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Amnesty International: Bahrain: Human rights defender tortured in detention

Further information on UA: 79/11 Index: MDE 11/024/2011 Bahrain Date: 06 May 2011

URGENT ACTION HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER TORTURED IN DETENTION

‘Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, a prominent human rights defender, has allegedly been tortured in detention and had to undergo surgery as a result of the injuries sustained. He is now being held in an unknown location in Bahrain. Two members of parliament were detained on 1 May and may also be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

‘Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, a prominent human rights defender and former Protection Co-ordinator for Front Line, an international NGO that works with human rights defenders, was arrested on 9 April. His arrest was in connection with the anti-government protests in February and March 2011. He was arrested in his daughter’s house. According to his family, he was beaten during the arrest, taken away barefoot and not allowed to take his medication with him. He has not been permitted family visits, although his family reportedly spoke with him on the phone on 20 April.

According to reports received by Amnesty International, when ‘Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was admitted to the Bahrain Defence Force military hospital in al-Riffa’, central Bahrain, around the end of April, he had cracks on his jaw and skull and black marks on his arms, allegedly caused by torture. He was reportedly admitted for six days and had several operations on his head and face. He was hastily returned to prison where he was said to have been tortured again.

The arrests of political opposition figures have continued in April and May. Those arrested include Matar Ibrahim Matar and Jawad Fairouz, who were detained on 1 May. Both men were members of parliament for al-Wefaq, the largest Shi’a party in Bahrain, who resigned together with most other members of al-Wefaq in protest at the government’s crackdown on the protests. On 4 May the Secretary General of the Islamic Action Society, Sheikh Mohamed Ali al-Mahfoodh, was also detained. The whereabouts of the three men remain unknown and Amnesty International fears they might be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English or Arabic:

- Express concern about the detention of ‘Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, Matar Ibrahim Matar, Jawad Fairouz and Sheikh Mohamed Ali al-Mahfoodh and urge the authorities to release them immediately unless they are charged with a recognizable criminal offence and tried in full conformity with international fair trial standards;

- Urge the authorities to protect Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, Matar Ibrahim Matar, Jawad Fairouz , Sheikh Mohamed Ali al-Mahfoodh and all other detainees from torture and other ill-treatment;

- Urge the authorities to immediately set up an independent investigation into the alleged torture or other ill-treatment of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja. to make its results public and to bring to justice anyone responsible;

- Urge the authorities to respect and uphold the rights to freedom expression, movement and assembly in Bahrain, including the right to peaceful protest.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 17 JUNE 2011 TO:

King Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa Office of His Majesty the King P.O. Box 555 Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 17664587 Salutation: Your Majesty

Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa Prime Minister Office of the Prime Minister P.O. Box 1000, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 17533033 Salutation: Your Highness

Commander-in-Chief of the BDF Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa Bahrain Defence Force Riffa Road, Bahrain E-mail: dgcbdf@gmail.com Fax: +971 17663923 Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the third update of UA 79/11.

Further information: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE11/017/2011/en

URGENT ACTION

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER TORTURED IN DETENTION

Additional Information

On 4 May, Bahrain’s parliament voted to extend a repressive state of emergency amid continued arrests of dissidents. Around 47 doctors and nurses, some detained for weeks, are facing trial in a military court after they were charged on 3 May for their role in treating anti-government protesters. On 5 May, some of the doctors where released but others continue to be detained.

The overwhelming majority of those detained since March 2011 are Shi’a Muslims who were active during the protests. Their whereabouts mostly remain unknown.

Some detainees have reportedly been tortured or otherwise ill-treated following arrest and at least four people have died in suspicious circumstances.

The dismissal of government employees who are known to have participated in protests continues unabated.

There have also been reports of several Shi'a mosques being destroyed by the security forces, allegedly because they did not have building permits.

This has increased suspicions that the whole of the majority Shi’a population of Bahrain is being punished for the February-March protests, which called for reforms and, in some cases, regime change.

Further information on UA: 79/11 Index: MDE 11/024/2011 Issue Date: 06 May 2011

amnesty.org

Switzerland FDFA is deeply concerned about the death sentences pronounced in Bahrain

6 May 2011

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is deeply concerned about the death sentences pronounced against four men on 28 April in Bahrain. They allegedly took part in anti-government protests.

The FDFA calls on the authorities in Bahrain to commute the death sentences as part of the appeal process. The current legal proceedings took place behind closed doors before a court martial, although the accused are civilians. In recent years, Bahrain has issued and carried out only very few death sentences. The FDFA is thus encouraging the Bahraini authorities to continue observing this de facto moratorium and to abolish the death sentence completely in a next step. Switzerland is categorically opposed to the death sentence and is committed to achieving its worldwide abolition.

Switzerland has already expressed its concern over the tense political situation in Bahrain in a number of bilateral demarches and will continue to call on the Bahraini authorities actively to continue their efforts to engage in a national dialogue.

eda.admin.ch

The Observatory: Judicial harassment against 47 medical staff and incommunicado detention of Doctors

5 May 2011 The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain. Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment against 47 medical staff and the incommunicado detention of Dr. Ahmed Jamal, Dr. Raja Hassa Khadim and Dr. Nidal Khalifa, three doctors, for treating peaceful demonstrators injured during the crackdown on demonstrations in Bahrain.

According to the information received, on May 3, 2011, 24 doctors and 23 nurses were charged by the Military Public Prosecution of “refusal to extend assistance to a person in need”, “embezzlement of public funds”, “assault that resulted in death”, “unauthorized possession of weapons and ammunition”, “refusal to perform duties and putting people’s lives and health at risk”, “illegal detention”, “abuse of authority to suspend and stall laws and regulations”, “attempt to occupy buildings by force”, “incitement to the forceful overthrow of a political regime”, “incitement to the hatred of a regime”, “incitement to the hatred of a segment of society”, “dissemination of false news and malicious rumours that could harm public interest” and “participation in unauthorized rallies and meetings”. They will be tried before a military court but, as of issuing this Urgent Appeal, no date for an hearing had been set. No further information could be obtained whether the 47 are currently in incommunicado detention or in hiding.

Furthermore, according to the information received, between May 2 and 4, Dr. Ahmed Jamal, former President of the Bahrain Medical Society (BMS), Dr. Raja Hassa Khadim, President of the Bahrain Dental Society, and Dr. Nidal Khalifa, President of the Arab Association for the Skin Diseases and former Head of the Dermatology Unit in Salmanya Hospital, were arrested by the security forces and have been held incommunicado since then.

Moreover, the Observatory recalls that on April 4, 2011, Ms. Rulla El Saffar, President of the Bahrain Nursing Society (BNS), was summoned by phone to the Adlia Criminal Investigation Building and taken away by security forces to an unknown location. She remains detained incommunicado since then and may be one of the 47 under charges. On April 11, 2011, Dr. Nabeel Tamman, an Ear/Nose/Throat (ENT) specialist, member of Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) and the former President of the Medical Committee, was also arrested, taken by security forces to an unknown location and then released on April 13 reportedly without charge. In addition, on April 6, 2011, the Social Development Minister had issued an edict suspending the Board of Directors of the Bahrain Medical Society (BMS), and the Ministry of Health suspended 30 doctors and nurses whose cases was referred to an “investigation committee” created by the Ministry, which mandate is to investigate the medical personnel who treated injured victims of demonstrations [1].

The Observatory condemns the judicial harassment against the medical staff who provided medical assistance to injured demonstrators, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning the legitimate exercise of their profession. More generally, the Observatory is deeply concerned about the arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions and acts of intimidation against all people who provided help to the victims of the repression of peaceful protest movements in the country.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:

i. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the above-mentioned human rights defenders, as well as of all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Immediately disclose the whereabouts of Ms. Rulla El Saffar, Dr. Ahmad Jamal, Dr. Raja Hassa Kadhim and Dr. Nidal Khalifa and all human rights defenders in Bahrain, ensure their access to their lawyers and families and release them immediately and unconditionally as their detention seems at merely sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial and administrative level, against the above-mentioned human rights defenders, as well as against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iv. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular :

its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;

its Article 10, which provides that “No one shall participate, by act or by failure to act where required, in violating human rights and fundamental freedoms and no one shall be subjected to punishment or adverse action of any kind for refusing to do so”;

and its Article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and 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”.

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

Addresses:

· Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587

· Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : +973 172 12 6032

· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; Fax: +973 175 31 284

· Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: info@bahrain-mission.ch

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.

www.fidh.org

Overseas Press Club of America Letter to King of Bahrain

5 May 2011 Printer-friendly versionSend to friend Bahrain

H.M. King Hamada ibn Isa al-Khalifah Kingdom of Bahrain c/o Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain 3502 International Drive, NW Washington D.C. 20008

Your Majesty:

Your government seems to be using every means possible to enforce a news blackout about events in Bahrain, even though electronic media make it virtually impossible to conceal what is happening anywhere in the world nowadays. The fate of the press may not loom large in the context of other events in your country and the rest of the Middle East. However, the Overseas Press Club of America takes a particular interesting in defending the freedom of the press and believes that in time of crisis it is more important than ever that the people know the facts.

Therefore, it is with some dismay that we have watched as these events were reported in the news and on the websites of human rights organizations:

- On March 12 – Security officers beat an Al Wasat photographer and smashed his equipment. - On March 15 – Dozens of men armed with clubs and knives attacked Al-Wasat’s printing plant, making the presses inoperable and threatening employees. - On March 18 – a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the house of Lamees

Dhaif, a commentator and journalist who has been critical of your government

- On March 30 – Mohammed Al-Maskati, who blogs under the name Emoodz¸ was arrested and his whereabouts were unknown - On April 2 – Another news blogger, Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Ashiri, was arrested and charged with spreading false news.. - On April 3 --- Al-Wasat did not appear and its on-line edition was disabled. The Information Ministry accused it of “deliberate news fabrication.” After editor-in-chief Mansoor al-Jamri, managing editor Walid Nouwaihidh and local news director Aqeel Mirza all resigned, effectively ending the independence of the newspaper, the Information Ministry lifted its ban. - On April 4 – Bahrain deported two other Al-Wasat journalists who were Iraqi nationals. - On April 9 – Al-Ashiri dies in government custody, allegedly from sickle cell anemia. - On April 12 – Karim Fakhrawi, a founder and member of the board of Al-Wasat dies in government custody, a week after his detention. The government says he died of kidney failure but photos of his body published on line showed extensive cuts and bruises. Bahrain’s public prosecutor announces he will be filing charges of “publishing false reports” and “harming the interests of the country” against the three Al Wasat editors who resigned on April 3. - On April 25 – Yet another Al-Wasat journalists, the columnist Haidra Mohammed al-Nuaimi, was dragged out of his house by police, beaten on the street, and then taken to an unknown destination.

Even if the charges against the Al-Wasat journalists were true, these monstruous attacks against them are totally unjustified, as are the many other measures taken against other journalists and human rights workers. There seems to be a suspicion that the “news fabrication” they are accused of was planted deliberately in order to justify their prosecution. However, even if they originated the news, there should be no basis for prosecuting them. Freedom of the press includes the right to make mistakes unless the false news is knowingly printed with a deliberate intent to cause damage can be proven.

We urgently ask you to give Bahraini journalists and indeed all citizens the rights that people all over the Middle East are demanding and that are well accepted in democracies

Respectfully yours, Jeremy Main Larry Martz Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

Prince Kalifah in Sulman Al Khalifa Prime Minister Office of the Prime Minister Manama Kingdom of Bahrain Washington, D.C. 20520

Cheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa Minister of Justice Manama Kingdom of Bahrain Fax: (011.41.973.1) 753.1284

H.E. Ali bin Saleh Al Sale Chairman of the Shura Council P.O. Box 2991 Manama Kingdom of Bahrain

H.E. Mohammed Abdulghaffar Minister Ministry of Information Manama Kingdom of Bahrain

H.E. Houda Nonoo Ambassador of Bahrain to the U.S.A. Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain 3502 International Drive, NW Washington, D.C. 20008 Fax: (202) 362.2192

Ambassador Tawfeek Ahmed Khalil Almansoor Permanent Representative Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United Nations 866 Second Avenue New York, N.Y. 10017 Fax: (212) 319.0687

H.E. Stephanie Williams U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain Embassy of the United States of America P. O Box 26431 Manama Bahrain

Nabeel Rajab President Bahrain Center for Human Rights Nabeel.rajab@Bahrainrights.org

Maria Otero Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20520

www.opcofamerica.org

Bahrain's medics are the targets of retribution

The arrest and disappearance of Bahraini medics is part of a policy of retribution against those who helped protesters

by Joe Stork

5 May 2011

At about 11pm on 2 May, Bahrain's criminal investigations directorate summoned Dr Nedhal al-Khalifa, a 42-year-old dermatologist. Her father dropped her off at their headquarters at the ministry of interior at about midnight. Her family, including her four young children, didn't hear anything from her until she was released two days later. Her husband, Dr Sadiq Abdulla, a vascular surgeon, also 42, was detained in the same fashion on 14 April. His whereabouts and condition remains unknown, as does the reason for his detention.

These two doctors are among hundreds of Bahrainis detained without official explanation since mid-March, including scores of other doctors, nurses and medics. In almost all cases, the authorities have provided no information about their whereabouts or wellbeing. During this same period, at least four people have died in detention from abuse or medical neglect and the authorities are starting to televise "confessions" that might have been coerced. Except for a handful who saw a lawyer for the first time during their special military court trial, none of those detained have had access to lawyers or family members.

The arrests of so many medical professionals are part of a government policy of retribution against Bahrainis who supported pro-democracy protests. Some medics criticised assaults by security personnel on protesters at the Pearl roundabout in mid-February and again in mid-March that left more than a dozen dead, as well as several security officers, and many wounded. In the unfolding official narrative of events, the largely peaceful protests that brought hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis to the streets to demand democratic reforms were in fact part of a "coup attempt", in the words of prime minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa. "No violators will get away with it," he added. "All co-conspirators and abettors must be held accountable."

Medical personnel have been targets of repression from the outset. Security forces attacked a medical tent at the roundabout on the night of 17 February, assaulting and arresting doctors. Medics subsequently alleged that security officials ordered ambulances not to respond to calls from wounded protesters. When authorities violently dispersed the roundabout protesters on 16 March, security forces, armed and in many cases masked, had taken over the main hospital. There, and in other medical facilities, people whose wounds suggested they had been protesters were beaten, and many were arrested. Portions of the hospital became detention sites.

Authorities said that 47 doctors and medics will soon face prosecution, apparently in a special military court, for alleged acts that include claims of bringing weapons into the hospital, stealing blood so that protesters could feign serious injury, applying medications to simulate symptoms of nerve gas, refusing to treat injured or ill people who were not Shia and generally "serving the agenda of the protesters". They said 150 others are under investigation and suspended from their positions. Authorities said they will "reveal details" at a news conference on Sunday.

Human Rights Watch has written to Bahraini authorities requesting information to verify the criminal allegations – some serious and some far-fetched – but so far has received no response. Our researchers had regular and relatively unrestricted access to the main hospital between 17 February and 16 March. We saw protesters' tents in the parking lot outside the emergency wing, staffed by people who provided information to journalists and others reflecting protester views. Between 10 March and 16 March, rallies took place there featuring speeches by leading opposition figures. But at no point did we see or otherwise learn about any activities corresponding to the more serious government allegations.

In a public letter dated 26 April, seven leading national and international associations of medical professionals, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians, called on Bahrain's leaders to cease all attacks on health facilities, medical professionals and patients, and to release all medical professionals (as well as others) "detained and disappeared for non-violent exercise of their fundamental rights and their ethical duties".

Joe Stork: Deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division

guardian.co.uk

UN human rights chief voices deep concern about Bahrain crackdown

5 May 2011 – The United Nations human rights chief today voiced deep concern about the continued detention of hundreds of activists in Bahrain, the prosecution of scores of medical professionals, and the sentencing to death of four protestors after a closed-door military trial.

“The trial of civilians before military courts is always a cause of concern. The application of the death penalty without due process and after a trial held in secrecy is illegal and absolutely unacceptable,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated in a news release.

“The defendants are entitled to fair trials before civil courts, in accordance with international legal standards and in keeping with Bahrain’s international human rights obligations,” she added.

Bahrain is one of several nations in the Middle East and North Africa that has been rocked this year by protests calling for increased freedoms and democratic reforms. The Government’s crackdown on protesters has draw criticism from UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has urged maximum restraint and called for inclusive dialogue with all parties.

On Wednesday, Bahrain’s Justice Ministry announced that 23 doctors and 24 nurses from the Salmaniya Medical Complex are due to be tried in a military court on charges including participation in unlicensed protests and inciting hatred against the Government.

Last week four protestors were sentenced to death and three to life imprisonment for the alleged killing of two policemen. This took placed after they were reportedly held incommunicado, without access to their families and limited access to lawyers.

In addition, hundreds of people reportedly remain in detention for their alleged participation in the protest movement, including teachers, lawyers, journalists and bloggers, medical professionals, artists, activists and members of political bodies, according to the High Commissioner’s office (OHCHR).

The Government has put the number of people in detention at 400, but OHCHR has received information that the figure may be higher than 1,000, the whereabouts of more than 50 of whom are unknown.

Ms. Pillay voiced particular concern about the reported deaths of at least four persons in custody. “There must be independent investigations of these cases of death in detention and allegations of torture. Bahraini authorities must stop the intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders and political activists, ensuring that their fundamental civil and political rights are protected.”

She urged the Government to urgently conduct an independent, impartial investigation and bring all those who were responsible for assaulting and killing protestors to justice, and reiterated her request for the Government to allow an OHCHR assessment mission into the country.

Pillay deeply concerned about dire human rights situation in Bahrain

5 May 2011

GENEVA – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Thursday expressed deep concern about the continued detention of hundreds of activists in Bahrain, the prosecution of scores of medical professionals, and the sentencing to death of four protestors after a closed-door military trial.

The Justice Ministry announced on Wednesday that 23 doctors and 24 nurses from the Salmaniya Medical Complex are due to be tried in a military court on charges including participation in unlicensed protests and inciting hatred against the Government. This comes after four protestors were last week sentenced to death and three to life imprisonment for the alleged killing of two policemen. Prior to their sentencing, they were reportedly held incommunicado, without access to their families and limited access to lawyers. There are also allegations that some defence lawyers have been subject to intimidation.

“The trial of civilians before military courts is always a cause of concern. The application of the death penalty without due process and after a trial held in secrecy is illegal and absolutely unacceptable,” Pillay said. “The defendants are entitled to fair trials before civil courts, in accordance with international legal standards and in keeping with Bahrain’s international human rights obligations.”

Hundreds of individuals reportedly remain in detention for their alleged participation in the protest movement, including teachers, lawyers, journalists and bloggers, medical professionals, artists, activists and members of political bodies. The Government has put the number of people in detention at 400, but OHCHR has received information that the figure may be higher than 1,000, the whereabouts of more than 50 of whom are unknown. Another 312 were reportedly released after questioning, according to the Government. Many of the detainees are alleged to have been arrested while undergoing treatment at Salmaniya Medical Complex for injuries sustained during protests.

“Particularly worrying are the reports of the death of at least four persons in custody. My office has also received reports of severe torture against human rights defenders who are currently in detention,” the High Commissioner said. “There must be independent investigations of these cases of death in detention and allegations of torture. Bahraini authorities must stop the intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders and political activists, ensuring that their fundamental civil and political rights are protected.”

She said a series of measures taken by the Government appeared to be aimed at the continued silencing of dissent and creating a chilling effect against further protests. It is understood that more than 1,000 workers from various sectors have been dismissed for going on strike or participating in protests. Journalists have also reportedly been dismissed, expelled or arrested.

“All political detainees must be immediately released and all detainees must have prompt access to legal counsel,” the High Commissioner said.

Pillay noted that the Parliament yesterday voted to extend Bahrain’s State of National Safety and warned that this did not give authorities the license to violate internationally protected human rights.

“We have failed to see any reports of prosecutions against security forces for their violent actions against protestors,” she said. “I urge the Government to urgently conduct an independent, impartial investigation and bring all those who were responsible for assaulting and killing protestors to justice.”

Pillay reiterated her request for the Government to allow an OHCHR assessment mission into the country.

ENDS

un.org

International Observatory for Lawyers: Arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights lawyer Mr Mohammed Al-Tajir

3 May 2011 The International Observatory for Lawyers expresses its deep concern regarding the arbitrary arrest and detention, on 15 April 2011, of Mohammed al-Tajer by the country security forces.

Description of the situation:

Mohammed al-Tajer is a prominent Bahraini lawyer. He has been defending many opposition and human rights activists and recently acted for the defence of Hassan Mouchaïmaa, leader of the opposition Haq group, arrested in March 2011 when he returned from an exile in London.

It has been reported that Mohammed Al-Tajer was arrested at his house, on the night of April 15, by more than 20 security officers, some wearing uniforms, the other in plain clothes. They thoroughly searched his home and confiscated personal items such as laptops, mobile phones and documents.

Mohammed al-Tajer phoned his family on April 17, to let them know he was in the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Manama’s Al Adliya district. Neither Al-Tajer nor his family knew the charges raised against him.

Mohammed al-Tajer’s arrest is one of the numerous actions taken against human rights and opposition activists, which have been intensified since February 2011. According to local Islamic Group Al-Wefaq, Al-Tajer is one of the 499 activists who have been imprisoned. in Bahrain. Furthermore, state of emergency was declared on 15 March 2011 for security reasons: it imposes restricted freedom of movements and association and allows greater authority to local governments.

Appeal of the International Observatory for Lawyers:

The Observatory remembers that the independence of lawyers is one of the main principles of democracy and of the effectiveness of the rule of law. It draws the attention of Bahraini authorities to the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers which were adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held in Havana (Cuba) from 27 August to 27 September 1990.

Principe n°16 requests that:

“Governments shall ensure that lawyers ( a ) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; ( b ) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and ( c ) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics”.

Principe n°18 requests that:

“Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions”.

Principe n°23 requests that:

“Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession”.

The Observatory reminds that article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as approved by Bahraini government in 2006, provides that ” No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention (…) Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him”.

The International Observatory for Lawyers asks:

-From the Bahraini government to immediately and unconditionally release Mohammed al-Tajer. The Bahraini authorities also have to secure physical and moral integrity of this individual and, more generally, enable any lawyer to recover full exercise of their functions in Bahrain.

.-From the United Nations, the European Commission and other international organizations to urgently require from the Bahraini government unconditional release of Mohammed Al-Tajer and provide assistance and support towards free exercise of the profession of all the lawyers in Bahrain.

-From bar associations and legal organizations to assist and support Mohammed Al-Tajer as well as all the threatened lawyers in Bahrain and take any appropriate action to report any case to the local authorities.

Contacts:

1/ Minister of Justice and Islamic affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain Cheikh Khaled ben Ali AL KHALIFA Kingdom of Bahrain Diplomatic Area, Manama P.O.Box 450 Fax: 00973 17 53 63 43

2/ Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United Nations Organization 866 Second Ave. 14th & 15th Floors New York, NY 10017 Telephone: (212) 223-6200 Fax: (212) 319-0687; (212) 223-6206 Email: newyork@bahrainmission.org

www.observatoire-avocats.org

IFJ affiliates show solidarity with journalists on the frontline of "Arab Spring"

(IFJ/IFEX) - 4 May 2011 - World Press freedom day 2011 comes at a crucial time in the life of people in the Arab World, which will determine their immediate future and the future of generations to come.

To mark May 3rd, the IFJ affiliates in the Arab region are showing solidarity with their colleagues working on the frontline, covering the revolutions and uprisings taking place in many countries across the region. In recognition of the courage and professionalism of these journalists, many of whom have died, been injured or are jailed, Arab journalists' unions are gathering behind one banner: In Solidarity with Journalists on the Frontline of the Arab Spring.

"Our unions and their members in the region are playing a major role in the seismic shift that is shaking the region and have become key players in the fight for democracy, individual freedom, justice and human rights," said IFJ president Jim Boumelha.

"Today we have the best conditions for these unions and their members to start challenging their governments to meet their obligations to guarantee citizens the right to free expression and access to information by reforming media laws and creating genuinely pluralist and professional structures for media and journalism dedicated to public service values. Our mobilisation of journalists in the region on press freedom day is a tremendous start to forging a new solidarity among journalists to reinvigorate their profession and mission and setting an agenda for change that will advance them and radically reform journalism."

The campaign was adopted in a regional meeting organised in Casablanca on 12-14 April, during which Arab unions observed a minute of silence and mourning in memory of the eight journalists killed in the region since the beginning of 2011 (now ten) while reporting the revolutions and popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Syria.

The immediate release of all journalists currently jailed in the region for doing their job was demanded, along with the introduction of radical reforms to the laws, starting with the abolition of laws that include imprisonment of journalists.

Arab unions say that the time has come for true and deep reform to ensure journalists' safety, the independence of the media and a legal environment protective of freedom of the press, freedom of expression and human rights.

Journalists detained in Bahrain Faisal Hayyat - Al Bilad Haider Mohammad - Al Wasat Ali Jawad - Al Bilad

See the full list of solidarity actions organised

ifex.org

Amnesty Internationl: Bahrain renews emergency law as repression persists

4 May 2011

The Bahraini government must end its relentless crackdown on human rights, Amnesty International said today after the country's parliament voted to extend a repressive state of emergency amid continued arrests of dissidents.

"The Bahraini authorities must stop detaining anyone who opposes them and release protesters who have been locked up for peacefully demanding reform," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Even since the protests on the streets were violently crushed in mid-March the government's persecution of dissidents has not abated, while the renewal of the so-called 'State of National Safety' will only exacerbate this human rights crisis."

Bahraini media reported that members of parliament yesterday voted overwhelmingly to extend the “State of National Safety” for another three months, even though it is not due to expire for another six weeks.

Emergency law had been used to arrest without judicial warrant and detain incommunicado protesters and political activists, as well as to try civilians before military courts.

On Monday, two MPs from al-Wefaq, the largest Shi’a political party, were detained.

Jalal Fairuz, 48, and Matar Ibrahim Matar, 35, were arrested by armed men wearing civilian clothes and their whereabouts are unknown. Both have been critical of the government and have given media interviews to international media outlets.

All 18 al-Wefaq MPs had resigned from parliament in February 2011 to complain against the government’s crackdown on protests, including the deaths of demonstrators and others as a result of excessive use of force. Only 11 resignations were accepted, including those of the two men arrested.

Medical professionals continue to be targeted for arrest, with Dr Ahmed Jamal, President of Bahrain Medical Society, arrested from his clinic on Monday.

Around 47 other doctors and nurses, some detained for weeks, are facing trial in a military court after they were yesterday charged for their role in treating anti-government protesters.

The overwhelming majority of those detained since March 2011 are Shi’a Muslims who were active during the protests, most of whose whereabouts remain unknown.

Some detainees have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated following arrest and at least four people have died in suspicious circumstances.

The dismissal of government employees who were known to have participated in protests continues unabated.

There have also been reports of several Shi'a mosques being destroyed by the security forces, allegedly because they did not have building permits.

This has increased suspicions that the whole of the majority Shi’a population of Bahrain is being punished for the February-March protests, which called for reforms and, in some cases, regime change.

amnesty.org

HRW: Bahrain: Arbitrary Arrests Escalate

Ex-Members of Parliament, Physicians Held Without Charge; Activist Reported Tortured

May 4, 2011

Update: At approximately 10 p.m. on May 4, 2011, Bahraini authorities released Dr. Nedhal al-Khalifa and two of her associates from CID headquarters in `Adlyia, where they were being detained. The condition and whereabouts of al-Khalifa's husband, Dr. Sadiq Abdulla, remain unknown, as well as the reason for his detention.

(Washington, DC) - Security forces arrested two former members of parliament from Bahrain's largest opposition group, Human Rights Watch said today. The arrests were the first targeting elected representatives of the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, which won the popular vote in October 2010 elections, since the large-scale crackdown against protesters and opposition members began in mid-March.

Security forces in civilian clothes and masks arrested Matar Ebrahim Matar and Jawad Fairuz on the evening of May 2, 2011, and took them to unknown locations. The reasons for their arrests are not currently known. Both had won seats in the October 2010 elections in the Majlis al-Nawab (Assembly of Deputies), Bahrain's lower house. They resigned along with 16 other al-Wefaq members after security forces attacked the Pearl Roundabout protesters during the early morning hours of February 17. Four protesters died as a result. Since their resignation, many al-Wefaq members have spoken out publicly against the government's handling of the February protests and the security crackdown launched since mid-March.

Authorities have also intensified their campaign against medical professionals in recent days, arresting at least seven more doctors, including the former head of the Bahrain Medical Society.

"It seems that Bahrain's ruling family intends to punish any and everyone who criticizes the government," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The aim of this vicious full-scale crackdown seems to be to intimidate everyone into silence."

A source close to Fairuz's family told Human Rights Watch that at around 8 p.m. on May 2, about 30 security officers, some masked and in civilian clothes, surrounded and entered Fairuz's home with weapons drawn. He was upstairs, but came downstairs and was arrested after they threatened to harm his wife and daughter.

According to Al Jazeera English, the same evening armed men in civilian clothes accosted Matar on the street and forced him into an unmarked car at gunpoint.

These arrests follow several weeks of sustained attacks in state-owned and pro-government media accusing al-Wefaq members of treachery and urging authorities to shut down the party and criminally prosecute individual members. On April 28 state-owned Bahrain TV aired a program with film footage in which a defendant accused of murdering two security officers named Matar as one of the people who directed them to target and kill police officers.

Human Rights Watch spoke with Matar after the program was broadcast. He confirmed that the person who named him on BTV was Ali Isa Ibrahim Saqer, who had died in custody in early April, apparently as a result of torture, and told Human Rights Watch that he believed authorities were planning to arrest him.

"I feel they are preparing something for me," Matar said. "I don't know when and what."

The BTV program aired after Matar gave several interviews to foreign news outlets in which he spoke out against recent arbitrary arrests of opposition activists and doctors. On April 26 Al Jazeera English aired a program in which Matar condemned a police raid that day against medical professionals at the A'ali and Isa Town health centers in which 14 health professionals, including at least six doctors, had been arrested. The day before his arrest, Matar gave an interview to the BBC in which he called for establishment of a secular democracy in Bahrain.

Human Rights Watch also learned that authorities had arrested two more doctors - Dr. Ahmad Jamal, the head of the Bahrain Medical Society, and Dr. Nedhal Khalifa. Human Rights Watch learned that security forces arrested Jamal on May 3. Late the night before, at around 11p.m., the Interior Ministry's Criminal Investigation Directorate summoned Khalifa, 42. She went to the directorate's headquarters at the ministry and never returned home, Human Rights Watch learned. Khalifa is the wife of Dr. Sadiq Abdulla, also 42, who has not been heard from since he was detained on April 14. They are the parents of four children, ages 8 to 15.

On May 3, the justice minister, Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, and the social development and acting health minister, Dr. Fatima bint Mohammed Al Balooshi, announced criminal charges against 23 doctors and 24 nurses detained since March 17.The state-run Bahrain News Agency reported that the charges against them included "refusal to extend assistance to a person in need, embezzlement of public funds, assault that resulted in death, unauthorized possession of weapons and ammunition ... illegal detention ... attempt to occupy buildings by force, incitement to the forceful overthrow of a political regime, incitement to the hatred of a regime, incitement to the hatred of a segment of society, dissemination of false news and malicious rumors ... and participation in unauthorized rallies and meetings."

Earlier, on April 27, the head of the Information Affairs Authority, Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, announced that authorities had referred 405 detainees to the special military court. Human Rights Watch is concerned that the 47 medical professionals are among those to be tried in Bahrain's special military courts.

Also on May 3 Human Rights Watch received credible reports that a human rights and opposition activist, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who was arrested on April 9 and whose whereabouts and well-being were unknown, had been admitted to Bahrain Defense Force hospital for six days for treatment of injuries, including to his jaw and head. One person who saw him said he was unrecognizable as a result of apparent beatings in detention.

The authorities should immediately release information on the whereabouts and well-being of Matar, Fairuz, Khalifa, and Jamal, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, and the hundreds of others arbitrarily detained, and allow them immediate access to medical care, lawyers, and families, Human Rights Watch said.

"The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and other governments that have security and military relationships with Bahrain need to declare publicly that these relationships are all suspended until the torture and other horrific abuses by the Bahrain authorities come to an end," Stork said.

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