25 May, 2009

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights: Bahrain: Kidnap and Assault of a Young Boy

Bahrain: Kidnap and Assault of a Young Boy after his Release among the Royal Pardon

24 May 2009

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights expresses its deep concern regarding the information received on the assault of Sayed Adnan Sayed Majeed – 16 years of age – after he was kidnapped by a group of people wearing civilian clothes near his home in Hamad Town, south of the country.

Sayed Adnan left Salmaniya hospital after he was treated and proved to have bruises in his neck. Sayed Adnan had informed the representatives of the BYSHR that on 21 May at 3:30 am, while he was near his home, two men wearing civilian clothes and masks to cover their faces attacked him. The two covered up his head by using a cover. He tried to resist but he failed to escape. They then forced him into a car with two others in it. He was taken to a remote area that is almost 15 minutes away, then he was beaten first on his back then was assaulted with shoes for almost 30 minutes. He was then asked for the reason he goes to pray in Al-Saddiq mosque, and where the prayer is led by Hasan Mushaimea, president of Haq Movement. He was threatened to be taken next time to the “Qalaa” and not to the Criminal Investigation building. Unknown people then returned him to an open area near his home.

The family of Sayed Adnan informed the BYSHR that at around 4:50 am they heard loud knocks on their front door, and their neighbour told them he saw their son in the open area near the home and that he is in a dreadful state. He was immediately transferred from the open area to hospital by ambulance.

Sayed Adnan assured that he spent one day after leaving hospital – 21 May – between the security center and the Public Prosecution where he refused to file a complaint, but the insistence of the Prosecutor enquired him to make a complaint. The security center refused at first to record the report on his threat, and asked him to repeat the report several times.

Sayed Adnan was pursued by the National Security Agency for a month in which he disappeared from his family, and in which the Security Forces broke into his home several times in search for him. On 28 February, he returned to his home where his father handed him over to the Public Prosecution and who accused him of burning a private car that belongs to the Ministry of Interior, which had civil security men in it as well as assaulting a security man. He was released on 12 April 2009 among the Royal Pardon decision.

The kidnap and assault incident against persons who were arrested recently is the second in one month. Please refer to the joint statement on 19 May 2009 on the assault of the human rights defender Jaffar Kadhim Ibrahim. http://byshr.org/?p=154, http://www.bchr.net/ar/node/2891

The BYSHR reminds that Sayed Adnan had not yet turned 18, which means that he is still a child according to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Bahrain had acceded to, and which holds the authorities additional responsibilities. The BYSHR demands:

- Initiating an immediate, fair and comprehensive investigation in the kidnap and assault of Sayed Adnan Sayed Majeed and to announce the results to the public and to bring those responsible to trial.

- Investigate the previous similar cases and which indicate a pattern of assaults, probably involving the Security Services, and to put an end to the impunity to those who carry out those violations and to reform the security institutions in order for them to play their role in guaranteeing rights and not violating and infringing them.

For more information:

Nader Al-Salatna – Vice-president of the BYSHR

+973 – 39596196 or naderalsalatna@byshr.org

19 May, 2009

Bahrain: A campaign to defame a human rights defender who was severely beaten

Bahrain: A campaign to defame a human rights defender who was severely beaten and to discredit national and international human rights organizations

May 19, 2009

After a wave of rage and mounting national and international pressure to investigate the severe assault on May 7, 2009 against human rights defender Ja'far Kadhim Ibrahim, the Bahrain authorities changed their version of the story as to the motives of the individuals behind the incident. On the 9th of May, 2009, a security official stated to local newspapers, that the incident was a robbery, while on the 16th of May, a new official story was revealed to the press claiming that Ja'far Kadhim was abducted and beaten by two brothers of a women who was involved in an affair with Ja'far Kadhim.

Jaffer Kadhim, who was released yesterday from hospital but still under treatment, re assured the BCHR today that the men who abducted and beat him severely were 5-6 persons who were unknown to him and apparently associated with the National Security Apparatus citing their use of walkie-talkies and the batons they used to beat him. He expressed his believe that the authorities, in order to discredit him and to cover up on the real perpetrators of the assault, misused information related to a personal dispute between himself and the family of a woman to whom he has been engaged against the will of her family.

Since the reveal of the new official story of the attack incident, officials and pro government activists and journalists have been publishing statements and articles discrediting national and international human rights organizations for disseminating “accusations and false information” against the Security Apparatus in Bahrain. However, these statements failed to mention that those organizations were reacting to direct testimony of the victim himself and to different official statements two days after the incidents. Pro-government statements also failed to mention that the human rights organizations called for an independent investigation into the case and this was before the new alleged “findings” by the authorities which cannot qualify as an independent investigation.

Taking into consideration previous similar cases of abduction and physical assaults against human rights defenders and the recent, dramatic, change in the official “findings” of the incident , which contradict with the testimony of the victim regarding the identity of the perpetrators, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), are still calling for an independent investigation into the attack against human rights defender Ja'far Kadhim Ibrahim, including investigating the possible relation between the attack and his human rights activities. Having in mind, that Jaffer Kadhim had been arbitrarily detained before for his human rights activities and was, at the time of the attack, working for the BCHR and BYSHR to document recent cases of torture which could be the motive of the attack.

For further information and photos on the case and previous similar cases please refer to the BCHR and BYSHR websites, including the previous report on the same case dated May 10, 2009: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/2876 http://byshr.org/?p=147

18 May, 2009

Authorities step up offensive against journalists and websites

Bahrain | 14.05.2009 Reporters Without Borders is concerned about freedom of expression in Bahrain. In the past couple of months, two journalists have been charged because of what they wrote and the information ministry has stepped up Internet filtering.

“Free expression is under threat in Bahrain as a result of provocative measures and abusive judicial proceedings,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the authorities to withdraw the charges against these journalists, who were just doing their job, and we call for the immediate unblocking of news and human rights websites.”

Abdulhassan Bu-Hussain of the daily newspaper Al Wasat was charged on 8 May with harming the Civil Service Bureau’s image in a series of articles from September to November of last year in which he accused the CSB of violating constitutional principles.

Lamees Dhaif, a reporter and columnist with the daily Al Waqt, was summoned before a court on 5 March and charge with public insult under article 216 of the criminal code, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. She is awaiting trial.

Around 600 websites are currently blocked in Bahrain and online censorship has become more extensive since 21 April, when the authorities ordered that access to the Washington-based news website Aafaq.org, Ghada Jamsheer’s women’s rights blog Bahrain-eve and the blog aggregator Bahrainblogs.org should also be blocked.

Under a decree issued by the culture and information ministry on 5 January, the ministry can order the blocking of websites without referring to a court. According to article 3 of the decree, “telecommunication companies and Internet Service Providers are required to prohibit any means that allow access to sites blocked by the ministry, whether by Internet address, use of a proxy server or any other means.”

More information

Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has representatives in Bangkok, London, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has more than 120 correspondents worldwide.

© Reporters Without Borders 2009

15 May, 2009

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY: Abduction / Attack / Ill-treatment in Bahrain

THE OBSERVATORY for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

BHR 002 / 0509 / OBS 071

May 13, 2009

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), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) of the abduction and attack suffered by Mr. Jaafar Kadhim, who works for the Committee of Activists and Prisoners of Conscience.

According to the information received, on May 7, 2009 at 8.45 pm, while Mr. Jaafar Kadhim was driving close to the Jidhafs Medical Centre, west of the capital Manama, his car was stopped by two cars, and he was pulled from his car, his eyes were blind folded and he was taken for a 10-15 minutes by five or six men in plain clothes drive to an unknown area where he was severely beaten until he lost consciousness.

He regained consciousness in his car, covered in his blood. He managed to find his way to the nearby house of a friend, from where he was transferred to the hospital by ambulance. He was visited the next day by the police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Bahraini press coverage of Mr. Jaafar Kadhim’s abuse has been limited to one article in the Al Wasat independent newspaper published on May 9, in which a spokesperson for the Director of the Northern Governorate Police stated that Mr. Jaafar Kadhim was a victim of robbery.

Mr. Jaafar Kadhim has worked for the Committee of Activists and Prisoners of Conscience since December 2007 and has helped to organise peaceful marches and protests for the rights of detainees. During 2007-2008, he hosted meetings for relatives of detainees with many visiting foreign journalist and international human rights organisations, including an Amnesty International delegation. Following these activities, he was arbitrarily arrested on February 4, 2009 by security forces and released, without charges, on February 9, 2009.

Since his release, Mr. Jaafar Kadhim has helped BCHR and Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) in documenting recent cases of torture and assisting families of 19 detainees, who have remained in prison despite the royal pardon issued on April 12, 2009, which allowed the release of 178 activists, including several human rights defenders.

Mr. Jaafar Kadhim is currently at Salmania Public Hospital where he is being treated for severe injuries in the head, the face and the back.

The Observatory is extremely concerned by the attack suffered by Mr. Jaafar Kadhim. The Observatory fears that Mr. Jaafar Kadhim was subjected to this attack because of his human rights activities, especially the rights of detainees and the documentation of torture cases. The Observatory urges the Bahraini authorities to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into all the above-mentioned facts, in order to identify those responsible for the assault, and bring them in the shortest delays before a competent and impartial tribunal.

Actions requested :

Please write to the authorities of Bahrain urging them to :

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Jaafar Kadhim and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Order an immediate, effective, thorough and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned assault against Mr. Jaafar Kadhim, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Ensure that adequate, effective and prompt reparation, including adequate compensation, proper medical care and rehabilitation, is granted to Mr. Jaafar Kadhim;

iv. Put an end to all acts harassment against human rights defenders in Bahrain;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, Article 11, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exercise of his or her occupation or profession”, as well as Article 12(1) that provides “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;

vi. 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

*** Paris-Geneva, May 13, 2009

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line: E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80 Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

FIDH International Federation for Human Rights 17, Passage de la Main d’Or 75 011 Paris, France OMCT World Organisation Against Torture Case postale 21 - 8 rue du Vieux-Billard 1211 Geneva 8, Switzerland

15 May, 2009

Arab Program For Human Rights Activists :"Abduction and Assault – Activists fate"

Cairo in 14.5.2009

Urgent – Bahrain

The Arab Program for Human Rights Activisits is follows up with deep concern the brutal assault which occurred to the activist Mr.Gaffar Kazem, who was abducted by a group of persons wearing a civilian cloths in the night 0f 7.5.2009, where the activist was driving his car near the Gad-Hafs Medical Center, west of Manama city. He was stopped by two cars, and before he pays an attention they dragged him blind-folded to a remot and unkown area,where they brutally assaulted and beaten him until he lost consciousness. He suffered from a broken rips and head injury.

The activist is well known for his work in the human rights fields in Bahrain and the Arab world. He worked in the "Activists, prisoners of opinion and detainees committee". And helped in organizing peaceful marches for the detainee's rights. Recently he is assisting the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Youth Association of Bahrain for Human rights.

The Arab Program is condemning such acts, and the continuing of violations gainst the human rights activists in Bahrain. And he calls the Bahrain government upon the article (7) of the international covenant for the human and poltical rights, which states : "No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel treatment or punishment, inhuman or degrading of the dignity"

The Arab program calls for the Bahrain authorities to:

1- Prompt and impartial investigation into the abduction of human rights activist Mr. Jaafar Kazem and make a statement on the subject and the circumstances of the incident and the results and bring those responsible to court..

2-Work to provide a suitable environment for all workers and defender of human rights.

14 May, 2009

Human Rights Watch: Bahrain: Labor Reforms a Major Advance

13/5/2009 (Beirut) - Bahrain's revision of its restrictive kafala (sponsorship) system will dramatically improve the status of most migrant workers and reduce their risk of exploitation, Human Rights Watch said today. But the protections should be extended to migrant domestic workers, who are especially vulnerable to employer abuse, Human Rights Watch said.

The kafala system ties migrants' work visas and immigration status to their employers, enabling employers to prevent workers from changing jobs or leaving the country. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly documented how this system fuels abuses such as unpaid wages, exploitative working conditions, and forced labor in countries across the region, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon.

"Most governments in the region acknowledge that the current system allows employers to abuse workers, but have wasted years debating alternatives without taking action," said Nisha Varia, deputy director of the women's rights division, who researches abuses against migrants for Human Rights Watch. "Bahrain deserves enormous credit for being the first to make concrete reforms. Other countries should follow suit."

Many countries in the Middle East that rely on low-wage workers from Asia and Africa use the kafala system. Several of these countries are also considering changes, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, though progress has stalled.

Bahrain's labor minister, Majeed al-Alawi, announced last week that beginning on August 1 the government's Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), rather than employers, will sponsor migrants' work visas. Migrants will be able to apply to the authority to change employers. The government will also cap the number of migrant workers entering the country.

"These reforms reduce the lopsided power balance between employers and migrant workers," said Varia. "Previously, employers could threaten migrants with deportation or seize their passports, and force them to accept lower wages. Employers now have an incentive to improve working conditions because these reforms will give workers more opportunity to choose where they work."

The reforms do not apply, though, to migrant domestic workers, whose employment visas will continue to be sponsored by their employers. Human Rights Watch research in the Middle East shows that domestic workers' isolation in private homes and exclusion from key labor protections puts them at particular risk of a wide range of abuses, from excessively long working hours to physical and sexual abuse.

"Bahrain took the first step, but they neglected the workers in greatest need of protection," said Varia. "The government should move quickly to extend the sponsorship reforms to domestic workers and to bring them under the protection of the labor law."

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/05/13/bahrain-labor-reforms-major-advance © Copyright 2008, Human Rights Watch

12 May, 2009

Human Rights Watch - Bahrain: Investigate Abduction, Beating of Rights Activist

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/05/1...activist?print

May 12, 2009

(New York) - Bahrain should immediately begin a thorough and impartial investigation into the abduction and torture of the human rights activist Ja'far Kadhim Ibrahim, Human Rights Watch said today. Men whom Ibrahim believed were working for a Bahraini security agency abducted him on the night of May 7, 2009, and beat him severely with batons.

Ibrahim had been contacting political activists recently released from detention concerning their allegations that they had been subjected to torture and abuse in detention. Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), said Ibrahim believes that the men who attacked him are agents of the National Security Apparatus - an official security force - citing their use of walkie-talkies and the batons they used to beat him.

"It looks like the men who abducted and beat Ja'far Ibrahim intended to teach him a lesson - that pursuing torture allegations in Bahrain today carries a high price," said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East division at Human Rights Watch. "The government needs to appoint an independent prosecutor or commission to investigate this incident as the first step in bringing the attackers to justice."

Rajab told Human Rights Watch that he spoke with Ibrahim in his hospital room on May 8. Ibrahim said that at approximately 8:45 p.m. the previous day, he was driving in the Jid Hafs neighborhood, west of the capital, Manama, when two cars cornered him on the road. At least six men in plain clothes, some with walkie-talkies, dragged Ibrahim from his car and confiscated his wallet and two mobile phones. The men blindfolded Ibrahim, forced him into one of their cars, and drove 10 to 15 minutes to an unidentified area, where they beat him unconscious.

When he recovered consciousness he found himself covered in blood and back in his car, alone. He attempted to drive himself to the nearby house of Hasan Mushaima, the head of Haq, an opposition political party. Eventually, acquaintances drove him to the nearby Salmania Public Hospital, where he remains with wounds to his face and head, as well as two broken ribs.

Photographs taken by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights show him badly bruised, with swollen facial features, stitches, and a brace on his head and neck. At the time of the attack, Ibrahim was working on behalf of the BCHR and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, documenting recent allegations of torture in detention and assisting the families of detainees.

"The abduction and beating of Ja'far Ibrahim are a wake-up call that Bahrain needs to investigate seriously and hold accountable those responsible for violence against dissidents," Stork said. "The message here seems to be that torture is acceptable in Bahrain."

Ibrahim, 41 years old and a father of two, was himself was only recently released from detention. In the early hours of February 4, he and fellow rights activist Ali Hassan Salman were taken from their homes by security agents without warrants or explanation and detained for a month without access to a lawyer or family members. Ibrahim was released on March 2.

Bahrain's obligations as party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights include the right of individuals not to be tortured and the right to freedom of association and peaceful public assembly. The UN Convention against Torture and Other Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Bahrain is a state party, prohibits torture and cruel and inhuman treatment and requires all cases of torture to be investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted.

Bahraini press coverage of Ibrahim's abuse has been limited to one article in the independent newspaper Al Wasat on May 9, in which a spokesperson for the director of the Northern Governorate Police said that Ibrahim was a victim of robbery, despite the fact that, according to Rajab, no money had been taken from his billfold. The websites of many prominent critics of the government and most human rights organizations that would normally have published details of such an incident continue to be blocked in Bahrain.

Human Rights Watch said the government should make public the results of the investigation into Ibrahim's abduction and beating.

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http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/05/1...ights-activist © Copyright 2008, Human Rights Watch

12 May, 2009

The Free Movement of Foreign Workers: a positive step towards abolishing the sponsorship system

The Free Movement of Foreign Workers: a positive step towards abolishing the sponsorship system, and towards improving the work opportunities of Bahrainis

7 May 2009

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights welcomes moves by Bahraini government, reflected in the Ministry of Labour’s decision, to allow the free movement of migrant workers in Bahrain. The change allows foreign workers to transfer from one job to another independent of their sponsors, and lifts all restrictions that were previously applicable.

According to the Official Gazette issued on 30 April, the decision will come into effect next August. The Minister of Labour clarified that, “the worker’s transfer represents one of the important elements for labour market mechanisms to function in a natural way, because it will benefit both the employer and employee alike.” He added, “To push the reform of the labour market one step forward calls for a change based on foundations and principles that are equitable for all.” He also stressed, “Maintaining the current situations is not considered a reform but rather a main retreat from the idea of reform.”

Bahrain now works with the sponsorship system, which is a method used in the GCC countries to bring migrant workers into the country. It is a system that has been internationally condemned and long criticized by international human rights organization, and has been compared to the slave trade system of the past. One of the negative results of this system in Bahrain is the free-visa phenomenon. There are an estimated 60,000 migrants working illegally in Bahrain, most of whom have to make monthly payments to the sponsors who bring them to the country without appropriating jobs for them.

Under the sponsorship system there is a restriction on the free movement of workers to seek employment with any person other than their initial sponsor, and workers are unable to leave the country without their sponsor's approval. The countries of the Arabian Gulf are 'receiving countries' with huge migrant labour populations, and the most violations of migrant workers' human rights at both the public and official levels. The majority of labourers in the Gulf come from Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Labourers usually live and work in poor or inhumane conditions. The UN Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Ms. Sigma Huda criticized the sponsorship system during her last visit to Bahrain and other Gulf countries, and called for the abolishment of this anti-migrant employment system. Ms Huda also appealed Gulf countries to sign the International Convention on the Rights of migrant workers and members of their families.

The BCHR sees in this positive initiative a step towards promoting the protection of the human rights of this vulnerable group of society who have made major contributions to their host countries in the Gulf in terms of construction and infrastructure in the past decades. Abolishing the sponsorship system will make Bahraini workers more capable of competing and improving their job conditions because it will decrease exploitation in employment, and raise new standards for the treatment and conditions of workers in the country. The BCHR calls on the concerned governmental bodies to back up their decision by taking responsibility for the consequences of the transition period by way preserving the rights of all work parties, including employers, and by avoiding the negative consequences of this change on the prices and the living standards of Bahraini citizens.

12 May, 2009

Bloomberg: Bahrain’s Shiites Demand Equal Rights in Home of Fifth Fleet

May 11 (Bloomberg) -- Unrest among the Shiite Muslim majority in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, is threatening to spark a return to the wave of violence that enveloped the Persian Gulf archipelago in the 1990s.

Youths rioted and burned tires almost nightly for three months after the arrest of three Shiite leaders in January. On April 30, a homemade explosive device went off accidentally in a car outside Manama, the capital, killing one Shiite and injuring another. Police said it resembled bombs seized during the riots. Shiites complain of sectarian discrimination in housing and jobs by the ruling Sunni Muslim elite; Sunnis make up only 30 percent of Bahrain’s citizens. Political frustration is also mounting because an elected chamber of parliament set up in 2002 by King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has limited authority.

“The country is not stable,” Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Human Rights Center, said in an interview in Manama. “Stability won’t come until human rights are respected. The existing policy of the ruling elite is pushing the country into conflict.”

The riots stopped after al-Khalifa, 59, on April 11 released 178 Shiites detained on security charges. They included Shiite community leader Hassan Mushaima, cleric Mohammed al- Moqdad and 33 others arrested in late January on charges of plotting terrorist attacks and seeking to overthrow the government.

Violence Risk

The releases won’t remove the risk of violence in the Gulf financial center as long as the government quells protests and the parliamentary system is unrepresentative, Shiite leaders and human-rights activists in Manama say.

The parliament -- reinstated by al-Khalifa when he came to power in 1999 after an earlier body was dissolved in 1975 -- has no right to initiate laws. Though Shiites are a majority of the population, their party holds 17 of the 40 seats in the legislature, which can only pass laws with the assent of an upper chamber whose members are chosen by the king.

Violence between 1994 and 1999 killed 38 people and 1,000 were arrested and held in prison without trial.

The instability in Bahrain is a concern for the U.S.: Mushaima says Shiite opposition to the presence of the Fifth Fleet is growing because of U.S. support for the Al-Khalifa government.

The Fifth Fleet, which has about 20 warships and 15,000 sailors and marines, is responsible for an area of 7.5 million square miles, including the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean. It is active in combating Somali pirates and countering Iran.

Saudi Concerns

Neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has a restive Shiite minority in its oil-producing heartland in the east. Kuwait’s population is one-third Shiite. Concern that Iran is seeking more influence in the Gulf mounted after a senior Iranian official, Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, said in February that Bahrain used to be Iran’s 14th province.

Shiite leaders say they are excluded from top government jobs and from key ministries, including defense and interior affairs. Only 13 percent of senior state posts are held by Shiites, down from 25 percent in 2001, according to the human- rights center.

Major-General Abdul Latif Rashed al-Zayani, Bahrain’s chief of public security, denied any discrimination and said government employees are not classified by religious affiliation.

Shiites are caught in a squeeze: While they can’t get the good jobs, immigrant laborers from India and other south Asian countries do most of the unskilled work. They are paid as little as $260 a month.

Low-Wage Carpenter

A short drive from the gleaming office towers of Manama, Said Abdullah, a Shiite carpenter, lives in a dilapidated concrete apartment building with his wife and four children.

The plywood roof leaks when it rains in winter and his teenage boy and three younger daughters have to sleep in one room. Abdullah says he can’t get work in the army or police and struggles on pay of $530 a month. “If you come from a Shiite area, you have no chance,” he said.

Security Chief Al-Zayani said only 100 to 200 youths have been involved in regular disturbances, describing them as “a radical minority.”

“We hope that with the amnesty they will come to their senses and join other forces in properly expressing their views,” he said.

Post-Boycott

Shiite legislators say they are frustrated. They boycotted the assembly from 2002 to 2006, then returned because the king persuaded them to give the political system a chance to work.

“It’s the third year now; in truth we can’t move anything,” said Abdul Hussain Al-Mutghawi of Shia al-Wifaq. It is the largest single party.

Shiite leader Mushaima, whose home is adorned with a photograph of Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese leader of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement, warns that patience is running out. The al-Khalifa family has ruled the country since invading the Persian province in 1783.

“We are the original citizens, we deserve full rights,” he said. “The problems will start again and they will be more violent, because people are angry and upset. There is an explosion coming.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Manama via the Dubai newsroom at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: May 10, 2009 17:01 EDT

11 May, 2009

BCHR/IFEX - Journalist summoned for allegedly defaming Civil Service Bureau

(BCHR/IFEX) - The Bahraini Public Prosecution (PP) has summoned Mr Abdulhasan Bu-Hussain, a journalist writer at "Alwasat" local newspaper, on a case brought against him by the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) accusing him of smear and defamation in a series of articles written by Bu-Hussain about the CSB and its regulations. Bu-Hussain, who was a former executive at the CSB, wrote a series of articles in "Alwasat" in the period of 16 September to 16 November 2008, outlining many of the CSB bylaws, executive circulations, resolutions and instructions for government employees which violate the Bahraini Constitution and laws. The CSB responded furiously more than once, threatening to prosecute the writer who was obstinate in upholding what he considers his right to freedom of expression on public issues.

After a 23 October article in which Bu-Hussain criticized the inclusion of employees of executive position in the overtime payment system, deeming it a violation of the Civil Service Act, the CSB responded angrily, taking recourse to the law. Bu-Hussain noted: "The Service Bureau has responded nervously to my published article, pledging to (involve) the Public Prosecutor on a matter of opinion on the contents of the internal bylaws in breach of the Civil Service Act, claiming that what I expressed as opinion is a serious accusation, smear and defamation."

BCHR President Nabeel Rajab stated: "It is ironic that the summoning of the journalist writer Mr Bu-Hussain came 48 hours after the celebrations of World Press (Freedom) Day, giving an indication that the local authorities are, unfortunately, not serious about improving the status of freedom of expression and journalism in Bahrain." He continued: "We are deeply concerned as the ranking of Bahrain drops towards the end of the tail of countries as regards freedom of the press, as outlined by the latest Freedom House report."

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Send appeals to the authorities urging them to: - repeal the case against Mr Abdulhasan Bu-Hussain, and ensure that no reprisals are carried out against him as a result of his criticizing the CSB and highlighting its violation of the laws and constitution - stop harassing journalists and writers for expressing their views on public affairs and issues of relation to misconduct, corruption and ill-practices - amend or abolish all legislation which prosecutes journalists and writers who exercise their duty of documenting and analyzing the conduct of public institutions

APPEALS TO: His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa King of Bahrain

Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa Cabinet Prime Minister Fax: +97 3 1721 1363

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

MORE INFORMATION:

For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, President, BCHR, Manama, Bahrain, tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, fax: +973 1779 5170, e-mail: nabeel.rajab@bahrainrights.org, info@bahrainrights.org, Internet: http://www.bahrainrights.org; Facebook: English Group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php/group.php?gid=44138766349, Arabic Group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php/group.php?gid=50727622539 http://www.youtube.com/user/baharincenter