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2009 Report on Human Rights in the Arab World: Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform | 08/12/2009

In Bahrain, the systematic discrimination against the Shiite majority was accompanied by more repression of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Human rights defenders increasingly became targets for arrest, trial, and smear campaigns. Some human rights defenders were even subjected by government agents to threats and intimidation while in Europe.

2009 Report on Human Rights in the Arab World: Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform | 08/12/2009

"Embrace diversity, end discrimination" Human Rights Day 2009

"A man spends his first years learning how to speak and the Arab regimes teach him silence for the rest of his life" Algerian writer Ahlem Mosteghanemi, Memory in the Flesh

Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform 2009 Report on Human Rights in the Arab Region

Press Release

Today the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies released its second annual report on the state of human rights in the Arab world for the year 2009. The report, entitled Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform, concludes that the human rights situation in the Arab region has deteriorated throughout the region over the last year.

The report reviews the most significant developments in human rights during 2009 in 12 Arab countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen. It also devotes separate chapters to the Arab League and an analysis of the performance of Arab governments in UN human rights institutions. Another chapter addresses the stance of Arab governments concerning women’s rights, the limited progress made to advance gender equality, and how Arab governments use the issue of women’s rights to burnish their image before the international community while simultaneously evading democratic and human rights reform measures required to ensure dignity and equality for all of their citizens. .

The report observes the grave and ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, particularly the collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip through the ongoing blockade and the brutal invasion of Gaza at the beginning of 2009 which resulted in the killing of more than 1,400 Palestinians, 83 percent of them civilians not taking part in hostilities. The report notes that the plight of the Palestinian people has been exacerbated by the Fatah-Hamas conflict, which has turned universal rights and liberties into favors granted on the basis of political affiliation. Both parties have committed grave abuses against their opponents, including arbitrary detention, lethal torture, and extrajudicial killings.

The deterioration in Yemeni affairs may presage the collapse of what remains of the central state structure due to policies that give priority to the monopolization of power and wealth, corruption that runs rampant, and a regime that continues to deal with opponents using solely military and security means. As such, Yemen is now the site of a war in the northern region of Saada, a bloody crackdown in the south, and social and political unrest throughout the country. Moreover, independent press and human rights defenders who expose abuses in both the north and south are targets of increasingly harsh repression.

In its blatant contempt for justice, the Sudanese regime is the exemplar for impunity and the lack of accountability. President Bashir has refused to appear before the International Criminal Court in connection with war crimes in Darfur. Instead, his regime is hunting down anyone in the country who openly rejects impunity for war crimes, imprisoning and torturing them and shutting down rights organizations. Meanwhile the government’s policy of collective punishment against the population of Darfur continues, as well as its evasion of responsibilities under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the north and south, making secession a more likely scenario, which may once again drag the country into a bloody civil war.

In Lebanon, the threat of civil war that loomed last year has receded, but the country still suffers from an entrenched two-tier power structure in which Hizbullah’s superior military capabilities give the opposition an effective veto. As a result, the state’s constitutional institutions have been paralyzed.

In this context it took several months for the clear winner in the parliamentary elections to form a government. Now, even after the formation of a government, the unequal military balance of power between the government and the opposition will prevent serious measures to guarantee all parties accountable before the law, and greatly undermine the possibility of delivering justice for the many crimes and abuses experienced by the Lebanese people over the last several years.

Although Iraq is still the largest arena of violence and civilian deaths, it witnessed a relative improvement in some areas, though these gains remain fragile. The death toll has dropped and threats against journalists are less frequent. In addition, some of the major warring factions have indicated they are prepared to renounce violence and engage in the political process.

In Egypt, as the state of emergency approaches the end of its third decade, the broad immunity given to the security apparatus has resulted in the killing of dozens of undocumented migrants, the use of lethal force in the pursuit of criminal suspects, and routine torture. Other signs of deterioration were visible in 2009: the emergency law was applied broadly to repress freedom of expression, including detaining or abducting bloggers. Moreover, the Egyptian police state is increasingly acquiring certain theocratic features, which have reduced some religious freedoms, and have lead to an unprecedented expansion of sectarian violence within the country.

In Tunisia, the authoritarian police state continued its unrestrained attacks on political activists, journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists, and others involved in social protest. At the same time, the political stage was prepared for the reelection of President Ben Ali through the introduction of constitutional amendments that disqualified any serious contenders.

In Algeria, the emergency law, the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, and the application of counterterrorism measures entrenched policies of impunity, grave police abuses, and the undermining of accountability and freedom of expression. Constitutional amendments paved the way for the installment of President Bouteflika as president for life amid elections that were contested on many levels, despite the lack of real political competition.

Morocco, unfortunately, has seen a tangible erosion of the human rights gains achieved by Moroccans over the last decade. A fact most clearly seen in the failure if the government to adopt a set of institutional reforms within the security and judicial sectors intended to prevent impunity for crimes. Morocco’s relatively improved status was also undermined by the intolerance shown for freedom of expression, particularly for expression touching on the king or the royal family, or instances of institutional corruption. Protests against the status of the Moroccan-administered Western Sahara region were also repressed and several Sahrawi activists were referred to a military tribunal for the first time in 14 years.

As Syria entered its 47th year of emergency law, it continued to be distinguished by its readiness to destroy all manner of political opposition, even the most limited manifestations of independent expression. The Kurdish minority was kept in check by institutionalized discrimination, and human rights defenders were targets for successive attacks. Muhannad al-Hassani, the president of the Sawasiyah human rights organization, was arrested and tried, and his attorney, Haitham al-Maleh, the former chair of the Syrian Human Rights Association, was referred to a military tribunal. The offices of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression were shut down, and Syrian prisons still hold dozens of prisoners of conscience and democracy advocates.

In Bahrain, the systematic discrimination against the Shiite majority was accompanied by more repression of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Human rights defenders increasingly became targets for arrest, trial, and smear campaigns. Some human rights defenders were even subjected by government agents to threats and intimidation while in Europe.

In Saudi Arabia, the report notes that the Monarch’s speeches urging religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue abroad have not been applied inside the Kingdom, where the religious police continue to clamp down on personal freedom. Indeed, repression of religious freedoms is endemic, and the Shiite minority continues to face systematic discrimination. Counterterrorism policies were used to justify long-term arbitrary detention, and political activists advocating reform were tortured. These policies also undermined judicial standards, as witnessed by the prosecution of hundreds of people in semi-secret trials over the last year.

In tandem with these grave abuses and the widespread lack of accountability for such crimes within Arab countries, the report notes that various Arab governments and members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference have been working in concert within UN institutions to undermine international mechanisms and standards for the protection of human rights. On this level, Arab governments have sought to undercut provisions that bring governments to account or seriously assess and monitor human rights. This is most clearly illustrated by the broad attack on independent UN human rights experts and NGOs working within the UN, as well as attempts to legalize international restrictions on freedom of expression through the pretext of prohibiting “defamation of religions.”

In the same vein, the Arab League and its summit forums offered ongoing support for the Bashir regime in Sudan despite charges of war crimes, and members of the organization used the principle of national sovereignty as a pretext to remain silent about or even collaborate on grave violations in several Arab states. Little hope should be invested in the Arab League as a protector of human rights regionally. Indeed, the Arab Commission on Human Rights, created by the Arab Charter on Human Rights (a weak document compared to other regional charters), is partially composed of government officials, and the secretariat of the Arab League has begun to take measures to weaken the Commission, including obstructing the inclusion of NGOs in its work, intentionally undermining its ability to engage in independent action, even within the stifling constraints laid out by the charter.

http://www.cihrs.org/english/newssystem/details.aspx?id=2522

The Special Forces Excessively Use Live Ammunition to Suppress the Demonstrators

Injuries and Victims among them Children The Special Forces Excessively Use Live Ammunition to Suppress the Demonstrators

7 December 2009

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern for the grave escalation that the Bahrain authorities are pursuing, represented in its policy in shooting live ammunition (shotgun) when facing the public protests that demand releasing the detainees whose majority were arrested for participating in the demonstrations and events witnessed in the various areas of Bahrain, due to the government's persistence in its policy of changing and manipulating the demography through the continued political naturalization process and the systematic discrimination against the Shiite community at all levels, and in marginalizing their villages and districts, and in the return of the systematic torture in the Bahraini prisons since 2006, and for bringing, exploiting and training the foreign mercenary men[1] to face the protests witnessed in the towns and villages of Bahrain, and which are brought by the security apparatuses to participate in the Special Forces of the National Security or the civil militias affiliated with it.

What distinguishes this period is that it was inaugurated with a statement by the Director-General of the Police Directorate of the Northern Governorate, which was sent to the press, stating: "The Ministry of Interior will not relent in dealing firmly and strongly with the outlaws, against those criminal acts that target the life and security of the citizens, and that the security men have legal powers that allow them to use firearm in facing that astray and outlaw group whenever necessary. However, they still abide by the restraint policy despite the continuous attacks on them." In another statement of the Director-General of the Police Directorate of Muharraq Governorate that, "The security men shot several warning shots in the evening of the day before yesterday – Monday 16 November – in Der area, due to a group of troublemakers and vandals, after gathering, setting fire in tires and garbage containers which obstructed traffic, indicating the demonstrators who used Molotov Cocktails, stones and steel skewers, which necessitated the intervention of the forces of order to maintain security and to stop and prevent these acts that lead to putting lives and properties at risk." These statements were accompanied by a violent campaign marked by excessive use of force and the use of live ammo after a interruption that lasted several months, besides the use of rubber bullets against the demonstrators whose ages range between 12 to 25 years old, as well as using the means of collective punishment against the Shiite villages and areas, such as crashing parked cars or beating the by passers[2] in those protesting areas, and drowning them with teargases. Usually these Special Forces, behind these collective punishments, aim at pressurizing the notable figures and dwellers of these villages and areas to prompt them to stop these protest acts.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights documented several cases where live ammo ( fission bullets), which are usually used in hunting birds and small animals, and some of these villages and areas are Karzakan, Bilad-Al-Qadeem, Sitra, Der in the north of Muharraq, Duraz, Karana, Abu-Saibaa, and they are all Shiite villages. Participating in this security campaign are individuals wearing civilian clothes and driving civilian cars (militias), roaming the various villages and areas and shooting live ammo at the demonstrators, normally these civilians are of the same groups that the security panels bring in to work as mercenaries in the lines of the Special Forces. Bahrain still refuses to sign the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. In the evening of Thursday 19 November 2009, one of the citizens confirmed to the BCHR that he witnessed one of the members of those groups in a civilian car (White Pickup Toyota – the BCHR is keeping record of its plate number), it parks beside Costa coffee shop at the Abu-Saibaa village roundabout – shooting live ammo at the protestors and demonstrators from inside the car, at a time when some of the demonstrators were setting fire to tires or garbage containers, in a situation that does not necessitate opening fire due to the lack of any real danger to the lives of these individuals. Several eyewitnesses confirmed that the Special Forces turned to using (Shoguns) bullets to disperse the demonstrators in a number of villages and areas in Bahrain, which resulted in several injuries.

The BCHR fears that the use of foreigners as mercenaries to suppress the protests will lead to the growing feeling of hatred towards all foreigners, especially whilst the authority is going to extremes in its policy in granting them the Bahraini citizenship, and the BCHR also fears that the cover-up used against the demonstrators by using civilian cars to raid the villages by individuals wearing civilian clothes may put many innocent civilians at risk, due to the reactions of the demonstrators towards these Forces which might be marred by error or inaccurate identification which may lead to the injury of citizens who have nothing to do with the almost daily confrontations.

The shootings in last March against four children by the same security groups received press coverage in one of the local newspapers; it however received a flow of criticism and pressures by the authority or newspapers and writers in alliance with it as a result of that coverage. That played a negative role in the local newspapers declining to cover the live shootings against the demonstrators that are happening these days in fear of the authority's reaction.

Due to the fear that haunts the victims of the shootings of arrests and security prosecutions, the majority of them were hesitant in turning to the hospitals to receive proper treatment, and is only at content with the home healings or some folk treatments, which constitutes a major threat to their lives or future health. Worthy of mentioning, that local hospitals have orders of the need to inform the security apparatuses before proceeding to treat any injured in the protest demonstrations – the BCHR holds the Bahraini authorities full responsibility of the fall of victims and reminds them of the dozens killed as a result of the live shootings during the nineties in the confrontations that demanded reforms. Yet it failed to bring those protests to a halt, and that the reform promises of the country's King during that period played a role in putting off that uprising. Based on that, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the excessive use of force will only lead to more escalation and violent acts which will have a role in aggravating and complicating the general state of affairs instead of finding solutions to it.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights presents some cases that were documented of some victims of the live ammo shootings, and without revealing their identities or details of some victims according to their or their families' wish. The BCHR is however ready to provide their identities or any other details not mentioned here to any local or international legal body for any independent investigation.

The village of Der witnessed demonstrations and protests in the evening of Monday 16 November that ended with the shootings of live ammo at the demonstrators by the Special Forces affiliated with the National Security Apparatuses, which resulted in numerous injuries, among the known ones was the child Kumail Al-Ghanamy (15 years old) who was arrested with his wounds and put to jail in the dawn of Tuesday 17 November, when the Special Forces stormed his house to arrest him with three other youngsters from that village and they were taken to unknown areas, after that photos of him spread on the internet clarifying the large number of injuries from shotgun bullets in different parts of his body. Der: the youngster Kumail Al-Ghanamy (15 years old) and heavy injuries with shotgun bullets in many parts of his body

There are many other injuries that have fallen in the same area or other areas of the Bahraini villages and areas during the same period. Their victims still suffer from the wounds but dread to be treated in hospitals in fear of being arrested.

Last October, and due to the continued detention of the Karzakan detainees which lasted almost 18 months, the Western Area, especially in villages such as Karzakan, Demestan and Hamala, was marked with almost daily protests that only stopped after the release of the remaining ones on 13 October after acquitting 19 of them on the charge of killing a security force member in April 2008. The security authorities deliberately suppressed those protest which accompanied the excessive violent arrests and detentions and caused the injury of several young men from the area with live ammo (shuzen). All those injuries are being documented and photos published for the first time due to the earlier mentioned apprehensions, and the following photos of some those injuries have been treated in a traditional manner behind closed doors.

Last March, amid the several protests witnessed in the various areas of the country that demand the release of the detainees, the Bahraini (Al-Wasat) newspaper had followed up with the injury of four children, their ages range between 11 and 14 years old, the Special Forces had shot them while being in different parts of Sanabes area, which led to transferring them to hospital and performing surgeries to remove some small metal clusters that pierced different parts of their bodies. According to that newspaper issued on 3 April 2009, "the doctors decided not to perform the surgery to extract the <<23 metal clusters>> from the body of the injured Akbar Ali (14 years old) to avoid its effect on his future health.

Sanabes: the injured Ali Akbar (14 years old) wounded with 23 Shotgun splinters in different parts of his body

The father of the injured stated that the doctors informed him that there is currently no use of performing any surgery to his son to remove the splinters he was wounded with, and that the splinters pierced and rested in deep parts of his body where it has become difficult and dangerous to attempt to remove them due to the possibility of nerve damage". Elsewhere in the same newspaper, "As to the injured Hussein Talib (11 years old) and Yousif Abbas (13 years old) who were shot with (Shuzen) bullets in what was known as Sanabes incident, the doctors removed 9 splinters from the former and two from the latter." The child's father mentioned to <> that he saw one of the splinters being removed from one of the children (11 and 13 year olds) who were injured with his son after removing some splinters from them in the surgery performed to them two days ago, indicating that that it was <> and not circular, and that it is very small. Reports indicate that the Special Forces shot shotgun bullets on Ali Akbar (14 years old) in his back when he was returning home in the village of Belad-Al-Qadeem, after he finished playing football with his friends in Sanabes. As to Hussein Talib (11 years old), the Forces shot the shotgun bullets in his back and leg when he was leaving the mosque after performing the Maghreb and Isha prayers. Another child (13 years old) was also injured with bullets from the shotgun, and which hit him in the leg and back. Abdullah Suwar (12 year old) was shot as well with shotgun bullets in various parts of his body and he was transmitted to the hospital as a result of that. The Public Prosecution charged the boys, who were shot with shotgun bullets in Sanabes, with crowding and riot and ordered their release.

Last mid March, in protest against the government's acquisition of lands on the grounds that they were expropriated for "military purposes", demonstrations broke out in the village of Muhaza in Sitra Island demanding the halt of the burials of the north coast of Sitra. Those demonstrations resulted in injuries among the demonstrators; many of them were due to the direct use of shotgun bullets on their bodies.

Sitra: a young man (22 years old) injured with shotgun bullets in his legs and another injured near his left eye

Because the security apparatuses arrested some activists from Duraz area, the people gathered by the village's roundabout in a peaceful protest on 15 March 2009. However the Special Forces attacked them by using live ammo (shuzen), in addition to the use of rubber bullets and tear gas. This attack led to the injury of several demonstrators.[3]

Duraz: a traditional removal of the shotgun bullets from the bodies of three injured

The BCHR believes that the use of excessive force and live ammo against the demonstrators reflects the intolerance of the authority towards those that criticize its policy, and its failure in dealing with the legal public demands which it can set solutions to in a more peaceful and civilized manner. It is required to deal more seriously in solving those outstanding issues that are causing all these protests instead of suppressing them. Some of the main reasons that are driving those protests and which demand the authority's attention is its policy in practicing systematic discrimination – on all levels – against the people of the country from the Shiite sect and their areas of residence, and which finds (meaning the discrimination) care and adaptation by the governing authority, as well as the political naturalization which aims at changing the social and cultural fabric of the country's population and to make its citizens – Sunnis and Shiites – a minority, and the escalation of systematic torture in the prisons of the security forces and the continuous arrests of the peaceful protestors and demonstrators, and the prevention of peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins and forums that are against the authority's policy.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights recommends the following:

1. To stop the use of all types of firearms and to stop the use of excessive force against the civilians.

2. To stop bringing and training foreign mercenaries to work in the lines of the security apparatuses.

3. To dissolve the National Security Apparatus and the Special Security Forces affiliated with it, and return its powers to the regular security institutions.

4. To stop the use of civilian cars or individuals in civilian clothing to suppress the protests.

5. To initiate an actual dialogue with the pillars of the community to resolve the roots of the crisis the country is going through, and to stop retreating to security solutions.

6. To stop the motives that causes those protests such as the sectarian discrimination, political naturalization, systematic torture and continuous arrests and others.

Contact information of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights: Email: info@bahrainrights.org Fax: +973 – 17795170 Electronic Websites:

· www.bahrainrights.org

· www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=50727622539

· www.twitter.com/bahrainrighs

· bahrainrights.blogspot.com

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[1] The Bahraini authorities continuous use of mercenaries to face the public demand movements leads to the growing hostility against foreigners http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2893

[2] Photos clarifying the assault of the Riot Forces against a citizen after forcing him to step down from his car http://bahraninet.net/showthread.php?t=42161

[3] http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2811

Bahrain: Bangladeshi man faces rare execution

Bahrain: Bangladeshi man faces rare execution Posted: 03 December 2009

Amnesty International is appealing to the King of Bahrain to stop the execution of a Bangladeshi man, currently facing what would be a rare execution in the country.

Jassim Abdulmanan, is facing death by firing squad unless the Bahraini king, Shaikh Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa, opts to prevent the killing.

In Bahrain the king ratifies death sentences and if he does so Mr Abdulmanan could be executed within weeks. Amnesty International has issued an 'urgent action' appeal, meaning its supporters are contacting the Bahraini king and the Bahraini embassy in London.

Amnesty International UK anti-death penalty campaigner Kim Manning Cooper said:

'Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all instances, but it's especially disappointing when a country that rarely carries out executions reverts to this cruel and unnecessary punishment.

'We are not seeking to minimise the impact of a serious crime like murder but King Khalifa should exercise mercy and prevent this judicial killing.'

Mr Abdulmanan was originally sentenced to death by the country's High Criminal Court in January 2007, after being found guilty of the murder in October 2005 of another Bangladeshi called Ridar Mian. Two other Bangladeshi nationals were sentenced to life imprisonment in the same case.

After all three men lodged an appeal in April this year, the country's Supreme Appeal Court reduced the two life sentences to 15 years' imprisonment but upheld the death sentence against Jassim Abdulmanan. On 16 November 2009, the Court of Cassation in Bahrain upheld the death penalty against Abdulmanan, leaving only the king to decide his fate.

The death penalty is rarely used in Bahrain. In the last five years it is believed that only six people have been sentenced to death. In December 2006 three Bangladeshi nationals were executed, the first people to be put to death in Bahrain since 1996. Amnesty fears that the death penalty in Bahrain is disproportionately used against foreign nationals.

In December last year the Bahraini government abstained in the vote for a United Nations resolution calling for a moratorium on executions globally. The resolution was passed by a vote of 106 in favour to 46 against, with 34 abstentions. http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=18531

BAHRAIN: SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST FREE EXPRESSION

REPORTS AND PUBLICATIONS 8. BAHRAIN: SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST FREE EXPRESSION

A large number of fake human rights and civil society organisations havesprung to life in Bahrain, when in reality they are fronts for greatergovernment control, says a new report by the Bahrain Centre for HumanRights (BCHR). These mock rights institutions are extensions of the Royal Court, the PrimeMinister's Court or the Interior Ministry, among other branches of state,says BCHR. As far back as 2006, 100 legitimate human rights groups, as wellas political and professional figures, sent a letter to the King of Bahrainexpressing concern about this secret network. "One of the aims of this network is smearing the reputation of theindependent human rights defenders and opposition's political activists,and creating fictitious and fake civil society institutions and attemptingto penetrate the independent ones," says the report. In fact, BCHR explains, this scheme of false rights groups was a reactionto an acceleration of human rights violations being documented - sectariandiscrimination, torture, violations of freedom of expression, humantrafficking - and passed on to international rights groups. In parallel to this phenomenon, legitimate rights defenders have beenharassed and slandered, including through the use of the government media.Recently, Nabeel Rajab, President of BCHR, has been targeted in the mediaafter he was elected as a Board member of a regional network in Asia, theGulf and the Middle East. For more information, please see the full report:Presenting documents that reveal the "GONGOs" organisations in Bahrain:http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2983

A Report Presenting the Documents that Reveal the "GONGOs" Organizations in Bahrain, Their Role,

The Basic Branching of the Secret Network Revealed by Bandar in mid 2006

Fake Human Rights Organizations To Mislead Public Opinion and Trapping the Human Rights Organizations and Defenders

November 2009

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern for the authority in Bahrain's continuity in the policy of creating a fictitious and fake civil society and a mock human rights work, in attempt to mislead public opinion and disrupt international organization, and harm and target the community and civil institutions and their active figures through the materialistic, logistic support and media facilities provided to them by the government. This is happening by creating and establishing an increasing number of human rights and political entities, institutions, organizations and societies, to appear as real civil society institutions, while in reality they are merely the arms of the ruling power or one of its institutions such as the Royal Court or the Prime Minister's Court, the National Security Apparatus, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs or the Interior ministry.

The Basic Branching of the Secret Network Revealed by Bandar in mid 2006

In September 2006, 100 human rights, political and professional figures sent a letter to the King of Bahrain expressing their concern regarding those institutions and especially what was included in the first report of The Gulf Center for Democratic Development , about the presence of a secret network infiltrating the State's apparatuses, headed and run by Ahmed bin Atyat-Allah Al-Khalifa – Minister of State for the Cabinet Affairs and a member of the Ruling Family. One of the aims of this network is smearing the reputation of the independent human rights defenders and opposition's political activists, and creating fictitious and fake civil society institutions and attempting to penetrate the independent ones. According to this report, there are higher-ranking government institutions, figures from the Shura and Representatives Councils, and political and media figures involved in this network, as well as a group of Jordanian intelligence, and an Egyptian media group. Large sums of money, estimated to be millions of dollars, were allocated to run this network, to execute the project which actually began since 2004. The second report of The Gulf Center for Democratic Development , and which was published in January 2006, came explaining in detail a practical program for the mechanisms and means to contain the society institutions and to reformulate them to guarantee their loyalty to the Authority and to contain the activities which demand civil, political, economic and social rights.

This policy of the Bahraini authorities came as a reaction to the ever-increasing activity of the human rights organizations which distinctly succeeded in observing and documenting violations of human rights, and submitting periodical reports to the international organizations and institutions which are concerned with human rights, including concerned committees and UN Rapporteurs. The frequency of observing, documenting and writing the reports accelerated as a result to the increased and hastened violations to human rights, after a period of improvement that had been witnessed in the country at the beginning of this century. Due to the escalating activity by these organizations or human rights defenders, and the consequences of revealing the true reality of the human rights situation, and instead of the authority treating and finding solutions to the distressing human rights files, such as the sectarian discrimination, the torture crimes, the violations of freedom of opinion and expression, the crimes of human trafficking, political naturalization, bringing and utilizing mercenaries and the continuous violations of rights to the migrant workers, the authority turned to forming fictitious or fake human rights organizations, which instead of observing and documenting human rights violations it harasses the credible human rights organizations and defenders and lays down obstacles to their work, and makes statements that smear the reputation of those organizations or human rights defenders, as well as the false statements that do not reflect the human rights reality, justly or impartially.

The "Fake" Human Rights Institutes in Bahrain - Who are They ?

The names of non-governmental "associations" appeared in the earlier mentioned report, and which is documented with photographs, copies of paid checks, remittances, balances and some letters related to executing this secret plot. Due to the growing concern of its danger in tricking the international organizations and international public opinion, this BCHR report will work on presenting documents that reveal the involvement of the official authorities in creating those associations and conspiring with them to destroy the civil society institutions, through the substantial financial resources, media and logistic facilities. There are also political societies who play the same role, however this report will only shed light on the human rights ones.

On top of these fake organizations are the "Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society", and the "Bahraini Society of Jurists", and the "Bahrain Human Rights Monitor".

1) Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society http://bhrws.org/index.php

It was established with a decree No. (52) of 2004, on 30 November 2004, and was registered under societies and social clubs No. 17/C/AC.D based on decree-law No. 21 of 1989 of the Law of Associations, Social and Cultural Clubs, Special Committees Working in the Field of Youth and Sports, and Private Institutions.

Photos of Faisal Fouladh – president of the Bahraini Human Rights Society – One of the Gongo Organizations in Bahrain

The name of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society was brought forward after just several weeks of closing down the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and after the government faced a stream of severe criticism by the human rights organizations as a result of it closing the Center.

Although at that time it was headed by Mrs. Azra Nono, one of the founders of the Society, and who was recently appointed Ambassador of Bahrain in Washington , since its establishment it has been driven by Faisal Hasan Abdullah Fouladh, also its current president – an appointed member in the Shura Council for four previous sessions since 1996. Fouladh is considered one the most active members working in these associations and the most combating and harassing to human rights defenders and the most to obstruct the human rights institutions in their work. Fouladh took advantage of the media facilities provided to him by the authority and to the rest of the GONGOs in order to defame political activists and human rights defenders without any legal or judicial deterrence.

A sample of letters addressed to the president of the Royal Court written with hand of Fouladh on the papers of his official society clarifying the role of his society in its conspiracy against the civil society institutions meeting of the Forum of the Future
Fouladh, and through his role in his society, worked on repeatedly confronting the effective non-governmental organizations and institutions by issuing false or misleading reports and statements about the human rights conditions and then publishing them in the press and sending them to international organizations, in order to disrepute the independent human rights panels or to doubt what they publish.

The documents leaked by The Gulf Center for Democratic Development in its first report indicate that Fouladh received large sums of money and conspired to weaken the conference parallel to the Forum for the Future which was held in Bahrain in 2005, as well as playing the role of spying on the society organizations participating in that Forum by the reports which were hand-written by him on the official papers of the society , addressed to Ahmed Atyat-Allah Al-Khalifa – the Director of the secret network indicated by Bandar or The Gulf Center for Democratic Development.

Faisal Fouladh at the moment of being kicked out from the meeting of the Representatives of the Committee against Torture
As one of the members of this network, and with the help of government panels, Fouladh opened an office for his society in the British capital, London, in attempt to create amities with human rights figures affiliated with international organizations. Fouladh is usually used to pursue human rights defenders in their international tasks and visits, or their meetings with UN panels and international organizations. He always insists on attending the international meetings, despite being kicked out more than once from meetings held by non-governmental organizations with the committees and offices of UN Rapporteurs, especially after being exposed in an attempt to eavesdrop the non-governmental Bahraini delegation during their meeting with the UN Committee against Torture, and which as a result of it he was kicked out of the meeting room.

A copy of the monthly bonus received by Faisal Fouladh

Fouladh wears several human rights hats, which he changes deliberately according to the type of event, its timing and place. At times he impersonates the role of the secretary-general of the Human Rights Watch Society and at other times the head of Respect Movement, and sometimes he speaks for the National Alliance of Justice and Fairness, and at other times on behalf of the Committee on Employment of Foreigners, and he represents the International Center for Rights and Freedoms of Association, as well as the spokesman of Community Partnership to Combat Human Trafficking, and he is leading the Call for the Human Rights Studio, and he is the spokesman of the Youth Human Rights Center, and he speaks for the Bahraini Movement Against Corruption, and the Movement of Non-Violence. He is lately using the name of the General Coordinator of the Gulf European Center for Human Rights. Usually, these names suggest that there are many defenders or members behind them, however, these names and organizations are counterfeit and are represented in him personally and his wife Sameera Al-Sayed (her surname was recently changed to Al-Sada), who usually accompanies him in his trips and she also occupies positions with him in these institutions. What is surprising is that none of the authorities, apparatuses or ministries raised the issue that there are no records for these counterfeit institutions and which have not been registered in the Ministry of Social Affairs, as the Bahraini law of civil associations requires, and no ministerial decree, clarifying their bylaw or the name of its founders was issued. The authorities' disregard to this matter strengthens the belief that the authorities are supporting him, standing by his side and encouraging him in the roles he is playing and the activities he is carrying out to target the effective human rights institutions and defenders, and this has been reinforced by him being reappointed in the Shura Council for the second session and awarding him the Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa second degree medal in the opening ceremony of the eighth session of the Shura Council. Fouladh is always trying creating an impression that his Society is the Bahraini branch of the internationally known Human Rights Watch, based in New York.

It is believed that all the "counterfeit institutions" run by Fouladh are directly funded by the Royal Court, through the network that is run by Ahmed bin Atyat-Allah who ensures providing the financial resources and the required budget via a special account in the Shamil Bank by remittances from the Kuwait Finance House , and it is the same bank where the Royal Court money is managed. The Bandar report(The Gulf Center for Democratic Development) presents the receipt of 500 Dinar as a monthly reward received by Fouladh for his effort, and this amount does not include the trips he repeatedly travels with his wife in the name of human rights work, in addition to the monthly expenditures of the Society which reaches 1800 Dinar. The documents indicated spending BD 5000 to finance the establishment of this GONGO in November 2004.

2) The Bahraini Jurists Society of Yousif Isa Al-Hashimi

It was established in 2005 with 15 members, the number of them who are accounted for lawyers does not exceed two thirds, where several of them hold dual citizenships after granting them the Bahraini citizenship, and some of them hold official senior positions in the government. This society was declared with a decree by the Minister of Social Development No. 3 of 2006 on 28 January 2006. Yousif Isa Al-Hashimi heads the board of directors which is made up of seven members, and he is represented by Massoma Abdul-Rasool. Al-Hashimi shares a law office with the former member of the Shura Council Mohammed Al-Sayed, as well as working as an editor in Al-Watan newspaper – and which is an information interface of these counterfeit institutions. Al-Hashimi also works as a lawyer for Al-Watan newspaper and he is an appointed member in the Government Institution for Political Development. As to Massoma Abdul-Rasool, she works as a legal adviser and the vice-president of the Supreme Council of the Legal Department, and which is a Department affiliated with the Cabinet Affairs before announcing it being parted from it in 2006.

The names of the official delegates sent to the UN to attend the sessions of discussing the two UN committee reports on discrimination and torture in Bahrain show the presence of Massoma Abdul-Rasool, vice-president of the Society of Jurists and Hasan Mousa the president of the Bahrain Human Rights Monitor among the governmental delegations

Photograph of the governmental delegation in one of the UN sessions against Torture 2005 showing Massoma Abdul-Rasool among the governmental delegation
According to what was stated in the Bandar report (The Gulf Center for Democratic Development), Al-Hashimi was one of the ones who communicated officially and continuously with leading figures in executing the Bandar plot to gain the financial payments in return for the activity tasks he carries out inside and outside Bahrain, and an amount of BD. 2000 has been allocated monthly for it in addition to that. He was careful to continue spending the various expenses of the Society which includes: an amount of BD. 7842 for the expenditures of establishing the Society, the monthly rent of the Society's base in Um-Hassam area: BD. 600, the salary of the guard: BD. 150. This is in addition to the government shouldering all the costs and expenses of the Society. Al-Hashimi receives a monthly reward that amounts to 1000 B.D in return for his role in this Society. This association or its president and his wife were unknown before their names appeared as implicates in the former adviser's report Dr. Salah Al-Bandar(The Gulf Center for Democratic Development). The role of this Society is limited to adapting previously prepared issues and political campaigns against what the political societies present, or some of the statements that are issued to support the governmental institutions or figures .

3) Bahrain Human Rights Monitor Hassan Mussa Shafii http://www.bahrainmonitor.com/index.html

Besides the previously two institutions, the authority developed the quality of its work and established an electronic Magazine in both Arabic and English which it calls the Bahrain Human Rights Monitor, and which focuses on the promotional role or propaganda of the government's programs and activities, in addition to some articles and analysis in which political activists and human rights defenders are attacked, in an attempt to derogate the positions of the human rights organization or opposition societies. This magazine is run by Hasan Mousa Shafi'i and he is a former political opponent, his former movement name is "Ahmed Haidari".

Shafi'i works currently in the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the rank of adviser at the Bahraini Embassy in London, and it is the body that is responsible for financing and distributing this magazine secretly to the international organizations, the international news agencies, members of parliaments and diplomatic corps to make it seem like a just and independent human rights one. In order to mislead international public opinion, it is claimed that the magazine is independent and is issued by a human rights organizations that does not exist in reality on the ground.

The work of the Bahrain Human Rights Monitor began at the beginning 2009, and it is considered the last link which was set up by the network indicated by Dr. Salah Al-Bandar in his report, and among its targets it aims at confiscating the activity of the effective community institutions which defend human rights in Bahrain, seeking to throw it into confusion. In addition to issuing the monthly magazine, Hasan Mousa Shafi'i, on behalf of the Monitor, continuously visits international human rights organizations in an attempt to affect them, and dwells in taking memorial photos with the presidents of those organizations and its officials, and then makes use of those photos by publishing them in the Monitor's monthly magazine in order to give legitimacy and credibility to that it. So as to strengthen his career position in the authority as well, Shafi'i, through those promotional movements, aims at suggesting to his superiors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs his wide and strong human rights relations and his ability to affect those organizations to become in favor of the government, however, most of the international institutions have become aware of his role.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the actual supervisor of this project is Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali Al-Khalifa, the Bahraini ambassador in London and the former head of the Bahraini Intelligence Apparatus (National Security Apparatus), and Hasan Mousa Shafi'i assists him in that. The last name "Shafi'i" of Hasan Mousa appeared in the first magazine of the Monitor, as he was not known in the past with this name. Hasan Mousa had always denied his connection with the Bahraini government throughout the past period, however, his name appearing on the job hierarchy of the Bahraini embassy and his photos among the Bahraini delegation to Geneva revealed the matter.

A picture of the website of the Bahrain embassy in the UK clarifying the administrative structure of the embassy and the name of Hasan Mousa Shafi'i appearing in it
Hasan Mousa has participated in the human rights panel sessions, and the committees, and meeting the offices of the UN Rapporteurs, as well as participating in the NGO meetings in Geneva as a representative of an independent human rights institution, however his connection with the government was revealed after the spread of photos of him being among the official delegation of the government of Bahrain in the meetings with the UN committees. This matter was reinforced by publishing an official document where his name was mentioned among the official delegation of the government of Bahrain in the meetings held by the human rights institutions with the two UN Committees Against all Forms of Racial Discrimination as well as the Committee Against Torture.

Hasan Mousa Shafi'i among the official delegation of the UN committee meeting against Torture, May 2005

Other Gongo Institutions

4) Society of Bahrain First:

It is not known when it was established or who the founders are, there is no record of it in the Ministry of Social Affairs, and the only known member is Mohammed Sa'ad Al-Maran who claims to head it. According to the Bandar report which mentions this figure and its connections, he receives a monthly reward that amounts to BD. 500 in order to make anti and provocative statements against the activists and rights defenders and leads events to face the public demonstrations organized by the four-party alliance since April 2005.

5) The Bahrain Political Society: The condition of this society is no different from the former one, as was stated in the Bandar report, Jabber Sultan Al-Sawaidi is its president. There is no record of it in the Ministry of Social Affairs, and it has no presence except for the participation of Al-Suwaidi in the statements against the activities of the political societies. Al-Suwaidi receives a monthly award of BD 500 for his activity, as well as receiving several amounts of money in July 2006 in the amount of BD 3000, which he spent to rally among the Jassim Al-Saidi campaign, and BD 2000 for the Khamis Al-Rumaihi campaign, and BD 3000 to prepare the Society's building in Riffa.

6) Only the Nation Movement In aim of responding to the public demand movements led by a number of human rights activists in Bahrain, Jassim Al-Saidi, Faisal Fouladh, Mohammed Saeed Al-Maran and Yousif Al-Hashimi formed a movement which they called "Only the Nation". This movement was not registered officially, and no ministerial decree clarifying its bylaw and the names of its founders has been issued, and they share more than one counterfeit organization that defends the authority and attacks the opposing human rights societies and active activists .

Establishing "Only the Nation" Movement from the right: Mohammed Al-Marran, Jassim Al-Saidi, Faisal Foualdh, Yousif Al-Hashimi

7) The Committee of Martyrs and Terrorism Victims

It was established in 2005, to face the National Committee of Martyrs and Torture Victims, and in response to its participation with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights in presenting the shadow report to the Committee against Torture that year. The Committee is headed by Jassim Al-Saidi – the MP who accuses people of infidelity and who is supported by the Royal Court – known for sectarian enlistment in the Friday speeches and his response, with an official support and cover, to raise issues with a sectarian and hateful spirit and by targeting the community institutions and human rights activists and defenders on forums. Al-Saidi is known for taking advantage of the area assigned for him through the newspapers to publish his statements which agitate disunion and foster sectarian hatred and enmity between the Shiites and Sunnis. He is also known for supporting the figures of authority by their visits to his council, and especially the Prime Minister and the Crown Prince in the Ramadan visit program, in which they announced their support for him and for what he does. This committee does not have any official record; no ministerial decree has been issued to clarify its bylaw and the names of its founders, except for its president and Mohammed Al-Maran and Faisal Fouladh.

8) The Kingdom Society:

It is a society that focuses on a certain age group, and was established with a decree by the Minister of Social Affairs NO. 14 of 2008 on 26 March 2008, and it aims at – according to the published bylaw – showing loyalty to the King of Bahrain and to participate in reviving national festivals and presenting rewards to those who serve the kingdom. The 12 founders are made up of the children of officials in the government and members of the appointed Shura Council in addition to Mohammed Baqer – its president – and he is a young figure who stirred up a lot of suspicion by being related to the National Security Apparatus, as his name was among the members of the National Security Apparatus for publishing the sentence of the young Hasan Salman to three years in prison . Facts show that Mohammed Al-Maran, who declares to be the adviser of the society, is the agitator and interface of this society, as is his role in the other fake Gongo organizations. He represented this society in December 2008 in his meeting with Dr. Salah Ali - doctor in family medicine and one of the figures of the Islamic Platform Society (Al-Minbar) that is accounted for the authority and he is one of the people mentioned in the Bandar report. The society called for a demonstration to declare loyalty to the authority on the occasion of the King's coronation day , in cooperation with Muharaq Governorate – one of the apparatuses of the Bahraini Ministry of Interior, and Al-Maran was one of the ones heading that demonstration next to the Crown Prince's son and Muharaq's governor and some officials in the country.

Mohammed Al-Maran's meeting – one of the leaders of the Kingdom Society (second from right) with Salah Ali from The Islamic Platform Society (Al-Minbar)

The Commonalities of these "False" organizations

1. Financial and logistic support

The mentioned GONGOs share opening funding to hold its events and activities, which involve promotional and propaganda movements inside and outside Bahrain. Facts and documents indicate obtaining openhanded support from the Royal Court, who is the only one capable of providing those funds without any accountability or estimations. Without the direct support of the authority, these "fake" institutions cannot, on their own or from the pockets of the known defending figures, afford the large expenses and travel expenditures, and staying for days in European and some Arabian countries, and holding conferences and inviting figures from the outside or traveling to meet them. Bandar revealed monthly reports to the activists in the GONGOs in addition to a monthly budget to support its activities.

2. Media support

All necessary media is harnessed to publish the statements of these organizations and to cover their activities and positions, where the reader really believes they exists. Al-Watan newspaper (whose name is mentioned in the former adviser's report Salah Al-Bandar as part of the conspiracy tools) is uniquely characterized in covering the statements and news of these institutions, yet this newspaper even creates the fake and misleading atmosphere to the reader in order to convince him or her of the seriousness and popularity of these organizations. Al-Watan newspaper works in coordination and accord with them in introducing issues that usually target the opposing human rights societies and pillars, and it even involves them in some of the newspaper dialogues and reports where usually one of the real human rights parties is taken part in it, in order to add credibility to them. Al-Watan newspaper is considered to be closely related to the Royal Court, and expresses its standpoints, and it is registered under the engineer Hisham Jaffar's name and who is a Bahraini businessman with a close relation with the authority. It is believed that the real owner is Sheikh Ahmed bin Atyat-Allah Al-Khalifa, Minister of Cabinet Affairs in the current government, whose names is connected to the Bandar scandal, by fully leading the dangerous and secret network which has penetrated the state institutes and which aims at eliminating and marginalizing the Shiite sect and diminishing them election wise, and drawing them into a sectarian conflict with the Sunni sect.

The list of institutions and activities that obtained support in the establishment and activities
Those GONGOs and their heads issue almost daily statements especially in Al-Watan newspaper, but they are not for observing and documenting human rights violations, but for falsely praising the authority's record in this field, directly and indirectly, as well as falsely questioning and challenging the work of the Bahraini civil society institutions which have gained credibility and good reputation in their proficient and professional work. Bahrain and Tunisia are considered today to be one of the highest countries in the Arab region in creating GONGOs or fake institutions. These fake institutions and their presidents have become known on the local and international level, and yet they have become bad examples and a negative growing phenomenon which the international institutions speak of.

3. Support and legal coverage

The relation between the authority and these fake institutions is apparent by the legal and judicial disregard to its various panels' required legal entitlements to form community institutions. Yet, what is suspicious is the repetition of certain faces in most of the institutions which indicates its lack of credibility and legitimacy for community work, and what is also worrying is these institutions facing up to and pursuing the active community organizations and harassing the human rights activists and defenders. The legal disregard which is used as a means to suppress and harass the active community organizations and especially the ones concerned with human rights and observing the violations and documentation cannot be compared to it restricting and prosecuting them and depriving them from the means that are provided for the GONGOs to facilitate their work.

Recommendations of the BCHR

1. Stop creating the "GONGOs" and the fake institutions to pursue human rights activists and defenders and to obstruct the active civil institutions. 2. Stop dealing with these institutions or giving them legitimacy and to boycott all the productions of the Bandar report of institutions. 3. Reveal the reality of those false figures and institutions and to consider the governmental funding that is spent on it part of the political, financial and administrative corruption. 4. Support the real and independent civil society institutions through the State's budget without any guardianship or intervention from the Executive Power, and to remove all barriers, and to open way for the human rights institutions to work in positive atmosphere according to the international conventions and especially the Universal Declaration related to the defenders of human rights. 5. The necessity of the government dealing honestly and positively and in partnership with the civil society institutions away from deception and fraud.

To contact the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

E-mail: info@bahrainrights.org

Phone +973 39633399

Electronic websites:

 www.bahrainrights.org  www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=50727622539  www.twitter.com/bahrainrighs  bahrainrights.blogspot.com

Bahrain - Media Harassment Campaign Against BCHR and its president Nabeel Rajab

Posted on 23rd of November 2009

Front Line is deeply concerned that the BCHR and its president, human rights defender Nabeel Rajab are being subjected to a media harassment campaign started on the 13th of November 2009 following the publication of a BCHR report in relation to human rights organisations that allegedly are linked to the government of Bahrain. The BCHR report alleges that a number of organizations have received financial support from government-linked sources. Nabeel Rajab

The media harassment campaign against BCHR was reportedly started by the Arabic Akhbar Al-Khaleej and its English version, Gulf-Daily News (GDN), and then followed by Alwatan newspaper.

On the the front page of Akhbar Al-Khaleej on 13th November, there were a number of false accusations made against human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. The first accusation was positioned at the top right corner of the first page and entitled "With my money and not the soft talk", in which the editor of the Akhbar Al-Khaleej stated that:" In the recent election carried out in CARAM Asia, Nabeel Rajab won the membership of the its board due to the financial and political support offered by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Intelligence in Iranian Embassy in Malaysia”. The Akhbar Al-Khaleej went further to state that: "Nabeel won the highest number of votes from the organizations which received Iranian money from him". Then on lower right corner of the first page of the same issue,and in an article entitled "For refusing indicting Iran, Nabeel Rajab was ejected from a European Conference", the Akhbar Al-Khaleej editor falsely mentioned that:"The Bahrain Kingdom Forum published a picture distributed by news agencies showing the expulsion of Nabeel Rajab, president of BCHR, in a European conference yesterday because he refused to condemn Iran, Ahmedi Nejad , the executions, and the latest killings of Iranian human rights activists".

This last accusation was also published on the Gulf-Daily News version of the same day on its front page under the tilte.,"Activist expelled from forum", repeating the same claims that were written in the Akhbar Al-Khaleej.

The allegations against Nabeel Rajab and the BCHR would appear to be crude fabrications, Front Line is not aware of any of the newspapers having published any information to substantiate their allegations. CARAM Asia has stated that: "as a regional organisation comprised of some 34 members from 17 countries, Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility Asia (CARAM Asia) remains astonished by the recent accusations of Gulf News Daily and Akhbar Al-Khaleej and their malicious and unfounded attacks levelled at our newly elected Chair Nabeel Rajab, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and by extension CARAM Asia. The recent allegation of links between CARAM Asia and the Iranian government remain absurd and baseless. Neither BCHR nor CARAM Asia has ever taken a solitary cent from the Iranian government or any of its wider bodies and such facile accusations only seeks to demonstrate the lengths that certain publications will go to smear those committed to increasing the rights of all people. Furthermore, we would like to note that not once has our organisation been contacted by the aforementioned publications, casting light on the credibility of the journalists and the publications themselves."

In Alwatan newspaper and for three consecutive days starting on 17th of November 2009, there were statements by some members of the organizations who are mentioned in BCHR recent documentary report, calling for "the prosecution of members of the unregistered" organizations that aim to on spoil the Bahrain image" considering their acts to be an "internal and external state security crimes" .

On November 18 and 19, 2009, the same newspaper attacked the BCHR and its president stating that "they are providing false information on Bahrain to the foreign community".

It's important to mention that in October 2008 Front Line also deeply concerned when human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was subjected to a similar media harassment following his participation in a n a briefing held on 15 October 2008 in Washington DC., USA, concerning the “Impact of Political Reform on Religious Freedom in Bahrain,”

Front Line is concerned that the repeated media harassments against BCHR and its president, human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, is due to their legitimate peaceful activities in defence of human rights in Bahrain.

Front Line

23/11/2009

Khalid Ibrahim00353-87237-1403 Front Line - The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders81 Main StreetBlackrockCo. DublinIreland Tel: + 353 1 212 3750Fax: + 353 1 212 1001Direct line +353 1 2100481Web: www.frontlinedefenders.orgRegistrated Charity No: CHY 14029

http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/2262

BCHR President takes legal action over Media Smear Campaign

BCHR President takes legal action over Media Smear Campaign Bahrain Center for Human Rights 22 November 2009

President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) Nabeel Rajab filed a court case against Bahraini media proprietor AnwarAbdulrahmantoday(Nov22), for repeated incidences of defamation in Mr Abdulrahman's English and Arabic language newspapers.

A recent media attack was initiated by the Arabic Akhbar Al-Khaleej (AK) and its counterpart in English, Gulf-Daily News (GDN), and later continued by Al Watan newspaper. Both these newspapers were named by the BCHR in a report oncounterfeit human rights activists and GONGOS in Bahrain. Since exposing various fake 'human rights campaigners' and government supported 'independent' organisations, as well as prominent figures, their roles and some of the financial rewards they receive from government-linked sources, the BCHR and its president have been faced by a fierce media smear campaign initiated by a number of daily newspapers, electronic forums and TV.

AK is the oldest existing newspaper in Bahrain and its owner, Anwar Abdulrahman, is well known for his close ties to Shaikh Khalifa Al-Khalifa, a leading member of the ruling family and the only Prime Minister Bahrain has known since 1970.

Al Watan newspaper is the media arm and product of a covert operation, funded and managed by the Royal court, exposed in the Al-Bandergate leak. It is well known for its sectarian incitement, antagonism and provocation against dissidents and human rights defenders.

"On the front page of AAK , November 13th issue, there were two marked bogus news about myself," BCHR President Nabeel Rajab said.

"The first was positioned at the top right corner of the first page, titled "With my money and not the soft talk", in which the editor of the AK falsified that, "In the recent election carried out in CARAM Asia, Nabeel Rajab won the membership of the its board due to the financial and political support offered by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Intelligence in Iranian Embassy in Malaysia.AK further stated that, "Nabeel won the highest number of votes from the organizations which received Iranian money from him".

"The second defamatory piece, situated in the lower right corner of the first page of the same issue was titled "For refusing to indicting Iran, Nabeel Rajab was ejected from a European Conference". Here, the AK editor falsely narrated that, "The Bahrain Kingdom Forum published a picture distributed by news agencies showing the expulsion of Nabeel Rajab, president of BCHR, in a European conference yesterday because he refused to condemn Iran, Ahmedi Nejad , the executions, and the latest killings of Iranian human rights activists".

"This lie was also published in the GDN issue of the same day. It was titled, and placed on the front page, as, "Activist expelled from forum", and reiterated the same story as the Arabic version; " A Bahraini human rights activist was expelled from a European conference yesterday for refusing to condemn Iranian President and the recent government crackdown on protesters. Bahrain forums have posted a news agency picture showing the expulsion of the now-dissolved Bahrain Center for Human Rights president Nabeel Rajab from the conference"

"In Al Watan, for three consecutive days, there were statements by some members of the GONGOs mentioned in the BCHR report, calling for prosecution of members of "unregistered" organisations which "aim to tarnish Bahrain's image" considering their acts to be of "internal and external state security crimes" . Moreover, loyalist parliamentarians expressed their support in prosecuting those "seeking to undermine the reputation of Bahrain", considering their organizations infiltrated by spoilers" . MP Abdulla Al-Dossary accused members of the "illigitimate establishments , like the BCHR, who have relations with foreign embassies, and deliver false information about Bahrain". MP Lateefa Al-Qaood, a female member of Parliament backed by the Royal Court, stated that "the Bahrain center does not have any official status and works for a foreign agenda". Salafi MP, Mohammed Khalid, who is known of his Hate speeches and statements, stated that: "This center is dissolved for several reasons as it has exceeded the red lines in what so-called human rights".

"Media statements were produced to support GONGOs, with the Ministerial Cabinet and Prime Minister "calling international organizations and bodies to rely on official indicators and reports to make reports more accurate and realistic". The PM noted that "some of these reports lack precision in reflecting the reality as it relied on unofficial sources ineligible to provide these organizations with the accurate data that reflect the reality in Bahrain".

"It is to the misfortune of the AK and GDN editors, who failed to show any level of professionalism when referring to a picture taken by members of the Bahraini Embassy in Washington DC who attended a briefing in 15 October 2008 on religious freedom in Bahrain called upon by the US Congress Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. The picture shows Nabeel Rajab and two other activists from Bahrain- Dr Abduljalil Alsingace and Ms Maryam Al-Khawaja, as well as Dr Toby Jones - who were also invited by Congressman Frank Wolf, Chairman of the commission, to share their views and reports about the State-orchestrated violation of the religious freedom in Bahrain. At the time of the conference, the three Bahraini participants were faced with a media smear and defamation campaign stigmatizing them with names, and calling them stooges of the USA. This same photo is now being used to accuse Nabeel Rajab of being a stooge of Iran."

Briefing session on the "Impact of political reform and religious freedom in Bahrain- Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and the Congressional Task Force on International Religious Freedom (15 October, 2008, Rayburn House- Office Building 2168, Washington DC- USA)

Background: A few weeks ago, a similar campaign was launched by Al Watan newspaper and Bahrain TV. Al Watan posted the detail TV interview made by of its columnist, Sawsan Alshaer, who is also a presenter on Bahrain State TV. In that TV program, Hasan Mousa Shafeei, one of the figures mentioned in the BCHR documentary report about GONGOs and bogus organizations, was hosted to share the defamatory attack on Nabeel Rajab and other activists in Bahrain. Hasan Shafeei works as consultant in Bahrain Embassy in London to runa homepage dedicated to attacking human rights organizations and defenders in Bahrain.

It is understood that this fierce defamation and smear campaign against the BCHR and its president, Nabeel Rajab, is a counter reaction to the efforts of reporting and professional documentations of various human rights violations. This campaign has included intimidation and the targeting of Nabeel, his wife and family, through telephone calls and SMS, the post and cyber space. Many cases in the past have been filed by Nabeel Rajab through the Public Prosecution (PP), but have not been pursued or taken seriously.

The BCHR denounces such acts, which appear to have the silent consent of the Authorities, to suppress activists and human rights defenders. The BCHR has vowed to report and document human rights violations, irrespective of the source of violations, as a contribution towards protection and maintenance of such precious values. Intimidation by media organisations with close links to government will not alter the BCHR policy of being objective and credible when dealing with human rights issues. The BCHR calls on the media and Bahraini Authorities to remedy their record on human rights by genuinely respecting and encouraging the promotion of human rights, instead of attacking and demoralizing those defending them in Bahrain.

-------------------------------------------------- "㤙㇊ 捞枭椠ȇኒ歑" Bogus Human Rights Organizations and Activists www.bchr.net/ar/ngos www.anhri.net/bahrain/bchr/2009/pr1112.shtml http://www.aaknews.com/pdf.aspx?iid=11558 http://gulf-daily-news.com/source/XXXII/239/pdf/Page01.pdf http://www.alwatannews.net/index.php?m=newsDetail&newsID=46406§ion=4 http://www.alwatannews.net/archive/index.php?m=newsDetail&newsID=46057§ion=4&issueDate=2009-11-17 http://www.bna.bh/?ID=158802p:// http://www.pomed.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/lantos-commission-religious-freedom-in-bahrain-15-oct-2008.pdf http://media4.dropshots.com/photos/534673/20081029/181222.jpg http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2472 http://www.fidh.org/Media-campaign-against-Mr-Nabeel,http://www.fidh.org/BHR-002-1008-OBS-171-Slandering,http://humanrightsdefenders.org/en/node/1604 http://www.alwatannews.net/archive/index.php?m=newsDetail&newsID=42424§ion=4&issueDate=2009-10-25

FIDH & BHRS: Slandering media campaign against Human Rights activist

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS)

Paris – Manama, November 20, 2009.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation in Bahrain, the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) express their deep concern about the slandering media campaign launched against the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), an organisation which works to defend civil, political, economic and social rights in Bahrain and its president, Mr. Nabeel Rajab.

Since November 13, 2009, several media in Bahrain have been publishing slandering accusations against the BCHR, which is also an FIDH member organisation and its president, Nabeel Rajab, also Chairperson of the Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM Asia). This slandering media campaign has begun two days after the release by BCHR of a report in which the organisation documented the alleged setting up of state-controlled non-governmental organisations in Bahrain.

On November 13, 2009, several newspapers including Akhbar Al-Khaleej (AAK) and Gulf Daily News, electronic forums like the kingdomofbahrain.org and one TV programme named The Final Word published fabricated accusations pointing to links between Mr. Nabeel Rajab and the Iranian authorities. In particular, in the front page of the 13 November issue, AAK published two articles slandering Mr. Nabeel Rajab. The first article entitled “With my money and not the soft talk” in which the editor alleged that: “In the recent election carried out at Caram Asia, Nabeel Rajab won the membership of the board due to the financial and political support offered by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Intelligence in Iranian Embassy in Malaysia”. The AAK further stated that: "Nabeel won the highest number of votes from the organizations which received Iranian money from him".

In another article also published in the front page on the same issue, entitled "For refusing indicting Iran, Nabeel Rajab was ejected from a European Conference", the AAK editor alleged that: "The Bahrain Kingdom Forum published a picture distributed by news agencies showing the expulsion of Nabeel Rajab, president of BCHR, in a European conference [the day before] because he refused to condemn Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, executions to death, and the latest killings of Iranian human rights activists". Allegations spelled out in this last article were also published the same day on the front page of the Gulf Daily News (GDN) under the title "Activist expelled from forum".

On November 18 and 19, 2009, the newspaper El Watan attacked the BCHR and its president stating that they were providing false information on Bahrain to the foreign community.

FIDH and BHRS also regret that Mr. Nabeel Rajab and his wife continue to face acts of harassment and intimidation through anonymous telephone calls, SMS, e-mails and letters. Though Mr. Rajab filed several complaints before the public prosecutor no serious investigation has been carried out so far1.

FIDH and BHRS fear that BCHR and its president have been targeted to deter them from pursuing their legitimate human rights activities and urge the competent Bahraini authorities to order an immediate, thorough, effective, impartial and independent investigation into the slandering campaign and the acts of harassment against Mr. Nabeel Rajab and his relatives, in line with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

Both organisations further call upon the authorities to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of all activists, including human rights defenders, and to ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as international human rights instruments ratified by Bahrain.

Press contact: Karine Appy / Gael Grilhot: Tel. +33 1 43 55 25 18

CARAM Asia:Newly Elected Chair of CARAM Asia Faces Unfounded Media Accusations

As a regional organisation comprised of some 34 members from 17 countries, Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility Asia (CARAM Asia) remains astonished by the recent accusations of Gulf News Daily and Akhbar Al-Khaleej and their malicious and unfounded attacks levelled at our newly elected Chair Nabeel Rajab, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and by extension CARAM Asia.

The recent allegation of links between CARAM Asia and the Iranian government remain absurd and baseless. Neither BCHR nor CARAM Asia has ever taken a solitary cent from the Iranian government or any of its wider bodies and such facile accusations only seeks to demonstrate the lengths that certain publications will go to smear those committed to increasing the rights of all people. Furthermore, we would like to note that not once has our organisation been contacted by the aforementioned publications, casting light on the credibility of the journalists and the publications themselves. Further, it is crucial in the interest of transparency that some clear facts be recognised for the documentary record. The BCHR has been an active and passionate member of CARAM Asia since it was approved of membership in 2007 and it was as a result of this recognition that Nabeel Rajab was democratically elected last month as Chair of the organisation by our members. In fact, far from being ‘defunct’ as it was recently labelled by Gulf Daily News (Basma Mohammed, October 28th, 2009), the BCHR has continued to demonstrate its commitment to human rights of all people and continues to operate within an extremely hostile environment. CARAM Asia is not alone in its support of Mr. Rajab and other prominent human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Frontline and International Federation of Human Rights FIDH have all used our Chair’s reports as well as his commentary on human rights concerns within Bahrain. CARAM Asia will continue to offer its support to Nabeel Rajab and collectively we will persist as a network to promote the issue of migrants’ rights at the national, regional and international levels.

ALERT - BAHRAIN Columnist suspended after writing articles about demands for democratic reforms

SOURCE: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR/IFEX) - 18 November 2009 The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is concerned

overthe continuing repressive attitude towards journalists, writers and columnists in Bahrain. Many of them have been summoned before public prosecutors or the courts for exercising their professional rights intackling issues of interest to the public. Others have been suspended from writing or reporting by their employers and the editors-in-chief of their newspapers. In doing so, the employers express their opposition to theopinions of some journalists or columnists and assume a position ofself-censorship, fearing reprisals from the authorities, sometimes having received direct telephone calls from members of the ruling family orgovernment. BCHR has learned that Ali Saleh, a journalist and columnist, was suspended from writing in "Albilad" newspaper ( http://www.albiladpress.com ) afterhis last column was not published. When Saleh noticed that his column wasnot published as planned in the 15 October 2009 issue of the newspaper, heapproached the publication's directors to inquire about his article. He was advised that, based on orders from "high level authorities", he has been"indefinitely suspended" from writing. The 67-year-old Saleh started his work in the journalism profession when hewas 23 years old and his column writing experience exceeds 33 years. Hejoined "Albilad" in April, writing a column every Wednesday. Earlier, hewas a columnist at different times for "Akhbar Al-Khaleej", "Alwasat" and"Alayam" newspapers. According to Saleh, these newspapers stoppedpublishing his articles or actually "disposed of him" with differentexcuses, all of them focused on the fact that his writings "did not conform" with their policies. Moreover, he said that "other newspapers,like 'Almeethaq', 'Alwaqt' and 'Alwatan', absolutely refused to accept(him) as one of their columnists". Based on information obtained by BCHR, the orders to suspend Saleh fromwriting were issued by Royal Court officials who were displeased with aseries of published articles written by him focusing on demands for genuinedemocratic reforms and reinforcement of the state of law instead ofpolicies of individualism and gestures. Moreover, Saleh has been critical of the "Reform Project" proposed in 2002 to establish a democracy in Bahrain. According to Saleh, "This project ceased to exist after itsretraction when the 2002 constitution was passed in an undemocratic way, inaddition to the procedures, decrees and developments which brought Bahrainback to unilateral power - the executive one". Saleh considers his suspension to be "one of the measures taken by thelocal authorities to muzzle free speech, attack freedom of opinion andexpression and prevent criticism and demands for reform, which contrastwith the claim that Bahrain is a democracy." BCHR expresses its deep disappointment over the authorities' lack oftolerance for differing views that expose state violations or are criticalof state practices, contradicting what the government is trying to conveythrough publicity programmes both within and outside of Bahrain. The BCHRcalls upon the authorities to respect and uphold international human rightsconventions and covenants ratified by Bahrain, specifically those onfreedom of expression. In particular, reference is made to Article 19 ofthe International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified byBahrain in September 2006, which refers to the right to hold opinionswithout interference and the right to freedom of expression. BCHR's president, Nabeel Rajab, said, "We are strongly dismayed by thisescalation of actions against journalists and efforts to silence dissentingvoices. We remind the Bahraini authorities of their commitments andobligations to respect international covenants on human rights". Rajabadded, "What makes us most concerned are the constraining orders which comethrough telephone calls from the offices of top officials. These officialsshould pay attention and listen to differing views and criticisms in lightof their claims of democracy and freedom of expression. The continuingharassment of journalists in this way represents a step backwards and arevival of the old state security tactics. It reinforces the position ofBahrain on the blacklist of countries that violate human rights and freedomof expression (. . .). What happened to Ali Saleh is shameful." RECOMMENDED ACTION:Send appeals to the authorities calling on them to:- stop harassing journalists, columnists and writers who express theirviews on matters of public interest and issues relating to corruption andmisconduct- lift the suspension of Saleh, ensuring that he suffers no reprisals as aresult of criticising policies and programmes put in place by the rulingelite.- cease policies that result in suspension decisions made behind closeddoors without any judicial or legal process APPEALS TO:Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa,King of Bahrain Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa,Cabinet Prime Minister Fax: +97 3 1 721 1363