activist’s wife
6 September 2011
By Khadija al-Mousawi, wife of imprisoned human rights defender ‘Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.
It was on a Friday when we gathered in my daughter Fatima’s flat as a family – eating together, talking about politics and human rights or joking and laughing.
Suddenly we heard a very loud noise. In a matter of seconds the flat door was broken in and burly, masked men burst into the room. I cannot explain how I felt at that moment, because no word in the dictionary, or in any language, can explain it.
My husband had always said “whenever they come to take me, please do not interfere and I will just go with them”. But he was not allowed to go peacefully. One of them grabbed him by the neck and then pulled him down the stairs by his legs. He was brutally beaten – punched and kicked in front of me and my daughters. When my eldest daughter interfered, they responded with insults and tried to arrest her too. I was torn between begging them not to take her and looking at my husband on the stairs where they were still kicking him and praying that he was ok. As if that was not enough, I suddenly noticed three masked men holding my three sons-in-law by their necks and taking them downstairs. At that point I was furious, sad and helpless.
My husband was gone, but I could not show how sad I felt because my daughters were suffering after watching the arrest of their husbands and father.
From that night on, our lifestyle changed. We would stay up all night, just in case the masked men decided to come back, and sleep after sunrise. We always slept fully clothed, just in case. Every sound made me jump and check the apartment was safe.
Days went by and we were waiting for news – any news. We asked a lawyer to try to get any information about their condition or whereabouts. He told us that that would be fruitless since lawyers weren’t being told anything about detainees. I was praying to God, “Please just keep them alive!” – because after seeing how ‘Abdulhadi was beaten, I was not sure that he had survived. My daughter decided to go on hunger strike. She was getting weaker and weaker every day.
Al-Khawaja's family call for his release in Bahrain © AP GraphicsBank Weeks after the arrest, my husband called. He could barely speak and the call lasted seconds. He said that the oppression was great but his spirits were still high. All I could think at that point was: “At least now I know he is alive!” I only learned about the extent of my husband’s injuries and his subsequent operation by watching the news. That day I wished I was dead.
I was very scared and worried about what I would see when I met him again. Then the trial started and I saw him. His face was different but his soul was unchanged. His head was held high, his eyes were sharp, and he was proud as ever. I was so happy to see his soul. Yes, as strange as that sounds, I can see my husband’s soul.
I have lived with ‘Abdulhadi for 30 years; 30 great years. He is my husband, my best friend, my soul-mate and my everything. He has been sentenced to life imprisonment and I hope that the pressure will be so great on the government that they will be forced to set him free. Until then, I am lucky to have so many good memories with this kind, wise, respectful, truthful and lovely husband of mine. I can go on forever re-living those memories while waiting for him.
I find myself amused by the fact that, although I am 52 years old, I usually can’t sleep on the nights of our visits. I usually spend the whole night thinking of what I will tell him the following day. During these visits he helps me look on the bright side of life. We talk about all our happy memories together and usually end up laughing about some joke or another.
I love my husband and I am so proud of him, both as a man and a human rights defender.
The Irish Times: Bahrain medics' hunger strike
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Sir, – Irish-trained surgeons Ali Al-Ekri and Bassin Dahif have entered their second week of hunger strike prison in Bahrain along with 11 other doctors, nurses and paramedics. Already seven have collapsed and have required intravenous fluids. One is suicidal and prescribed anti-psychotic medication, another has diabetes. They all refuse to take their medication. Another detained surgeon has chronic compartment syndrome and is at risk of deep clots and embolism. All continue to suffer from the physical and psychological effects of prolonged detention and torture. One consultant ophthalmologist was released recently, having suffered a stroke in detention.
On June 29th, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa issued a royal decree, referring all protester cases to civilian courts. However international human rights organisations are shocked to learn that the trial of the 20 medics who are accused with felonies will continue in a military court.
Meanwhile, the brutal suppression of peaceful protests continues in Bahrain. The most recent victim is a 14-year-old boy, killed when struck by a tear gas canister three days ago.
The Bahraini regime continues to employ international lobbyists such as Jo Trippi and PR companies such as Qorvis in Washington and Bell Pottinger in London to conceal its recidivism. A pro- democracy Bahraini station, Lualua TV, based in London is actively jammed from Bahrain via a European satellite. All internal electronic communications in Bahrain are monitored by “spy gear” provided by western companies such as Nokia Siemens.
Over 1,400 protesters have been detained, 180 civilians have been sentenced in military courts, 32 people have been killed, over 60 journalists have been targeted or ejected and at least 22 opposition websites are censored in a country which would call itself civilised and peaceful.
So perhaps now is as good a time as any to request the RCSI to seek return of the honorary fellowship they awarded to King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in 2006. – Yours, etc,
Prof DAMIAN Mc CORMACK FRCS Orth Consultant, Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon, The Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, Dublin 1.
Updates: Jailed Bahrain doctors on hunger strike
Urgent: deteriorating health of several on hunger strike
More detainees join Bahrain hunger strike
BCHR - 3 Sep 2011
All the detained doctors currently being held at the Dry Docks prison are on hunger strike, and many are suffering serious health deterioration. As per his wife, Dr. Ghassan Dhaif has collapsed and taken to the hospital for the second time. Other detainees have also gone on hunger strike with the doctors, and on Tuesday, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and Abduljalil AlSingace announced the beginning of their hunger strike in solidarity with the detainees in the Dry Docks prison. Alkhawaja is suffering from low sugar levels and his family are concerned for his health as he has yet to recover from the beatings and torture he was subjected to.
The hunger strike was initiated in objection to the continued detention of the doctors and other detainees at the Dry Docks prison, as well as the ill treatment and torture, not having access to legal counsel, and what they described as being ridiculous charges against them.
PHR Renews Call for Open and Fair Trials in Bahrain:
Dr. Jalal AlMousawi (Ophthalmic Consultant) has decided to start a hunger strike as well in solidarity with the detained doctors and medics. Several of the detained doctors' children have started a hunger strike in solidarity with their fathers and to demand their release. They are: Mohammed Ghassan Dhaif (14 yo), Yousif Ghassan Dhaif (10 yo), Israa Bassim Dhaif (13 yo), Mohammed Khalil (15 yo, Altublani's nephew), Fatima AlTublani, Ola Hassan AlTublani (12 years old) and Mustafa Asghar (9 yo).
Al Jazeera - 3 Sep 2011
A rights group in Bahrain says more detainees are joining a hunger strike to protest ongoing trials from the crackdown on demonstrations for greater rights by the Gulf nation's Shia majority. A statement on Saturday by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said the strike now includes nearly 20 doctors who are jailed and face anti-state charges linked to the protests against Bahrain's ruling Sunni dynasty.
The rights group said at least two other prominent activists, Abdul Jalil al-Singace and Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, have also begun hunger strikes in solidarity. The activists were sentenced to life in prison in June. Nabeel Rajab, a spokesman for the group, told Al Jazeera the detainees are insisting that a trial, if any, should take place in a civil court not a military tribunal.
The trials are scheduled to resume on Wednesday. Rajab said because little change has come into effect despite promises of reform from the government, there are now renewed protests in the prisons and in the streets.
Zainab al-Khawaja says her father, Abdulhadi, and al-Singace, opposition Haq movement member, stopped eating on Tuesday in solidarity with detainees held at Bahrain's Dry Dock prison.
She said the detainees, who were arrested as part of a March crackdown on pro-democracy protests, went on hunger strike against the government's failure to honour promises to release them.
"I am concerned about my father's health," al-Khawaja said. "He was beaten when detained and his jaw was broken.
"He has already lost too much weight in prison and yesterday he called me and said his blood sugar level has dropped," she added.
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who also holds Danish citizenship, was jailed for life along with Singace and six other opposition activists in June.
Bahrain's interior ministry says 24 people, including four policemen, were killed in the month-long protests that erupted in mid-February.
Security forces backed by troops from Bahrain's Gulf neighbours crushed the protest movement.
The opposition says that scores of people were arrested, and many of them tortured. Hundreds more were dismissed from their jobs.
Four people have been sentenced to death and three to life imprisonment after being convicted of the killing of two policemen during the protests.
Nine others were jailed for 20 years after being found guilty of abducting a policeman.
Al Jazeera - 2 Sep 2011 Bahraini medical professionals, who were arrested at the start of a government crackdown on pro-democracy protests earlier this year, have gone on hunger strike, their relatives say.
They have been held in jail for almost six months, while their trial continues in a military court.
Bahraini and international human rights organisations have called the trials a farce.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Khalil Al-Mazrooq, a former chairman of the Shia bloc Al Wefaq, said: "The trial of Bahraini medics in a military tribunal is against the country’s constitution. Article 105 of the constitution says civilians should be tried in civilian courts only."
Adel Al Moawda, chairman of parliamentary foreign affairs, defence and national security in Bahrain, said the medics would receive a fair trial. aljazeera.net
The Australian - September 02, 2011 Hugh Tomlinson, Dubai From: The Times
A GROUP of Bahraini doctors on trial for alleged terrorism have begun a hunger strike in protest at their treatment, amid claims they have been tortured in custody.
The 14 men began their protest on Tuesday after being denied bail last week by a military court. Relatives say the health of several of the doctors has deteriorated rapidly and they are not receiving adequate medical treatment.
"One doctor has a cerebral aneurism, another has severe injuries from torture. Another man is suffering badly from diabetes. Now they are all on hunger strike their condition will only get worse," said a relative.
The doctors are charged with turning a hospital into a terrorist base as thousands of protesters took to the streets across the island kingdom in February, demanding democratic reforms from the ruling al-Khalifa family.
The government alleges that the men took hostages at Salmaniya hospital in the capital, Manama, hoarding guns in the building and using ambulances to run weapons to the protesters. Opponents say, however, that the authorities have been staging show trials to justify a violent crackdown.
More than 30 people have been killed since troops moved in to quash the protests in March.
With martial law in place, a military court was set up to try the detainees.
At the doctors' first hearing, in June, the most damning evidence came from confessions signed by the defendants themselves and the testimony of "confidential witnesses". The detainees have said their confessions were extracted under torture. Prisoners were beaten with sticks and hoses, deprived of sleep and forced to sign papers while blindfolded, they say.
One of the doctors described being hooded and made to stand for several hours in a cold room during repeated interrogations.
"Then they gave me some papers. I never saw them, I just signed everything they told me to. What choice did I have?" he said.
Tensions remain high across the kingdom, with protests continuing on an almost daily basis.
Updates regarding the case of 14-year-old child killed by Bahrain police
3 Sep 2011
The Bahrain ministry of interior has offered 10,000 Bahraini Dinars to anyone with information on the death of 14 year old Ali AlShaikh. They announced that the death was not the doing of the riot police. This picture twitpic.com/6e7awy shows the similarity between the tear gas canister Ali was hit with and the wound on his neck which caused his death according to the Cause of Death yfrog.com/nxa6cj. Sameera Rajab, a member of the Shoura council, said on BBC discussion show that a serial killer was on the loose and was responsible for these deaths. At least four people have given their testimonies to the police on the involvement of the riot police in chasing and hunting Ali AlShaikh and shooting him from a very close range. Father of Ali Almoamen is one of these witnesses and he also gave his testimony on BBC (Arabic) in addition to registering it at the police station.
In this video you can see how the riot police attack protesters at close range, another video of someone being slapped in the car then shot at. And this video is from 03 Sep night showing riot police shooting randomly at homes
Rabab Mohammed is a teacher suffering from Epilepsy, and was arrested a week ago. Her family and lawyer have not had access to her, nor do they know the reason for the arrest. At least other 2 women remains in jail with sentences ranging between 6-18 months in cases related to the Feb14 protests.
Amnesty International: Incorrect reporting of Amnesty International statement in Bahraini newspapers
2 September 2011 AI Index: PRE01/437/2011
A number of Bahraini newspapers published articles on 2 September containing incorrect information about Amnesty International statements on Bahrain.
The articles incorrectly state that Amnesty International called on Bahraini political groups not to use children in protests for political gains or as human shields.
Amnesty International has never published such a statement and urges all these newspapers to immediately withdraw this article from their websites and to publish corrections in their printed editions.
Note: this statement has been amended to reflect new information that more than one newspaper published this incorrect information about Amnesty International.
The National: Former prisoners bear witness to Bahrain's security operation
Zoi Constantine Sep 1, 2011
MANAMA // Bahrain's king this week dismissed charges against some people detained during crackdowns against pro-democracy protests and allowed compensation to prisoners abused by security forces.
But as more Bahrainis have been released from prison in recent weeks, a clearer picture has emerged about the conditions in which they were held and the treatment handed out by members of the security forces. One piece of grainy video footage posted on YouTube shows two men scrambling to get away, as several police jeeps follow them along a dusty Bahraini village street.
Policemen can be seen hanging out of the vehicles, weapons pointed towards the fleeing men as shots ring out and both fall to the ground, before the jeeps drive off.
The scene is just one of many posted online from the height of the government's security operation in March. Like many of those wounded during the violence that ensued, one of the young men seen on the video was treated in hospital for serious injuries after he was hit at close range with birdshot.
Several days after Bahraini security forces took over the hospital where he was being treated, he disappeared, leaving his family fearing the worst.
That man was Mohammed, the only name he was prepared to give when The National tracked him down. After he was shot, he says, he was taken to a military hospital, where he was beaten as he lay blindfolded and tethered by his hands and feet to a hospital bed for more than three weeks.
Mohammed, in his twenties, remained in detention for the next four months, moving between hospitals and prison medical and detention facilities.
He is just one of many who speak of arbitrary detention, physical mistreatment and lack of access to legal representation or their families. Others say the screams of other prisoners or threats were as close as they came to torture. There have also been reports that jail conditions improved recently.
The Bahraini government has released scores of prisoners in the past month, including some high-profile figures such as Matar Matar, a former MP and senior figure within Al Wefaq, the country's main opposition group. Also among those released was Ayat Al Gormezi, 20, who was arrested after she read an anti-regime poem at a rally in March. Ms Al Gormezi has said she was severely beaten during her time in prison.
In a speech on Sunday, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said that Bahrain's Supreme Court would oversee compensation payments for victims of abuse or for families of those killed during unrest, including security forces.
The recently set-up Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry - a fact-finding body charged with investigating human-rights violations since the crisis in Bahrain broke out in February - has so far facilitated the release of at least 157 detainees.
However, it is still not clear exactly how many people linked to the protest movement remain in jail. The Bahraini government has not responded to queries on the issue, but local human-rights activists estimate that there are still between 500 and 600 people tied to the protests in jail.
On Tuesday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for the release of all prisoners detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The rights body also called on the Bahraini government to release the names of all of those arrested since March 15.
For those who have been released, the commission is in the process of investigating reports of mistreatment and torture, with forensic medical experts expected to help with the inquiry.
Mohammed's family says he has already submitted to investigators his account of what happened to him after he was shot by police in March.
Speaking recently to The National, Mohammed recalled how he left his house to go to the supermarket, when he was caught up in a large gathering that turned into a confrontation with security forces.
Lifting his T-shirt, he showed that his back was still dotted with scars left by the birdshot. Around 150 of the small metal pellets remain lodged in his body. A long scar where he had emergency surgery has left his stomach distended and misshapen. He said he was even hit on his wound while in hospital.
"Whenever I said anything they would beat me," Mohammed recalled. "When I said: 'Where am I? Where are you taking me?' they beat me."
Mohammed recalls instances when a nurse tried to make him more comfortable, but that was the exception. "All the time I was expecting hitting and I was always tense. They also insulted and humiliated me, telling me I wasn't Bahraini, I was Iranian," he said.
Meanwhile, Mohammed's family searched for him. "For three months we didn't hear anything about him," said one of his brothers. "We went to hospitals, to the police stations. No one gave us anything … We got to a point where we had no hope of seeing him again and thought maybe he had died."
Finally at the beginning of June, he was allowed to call his family, who were later given permission to visit him on four occasions. Then, at the end of July, Mohammed was released and this month was cleared on charges of participating in an illegal gathering.
His family now says he is in need of rehabilitation and further treatment, for which they are trying to gather funds.
However, while the number of arrests appears to have declined in recent weeks and Mohammed and other detainees are being released, security forces continue to use force in mainly Shiite neighbourhoods, according to human-rights activists.
Late last month, a 27-year-old man said he was picked up in the village of Deih, taken to a police station and physically assaulted.
Lying on his hospital bed the following day, the man could hardly speak - his jaw had been broken in at least three places. He had broken bones in both his arms and several broken ribs.
His twin brother hovered over the bed, deciphering what he was saying: that he was picked up by police, beaten, urinated and spat on, before he was dumped on the side of a road two hours later.
AP: Bahrain says poet included in protest pardon
30 August 2011 MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain says a royal pardon for some protest-linked suspects includes a 20-year-old woman sentenced to a year in prison for reciting poetry critical of the Gulf nation's crackdown on an uprising.
A statement Tuesday from Bahrain's information authority says the king's pardon extends to Ayat al-Qurmezi, who gained prominence for verses denouncing the attacks on Shiite-led protesters.
The statement, however, did not give the full total of those pardoned Sunday by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Al-Qurmezi was convicted in June of anti-state charges. Hundreds of people were arrested after protests began in February.
Bahrain's majority Shiite claim they face widespread discrimination by Sunni rulers.
- Independent: Poet jailed in protests claims she was beaten by Bahraini royal
- Telegraph: Bahraini woman poet tells of torture while in custody
- Huffington Post: A Freedom Poet: The Ai Weiwei of the Middle East
- Amnesty International - Urgent Action: Bahraini activist jailed for reading poem
- Amnesty International - Bahraini poet set to face verdict for protest reading
- The Independent - Detained poet 'beaten across the face with electric cable'
- BCHR Report: Death threats and arrest as a direct result of expressing opinion, All in the name of “National Safety”
- English Pen - Bahrain: Poet and writer arrested; fears for their safety
- The Independent - Locked up for reading a poem
- The Telegraph - Female poet brought before Bahrain military tribunal
- Jadaliyya: A Poetry of Resistance: The Disappearance of Ayat al-Qormezi in Bahrain's “Hidden History”
- Documentary about Ayat
- A solidarity campaign for her release on Facebook
- English translation of her poem
BYSHR: Prominent Rights Activists are in Hunger Strike in detention Protesting against the Brutal crackdown and arbitrary arrest
September 1st, 2011
In solidarity with the Medical Staff and detainees on hunger-strike in Bahrain’s Dry Dock Prison, Prominent Human Rights activists Mr.Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and Dr. Abduljaleel Alsingace today announced an open hunger-strike from their prison in Gurayn (Military Prison).
In a letter, they said that it was also in protest to the arbitrary detention, unfair trials of the detainees and Brutal crackdown
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) expresses its concern about the situation of detainees in Bahrain after they started an open hunger strike.
Mr.Alkhawaja and Mr.Alsingace are currently serving life sentence along with prominent opposition leader including Mr.Ebrahime Sharife General secretary of Waad and Mr.Hassan Mushame leader of Haaq in Military Prison
Mr.Alkhawaja:was the former president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and former MENA coordinator (frontline-Human Rights Defenders). Mr.Alsingace:Coordinator of Human Rights bureau in “Haq” movement.