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Doctors and nurses leaders call for fair trial in Bahrain

Geneva, Switzerland, 09 June 2011 - Doctors' and nurses' leaders today called on the Bahraini authorities to ensure a fair trial for the 47 doctors and nurses now facing trial in the country, after they treated injured protesters during the recent political unrest.

The health professionals are due to appear in front of a closed security court again on Monday charged with participating in efforts to overthrow the Bahraini monarchy and taking part in illegal rallies.

But in a joint statement today the World Medical Association and the International Council of Nurses said: 'We call on the authorities in Bahrain to ensure a fair and public trial. It is important that international observers are allowed to attend. 'Doctors and nurses have an ethical duty to care for patients irrespective of their race, colour, creed and political affiliation. No health professional should be put on trial for looking after injured and dying people. It is essential that the neutrality of health professionals is respected throughout the world and should not be a reason to be put on trial.

‘We urge world leaders to take all necessary measures to ensure that health professionals are allowed to carry out their work unhindered. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of more than 130 national nurses associations representing the millions of nurses worldwide. Operated by nurses and leading nursing internationally since 1899. ICN works to ensure quality nursing care for all and sound health policies globally.

The World Medical Association (WMA) is the global federation of national medical associations representing the millions of physicians worldwide. Acting on behalf of physicians and patients, the WMA endeavours to achieve the highest possible standards of medical science, education, ethics and health care for all people.

Linda Carrier-Walker International Council of Nurses +41 22 908 0100 (office) +41 22 908 0101 (mobile)

Dr. Otmar Kloiber WMA Secretary General +33 4 50 42 6757 (office) +33 6 73 90 7686 (mobile)

Nigel Duncan WMA Public Relations Consultant + 44 (0) 20 8997 3653 (work) + 44 (0) 7984 944 403 (mobile) nduncan@ndcommunications.co.

icn.ch

Amnesty International: Bahraini officer detained beyond sentence

UA 181/11 Bahrain MDE 11/034/2011 Date: 15 June 2011 Date: 13 June 2011

URGENT ACTION BAHRAINI OFFICER DETAINED BEYOND SENTENCE

A former Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) o fficer continues to be detained in Bahrain despite completing his prison sentence and without h im or his lawyer being informed of any new charges against him . He has been denied family visits and he is currently believed to be on hunger strike to protest his continued detention. He may be a prisoner of conscience. Mohamed Albuflasa, 36, a Sunni Bahraini and former BDF officer who later worked in the office of the Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, was detained on 15 February 2011, the same day that he spoke from a podium during protests in Manama’s Pearl Roundabout. In his speech he spoke against corruption within the government and the lack of economic opportunities for many people. He called for genuine political reforms and for co-existence between Shi’a and Sunni Bahrainis. A military court tried him without the presence of a lawyer and in around mid-March sentenced him to a two-month prison term. On 15 April, a military prosecutor ordered that his detention be extended for 45 days until 1 June, However, Mohamed Albuflasa has been kept in detention since that date and his lawyer has been unable to obtain any information on whether there is a legal basis for this and, if so, what new charges, if any, have been brought against him and whether they will lead to new trial proceedings. He has submitted written complaints to the director of the military judiciary about the continued detention, as well as requesting a copy of the case file, including the charges and the trial verdict, in the original case, but has received no reply.

Mohamed Albuflasa’s family have been denied access to him since he was arrested. His lawyer has only been allowed to visit him on one occasion in mid-May, three months after his arrest and two months after he was sentenced. Amnesty International has received reports that he was ill-treated after his lawyer visited him. He is now said to be on hunger strike to protest his continued detention after the completion of the sentence. Amnesty International is concerned that Mohamed Albuflasa is being kept in detention merely for having voiced his political concerns in public and, if this is the case, would consider him to be a prisoner of conscience.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English or Arabic :

Expressing concern that Mohamed Albuflasa continues to be detained despite completing his prison sentence and without him or his lawyer being informed of any new charges against him, and requesting information on the legal basis for his continued detention;

Calling on the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally if he is being held merely for having voiced his political views in public;

Urging the authorities to ensure that Mohamed Albuflasa is protected from torture or other ill-treatment and is allowed prompt and regular access to his lawyer and family.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 27 JULY 2011 TO :

King Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa Office of His Majesty the King P.O. Box 555 Rifa’a Palace, Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1766 4587 Salutation: Your Majesty

Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Shaikh Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs P. O. Box 450, Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 17531284 Salutation: Your Excellency

Commander-in-Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa Bahrain Defence Force Riffa Road, Manama, Bahrain e-mail: dgcbdf@gmail.com Fax: +973 17663923 Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Check with your section office if sending appeals after the date above.

UA 181/11 Index: MDE 11/034/2011 Issue Date: 15 June 2011

amnesty.org

Related

Update: Two protesters sentenced to death and five given life imprisonment

Bahrain resorting to martial law against protesters

On the left: A banner placed on the road calling the government to apply the maximum punishment and no forgiveness. On the Right: The Military Court

Update 15 June 2011 Two men sentenced to death in Bahrain, ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Hassan al-Sankis and ‘Abdulaziz ‘Abdulridha Ibrahim Hussain, will now wait over three months before hearing whether they will be subjected to capital punishment. If their death sentences are upheld and ratified, the two men will be executed.

Update 22 May 2011

In the appeal of the death sentence against four young men, the sentence was lifted from two of the four. The two detainees, Qassim Hassan Mattar and Saeed AbdulJalil Saeed received a life imprisonment sentence, annulling the death penalty. On the other hand, the court confirmed the death sentence on Ali AlSingace and AbdulAziz AbdulRedha. This was despite the fact that the lawyers had presented evidence that Ali AlSingace had a broken leg during the time of his alleged crime [Document1, Document2, Document3, Document4], and the judge gave no reasons for why the sentence was changed for two and not the others.

May 2, 2011

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemns any acts of violence against any human being, and calls for holding anyone responsible for these acts of violence. The Center also stresses the importance of giving any and every person charged with any crime access to a fully independent and fair trial according to international standards in civilian courts.

In a case made against 7 protesters charged with killing Kashef Ahmed Mandhoor and Mohammed Farooq Abdulsamad, Bahraini Authorities announced today after a closed military trial that four were sentenced to death while three were given life imprisonment. They were accused of running the deceased over with GMC’s last month; however, the only evidence against them made public were confessions[1] allegedly extracted through the use of torture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW8oUP4BiFQ.

Ali Hassan AlSingace, 19 years old; Qasim Hasan Matar, 20; Saeed Abduljalil Saeed, 19; Abdul Aziz AbdulRidha, 24; were sentenced to death after being put on military trial charged with the killing of two police officers. Isa Abdulla Kadhem, 19 years old; Sayed Sadiq Ali, 19; Hussain Jaffar, 19; were sentenced to life in prison charged with the same crime. At the trial, as the verdict was announced, journalists from the local media, representatives from Bahraini human rights organizations, relatives of the defendants, lawyers and 5 of the 7 defendants were present[2] according to the statement put out by the Bahrain News Agency. The representatives from the human rights organizations are essentially from the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society, a society know for being a Government Organized Non Governmental Organization (GONGO). For more information please refer to: http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/3698

The seven detainees on trial were legally represented by lawyer Mohammed AlTajer who was arrested[3] on April 15th, and the trial started on the 17th. AlTajer had previously represented four out of the seven defendants in a previous similar case[4] in which they were accused with participating in an illegal gathering, committing crimes targeting people and public property and attempting to kill a police officer by torching his patrol vehicle. After one year of detention they were sentenced in Nov 2010 to 5-3 years in jail and later they were amongst around 100 political prisoners freed in Feb 2011 due to mounting pressures by the oppositions and the protesters at the pearl square[5] . "AbdulAziz AbdulRidha, who has been accused to be the mastermind of the attacks in both of cases (the 2009 case and this one) has been a political activists associated with the HAQ Movement for Liberty and Democracy, and his confessions didn't appear on the tv program.". The Lawyer AlTajer who knew the details of their previous case and background remains in detention today. The trial of the seven defendants lasted for 12 days in which the military public prosecutor had called for the death sentence for the defendants. Despite the authorities claiming that the defendants had “confessed” to the murders, they plead not guilty during the hearing [6]. There have been several allegations that the aforementioned defendants were tortured prior to these aired confessions, and one of the individuals in the confession video, Ali Saqer, was killed in detention and his body held obvious marks of torture as reported by numerous international human rights organizations.

Despite airing him as part of the confessions, Saqer’s name was not mentioned in the verdict, and in later broadcasts his “confession” was removed from the video. Due to the torture marks on Saqer’s body, the centre fears that the allegations of torture against the other detainees may very well be true.

In the video aired by the authorities, which allegedly provides evidence against the seven detainees, many discrepancies have been noted. The footage shown is only partial. For example, a segment in which a woman in a car runs over two protesters has been cut out, and there are parts where government thugs are portrayed as protesters attacking civilians, whereas in the full video, these attackers are seen standing with the security forces. A separate report on the discrepancies of the video will be released at a later time.

Background on current situation:

Hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis have stood in protest demanding reforms and rights from the monarchy under King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, 31 have died since the first day of protests on February 14. More than 800 people have been arrested since a "State of National Safety" was announced on March 16, which established a special military court to try those accused of crimes. Those who have since been detained have been kept in unknown locations and completely inaccessible to their families and the outside world [7].

Bahrain’s history with death sentences and coerced confessions:

According to Bahrain News Agency (BNA) four executions have been carried out since 1977. Issa Ahmed Qambar, 29, was convicted in July for the March 1995 slaying of a senior police officer, Ibrahim al-Saidi, 34. His execution followed three court rulings upholding the sentence, the last one by Bahrain's highest appeals court on March 17. Mr. Qambar was executed by firing squad in March 1996.

Forced confessions are not new to Bahrain. In December 2008, 13 people from Sanabis and neighboring Shiite villages were arrested and were then tortured, according to medical reports, until they gave "confessions" which were recorded and broadcasted on television approximately two weeks after their arrests [8]. Among the detainees, 6 "confessed" to participating in a “terrorism plot” and receiving military training in 2006 in Damascus during a 40-minute televised program. They were said to have been planning to carry out violent attacks and sabotage against the government. The names and photographs of the 13 accused, together with their alleged confessions, were published in several Bahraini newspapers after the televised confessions. Ten were sentenced to one to seven year long imprisonments and four were acquitted. Four of those charged were known activists possibly targeted for their roles in their respective committees. [9]

In 2009, the general attorney requested to apply death penalty on 19 individuals from the village of Karzakan who were arrested for more than 17 months and accused of attacking a security patrol with stones and Molotov cocktails, and which resulted in the death of one the patrol men and the injury of the others. However, the High Criminal Court issued its ruling of acquitting all the defendants of killing the security man for multiple reasons including the fact that the forensic report proved that the confessions made by the 19 defendants were extracted under torture and harsh detention conditions. Following the acquittal, Human Rights Watch issued a report about torture in Bahrain "Torture Redux"[10] , which summarized the results of an accurate investigation in the torture allegations in Bahrain, and which concluded that torture in the Bahraini prisons is a systematic practice. The ruling was later appealed by the Public Prosecution and the 19 defendants were sentenced to 3 years in jail, which is believed to be aimed to remove all suspicions from the officials involved in the torture, or any possibility of prosecuting them locally or internationally [11] .

This ruling, , also alludes to the Ma'ameer case, where the General Attorney has also request to apply death penalty on the defendant but High Criminal Court issued its ruling of life sentences for seven activists in response to the death of a Pakistani national, Sheikh Mohammed Riyad. The High Criminal Court issued a ruling on July 5, 2010 which convicted seven individuals [among them a 17 years old child] from the village of Ma'ameer, and sentenced them to life imprisonment on the charge of causing the death of Riyad, 58 years old, on March 7, 2009, and who died two weeks after a Molotov cocktail caused a fire in his car during security confrontations in the village of Ma'ameer. It is believed that Riyad was a victim of the security clashes [12], and the increased suspicion and hatred against foreigners - especially of the Pakistani nationality - who are used widely in the Special Security Forces in charge of besieging and suppressing activity in Shiite villages [13].

According to the report of the Trial [14] Monitor at the Ma'ameer case, the seven were told prior to their trial that they'd be transferred to a prison after the hearing, meaning that they were guaranteed a guilty verdict regardless of defense efforts. This trial was based on the internationally condemned anti-terrorism law and relied on confessions taken under torture to reach a verdict. The trial disregarded all the pleas raised by the defendants, their lawyers, and the human rights organizations arguing that the defendants' confessions were extracted through torture and abuse [15].

It’s worth noting that most of the individuals who faced the possibility of death penalty in the last few years as shown in the above cases were actually social or political activist in the community. BCHR believes that such made up charges and harsh sentences are meant to push the people to refrain from becoming active in their villages, or participating in the protests or even defending the political prisoners to void being targeted by the authority.

Based on the above, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights:

1. Condemns putting civilians on military trials, and the use of the death sentence against civilians, especially in the absence of a fair and independent trial. 2. Calls on the Bahraini authorities to annul the sentences, and for the unconditional release of all political prisoners. 3. Calls for the dissolution of the infamous National Security Apparatus and an end to the use of all forms of torture in detention centers. 4. Calls on the Bahraini authorities to hold accountable anyone responsible for any type of torture carried out in Bahraini detention centers, whether they gave the order, supervised, knew of or directly conducted the torture abuses. 5. Calls on the Bahraini government to uphold their commitment to the CAT convention. 6. Calls on the international community to put pressure on the Bahraini authorities to suspend any use of torture, and to hold accountable those responsible for it.

[1]http://www.bna.bh/portal/en/news/454568 [2]http://www.alayam.com/Articles.aspx?aid=78786 [3]http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/04/16/bahrain-defense-lawyer-detained-after-night-raid [4]http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/ArchiveNewsDetails.aspx?date=11/09/2010&storyid=291240 [5]http://articles.boston.com/2011-02-24/news/29342659_1_political-prisoners-saudis-nabeel-rajab [6]http://www.bna.bh/portal/en/news/454031 [7]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/3959 [8]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2641 [9]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2354 [10]http://www.hrw.org/en/node/88200/section/1 [11]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/3111 [12]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2827 [13]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/3774 [14]Report of the Trial Monitor in the Ma'ameer and Adary Park Cases, Bahrain, 2010 [15]http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/3175

Robert Fisk: I saw these brave doctors trying to save lives – these charges are a pack of lies

Eyewitness: Bahrain didn't invite the Saudis to send their troops; the Saudis invaded and received a post-dated invitation

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Has the Khalifa family gone mad? Yesterday, the Bahraini royal family started an utterly fraudulent trial of 48 surgeons, doctors, paramedics and nurses, accusing them of trying to topple the tin-pot monarchy of this Sunni minority emirate. The defendants in this flagrantly unfair military court are, of course, members of the majority Shia people of Bahrain. And since I was a witness to their heroic efforts to save lives in February, I can say – let us speak with a frankness that the Bahraini rulers would normally demand – that the charges are a pack of lies.

Doctors I saw, drenched in their patients' blood, desperately trying to staunch the bullet wounds of pro-democracy demonstrators shot in cold blood by Bahraini soldiers and police, are now on trial. I watched armed policemen refusing to allow ambulances to collect the wounded from the roads where they had been cut down.

These are the very same doctors and nurses I stood beside four months ago in the Sulaimaniya emergency room, some of them weeping as they tried to deal with gunshot wounds the like of which they had never seen before.

"How could they do this to these people?" one of them asked me. "We have never dealt with trauma wounds like these before." Next to us lay a man with bullet wounds in the chest and thigh, coughing blood on to the floor.

The surgeons were frightened that they did not have the skills to save these victims of police violence. Now the police have accused the doctors and staff of killing the patients whom the police themselves shot.

How could these fine medical men and women have been trying to "topple" the monarchy?

The idea that these 48 defendants are guilty of such a vicious charge is not just preposterous. It is insane, a total perversion – no, the total opposite – of the truth. The police were firing at demonstrators from helicopters.

The idea that a woman and child died because they were rejected by doctors and refused medical treatment is a fantasy. The only problems medical staff encountered at the Sulaimaniya hospital – and again, I was a witness and, unlike the Bahraini security authorities, I do not tell lies – was from the cruel policemen who blocked patients from reaching the medical facility.

In truth, of course, the Khalifa family is not mad. Nor are the Sunni minority of Bahrain intrinsically bad or sectarian. The reality is clear for anyone to see in Bahrain. The Saudis are now running the country. They never received an invitation to send their own soldiers to support the Bahraini "security forces" from the Bahraini Crown Prince, who is a decent man. They simply invaded and received a post-dated invitation.

The subsequent destruction of ancient Shia mosques in Bahrain was a Saudi project, entirely in line with the kingdom's Taliban-style hatred of all things Shia. Could the Bahraini prime minister be elected, I asked a member of the royal court last February? "The Saudis would not permit this," he replied. Of course not. Because they now control Bahrain. Hence the Saudi-style doctors' trial.

Bahrain is no longer the kingdom of the Khalifas. It has become a Saudi palatinate, a confederated province of Saudi Arabia, a pocket-size weasel state from which all journalists should in future use the dateline: Manama, Occupied Bahrain.

Read more of recent Robert Fisk articles on Bahrain:

Robert Fisk: Why no outcry over these torturing tyrants? 14 May 2011

Robert Fisk in Manama: Bahrain – an uprising on the verge of revolution 21 February 2011

Robert Fisk in Bahrain: 'They didn't run away. They faced the bullets head-on' 19 February 2011

From Manama’s Pearl Roundabout, Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent for the UK’s Independent newspaper talks to Al Jazeera about the situation in Bahrain and the wider region.

independent.co.uk

HRW: Bahrain: Stop Military Court Travesty of Justice

Tribunal Tries Opposition Politicians and Defense Lawyer, Convicts Peaceful Protesters

JUNE 14, 2011

(Beirut) - Bahraini authorities should immediately halt all proceedings before the special military court and free everyone held solely for exercising their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly, Human Rights Watch said today. Civilians charged with genuine criminal offenses should be tried in an independent civilian court that meets international fair trial standards, Human Rights Watch said.

The special military court, the Court of National Safety, on June 12, 2011, held initial sessions in politically motivated cases against opposition members of parliament and a prominent defense lawyer without notifying lawyers or family, and sentenced a young writer to a year in prison. These developments came several days after the Crown Prince, Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, met with US President Barack Obama in Washington, DC, to solicit support for a "national dialogue" with opposition forces. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa recently announced that the national assembly speaker, Khalifa al-Dhahrani, who has strongly supported the government crackdown on the largely peaceful street protests, and not the Crown Prince, would lead the dialogue. "Most defendants hauled before Bahrain's special military court are facing blatantly political charges, and trials are unfair," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The Crown Prince may be sincere in his efforts to promote dialogue, but what good is that while back home the government is crushing peaceful dissent and locking up people who should be part of the dialogue."

On June 12, the special military court began hearings against Matar Ibrahim Matar and Jawad Fairouz, former opposition members of parliament, without notifying their lawyers or families. On the evening of May 2, masked plainclothes security officers had arrested the two men, who have since been held incommunicado without access to lawyers or relatives. The two pled not guilty to charges of providing false news to the media and participating in illegal gatherings.

The official Bahrain News Agency reported that the special military court sentenced Ayat Qurmuzi Muhammad, 20, to one year in prison on June 12 for participating in the Pearl Roundabout protests and "inciting hatred of the ruling system" by reading poems criticizing the king and prime minister.

A person familiar with the case of the parliamentarians said that Matar told a family member that he had been kept in solitary confinement for most of his more than 40 days in detention. He and Fairouz were among 18 candidates from the Wifaq National Islamic Society, Bahrain's largest opposition party, elected to the 40-member National Assembly. Matar, 35, had played a key role in compiling information about arrests and disappearances during the crackdown, which began on March 16. All elected Wifaq members of parliament resigned in February to protest the use of lethal force to suppress peaceful street demonstrations.

Mohamed al-Tajer, a prominent defense attorney who was taken from his home on April 15, was also brought before the special military court on June 12. As with Matar and Fairouz, and most of the hundreds of people arbitrarily arrested since mid-March, the government has refused to provide information about al-Tajer's whereabouts and his well-being. Al-Tajer's attorneys, who have repeatedly sought access to him without success, were given no notice of the hearing and so were unable to attend. According to the official news agency, al-Tajer is being charged with "inciting hatred for the regime," engaging in illegal protests, and inciting people to harm police, although Human Rights Watch understands that his attorneys have never been notified of any charges or that al-Tajer would be prosecuted in the special military court.

Human Rights Watch knows of 82 people for whom verdicts had been delivered in the special military court as of June 13, and of several dozen more whose cases are pending. Of the 82, 77 were convicted on some charge; only five were fully acquitted. Convictions for felony charges resulted in sentences ranging from five years to life, as well as two death sentences. Most convictions were for patently political charges such as participating in unauthorized demonstrations and "incitement of hatred against the regime," and resulted in prison sentences ranging from one to five years.

International human rights bodies have determined that trials of civilians before military tribunals violate the right to be tried by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal. The Human Rights Committee, the international expert body authorized to monitor compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain ratified in 2006, has stated that civilians should be tried by military courts only under exceptional circumstances and only under conditions that genuinely afford full due process.

hrw.org

Amnesty International: Bahrain targets activists as military trials continue

14 June 2011

Military trials against dozens of people accused of charges related to recent pro-reform protests in Bahrain continued this week amid allegations of torture and claims the proceedings are unfair and politically motivated.

Among those on trial in the special military court in Manama are a prominent human rights lawyer and 48 medical staff arrested after they treated protesters wounded in February and March demonstrations.

“We fear this lawyer and many of the health workers have been detained solely for political reasons after they defended or treated pro-reform protesters and spoke out against the authorities in the media,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

“Where this is the case, we would consider the detainees to be prisoners of conscience and call for their immediate and unconditional release.”

Bahrain’s government set up the special military court – which is presided over by one military and two civilian judges – under a National Safety Law put in place in response to the protests. The law was revoked on 1 June.

Mohammed al-Tajer, a well-known lawyer who works to defend human rights and opposition activists, was brought before the court on 12 June.

Bahraini authorities have not said where he is being detained and did not notify his family and lawyers before beginning his trial, which is set to resume on 16 June.

He had been arrested at his home in Manama on 15 April and has been charged with offences including “spreading rumours” and inciting hatred of the Bahraini government.

Amnesty International considers Mohammed al-Tajer to be a prisoner of conscience targeted for his work as a human rights lawyer as well as for being an outspoken critic of the government.

The trial of 48 medical workers resumed yesterday following earlier complaints that lawyers did not have sufficient access to their clients. The next session is due to take place on 20 June.

The Bahraini government alleges the Salamaniya Medical Complex, where many of the medical staff worked, served as a co-ordination centre for pro-reform protests in February and March, and has accused the workers of, among other things, stealing medicines, stockpiling arms, giving anti-government statements to international media outlets and inciting hatred of the regime.

The defendants have had very little access to their families and some allege they have been tortured in detention and forced to sign confessions. Several of the defendants have already been released on bail.

“Independent witnesses who were present at Salamaniya hospital have said that the charges against the health workers are preposterous – that the doctors and nurses were merely doing their jobs, tending to people injured in clashes with security forces,” said Philip Luther.

“Bahraini authorities must immediately open an independent investigation into the allegations of torture and must throw out any confessions or other evidence extracted under duress.”

The military court on Sunday sentenced a young female activist to a year in prison for charges related to her public recital of a poem critical of Bahrain’s King.

On the same day, Matar Matar and Jawad Feiruz, two former members of parliament representing al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s biggest Shi’a political party, were put on trial. Charges against them include propagating false information, participating in unauthorized demonstrations and urging people to demonstrate against the government.

At least 500 people have been detained since pro-reform protests began in February and four have died in suspicious circumstances in detention. Almost 2,000 people have been dismissed or suspended from work.

amnesty.org

UK Nurses Urge Fair Trial For Health Workers In Bahrain

Article Date: 13 Jun 2011

Speaking in advance of military trials in Bahrain for more than 40 nurses, doctors and other health workers, Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said:

"We are very concerned that healthcare workers appear to be being targeted for nothing more than treating patients in need, putting them in an intolerable position. We welcome the intervention of the UK government via its embassy in Bahrain and the International Council of Nurses. We urge regimes to adhere to their national and international commitments to protect patients, nurses and doctors. They should also recognise that doctors and nurses are there to help the sick and injured wherever, and whoever, they are. We are alarmed at allegations of torture or other ill-treatment of these healthcare workers. They should never be put in a position where they are punished for trying to do this job, and we would urge the authorities in Bahrain to ensure that the trial faced by these workers is fair and transparent."

Notes

The UK government via its embassy in Bahrain has submitted a formal request to the Bahraini authorities seeking access to the tribunals, where the nurses and doctors are being tried (due to appear 13 June) and that it is monitoring the situation closely. See here.

The International Council of Nurses have also issued a joint statement with the World Medical Association, calling for fair trials for the health workers in Bahrain - see here.

Amnesty International have raised concerns about the treatment of those detained see here.

Source: Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

medicalnewstoday.com

Bahrain: UPDATE - Human rights lawyer Mohammed Al-Tajir is brought before a military court following five weeks of incommunicado

13 June 2011 Front Line is concerned about the bringing to trial before a military court of a prominent Bahraini lawyer and human rights defender. On 12 June Mohammed Al-Tajir was brought before the Bahraini Lower National Safety Court in Manama to face a number of charges including publicly inciting hatred of the system of government in Bahrain; spreading malicious news and propaganda; and publicly inciting the abduction and harming of security men. Further Information

The sudden appearance of Mohammed Al-Tajir before the military court came after more than five weeks of incommunicado detention in an unknown location. During this period Mohammed Al -Tajir had been held without access to his lawyers and family and it is feared that the charges brought against him may have been based on confessions extracted under duress. There are also fears that he may have been forced to incriminate himself. The military prosecution told the court that it had concluded that the statements obtained from the accused during the interrogations are sufficient as evidence to indict him, and that the prosecution shall reserve the right to present its closing remarks on the case.

Mohammed Al -Tajir who was not allowed access to legal counsel during the interrogation denied all charges brought against him. The trial was adjourned until 16 June 2011. There have been credible reports of torture and ill-treatment of human rights defenders and other prisoners currently being tried by the military court. The court has so far failed to investigate claims of torture and ill-treatment brought before it by the accused. Mohammed Al-Tajir was the subject of a Front Line urgent appeal dated 18 April 2011. Front Line reiterates its calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mohammed Al-Tajir and to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against him as it is believed that his arrest, detention and the charges brought against him are solely related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights and his lawful pursuit of his profession as a lawyer.

See here the original appeal on this case

frontlinedefenders.org

Despite Crackdown, Bahraini Human Rights Defenders Continue to Fight for Democracy

By Brian Dooley Director, Human Rights Defenders

13 June 2011

Nabeel Rajab is a bit of a hero in Bahrain. In the streets, people recognize him and gather round him; he’s a local celebrity. But when a camera appears, the crowds scatter, laughing – no-one wants to be photographed with a man so openly critical of the Bahrain government. Not these days. Nabeel, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, is one of a handful of human rights defenders operating in Bahrain. Others have been detained during the government’s crackdown on dissent in recent months, and his house has been attacked with tear gas and sound bombs. He has been beaten up, and is unable to leave the country because the government won’t let him travel. He’s been speaking out against human rights abuses committed by the Bahraini government for years, including the recent spate of mass detentions, the disappearances, the deaths in custody, the widespread torture, the military trials, the mass sackings of Shias and the destruction of their mosques. Harassed, arrested, beaten and smeared as a terrorist, Rajab continues to document and publicize human rights violations by the Bahraini government. The King of Bahrain lifted the country’s emergency laws (officially if oxymoronically known as the State of National Safety) two weeks ago, on June 1. It’s hard to notice the difference. The Saudi troops – sent in to support the military crackdown on protestors in mid-March – remain. People are still being arrested. Military courts continue to condemn men, women and children to prison. Last week 15 year-old Mohammed Salman Majid Hassan was sentenced to two years imprisonment for protesting and rioting. His family say he was ill-treated during his detention.

Yesterday Ayat Alqurmozi, a 20 year-old poet, was sentenced to one year imprisonment for taking part in illegal protests and disrupting public security, and for inciting publicly towards the hatred of the regime. She read a poem criticizing the government at a protest in March.

That details of these cases are brought to light at all is largely due to the work of people like Nabeel Rajab and Mohammed al Maskati of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights. Both live with the possibility of imminent arrest. Mohammed told me when I was in Bahrain last month “The time of most risk is between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. That’s when the security forces usually come and arrest people in their homes. After 4 a.m. we can sleep normally because we think they won’t come that night.” Some human rights defenders took real personal risks to meet me and tell me what was happening in Bahrain. People who had relatives in detention were nervous about telling me their stories, but did so anyway so the world would know what’s happening.

The Bahrain government tries to suppress those voices, and is now trying to show that things have changed since June 1, that the situation is back to normal. It is not. The awarding (and then recancelling) of the Bahrain Grand Prix best illustrated this tussle over whose version is being believed – the activists’ or the government’s. The Formula One authorities first appeared to buy the Bahrain royal family line that staging a Grand Prix in Bahrain in October would be safe and appropriate – that the political situation was under control, that the crackdown on human rights was a temporary blip. But when voices were raised in complaint – including from Red Bull racing driver Mark Webber, who said “Like it or not, F1 and sport in general isn’t above having a social responsibility and conscience. I hope F1 is able to return to Bahrain eventually but now isn’t the right time,” and that in his opinion “the sport should have taken a much firmer stance earlier this year rather than constantly delaying its decision in hope of being able to re-schedule it in 2011. It would have sent a very clear message about Formula One’s position on something as fundamental as human rights and how it deals with moral issues.”

Former F1 world champion Damon Hill also thought giving Bahrain the prestigious event would send the wrong signal, suggesting that if the race went ahead “we will forever have the blight of association with repressive methods to achieve order,” and that “…F1 must align itself with progression, not repression, and a lot of demonstrations in that country have been brutally repressed.”

F1 backed down in the face of these protests, and concerns that the season was just too long, and the race was withdrawn. Meanwhile, the repression in Bahrain continues. We know because some courageous human rights defenders on the ground tell us what’s happening. While the Bahraini government continues to deny access to international human rights monitors, what Nabeel, Mohammed and others are doing is crucial if the world is to know the truth behind the propaganda.

www.humanrightsfirst.org

Amnesty International: Urgent Action: Defence Lawyer Appears In Court

A prominent defence lawyer arrested in Bahrain on 15 April appeared in court on 12 June without any prior notice being given to his family or lawyers. His case will resume on 16 June. Amnesty international believes he is a prisoner of conscience who has been detained for his work as a human rights lawyer and exercising his right to freedom of expression in relation to it. Mohammed al-Tajer, a prominent Bahraini defence lawyer, was arrested at his house in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, on the night of 15 April. He was arrested without an arrest warrant by a group of over 20 masked security officers who then took him to an unknown location. Since his arrest, his family and lawyers have not been able to visit him or to obtain information on his place of detention; he has been allowed to call his family on only three occasions for a period of three minutes each time.

On 12 June, Mohammed al-Tajer was brought before the National Safety Court of First Instance, a military court, although his family and lawyers had not been informed about the session beforehand. Some lawyers who were in the court that day and saw him informed the judge that they wanted to represent him and apparently one lawyer was present during the trial. However, formal requests sent by his lawyers to the military prosecutor before 12 June asking to visit him and represent him have never been answered. Mohammed al-Tajer has been formally charged with offences that include spreading rumours and malicious news and incitement of hatred towards the regime. He has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled to resume on 16 June.

Amnesty International believes that Mohammed al-Tajer's detention and trial is in fact related to his work defending human rights and political opposition activists, for which he is well known, as well as to his public criticism of the government's oppression. He was the leading defence lawyer in the case of 25 opposition activists, including two charged in their absence, who were tried between October 2010 and February 2011 on charges of plotting to overthrow the government using “terrorism” and other means. The 23 were released on 23 February following an amnesty by the King of Bahrain. Some of them, including 'Abdul Jalil al-Singace, have been recently re-arrested for their participation in the protests and face trial on 22 June. Mohammed al-Tajer has openly spoken to media outlets about these cases and about human rights violations more widely in Bahrain.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English or Arabic:

Expressing concern that Mohammed al-Tajer is a prisoner of conscience detained for his prominent work as a human rights lawyer and for exercising his right to freedom of expression in relation to it, and should therefore be released immediately and unconditionally;

Urging the authorities to reveal Mohammad al-Tajer's place of detention without further delay, to ensure that he is protected from torture or other ill-treatment and is allowed prompt and regular access to his lawyers and family.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 18 JULY 2011 TO:

King Shaikh Hamad bin 'Issa Al Khalifa Office of His Majesty the King P.O. Box 555 Rifa'a Palace, Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1766 4587 Salutation: Your Majesty

Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Shaikh Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs P. O. Box 450, Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 17531284 Salutation: Your Excellency

Commander-in-Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa Bahrain Defence Force Riffa Road, Manama, Bahrain e-mail: dgcbdf@gmail.com Fax: +973 17663923 Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the first update of UA 116/11. Further information: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/018/2011/en

Additional Information

At least 500 people have been detained in relation to the pro-reform protests which began in February and four have died in custody in suspicious circumstances. Dozens of those detained have been brought to trial before military courts, which have convicted a number of defendants, handing down sentences ranging from short prison terms to, in two cases so far, the death penalty. A state of emergency imposed by the Bahraini authorities on 15 March - known as the State of National Safety - was lifted on 1 June.

Mohammad al-Tajer is being tried by the National Safety Court of First Instance, which is a military court comprising three judges - one military and two civilian. Amnesty International considers military courts inappropriate for trying civilians and that such trials directly infringe international standards of fair trial. Appeals from the court are heard by another military court, the First Safety Court of Appeal; this has already upheld two death sentences in another trial.

FU: 116/11 Index: MDE 11/032/2011 Issue Date: 13 June 2011

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