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CIVICUS urges Bahrain Government to stop sham trials of activists

Johannesburg. 1 September 2011. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation in solidarity with regional civil society groups urges the Government of Bahrain to stop the ongoing sham trials of pro-democracy activists and provide them the right to appeal lengthy and unjust sentences in regular civilian courts.

On 11 September 2011, 21 civil society members and concerned citizens will be forced to appeal sentences handed out to them in June 2011 by Bahrain’s military National Safety Court. The activists have been handed severe punishments ranging from two years to life in prison for speaking out against the nation’s repressive monarchy during protests that stretched from February to March this year.

"The politically motivated charges, unfair nature of the trials and severity of the sentences for the mere exercise of the right to democratic dissent, make a mockery of judicial processes," said Mandeep Tiwana, Policy Manager at CIVICUS. "The trial of civilian protestors in military courts breaches their right to be tried by competent and independent judges."

The charges against the activists include incitement of hatred, contempt of the regime, taking part in rallies without notifying competent authorities and spreading malicious propaganda with the aim of disrupting public order. CIVICUS has also received reports that some of the detainees have been physically tortured and their family members intimidated.

The sentencing of the 21 activists follows on-going harassment and prosecution of other activists and concerned citizens across Bahrain for speaking out against the governing Monarchy. This violent crackdown by the Bahraini authorities has caused the deaths of more than 24 protesters and the detention of more than 500 people. Scores of human rights and political activists, protesting lawyers, teachers, nurses, doctors and paramedics continue to languish in Bahrain’s jails.

Ziad Abdeltawab, Assistant Director at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, laments that: "Bahrain has placed itself among the worst human rights oppressors in the world. The punitive campaign led by the authorities in Bahrain against those who peacefully choose to exercise their right to protest and those who support them is unprecedented. The unconditional release of these activists is an obligation incumbent on the Government of Bahrain."

On 29 June 2011, a royal decree by King Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa ordered all military court cases to be transferred to civilian courts. However on 18 August, another decree ordered that the National Safety Court would continue to handle cases classified as “felonies” (crimes classified as serious) requiring the appeals for the 21 activists to be heard in a military court.

"The treatment of these activists is a source of grave concern to the international community. It represents a serious infringement of international law, amounting to an abdication of responsibility by a state to uphold its human rights obligations," said CIVICUS. The international community has been shamefully silent on these abuses in stark contrast to their positions on Libya, Syria, Iran and other countries.

CIVICUS urges the Bahraini authorities to stop the sham trials and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience.

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society across the world.

CampaignPublic

PHR Renews Call for Open and Fair Trials in Bahrain

Hunger striking detainees reported to be in poor health Media Contact

1 Sep 2011

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) calls on the Kingdom of Bahrain to ensure that court proceedings for detained medical professionals adhere to international legal standards and remain open to observers. PHR has also received new reports of detainees in poor health and on hunger strike and calls for the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to immediately investigate their condition.

Medical professionals who were arrested for treating protesters face trial September 7 before a hybrid military court. The Kingdom of Bahrain reintroduced the military trials last week, despite earlier promises to abolish them and try the medics in civilian courts.

“The government’s use of a military trial for these cases raises serious doubts about how the rights of civilians can be adequately protected,” said PHR Deputy Director Richard Sollom. “PHR has heard from defendant’s families that the medics began a hunger strike this week in protest of their unlawful detention and trial in military courts. PHR is calling for BICI to investigate the treatment of those in detention.”

According to their families, the striking defendants are demanding:

- Immediate release from detention - Fair trials in a civilian court with the presence of a human rights committee - New interrogations in the presence of the defendant’s lawyers and a human rights committee

Additionally, PHR has received word that many detainees are in poor health. One woman reports that her husband is suffering from severe depression and suicidal thoughts, but is not taking his antidepressants during the hunger strike. Others are reportedly at a high risk of suffering from deep vein thrombosis, uncontrolled diabetes and other ailments.

“If these claims are true, these detainees are in severe need of medical attention and should immediately be seen by independent health professionals,” said Sollom.

In April, PHR released Do No Harm, a report which documented extensive human rights violations by the Bahraini government and casts doubt on the legitimacy of the charges against the defendants.

physiciansforhumanrights.org

RSF: Despotic Regimes Continue To Obstruct Coverage Of Revolutions

1 SEPTEMBER 2011

Bahrain The authorities have blocked access to Twitcam (http://twitcam.livestream.com/), a website that allows users to stream video live in tandem with simultaneous communication with viewers via Twitter. Bahrainis have found Twitter to be a particularly useful tool for reporting human rights violations by the security forces.

Nokia Siemens Network (NSN) has been accused of providing the monitoring technology that the Bahraini authorities have been using to spy on the emails, mobile phone conversations and text message of dozens of human rights activists. Ahmed Al-Doseri, director of information and communications at Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, confirmed that Bahrain is using this kind of sophisticated monitoring technology (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-...).

en.rsf.org/bahrain-des..

Freedom House: 14-Year-Old Boy Killed in Bahrain Protest

Sep 1, 2011

14-year-old Ali Jawad Ahmad was killed during a peaceful demonstration in Bahrain on August 31 when security forces used excessive force and threw a tear gas canister at his head, according to his family and activists. The Interior Ministry claims the canister was not the cause of his death, and there was “no police action” in the area at the time. Yet activists blame security forces and are mourning Ahmad’s death by staging large-scale protests across the country.

More than thirty-two people have been killed and thousands detained since demonstrations began in February. Crackdowns have targeted anti-government activists, particularly Shiites who make up 70 percent of the population and have faced discrimination from the Sunni monarchy. Many protesters have been threatened, lost their jobs or homes, or been prevented from continuing their studies. The UN Human Rights Council added Bahrain to a list of countries to further scrutinize for human rights violations, since the government has taken extreme measures to silence both critics and journalists attempting to provide information to the outside world. An Independent Commission of Inquiry was established to investigate human rights abuses, and will release its findings in October 2011.

Freedom House is horrified at Ahmad’s death, and calls for a full investigation into the circumstances behind it. The Bahraini government must end its efforts to persecute those who have demonstrated for political reform.

Freedom in the World 2011: Bahrain Freedom on the Net 2011: Bahrain Freedom of the Press 2010: Bahrain Countries at the Crossroads 2010: Bahrain

freedomhouse.org

Islam Times: An Irish organization describes the doctor’s situation in Bahrain as horrific

1 Sep 2011

Bahrain (Islam Times) – The "Front Line for Human rights" organization deputy in Ireland, Andrew Anderson, considered that the situation in Bahrain does not show a sign of a peaceful solution any time soon...

Islam Times: In an interview, the member of the Irish medical delegation which visited Bahrain recently confirmed that the doctors and nurses were subjected to torture in Bahraini prisons, describing the arrest of such a large number of doctors and medical staff as horrific.

Andrew Anderson added "The arrest of such a large number of doctors and nurses has not happened in any country in the world, this is horrific in Bahrain", stressing that the medical staff do not threaten security in Bahrain and there is no reason for their continued presence in prison.

The "Front Line for Human rights" organization deputy continued saying "We have met many of the medical staff and we heard that they had been subjected to the worst kind of torture and everyone of them is in a state of shock due to the style of the torture they were subjected to", pointing out that the crisis is still ongoing and that the pressure is still ongoing against the citizens because of their participation in the protests.

Anderson also expressed his hope of reaching a peaceful solution to the crisis in Bahrain, saying that the signs are not apparent that a breakthrough is likely soon.

Islam Times

Amnesty International: Bahrain: Teachers' military trial resumes

Further information on UA: 227/11 Index: MDE 11/045/2011 Bahrain Date: 30 August 2011

URGENT ACTION TEACHERS' MILITARY TRIAL RESUMES

The trial of the former president and vice-president of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA ) resumed before a military court on 29 August , and has been postponed until 25 September. Amnesty International believes they may be prisoners of conscience .

Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘ Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb were brought before the military National Safety Court of First Instance for the fourth time on 29 August; they denied all the charges against them. Jalila al-Salman, former BTA vice-president, had already been released on bail on 21 August while Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb is still detained. The trial will resume on 25 September.

During the 29 August trial session, judges apparently refused demands by Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb’s lawyer that he should be released on bail, and apparently also refused to have new witnesses called to give evidence.

The King of Bahrain announced on 28 August that he would pardon some of the protesters on trial, but no more information has been released on names or charges. According to press statements he said, "There are those who are charged with abusing us and senior officials in Bahrain, we today announce that we forgive them."

Amnesty International has reviewed statements issued by the BTA and has also listened to speeches delivered by Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb calling on teachers and employees of the Ministry of Education to go on strike, and on parents not to take their children to school during demonstrations in Bahrain. These do not include advocacy of violence and while Amnesty International does not have full details of the evidence presented to the trial court, it considers that they appear to have been targeted solely for their leadership of the BTA and their legitimate exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. As civilians they should not be tried by a military court; trials of civilians before such courts breach their right to fair trial.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English, Arabic or your own language :

- Expressing concern that Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb are being tried before a military court although they are civilians, in breach of their right to fair trial before an independent and impartial court; - Expressing concern that they may have been targeted solely on account of their leadership of the BTA and legitimately exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, in which case they are prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally - Urging the authorities to protect them from torture or other ill-treatment and to order immediately a full, impartial and independent investigation into the alleged ill-treatment of Jalila al-Salman, publish the results and bring to justice any persons found responsible.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 11 OCTOBER 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: +973 176 64 587 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: +973 175 33 033 Salutation: Your Highness

Minister of Justice Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Khalifa Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs, P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 175 31 284 Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below: Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the update of UA XXXXX. Further information: www.amnesty.org/xxxxx

Further information on UA: 227/11 Index: MDE 11/045/2011 Issue Date: 30 August 2011

amnesty.org

Amnesty International: Teenage activist killed in Bahrain protest

31 August 2011

A 14-year-old boy was killed during a peaceful demonstration in Bahrain’s central town of Sitra today, where dozens of demonstrators took part in anti-government protests marking the feast of ‘Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

‘Ali Jawad Ahmad al-Shaikh died from a head injury after being hit by a tear gas canister thrown by riot police, a local human rights group said.

“This tragic death occurred during a peaceful protest where police appear to have used excessive force against people demonstrating against the government,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The police have a duty to uphold the law, but it is completely unacceptable to throw heavy gas canisters at children. The authorities must investigate ‘Ali Jawad Ahmad al-Shaikh’s death immediately in a thorough, independent and impartial manner, and those responsible must be held to account,” he added.

The Ministry of Interior denied there was any police action in Sitra at the time of the boy’s death this morning. It said that ‘Ali Jawad Ahmad al-Shaikh was already dead when he arrived at hospital, but gave no explanation for the cause of death.

However, the boy’s uncle told the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights that police had overreacted to the protests, firing tear gas directly at the protesters at close range.

Many Shi’a villages have held small-scale protests almost nightly since Ramadan began on 1 August. Police have responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.

This latest death brings the total number of deaths since pro-reform protests started on 14 February to 34, of whom 30 have been protesters.

It came two days after the King announced that some detainees and prisoners would be pardoned. As of today no further details have been released.

The Shi’a population are the majority in Bahrain but say they are discriminated against by the ruling Sunni dynasty.

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

On 6 September a military court will hear the appeal of 21 prominent opposition leaders who have been given lengthy prison terms of up to life imprisonment. The charges against them included “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution”.

In another case connected to the February protests, the trial of 20 Bahraini health professionals accused of crimes will resume on 7 September before a military court. Amnesty International believes that the 20 health workers are possible prisoners of conscience and that their trial does not meet international standards for fair trial.

Parliamentary by-elections are scheduled in the Gulf kingdom for 24 September.

The polls are being held to fill 18 seats vacated by al-Wefaq, the largest Shi’a Muslim opposition group. The lawmakers resigned in February to protest against the way the authorities handled demonstrations in Manama.

Related

Bahrain: The continued use of excessive force against protesters results in a new death and many injuries

31 August 2011

Today we received news of the death of 14 year old Ali Jawad from Sitra. Ali Jawad was shot straight in the head with a tear gas canister during the Eid protests, which led to his death. According to those who took him to the hospital, those working at the hospital refused to treat the boy. He was announced dead at 9:37am (Bahrain time). This is a picture of Ali: (Graphic) and the place where he he was shot as well as the canister which caused his death. We have time and time again warned that there will continue to be an increase in the number of deaths because of the use of excessive force against protesters, as well as the abuse of weapons carried by the security forces.

These protests, and the ones from the night before it (when a man got shot in the stomach Graphic amongst other injuries), came largely as a response to a speech made by the King, (Map showing some of the areas that witnessed protests) announcing amongst other things the return of sacked workers to their jobs, the need for unity, and that he "forgives" those who insulted him. Since then, a large number of sacked workers attempted to go back to work, but were prevented from entering the buildings by security forces, more teachers got suspended the next morning and unfortunately the charge of "inciting to hatred against the regime" is still upheld.

A 40 year old man was beaten in front of his 9 years old son two days ago by the security forces when they had gone out to buy bread: . Young man who was shot with the bird shotgun: (graphic) .

We are receiving many complaints that the teargas being used now produces a black smoke rather than white, and is a lot stronger than the one security forces used to use. The burning feeling in the chest is sharper, and the skin feels like it is burning (as described by protesters).

Brazilian teargas being used in Bahrain now: Photo1, Photo2

In other news, most families who had appointments to meet their detained loved ones today received a phone call cancelling all visits which had been promised without any explanation. This comes with the news that a number of detainees held at the Dry Docks prison have started a hunger strike in objection to their detention and ill treatment.

Letter from detained Dr.Ghassan Dhaif's wife: (as received)

"Dr.Ghassan Dhaif wife Letter to all

The situation of detained doctors is very critical.the military courts are back and doctors are still facing serious charges infront of military court despite the royal decree no 62 which diverted all military courts to civil courts. The health condition of the doctors inside jail is very bad.my husband Dr Ghassan Dhaif is having severe depression,suicidal thoughts,on several antidepressants,now on hunger strike so he is not taking his medications.dr Basim Dhaif is having compartmental syndrome from torture and may be having DVT (deep venous thrombosis).nurse ebrahim demestani is having fracture coccycs(lower back bone)he is in severe pain.dr samaheeji was diagnosed with cerebral aneurysm.dr tooblani is having severe depression.dr deewani is having uncontrolled diabetes. All are on hunger strike and we ask the medical organizations to interfere immediately to release them and save them .

Thanks for your support Dr.Ghasan Dhaif Wife 30 August 2011"

The situation in Bahrain is further deteriorating and there is dire need for urgent responses to preserve human rights.

Related - on the death of Ali Jawad

Statement by the spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on ongoing trials in Bahrain’s National Safety Courts

EUROPEAN UNION Brussels, 31 August 2011 A 341/11

The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement today:

"As the holy celebrations of Eid Al-Fitr draw the annual fast to a close for many Bahrainis, the High Representative would like to recall the situation of those who have been moved to mark the occasion by going on hunger strike in protest at what they see as continued unfair trials.

Many cases remain in the hands of the ‘Court of National Safety’, set up in the wake of the antigovernment protests this spring. These include those of members of both the medical and teaching professions. The High Representative is of the firm belief that civilians must be tried in civilian courts, with due process, so that their full rights to a fair trial are upheld. The High Representative urges the authorities in Bahrain to follow through on their commitments and bring the use of these courts – and the harsh sentences they have produced – to an immediate end.”

consilium.europa.eu

Amnesty International: Appeal For Action: 20 Health Professionals To Be Tried By A Military Court In Bahrain

25 August 2011

The trial of 20 Bahraini health professionals accused of felonies will resume on 28 August, again before a military court instead of a civilian court, as previously indicated. Amnesty international believes that the 20 health workers are possible prisoners of conscience and that their trial does not meet international standards for fair trial.

All 20 people are part of the original group of 48 health workers who were arrested in March and April 2011 and include paramedics, nurses and doctors, mostly from al-Salmaniya Medical Complex in Manama. The 48 people were previously split into two groups, one of 20 health workers accused of felonies, or more serious offences, and the other group of 28 health workers accused of misdemeanours, or less serious offences. All those accused of misdemeanours had been released on bail by the end of June. Trial proceedings in relation to the two groups started in early June before the National Safety Court of First Instance (a military court).

During a trial session on 13 June at least two medical doctors told the court that they had been tortured and forced to sign confessions while blindfolded. On 29 June, the King of Bahrain issued a royal decree by which all ongoing military court cases in connection with the protests in February and March would be transferred to ordinary civilian courts.

However, on 18 August the King issued a new decree (Decree 28/20011) stating that the National Safety Court of First Instance would continue to deal with felony cases whereas all misdemeanour cases would be referred to ordinary civilian cases. The case of the group of 28 health workers will resume on 24 October before an ordinary court.

Among the 20 heath workers due to appear before the National Safety Court of First Instance on 28 August are six women who have been released on bail. They include Zahra Mahdi al-Sammak, Najah Khalil Ibrahim Hassan, Dhia Ibrahim Ja’far, Fatima Salman Hassan Haji and Nada Sa’eed ‘Abdel-Nabi Dhaif. The sixth woman, Rula Jassem Mohammad al-Saffar, the head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, was only released on 21 August 2011, one day after she had been visited in prison by Professor Cherif Bassiouni, the Chairman of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.

Two health workers are being tried in absentia. They are ‘Ali Hassan al-Sadadi and Qassim Mohammad ‘Omran. The remaining health workers who will appear before the military court on Sunday have all been detained since March and April this year. On 22 August they were visited by Professior Bassiouni in the Dry Dock Prison in Manama. They include doctors ‘Ali Essa Mansoor Al Ekri, Nader Mohammed Hassan Dewani, Ahmed ‘Abdul’aziz ‘Omran Hassan, Mahmood Asghar ‘Abdulwahab, ‘Abdulkhaleq ‘Ali Hussain al-‘Oraibi, Ghassan Ahmed ‘Ali Dhaif, Bassim Ahmed ‘Ali Dhaif, Najah Khalil Ebrahim Hassan and Saeed Mothaher Habib Al Samahiji; one nurse, Ebrahim Abdullah Ebrahim; one paramedic, Sayed Marhoon Majid Al Wedaei; one laboratory technician, Mohammed Faeq ‘Ali Al Shehab; and Hassan Mohammed Sa’eed Nasser (profession undefined).

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY:

ν Explaining that you are a health professional concerned about human rights; ν Expressing concern that the 20 health workers will continue to be tried before a military court whose proceedings do not meet international standards for fair trial; ν Urging the authorities to carry out an immediate and independent investigation into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment against some of the health professionals, as well as against other detainees in Bahrain, to make the results public, and to bring to justice any officials responsible for the torture or other ill-treatment of detainees; ν Urging the authorities to ensure that confessions obtained under torture are not submitted or used as evidence in the trial of the 20 health professionals or any other trials in Bahrain; ν Expressing concern that, despite the serious charges brought against them, these health professionals appear to have been brought to trial solely because of their peaceful efforts to provide medical assistance to people injured by government security forces during popular protests in February and March, in which case those held in custody would be prisoners of conscience and should be immediately and unconditionally released.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 31 AUGUST 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

Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khlaifa Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Khalifa P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 175 31 284 Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Social Development, Health and Human Rights Dr Fatima bint Mohammed Al Balooshi Ministry of Social Development P.O. Box 32868, Isa Town, Bahrain Fax: +973 17101955 Salutation: Your Excellency

If you receive no reply within six weeks of sending your letter, please send a follow-up letter seeking a response. Please send copies of any letters you receive to the International Secretariat, attention of the Health Team, 1 Easton Street, London WC1X 0DW, or email: HEALTH@AMNESTY.ORG

BACKGROUND INFORMATION This is the 6th update of a Health Professional Action on Bahrain. For the original action and earlier updates, please see the documents with the following index numbers: MDE 11/008/2011 (25 February 2011), MDE 11/22/2011 (26 April), MDE 11/25/2011 (11 May), MDE 11/30/2011 (8 June), MDE 11/33/2011 (14 June) and MDE 11/38/2011 (8 July).

amnesty.org