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BYSHR updates on the military trials and sentences of more than 60 civilians and activists in Bahrain

Update- 13 June 2011

Bahrain:Military court sentences a child for two year imprisonment

On June 7th 2011, the court sentenced the child Mohammed Salman Majid Hassan (15 years old) to serve a two year imprisonment.

Mohammed was arrested on the 6th April 2011, and the court charged him with taking part in illegal protests and disrupting public security and rioting.

The court held two hearings for Mohammed:

The first hearing: He was not allowed to inform his family or the lawyer.

The second hearing: Mohammed called his family for the first time since his arrest, to request a lawyer, however his parents could not provide a lawyer in this short notice, and he only met his family for the first time in the court.

“Mohammed was subjected to ill-treatment during the first days of his arrest” Mohammed’s family stated to the BYSHR.

“We searched for a long time until we found a lawyer who is willing to file an appeal for the ruling tomorrow (14th June 2011)”, Mohammed’s family informed the BYSHR.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) expresses its deep concern regarding the trial of children, without legal assistance or allowing them to contact their families, and considers that the child Mohammed was subjected to an unfair trial; especially that he was tried before a military court. The BYSHR calls for the Special Rapporteur of Independence of the judiciary to take urgent actions.

Update- 2 June 2011 Bahrain: 7 demonstrators were sentenced after the lifting of the National Safety law ( Emergency law)

Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) is deeply concerned about sentencing of 7 demonstrators Today in National Safety court ( Military court) .

Today 2 June 2011 , 7 demonstrators sentenced :

1-Abdullah Ahmad Hassan was sentenced to one year imprisonment for taking part in illegal protests and disrupting public order.

2-Mohamed Ibrahim Ali was sentenced to one year imprisonment for taking part in illegal protests and disrupting public order.

3-Abdul Amir Mohammed Ali was sentenced to one year imprisonment for taking part in illegal protests and disrupting public order.

4-Jaafar Mohammad Redha was sentenced to one year imprisonment for taking part in illegal protests and disrupting public order.

5-Abdul Nabi Hassan Ahmed was sentenced to four year imprisonment for taking part in illegal protests and disrupting public order and riot.

6-Ali Abdullah Hassan was sentenced to three year imprisonment for taking part in illegal protests and disrupting public order and Inciting publicly towards the hatred of the governing.

7-Saleh Mahdi Issa was sentenced to five year imprisonment for taking part in illegal protests and disrupting public order.

Update- 31 May 2011 Report:Bahraini authorities had sentenced more than 60 demonstrators

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) has issued a report from Manama today regarding the demonstrators convicted.

In a statement Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati, the President of the BYSHR said: “Bahraini authorities want to teach the demonstrators a very harsh lesson and use the trials for that.”

Please check List of demonstrators convicted (During National Safety law “Emergency law” 15 March-31 May 2011)

Update - 24 May 2011

Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) is deeply concerned about sentencing of 4 demonstrators yesterday in National Safety court ( Military court) .

On 25 May 2011 , 4 demonstrators sentenced :

1- Rashid Adnan Alawi Al Sayad was sentenced to one year imprisonment for taking part in illegal protests and disrupting public order.

2-Sayad Ahmed Mustafa Mohammed was sentenced to one year imprisonment for taking part in illegal protests and disrupting public order. ( Activist and had interviews with the media – attached his photo with Al-Jazeera English).

3-Hassan Jaafar Ali Mhanna will be jailed for one year after being convicted of participating in illegal protests for criminal ends. He got another three-month prison sentence over driving a vehicle the registration plate of another one. However, the court found him not guilty of inciting the overthrow of the ruling system.

4-Hassan Isa Mohammed who was found guilty of holding pamphlets calling for the overthrow of the kingdom’s ruling system and social fabric. one-year prison sentence.

Cases on-going:

1- fifteen people are charged with murdering a Pakistani national called Abdulla Malik Abdulla, attacking other people, taking part in illegal assemblies for criminal ends and disrupting public security, the court decided to adjourn the hearing to next Sunday, May 29 in order to enable the suspects to meet their relatives and appoint lawyers.

2-Ali Yussef Abdulwahab Al Taweel and Ali Atiya Mahdi Al Shamloul are accused of killing policeman Ahmed Al Mrissi while on duty in Sitra village.The case has been adjourned till 29 May, 2011.

3- Raed Jassim Mohammed, Qassim Hameed Khatim, Mohammed Hassan Ali, Mohammed Ibrahim Jassim and Hassan Mohammed Abd Al Khadhr Al Asfoor, as well as Salman Ahmed Mohammed who was tried in absentia, faced charges of attempting to murder a civil inspection group for terrorist ends, possessing unlicensed weapon and taking part in illegal protests at the GCC Roundabout “Pearl” in order to disrupt public security.The case has been adjourned till 30 May, 2011.

4-Ali Yussef Yaqoob is accused of attempting to security officer on March 15, 2011, the court heard three witnesses, including the victim, who asserted that the suspect used a GMC to run over the policeman who was, along with his colleagues, trying to disperse protestors who were throwing pebbles at security officers and blocking roads. The case has been adjourned till 30 May, 2011.

Bahrain: Child accused before a military tribunal

Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) is deeply concerned about trial of a child before a military court.

Today 24 Monday 2011 , The second hearing session for Mohammed Ebrahim Khatem before a military court (National Safety court).

He is 15 years old, was arrested from his house at 1:30 am.

“Mohammed was arrested 20 days ago” his family said.

Charges: Gathering for more than 5 people without a authorization and riot.

The family informed BYSHR, that the only time they saw him after his arrest was at the first court hearing session.

The case has been adjourned till 30 May, 2011.

May 19, 2011

Bahrain: Sentencing on 8 protesters and prominent cleric “20 years imprisonment”

Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) is deeply concerned about sentencing on 9 demonstrators today in National Safety court ( Emergency court) .

On 19 May , 2011 :

1-Hamid Ibrahim Al-Madhoun 2-Khalil Ibrahim Al-Madhoun 3-Jassim Ali Yahya 4-Bassam Jalil Saeed 5-Jalal Saeed Mohammed 6- Fouad Ali Fadel 7- Falah Ali Fadel 8- Mohamed Ali Mirza 9-Mohammed Habib Al Safaf. ( Mohammed Habib Miqdad)

All of them sentenced: 20 years imprisonment

Charge: Kidnapping of a policeman


1- Hamid and Khalil Ibrahim Al-Madhoun ” Were arrested on March 23, security forces stormed their house in search of their father’s “political activist”, but their father is in Lebanon and always appears on the satellite channels”

2- Mohammed Habib Al Safaf. ( Mohammed Habib Miqdad) : Prominent cleric and Political and social activist. Accused in another case also byshr.org

See also Amnesty International: Bahrain activists jailed following 'politically motivated' trials

May 18th, 2011

Bahrain: The first woman imprisoned 4 years because she participated in the protests

Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) is deeply concerned about sentence of the first woman participated in the protests.

On 17 May 2011:

1- Mohammed Qassim Ghalloum was accused of taking part in illegal assemblies in public areas, committing a number of crimes and disrupting public security in front of Al Safriya Palace “king’s Palace” and the GCC Roundabout “Pearl Roundabout” ( 2 years imprisonment and will be deported as soon as his sentence is over, because according to authorities, he is Iranian)

2-charged Hussein Ali Ibrahim with taking part in illegal assemblies for criminal ends, disrupting public security and rioting ( 4 years imprisonment)

3- Isa Hassan Habib, he was found guilty of participating in illegal assemblies for criminal ends, disrupting public security and rioting (2 years imprisonment )

4- Fadhila Mubarak Ahmed (Ms.) , who was convicted over charges of offending a public official, calling openly for the hatred of the ruling system and taking part in illegal protests at the GCC Roundabout “Pearl Roundabout” ( 4 years imprisonment)

5-Mohammed Ali Al Safwan found guilty of protesting in public places, disrupting public security and holding political leaflets calling for overthrowing the ruling system forcibly (2 years imprisonment )

6-Ibrahim Isa Ali, he was acquitted him of the charges of taking part in protests and disrupting public security, but he will spend a year in prison over holding anti-ruling system political leaflets.

7-Mahmoud Ahmed Ali who faced three charges –taking part in illegal assemblies, holding Molotov cocktails and openly inciting crimes, the court acquitted him of the third, but sentenced him to three years in prison for finding him guilty of the first and the second.

8-Mahdi Abdulla Ahmed received a three-year prison sentence over charges of participating in illegal protests, disrupting in public order and inciting crimes.

More news on sentencing demonstrators:

16 May 2011, 7 demonstrators sentenced 12 May 2011, 12 demonstrators sentenced 12 May 2011, First nurse is sentenced since 14 Feb unrest 10 May 2011, Harsh sentencing of 9 demonstrators since National Safety law ( Emergency law) started


MSF protests Bahrain healthcare trials

June 13, 2011

GENEVA, Switzerland, June 13 (UPI) -- The effect of a trial of 48 medical professionals accused of playing a role in the uprising in Bahrain is troubling, a Doctors without Borders official said.

Bahrain started the trials for 48 healthcare workers that the government accuses of supporting a Shiite rebellion against the minority Sunni monarchy.

David Michalski, an official with Doctors without Borders, told al-Jazeera the consequences of the trial were troubling. He said the detention of healthcare workers and the implications for patients is troubling. Those in need of hospital care, he added, have grown "very fearful."

He said the main state-run Salmaniya Hospital in Bahrain became "politicized" and later "militarized" during the crackdown on the Shiite protesters.

Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet and is seen as a key U.S. ally in the Middle East. Al-Jazeera points to a U.S. State Department budget report that shows a $112 million increase in military sales to Bahrain in the last two years.

The Arab broadcaster puts the death toll at 31, adding the State Department report raises questions about whether U.S. military aid was indirectly supporting the monarchy's offensive.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/To..

Bahrain tries ex-lawmakers, imprisons poet

To the left: Mattar Mattar, and to the right: Jawad Fairooz

By the CNN Wire Staff

June 12, 2011

Manama, Bahrain (CNN) -- At least two former Bahraini opposition lawmakers went on trial Sunday, as a military court sentenced a 20-year-old poet to a year in prison.

Matar Matar and Jawad Fairooz were charged with "spreading malicious lies in an attempt to overthrow the government," an official in the Information Affairs Authority told CNN. Both men pleaded not guilty and will remain in custody until their next hearing, said the official, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz bin Mubarak. He said their lawyers have been given more time to prepare their cases.

Both men were seized May 2, family members said. The trials come after the small, strategically important Gulf kingdom was swept by protests earlier this year as part of the Arab Spring demonstrations.

The legal proceedings began Sunday without prior notice, according to a Matar family member who asked not to be named for security reasons.

Fairooz's lawyer only found out the charges once he appeared in court Sunday, the defendant's brother Jamsheer Fairooz said. Jawad Fairooz said he was being treated well and looked to be in physically good condition but had "aged 10 years -- his beard and hair have both gone white," his brother said.

Matar, 35, was taken from his car by armed men in masks on May 2, according to a relative. He represented the biggest constituency in Bahrain, with approximately 16,000 people.

Elected to the lower house of Parliament in October 2010, Matar resigned along with other Wefaq lawmakers earlier this year to protest the government crackdown on demonstrators. Wefaq is a Shiite party, the predominant religion in the kingdom whose rulers are Sunni.

Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab said the trials are "not (of) an international standard," saying the defendants had "not only (had) no access to lawyer but even their families (were) not informed they were being taken court."

Meanwhile, poet Ayat al-Qormozi, 20, was found guilty of assembling at Pearl Roundabout, the epicenter of anti-government demonstrations in the kingdom earlier this year. Additional charges included speaking out against Bahrain and the king.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said she read a poem criticizing government policy at the Roundabout.

Mubarak, the government official, said Bahrain had freedom of speech, but that there were limits.

"Freedom of speech in this country has its boundaries and cannot touch on the leadership, and cannot call for the overthrow of the government," he said.

Her poem, he said, "caused incitement and hatred to his majesty the king and to the prime minister" with lines such as "we are people who kill humiliation" and "assassinate misery."

Amnesty International called the charges "unfair" in a statement after the sentence.

"By locking up a female poet merely for expressing her views in public, Bahrain's authorities are demonstrating how free speech and assembly are brutally denied to ordinary Bahrainis," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Al-Qormozi had been detained since March 30, after her father led security forces to her in the face of threats to his other children's lives, a family member said.

She alleges that she received electrical shocks to her face and was beaten with a hose while in detention, according to the relative, who asked not to be named for security reasons.

Her mother and father were the only family members allowed in court, the relative said, adding that a lawyer was present with her.

Bahraini security forces went to her house around midnight a few days before she was detained, but she was not home, the relative said.

The security forces broke things in the house and told the family they would return the following day for her. They returned the next night but she was still in hiding, the relative said.

The family member said security forces then took two of the poet's four brothers and threatened them with guns in their faces. The father, fearing for his family's lives, took the security forces to her. The family was assured that she would not be harmed, the family member said.

Bahrain's government declined to comment on the specifics of al-Qormozi's case, but said: "All detention centers conform to the conditions set down under international human rights regulations and the detainees are treated as innocent until proven guilty." Thousands of Bahrainis protested their government Saturday in a rally organized by the Wefaq party.

Unafraid, pro-reform demonstrators hit the streets with their faces uncovered, said a journalist at the scene who was not identified for security reasons.

Rajab, the human rights activist, put the turnout at "no less than 10,000," while police put it at 4,000, the national news agency said.

Rajab said the march went off peacefully, with no security forces present.

It was the second such protest since the government last week lifted emergency laws that were imposed in mid-March, allowing a crackdown on political leaders and journalists.

Bahrain's ruling royal family -- Sunnis in a majority-Shiite nation -- accuses protesters of being motivated by sectarian differences and supported by Iran.

Ali Salman, the secretary general of al Wefaq, told the large crowds that he supports the government's offer of dialogue but said he could not endorse it fully until the conditions for such talks were clear.

Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa pledged cooperation from the government "to reach national consensus so as to ensure a better future for the kingdom," the state-run Bahrain News Agency said.

Crown Prince Salman, who met with U.S. officials in Washington Wednesday, thanked President Barack Obama for his backing of a national dialogue in Bahrain.

Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, and the United States has been concerned about the instability in the Persian Gulf island state.

CNN's Nic Robertson and Jenifer Fenton contributed to this report.


Amnesty International: Urgent Action: Bahraini activist jailed for reading poem

12 June 2011 A military court in Bahrain has sentenced a poet to one year in prison for reading out a poem criticizing the country’s King.

Ayat al-Qarmezi, 20, a poet and student was sentenced in a Manama court today following her arrest in March for reading out a poem at a pro-reform rally. She has reportedly been tortured while in detention.

She was charged with taking part in illegal protests, disrupting public security and publicly inciting hatred towards the regime. "By locking up a female poet merely for expressing her views in public, Bahrain’s authorities are demonstrating how free speech and assembly are brutally denied to ordinary Bahrainis,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The Bahraini authorities must drop the unfair charges against Ayat al-Qarmezi, and release her immediately and unconditionally."

Ayat al-Qarmezi's family members told Amnesty International she appeared strong after the trial and her lawyer plans to appeal the ruling.

While attending a pro-reform rally in Manama’s Pearl Roundabout in February, Ayat al-Qarmezi read out a poem which she said was addressed to King Hamad bin 'Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain's head of state.

Its lyrics include the lines "We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery/ Don’t you hear their cries, don’t you hear their screams?"

She was forced to turn herself in to the authorities on 30 March after masked police raided her parents' house repeatedly and reportedly threatened to kill her brothers unless she did so.

She was held incommunicado for the first 15 days of her detention and since then has only been permitted to see her family twice.

Ayat al-Qarmezi alleges that she was beaten in detention and tortured with electric shocks. 

The Bahrain authorities say at least 24 people, including two police officers, have died in clashes between police and demonstrators since pro-reform protests began in February.

Military trials related to the protests are under way after at least 500 have been detained and four have died in custody in suspicious circumstances.

Some 2,000 people have also been dismissed or suspended from their jobs, apparently as part of an ongoing purge of those who participated in the protests.


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An excerpt of one of Ayat al-Gormezi's poem follows, translated from the Arabic by Ghias Aljundi:

We do not like to live in a palace And we are not after power We are the people who Break down humiliation And discard oppression With peace as our tool We are people who Do not want others to be living in the Dark Ages


Amnesty International - Bahraini poet set to face verdict for protest reading

The Independent - Detained poet 'beaten across the face with electric cable'

BCHR Report: Death threats and arrest as a direct result of expressing opinion, All in the name of “National Safety”

English Pen - Bahrain: Poet and writer arrested; fears for their safety

The Independent - Locked up for reading a poem

The Telegraph - Female poet brought before Bahrain military tribunal

Documentary about Ayat

A solidarity campaign for her release on Facebook

Tribunal-Issued Death Sentences Cause Outcry

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

By Matthew Cardinale

ATLANTA, Georgia, U.S., Jun 11, 2011 (IPS) - Democracy advocates in the United States are troubled by the pending execution of two men who took part in anti-government protests in Bahrain.

As some governments around the world are enacting, and even expanding upon, U.S.-inspired anti-terrorism policies - particularly in the wake of pro-democracy movements that have swept Egypt and Tunisia - Bahrain is taking things to a new extreme.

Ali Abdulla Hassan Al Sinkees and Abdulaziz Abdul Ridha Ibrahim Hassan were convicted on Apr. 28 for killing two policemen - Kashef Ahmed Mandhour and Mahmoud Farooq Abdulsamad - during the protests.

The execution was issued by the National Safety Court, a special court created when Bahrain declared a state of national safety - a close approximation to martial law - in March 2011.

The state of national safety was lifted on Jun. 1, but the National Safety Courts are continuing their work in the prosecution of many pro-democracy activists, Faraz Sanei, Bahrain researcher for the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, told IPS.

According to BNA, the special courts consist of two civil judges and one military judge "in order to ensure the fairness of the judicial system in the Kingdom and safeguards the suspects’ right for fair trials and allowed them to appeal the verdicts."

But the trials were held behind closed doors, and the men all pled not guilty. The men were held in undisclosed locations in the weeks leading up to the trials, and were denied communications with family, friends, and attorneys.

The government of Bahrain produced a video of what appears to be the convicted men admitting to the killings and describing how they carried them out, Sanei said. However, considering they pled not guilty, advocates like Sanei worry the two men may have been tortured.

Many of the protesters jailed since the March demonstrations appear to have been tortured, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, a group officially banned in Bahrain. HRW believes the reports of torture to be credible.

Two other men who originally received death sentences had their sentences reduced to life in prison by the National Safety Court of Appeal in a May 22 ruling. On May 30, BNA reported the Court of Cassation's Technical Office had received the case, number 75/2011, appealing the execution ruling of the National Safety Court of Appeal. The Court of Cassation will be reviewing the appeal.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, a Sunni Muslim, declared a state of national safety on Mar. 15 in response to pro-democracy protests led by Shiite Muslims activists who are calling for more rights and freedoms under the monarchy.

Bahrain crushed the popular uprising with military help from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations. The government has detained hundreds of citizens since the state of national safety was declared.

One of the individuals detained, Mohammed al-Tajer, is a human rights lawyer who was planning to defend the men who received the death penalty.

In addition, the two were tried under a 2006 anti-terrorism law in Bahrain which mandates the death sentence for those convicted. Legal scholars have criticised the laws there for employing an overly broad definition terrorism which includes "threats to national unity".

Bahrain does not issue death sentences as often as other countries, such as the United States and Iran, but advocates fear the current sentences could be part of a new wave of death penalties there.

"Our concern is that all executions are inherently a violation of human rights. It's a cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishment," said Brian Evans, a campaigner for Amnesty International USA's Death Penalty Abolition Campaign.

"Beyond that, we're very concerned civilians have been tried behind closed doors in a military court and I believe their first appeal was also behind closed doors in a military court. That amounts to an unfair trial," he said.

"We would like to see a new trial that meets international trial standards," Evans said.

But Evans noted Bahrain may not be the only nation with this problem.

"We [the U.S.] are getting ready to have military trials of our own... [where the accused] could face the death penalty as well," Evans said.

The European Union (EU) and the nation of France have been among those outspoken in opposing the pending executions in Bahrain. The United States, a major military ally of Bahrain, has been less critical.

"These death sentences risk further exacerbating recent tensions in Bahrain and as such, present an obstacle to national reconciliation," Catherine Ashton, Foreign Affairs Chief for the EU, said in a statement.

"France, like its European partners, is resolutely opposed to the death penalty everywhere and under all circumstances. I remind you that we had, April 24, denounced the death sentence at trial of several people following the events of recent weeks [which] have shocked and saddened Bahrain," a spokesperson for France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European said in a statement.

"It is time to seek ways of a sincere dialogue between the parties and reconciliation, the only lasting solution to the political crisis in Bahrain. Respect for fundamental freedoms and the fair administration of justice and transparency are essential to carry out such a process," the statement said.

Earlier this week, on Jun. 7, U.S. President Barack Obama met with Bahrain's Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad Khalifa, in a U.S. visit that was not pre-announced.

Obama's response to the apparent human rights violations in Bahrain has been "kind of tepid", Evans said, noting the double standards of U.S. foreign policy. "The U.S. position has been different than it was with Egypt," he said.

Prince bin Hamad Khalifa has promised to facilitate a period of national dialogue next month, although it is unclear how opposition leaders will be able to take part in this dialogue when hundreds of them are in jail.


BCHR Report: Two protesters sentenced to death and five given life imprisonment


BYSHR: Bahrain: Targeting Cyber Activist to prevent the broadcasting of news and information

June 10th, 2011

Mr. Hussein Ali Makki – Cyber Activist, better known as “Hussain Bahrain” on Facebook.He was arrested on Thursday, June 9th 2011.

Security forces stormed his house and confiscated a computer.

Mr.Makki, Administrator of the Pages ( RASAD NEWS) on Facebook and Twitter.

“RASAD NEWS” is broadcast news and information about human rights violations in Bahrain, publish images and video of events and is considered an important source of information.

After the arrest of Mr.Makki, security forces have confiscated the pages password’s and broadcast news against the demonstrators and support Bahraini authorities actions against the protests.

On 9th April 2011, Mr. Zakariya Rashid Alashiri, 42 years who had died in police custody, was a cyber activist and was running the Aldair website. This website included forums that dealt with political discussion and developments.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) expresses its concern about the arrest of Mr. Hussein Ali Makki and demanding that he be released immediately.

Related: Bahrain: After destruction of the actual protesting site at "the Pearl", the government shifts to eliminate virtual protests


Amnesty Int'l: Bahraini officials couldn't silence activists on the streets, so they'll try to do it in the courtroom

Hi [[Firstname|Supporter]],

Emergency rule was lifted in Bahrain last week.

While the harsh laws responsible for the widespread government crackdowns against civilians are no longer being enforced, the injustice remains.

The long (and growing) list of people being paraded in front of military courts is simply appalling!

This week, nearly 50 of the brave doctors and nurses who treated protestors during the months of bitter and bloody street violence are being called into court.1

Furthermore a total of 21 opposition figures, including seven in absentia, who led and participated in the demonstrations, are being tried in military court without proper access to lawyers, their families, or foreign media coverage. Several of these individuals are likely prisoners of conscience.

The people of Bahrain were too powerful to be finished off in the streets. Stop Bahraini officials from trying to silence them behind the closed doors of military courts!

In May, President Obama had called on Bahraini authorities to respect their citizens' human rights. Since then, the U.S. has done little to follow through with diplomatic pressure.

President Obama said that "the only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can't have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail."

We couldn't agree with you more, Mr. President. That's why we're encouraging the U.S. to turn up the volume on its calls to Bahraini authorities. Demand that all opposition figures currently on trial be: 1) granted regular access to their lawyers and families and 2) released immediately and unconditionally, if held solely for criticizing the authorities.

Far too many civilians have already lost their lives on the streets of Bahrain. Taking action now could mean protecting others from losing their freedom in court.

In Solidarity,

Christoph Koettl Crisis Campaigner, Middle East and North Africa Amnesty International USA

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Bahrain: Protests, Abuses Continue

Sporadic protests continue to break out in Shia neighborhoods in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, as more developed neighborhoods are claiming security has been restored. Sheikh Abdul-Aziz of Bahrain’s Information Affairs said the protesters are not representative of the Shi’a majority. Prominent Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab said, “I think we’ll remain in this unstable situation until there is some kind of political solution. It’s not going back to normal.” Bahraini clerics are condemning police crackdowns on the Shi’a festival of Azza, which authorities say have been characterized by calls for regime change. Al Wefaq, the leading opposition party, was prevented from holding a presentation detailing abuses by the regime, officially due to lack of a permit. Former al Wefaq MP Hadi al-Moussawi said that permits were never required in the past.

Roy Gutman argues that the lifting of the emergency law on June 1st was meant simply to reassure Formula One race organizers and led to little change on the ground. He adds that the king’s call for dialogue without conditions is undermined by the continued detention of opposition leaders, including former MPs Jalal Fairooz and Mattar Mattar. In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof pleaded for the release of his friend, Bahraini professor Hassan al-Sahaf, in an open letter to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa.


Bahrain Workers’ Rights

Chart showing numbers of sacked employees from the biggest companies in Bahrain, according to records of GFBTU

8 June, 2011

The more you become involved in the complexities of politics, even within a relatively small country like Bahrain, the more you see the fallacy of that maxim of natural law which states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”[1] . If only this were true. Sadly, it is because we are not all born free and equal that we must fight to claim the rights that we are all supposed to have. It is not enough to sit back and watch as supposedly ‘inalienable’ rights are taken away from others.

The International Labor Organisation know this, and while they may not have as much influence over western governments as they once did, supra-national organisations like the ILO are central in raising awareness about the abuse of labor rights in authoritarian states like Bahrain. From a legal perspective, it is important to note that it is not just ‘abstract’ multilateral treaties that Bahrain ignores when forcing the sacking of hundreds of workers for their political and religious beliefs, but also bilateral treaties which it has signed such as the 2006 US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement.[2]

Many international organisations have been alarmed that the current repression in Bahrain undermines all of the hard work that reformers on all sides of the political spectrum have done to modernize Bahrain’s anachronistic political system. The American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) noted in a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that the General Federation of Bahraini Trade Unions (GFBTU), created during the reforms of the 1990s, has been targeted by the government, with more than half of its elected leadership sacked.

The ILO sent a delegation to investigate labor practices in Bahrain at the end of May. It has recommended that 2000 workers who were sacked be re-hired in a gesture of reconciliation.[3] This is a somewhat different outcome of the talks than what was reported in some regional media.[4] Here is what the ILO’s Guy Ryder had to say about his visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4In3lBnxVE

After talks with President Obama yesterday, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa reiterated his government’s commitment to dialogue ‘without preconditions’.[5] Bahrain’s UN delegation has also stated that it is willing ‘in principle’ to receive a visit from the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, although no date has yet been set.[6]

BCHR welcomes these statements. However, if we are to have any confidence that these promises of reform will be carried through and are not just empty rhetoric, the government must follow them up with concrete statements about the talks and the UN visit. In order for dialogue to be successful, it has to be shown that the government is serious about reconciliation. This requires:

1) Political prisoners, especially opposition leaders, must be released from jail in order to take part in the national dialogue.

2) The ILO’s recommendation that sacked workers be reinstated must be carried through to reduce sectarian tension.

3) The securitization of neutral zones like Salmaniya hospital and the University of Bahrain must end to reduce the fear of people who need to go to university or hospital.

If these limited concessions can be made, there can be some trust that the government means what it says about reform. If not, the only outcome can be continued violence and economic upheaval. The opposition would also like to see the Bahrain GP return, but this is not possible under the current situation. All Bahrainis wish to see an end to the current crisis, and it is hoped that both sides can put aside their differences to engage in constructive talks.

John Lubbock Advocacy Officer, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights London, 8 June, 2011


Babylon & Beyond spoke with Shawna Bader-Blau, regional program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the Washington-based Solidarity Center. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbe..

AFL-CIO statement. http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/04/21/glob..

AFL-CIO’s complaint letter. http://www.aflcio.org/issues/jobs..

AFL-CIO complaint about US-Bahrain FTA. http://www.aflcio.org/issues/jobse..

ActNow Labourstart campaign. http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/soli..

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Building and Wood Workers International. http://www.bwint.org/default..

BCHR 7th April - mounting clampdown on Trades Unions. http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/3884

BCHR 6th April - thousands subjected to dismissals. http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/3879

ILO DG sounds alarm on dismissal of workers. http://www.ilo.org/global/about-t..

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Latest sacking list according to General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (8 June 2011) https://www.facebook.com/photo..

Amnesty International: Bahrain faces fresh torture claims over health workers’ trial

7 June 2011

The Bahraini authorities must independently investigate fresh claims that dozens of doctors and nurses on trial before a military court were tortured in detention and made to sign false confessions, Amnesty International said today.

Relatives of the accused have alleged to Amnesty International that security officials at Bahrain’s Criminal Investigations Directorate forced detainees to stand for long periods, deprived them of sleep, beat them with rubber hoses and wooden boards containing nails, and made them sign papers while blindfolded. One of the detainees, who was bailed last month, was slapped in the face while blindfolded, insulted and threatened: “if you don't confess I'll take you to someone who will make you confess”.

The same detainee was forced to remain standing for hours, denied sleep and placed in front of a cold air conditioning unit all night and then interrogated again the next morning while still blindfolded.

"I was so tired that I kept quiet and only answered yes or no,” he told Amnesty International.

“After a while he gave me some papers and made me sign them while I was still blindfolded. I did not see what I signed, but I signed on eight or nine papers."

The trial of the 48 medical staff, most of whom worked at the Salmaniya Medical Complex, opened at a military court in Manama on Monday but was adjourned until 13 June. Some of the defendants have been released on bail but others remain in prison.

The doctors and nurses face a range of charges arising from their involvement in treating people injured when security forces violently crushed mass pro-reform protests in February and March. They are accused of misusing their positions at Salmaniya hospital to make false allegations of security force violence, to have operated on some patients unnecessarily causing their deaths and to have denied medical treatment to others for sectarian reasons, as well as a string of related offences.

A relative of one of the accused who attended the court yesterday told Amnesty International that the prisoners’ heads had been shaved and most had lost a lot of weight since their arrest weeks ago. The men among them were made to stand in the hot sun for around 30 minutes before the session began: “They were blindfolded and handcuffed, and these were only removed when the session began."

"The Bahraini authorities must immediately undertake an independent investigation into these new torture allegations and bring any officials responsible to justice,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The court must also throw out any 'confessions' that were obtained through torture or other duress as international law requires."

Before the trial opened, detainees’ were only able to communicate with their families by phone. Their lawyers had not been permitted to see them and were not allowed to be present when they were interrogated, first by security officers and then by the military prosecutor when they were held in pre-trial detention. The Bahraini authorities ignored their lawyers’ requests to see their clients.

"All detainees must be granted prompt and regular access to lawyers of their own choosing, their relatives and any medical treatment that they may require," said Malcolm Smart.

"The authorities must also ensure that doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health and medical workers are able to carry out their work without discrimination, interference or fear of reprisal."