25 Aug, 2009

(BCHR/IFEX)- Special forces deployed to prevent public figures from expressing views on Independence Day

Alert Special forces deployed to prevent public figures from expressing views on Independence Day

(BCHR/IFEX) - The Bahraini authorities deployed armed special forces to prevent well known public figures from expressing their views in a public gathering to celebrate the 38th anniversary of Bahrain's Independence Day, on 14 August 2009.

Three days earlier, the president of the Al-Attar Center was phoned by an official from the Interior Ministry advising him that the event was forbidden and utmost force would be used to prevent it. The administrator of Al-Attar was summoned to the Central Governorate at around noon (local time) on 13 August and was advised of the same prohibition, but he gave assurances that the event would not be held at the Al-Attar premises. The security officials did not let the Al-Attar president leave until he signed a statement taking responsibility if the celebration was held. At mid afternoon of the same day, the Al-Attar Center was surrounded and all entries leading to it were blocked by armed special forces personnel, to prevent anyone from coming closer.

Half an hour before the launch of the event, a press conference was held by the organisers and was broadcast via the internet to advise of the cancellation of the celebration at the Al-Attar Center. According to the organisers, they made their decision in order to prevent any form of confrontation between people who were eager to attend the event and the security forces.

In the press conference, the organisers expressed their astonishment at the ban prohibiting the public expression of views in a celebration which aims "to revive a national day." Hasan Mushaima, the secretary general of the HAQ Movement, stated that "the celebration was to enshrine a national day in the sentiment of the people, and was not meant to cause any troubles." In a communiqué released at the press conference, the organisers said, "It is well known that people liberated after a prolonged colonisation celebrate the day of (the colonisers') departure from their territory, as they consider it a sign of victory and pride."

The planned celebration was to be composed of speeches by some popular figures, short clips and poems recited by youth and children, as well as distribution of sweets and a pamphlet shedding light on the historic event in Bahrain during independence in the early 1970s. It should be mentioned that the authorities do not consider 14 August to be a national day, rather, they celebrate a national day on December 16th, when the late Amir was enthroned in 1971.

The president of BCHR, Nabeel Rajab, commented on the event: "It is a very strange action by the local authorities to deploy force to prevent people from expressing their views of what they consider a national day and celebrate in a civilised way." He added, "The authorities are hysterical in dealing with any form of freedom of speech, especially when it occurs in public premises."

BCHR considers the attitude of the Bahraini authorities to be alarming and expresses concern for the deterioration in the level of freedom of expression. BCHR calls for: - the Bahraini authorities to show respect for the basic rights of freedom of expression and assembly, as secured by international covenants. - the authorities to abide by their vows and commitments in the ratified ICCPR, particularly its articulation focusing on the right to freedom of expression. - the Bahraini laws, which have been used as a legal means of repression of all forms of expression, to be nullified or modified to come in line with international human rights conventions.

Source Bahrain Center for Human Rights Manama Bahrain info (@) bahrainrights.org Phone: +97 33 9633399 Fax: +97 31 7795170

http://www.ifex.org/bahrain/2009/08/24/public_event_banned/

19 Aug, 2009

The Public Prosecution Restricts Freedom of the Media in dealing with Government Corruption

The Public Prosecution Restricts Freedom of the Media in dealing with Government Corruption

While Allows itself to Use it in Cases against Activists and Opponent

15 August 2009

The Bahraini press on 2 August 2009 quoted the Acting Public Prosecutor, the First Public Lawyer Abdul-Rahman Mohammed , stating that, "The press leading the public opinion in a way that affects the course of justice is a matter that obligates accountability and punishment, regardless of the truth that this guidance might include or the falsehood of it. Therefore, and in order to ensure the proper course of justice and in order to avoid affecting the judiciary and in implementation of the Constitution's provision that decides that the accused is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law that guarantees the right to defend him or herself, and what the Penal law and Press law state about the prohibition of the dissemination of matters that could affect the judiciary and public prosecution in charge of the investigation, or that influence the witnesses that might be called to testify".

This statement was said in relation to a corruption case against officials in the Bahrain Institute of Political Development, a government institution which was established to dominate political work and to guide and train the members of the Shura Council and the House of Representatives and cadres of political societies as a replacement for the the American NDI foundation.

Nabeel Rajab, president of the BCHR stated, "The Public Prosecution by that statement wants to restrict and limit the freedom of media in addressing issues relating to corruption in government bodies, however at the same time it has condemned itself and condemned the state-controlled mass media for the direct influence on the judiciary in several past cases during the last four years, relating to the arrest and trial of dissidents and human rights defenders, the last of these cases was the group of 35 activists who were maliciously accused of being involved in a terrorist plot, and by an order of the Prosecution they were exposed through government television and media before being presented to court and being finally released by a Royal decree". Rajab added, "We stress in this matter on what the Public Prosecutor said That 'the press leading the public opinion in a way that affects the course of justice is a matter that obligates accountability and punishment', and we add 'even if it were by a request or guided by the Public Prosecution'."

The BCHR refuses any legal justifications of restricting the freedom of press and especially in addressing issues of corruption and violations of human rights, and refuses restricts on the freedom of human rights defenders in using mass media in their human rights work. Thus, it asks the Public Prosecution to commit to the principle of the 'innocence of the accused prior to his or her conviction ' by not publishing any information that might be harmful to the detainees and especially human rights defenders and the ones accused in cases of public matter. It also asks the parliamentary and judicial bodies to open an investigation in all trelated violations commited by the Public Prosecution and to prosecute the violators and reform this institution, and to amend the laws in a way that prevents such violations from happening again, and to compensate the affected. The BCHR also calls on the affected to file civil cases in order to reveal the truth and mend the material and moral damages, and to address the specialized international bodies in this matter.

7 Aug, 2009

Activist Mohammed Al Sankees Dismissed from his Work Because of his Rights Activism

BAHRAIN: Human Rights Defenders Subjected to Job Dismissal and Income Cut-off

Activist Mohammed Al Sankees Dismissed from his Work Because of his Rights Activism

www.bahrainrights.org 3rd August 2009

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) express their deep concern about the escalation in targeting human rights defenders and opposition activists in Bahrain. The Bahraini Authorities, and without prior notice, have recently taken a measure to terminate the services of human rights activist Mohammed Abdullah Alsankees of his work at the Ministry of Works after more than 22 years of employment in the same ministry.

Mohammed Alsankees, in his forties, is the founder and chairman of the Committee Against Inflation (High Prices), which was founded in 2006. He had a distinct role in the management of his Committee and in shedding light on its theme subject. He was also an active member of the committees for the defense of activists, political prisoners and detainees of conscience, and distinguishably contributed in social work when chaired the Social Center at Maqaba village for a period of time. Alsankees participated in joint activities with the Committee of Unemployed, until just before his arrest last December 21st, 2007 in a campaign waged against activists of popular committees and human rights defenders.

During the nineties, Mohammed Alsankees had been dynamic in the social activities as well as at the popular demands during which period, he was numerously arrested due to his role in the collection of signatures on what is locally dubbed as the 1994 popular petition calling for the restoration of the democratic life and the revitalization of the Constitution in 1973. Mohammed was held hostage by the Security Authorities in exchange for his younger brother, Adel Alsankees, who was wanted by the Authorities for his participation in the said petition and the steady protests during that period. This had had an impact on most of Alsankees family members who were subjected to arrests and their houses were repeatedly raided late at night. In addition to Mohammed himself, this had resulted in the incarceration of 70 yrs old mother- Fatema Ashoor- for a day and his 27 yrs old sister- Malkah Alsankees, a teacher at the Ministry of Education was detained for more than two months without any contact with her family during the detention period. Amnesty International archived numerous reports about the suffering of Alsankees family then.

Mohammed was repeatedly subjected to beatings by Security Forces in more than one popular protesting activity; the most apparent was when participating in a peaceful sit-in in front of the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), calling for the release of detainees of the "Airport" incident which occurred on 25th December 2005. Because of that beatings and collective punishment, Mohammed suffered from deep injury in one of his leg as well as in his back spine, a suffering which he is still enduring. The Security Forces did not cease by the brutal attack on Mohammed, rather, it later filed a lawsuit filed accusing him of assaulting a public officer. Aftermath that ordeal, Mohammed found himself before a trial that lasted until last May, when the case was suspended, among outstanding security cases - a label used by Authorities to identify cases involving detainees in popular protests and other rights activities.

Alsankees was arrested during the protests which came after the death of activist Ali Jassem on December 17, 2007, the commemoration day of the "Martyrs and Victims of Torture" in demands of prosecution of torturers reparation and justice for the victims of torture in the previous period. Since its founding in 2003, the National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture has been annually celebrating that day, which has been fiercely resisted by the Authorities, resulting in arrests and injuries resulted from the use of excessive force to prevent its activities.

Mohammed Alsankees spoke to BCHR detailing the physical and psychological torture he suffered during arrest and interrogation in December 2007. This included beatings with a baton on the sensitive areas of his body, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, sexual harassment, and stripping of all clothes during the interrogation and standing for long hours in the cold weather in the open yard of the CIB offices. After seven months of detention, he was sentenced, among a group of human rights activists of popular committees, to a term of 5-years imprisonment, to be released by royal pardon on April 12, 2009 under a general amnesty to include most of the detainees and defendants in all the cases of rights activities and political protests. After his release from prison, Mohammed returned to work on April 19, 2009 where he resumed his previous post as a laboratory technician at the Ministry of Works until the date of his dismissal on July 20, 2009, i.e. after more than three months from the date of his release and return to work. But what raises suspicion is the backdated discharge of Mohammed marked to 30th March 2009, four months of returning to work, the BCHR believes that this to do with trying to deprive him of the advantage of the amnesty, which was expected during the period in light of the increasing popular protests and the numerous reports about the deterioration of human rights status in Bahrain.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has strong beliefs that the reasons behind the dismissal of Mohammed Alsankees is related his involvements in rights committees. It is also to deliver an indirect message to the rest of the human rights defenders, in order to daunt them and thus dissuade them from continuing their activities in detecting violations and defending human rights values. Targeting and intimidation by the security authorities against human rights defenders in Bahrain have been recurring in different styles, including smear and defamation by involving them in ethical issues, fabrication of criminal charges and remanding them in custody on charges relating to issues of violence and terrorism, abduction and brutally beating them before leaving them on the road in miserable condition. Some of them were harassed or sexually assaulted. Dismissal from work and threatening the livelihood of activists is an old style of harassment the Authorities is reviving after it was ceased during what was known as the political openness since the 2000.

In this regard, Nabeel Rajab- the BCHR president- stated that: "Terminating the livelihood of activists and human rights defenders and targeting their source of income could not be carried out by a State that respects the humanity of its people". He added:"The mounting campaign against them has become a source of concern for all regional and international institutions".

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights call for:

1 – The immediate reinstatement of Mohammed Alsankees in his work, without any reprisals and conditions, as well as cease harassing him through his only source of income. 2 - Stop targeting and attacking human rights activists in any form. 3 – Initiate a serious dialogue with the actors in the society instead of the continued repression process.

27 Jul, 2009

Bahrain; state terrorism against opponents at home and in exile

Lord Avebury, the Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group Cordially invites you to a seminar on Bahrain; state terrorism against opponents at home and in exile A desperate regime seeks revenge from its pro-democracy opponents through acts of terrorism; its latest addition to a dossier of crimes against humanity. Come and listen to the personal testimonies of victims of Bahrain’s state terrorism 11.00 AM, Thursday 6th August 2008 1 Abbey Gardens (Annexe to The House of Lords), London SW1P For further information please contact: Lord Avebury: 020 7274 4617, Email: ericavebury@gmail.com

25 Jul, 2009

Attack on 3 Bahraini activists in London- BCHR calls the British government for an urgent investigation in the attacks

The Attack on Two of the Bahraini H R defenders in London and an Attempt to Burn the House of a political activist After a Campaign Accusing the Current Bahraini Ambassador in London of Violations during his Presidency of the National Security BCHR calls upon the British government for urgent investigation in the attacks

22-07-2009 In a serious and particular progress which may represent a new phase of targeting Bahraini activists outside their country, both Mr. Abbas Al-Omran – board member in the BCHR – and Mr. Ali Mushaima – administrative member in the Committee of Unemployed and Low-income – were subjected to physical abuse in the evening of 2 July 2009 in one of the streets of London, they then received a call warning them from continuing their protests in front of the Bahraini embassy. On 6 July 2009, the house of the Bahraini political opponent Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi was exposed to a deliberate attempt of fire where the house's front and the car of Al-Shehabi's daughter were burnt. Police investigations showed that the fire was deliberate. It is to mention that Since the last 2 years a group of Bahraini activists obtained the right to political asylum in UK, and it has witnessed as well the escalation of protest acts especially after appointing an intelligence officer accused of Human Rights Violation as an ambassador for the Bahraini government in the UK.

According to the testimonies of Ali Mushaima and Abbas Al-Omran, in the evening of 2 July 2009 and when they were returning from an educational activity heading towards their place of residence in London, they were subjected to physical abuse by people who seemed to have been waiting for them in of the street corners. The group was made up of three people in their mid twenties and who were of African origins, and who were wearing head masks. Both Al-Omran and Mushaima attempted to escape the attack, but the attackers continued to chase them until Al-Omran fell to the ground due to the severity of the beating he was subjected to. His falling on the ground, the rise of screams and the attention of some of the people passing by or the residents of the same neighborhood made the attackers escape. Mushaima suffered from injuries in different parts of the body and a bulge in the upper forehead. Abbas Al-Omran suffered from a swelling at top of the right eyebrow, and a swelling in the lower right shoulder with some wounds in both knees and elbow. After the escape of the attackers, Mushaima and Al-Omran hurried to inform the police who came after 10 minutes to the site of the attack and initiated an investigation in the incident. Apparently, the cameras installed in the streets recorded the attack that the defenders were exposed to.

At 2:30 pm on Sunday 5 July 2009, Mushaima received an unknown call on his mobile phone from an unnumbered call and from a person whose accent seems of African origins, saying, "Do you remember the beating you and your partner got a couple of nights ago? Next time, you will get killed if you continue your demonstrations and protests against the Bahraini government or in front of its embassy in London. You better stay away from the embassy or else you will face the same attack you were subjected to", the call ended in less than a minute. The next day, Mushaima conveyed the updates of the attack and the unknown call to the same security body.

Ali Mushaima and Abbas Al-Omran with a group of Bahraini activists living in London were all known for their continuous weekly peaceful protests, sometimes in front of the Bahrain embassy in London, and sometimes in Hyde Park Speakers' Corner. The aim of their activities and events was to draw attention to the human rights violations that are taking place in Bahrain. Mr. Abbas Al-Omran is a human rights activist who participated in establishing several human rights committees and groups in Bahrain. He was arrested more than once and was subjected to several physical abuses in the past due to his human rights activities before traveling to London in December 2008, where he was surprised to see his name among the list of those involved in the "terrorist plot", and which later the charges against them were suspended with a Royal decision. Mr. Ali Mushaima, who obtained political refugee, had been an administrative member in the Committee of the Unemployed and Low-income before leaving Bahrain, and he is known for his human rights activity amidst the other demand committees. He had been subjected to physical abuses by the Special Security men and sometimes men with civilian clothes. This is the first time that both of them get subjected to abuses outside their country Bahrain.

In another incident and at around 3:30 am on Monday 6 July 2009, an anonymous person attempted to set fire to the house of the well-known political opponent and who is living in London Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi, who was fast asleep with his family and children during the incident. According to the testimony of Al-Shehabi and his family, the fire was brought under control after the housewife took notice of it, and then they rushed to wake up the rest of the family members who worked on putting out the fire. The fire destroyed the front of the house and the car of Al-Shehabi's daughter and boxes for gathering paper in front of the house. The statements of witnesses and the spread of the smell of kerosene around the house confirm that the incident was deliberate. Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi had received a warning less than a week before the incident about the Bahraini security apparatuses intention in carrying out imminent attacks against some of the opposition's activists abroad and human rights defenders. Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi is one of the figures of the Bahraini opposition living in the UK and is heading the Bahrain Freedom Movement.

The Bahraini embassy in London is the only embassy apart from all other Bahraini embassies abroad which is closely linked to the National Security Apparatuses rather than ministry of foreign affairs. The current National Security Apparatuses is headed by Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, the former ambassador in London. The current ambassador there is Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali bin Rashid Al-Khalifa and he is the former president of the same Apparatuses. During the presidency of the former and current ambassador to this apparatus, it became infamous for the increasing attacks against human rights defenders or the political activists opposing the government. The majority of those obtaining political asylum in Britain are victims of these attacks, however this is the first time where human rights defenders and political activists get subjected to attacks in a European capital.

The Bahraini authorities had consistently pressurized the British government to put an end to the Bahraini opposition's activity in London, or to stop providing refuge for the human rights defenders, but without any significant result. In the same context, during his visit to the British capital last year, the King of Bahrain met both Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi, head of the Bahrain Freedom Movement, and Hasan Mushaima, president of Haq Movement who was at that time on a visit to the British capital. The King asked Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi to return to Bahrain, and he even spoke of opening serious dialogue with the the Bahraini opposition, however this dialogue never started and Hasan Mushaima was later imprisoned with dozens of political activists and human rights defenders on charges relating to terrorism. They were later released after the escalation of people's protests and mounting criticism of international organizations and Bahrain's friendly countries. Among those attempts, the Colonel Isa Meselam also met the former president of the Committee of Martyrs and Torture Victims Mr. Abdul-Raoof Al-Shayeb urging him to return to his home country and to work from the inside, however those attempts also failed due to doubting promises that have no confirmations on the ground, especially that the Authorities had tried to put Al-Shayeb in jail on ethical charges which forced him to seek refuge in the British capital.

While the Bahrain Center for Human Rights recognizes and values the positive and humane approach of the British authorities for providing refuge for the activists and human rights defenders that are fleeing the Human Rights violations in Bahrain, it calls upon it for initiating an urgent investigation in the circumstances of the attacks and the relation of the security authorities in Bahrain to those attacks as well, and to reveal the results of those investigations. The BCHR also calls the British Authorities to provide protection to those activists and defenders who chose peaceful work as a means to fulfill their human rights demands. The BCHR demands the Bahraini Authorities to stop targeting the human rights defenders and political opponents, and to open the door for dialogue in order to reach solutions that address all the unresolved human rights files.

21 Jul, 2009

In Blatant Defiance to his Victims and with the Connivance of the Royal Court- Adel Fleifel in Parliament of 2010

15-7-2009

In a blatant defiance to his victims and in disdain to the lives of dozens of martyrs and thousands of suppression and torture victims, the former colonel in the State Security Apparatuses Adel Jassim Fleifel announced his intention to run for the coming parliamentary elections. In an interview by Al-Watan Bahraini Newspaper on Tuesday 7th July 2009, Adel Fleifel announced his intention, as an adviser to the Islamic Unity Society, to run for the next parliament and engage in the elections in October 2010, within the fifth electoral district in Muharraq Governorate.

Adel Fleifel

Adel Fleifel's interview with the mentioned newspaper recalled harsh and painful memories that many of the victims with their various political backgrounds went through. Adel Fleifel's name emerged between the year 1980 and 2000 as an intelligence officer working in the dissolved State Security Apparatuses, and as an assistant to the well-known Scottish officer Ian Henderson , head of the State Security Apparatuses. He became infamous for his brutality with his detainees and mutilating them during detention, and he is considered one of those directly responsible for the death of dozens of the nation's people under torture, and thousands of torture victims which he personally participated in torturing, or through orders issued by him or under his supervision. He is responsible for many physical and sexual abuses practiced on the detainees who were in his custody.

Fleifel worked on deporting dozens of Bahraini families who were of Persian origins on primitive ships which lack the most basic safety procedures, and forcibly sending them to Iran without passports or official documentation, in circumstances that lack the lowest humane standards, that almost led to the loss and drowning of some of them in the middle of the sea if they had not been rescued by the Iranian Cost Guards. They were treated as refugees in Iran, and they suffered from difficult living circumstances until most of them were allowed to return to Bahrain after the year 2000. Fleifel was also a reason that many of the best Bahraini students lost their school or college education, and that their future career had collapsed, as well as having many citizens lose their jobs and their sole source of living, yet even many of his victims became poor and needy or displaced, scattered throughout the world.

Fleifel used his power and authority to extort the money of hundreds of families of detainees during that period in order to release their children and rid them of this frightening Apparatuses. He seized the money of many and possessed large tracts of land owned by Bahraini businessmen, or forced them to sell him at a pittance in fear of his might , he even threw anyone who refused to obey his orders in prison, sometimes with political charges of attempting to overthrow the regime, and other times with criminal charges or false drug cases. Through the process of extortion he was able to collect a large wealth estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars. He committed all his crimes by making use of his intelligence network which was penetrated into the country's public and private institutions, and from his personal relations and his financial partnership with the King's cousin and his current adviser Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed bin Salman Al-Khalifa, and who headed the State Security Apparatuses at that time. The participation of Sheikh Khalid with him contributed in providing a cover to the fraud and extortion crimes he committed.

When the current King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa took power in 6 March 1999, after his father died the former Prince Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, he made promises at the beginning of his reign regarding the reforms, accountability and the elimination of corruption which terrified many of those who were caught up in the corruption and violations of human rights. This led to the escape of the Colonel Adel Fleifel to the Australian town Brisbane in May 2009, promising the people of that city with an economically prosperous era by investing some of his money there. The Bahraini Ministry of Interior had announced at that time that it had asked the international police (Interpol) to return him. His investments in that city were estimated to be a hundred million dollars, which he spent on buying buildings . The BCHR worked with some of the human rights organizations in Australia and some international figures in order to drive Fleifel out of Australia, and to stop providing him with permanent residence there due to his black record and widespread violations which he committed to human rights in Bahrain. Those movements led to the Australian authorities' refusal to keep him on its lands .

Dozens of demonstrations and protests were led everywhere in Bahrain, and tens of thousands of his victims or their families participated in them, demanding that he be brought to justice. The international organizations wrote about him and asked the Bahraini government to bring him to court for the crimes he committed, and of those organizations are Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International .

In a sudden change, and after the Colonel Fleifel threatened the authorities in Bahrain that if he will be prosecuted he will reveal a lot of information and will drag down many of the Bahraini officials with him, he received pledges and promises from panels in the government that the authorities will not target him if wanted to return to Bahrain, and that the King will even make a special pardon for him. In confirmation of these promises, the King of Bahrain issued decree law 56 in October 2002 and which exempted all who committed torture crimes and violations in the past period from legal prosecution. After making sure that the slogans of accountability and eliminating corruption were not as serious as he thought, he returned to Bahrain on Saturday 23 November 2002 to run his business once again . Adel Fleifel turned from a security officer whose salary does not exceed 600 Dinar to someone who owns a financial and Real Estate Empire spread around the world.

The BCHR and the BYSHR regrets that there are some Bahraini businessmen who exercise trade with this person, who has gathered and accumulated his wealth from imprisoning and torturing thousands of victims, favoring their narrow financial interests over all ethical principals and human values. It is believed that the motives behind Fleifel's running to next election is the parliamentary immunity that he will be able to have, and which will make him avoid and protect him from any questioning he is likely to face in some of the European countries due to the complaints that can be filed against him by some of his victims living in those countries.

Islamic Unity Society

The Islamic Unity Society was only known in recent days, and it would not have been known if the name of Adel Fleifel had not emerged as a political adviser to it. It is believed that this Society is one of the GONGOs which the Authority created in the last years, within the program referred to by the Bandar Report "The Civil Society – Strategic Management and Rehabilitation" in order to dominate the civil society institutes by creating delusional and fake political and human rights societies, as a means to tighten control over the civil society institutions. The Royal Court had in the last years participated in carrying out this strategy. The establishment of the Society was announced in the year 2007, and it is now headed by Mr. Abdullah Khalil BuGhamar.

Al-Watan Newspaper

Al-Watan newspaper was the only one to interview Adel Fleifel, and it had announced days earlier in a separate news piece Fleifel's intention in participating in the next elections. Al-Watan newspaper is considered one of the newspapers that are closely related to the Royal Court, and which expresses its positions, and by name it is owned by one of the Bahraini businessmen who are closely related to the government. However, it is believed that the real owner is Sheikh Ahmad bin Atyat-Allah Al-Khalifa, Minister of Cabinet Affairs in the current government and closely related to the King. The name of Ahmad Atyat-Allah is associated with the scandal launched by the former government adviser Dr. Salah Al-Bandar, by heading a dangerous secret network inside the country's associations which aims at eliminating and marginalizing the Shiite sect and to weaken them election-wise, and to drag them into a sectarian conflict with the Sunni sect, and to work on ruining the election process, and to create fake civil society institutes or penetrate the independent ones. It is understood from having the news interview with the former Colonel Fleifel and giving him this space in the newspaper as a serious indicator and a clear message of the Court's support to Fleifel in the next elections.

House of Representatives Elections for 2010

The existing data, starting from the direct interference of the Royal Court in the election process, the unfair distribution of the electoral districts, using public boxes, using political money, the Authority providing technical and media support to its candidates, directing the naturalized who are outside Bahrain to vote for the Court's candidates, and forcing the military men to vote for the Authority's candidates all those indicators and past experiences confirm that there is large possibility of Fleifel reaching the House of Representatives.

Nabeel Rajab, president of the BCHR, stated, "The name of Adel Fleifel appearing lately among the candidates of the next parliamentary elections is an exasperating and serious matter, and it will lead the people to losing the only glimmer of hope that is pinned on the entire political process, and which is already superficial and worn-out. Having him running for the next parliamentary elections is a defiance, disdain and scorn to the feelings of torture victims and families of martyrs, and a recollection of painful memories and a bitter history that the people of this nation with all their varieties suffered from. The place of a criminal like Adel Fleifel is that he spends the rest of his life between prison cells for the crimes he committed, and not as a representative for the will of the people of Muharraq Town which deserves better than him".

The BCHR and BYSHR calls for

1. Bringing Adel Fleifel to court for the merciless crimes he committed, and the crimes of extortion and exploitation he practiced.

2. Reserving the money he collected in an illegal manner from his victims, and to put it in a fund to serve the families of martyrs and torture victims.

3. Ending the business and social normalization with the Colonel Adel Fleifel and others who have intensified signs of them being involved in human rights violations.

20 Jul, 2009

The Bahraini Government outsource its Suppression to Neighboring Countries

The Bahraini Government outsource its Suppression to Neighboring Countries Circulating lists of their Opponents to Harass them and Prevent them from their Freedom of Movement

Sunday 11-7-2009 Bahrain Center for Human - Rights

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is following up with concern the case of holding the citizen Mohammed Salman, 28 years old, in Dubai Airport by UAE Security authorities when he arrived in Dubai Airport in the morning on 9/7/2009. He was informed, as soon as he arrived, that he was being held for security reasons and that he was prohibited from entering the UAE. He was detained in the Dubai Airport's security room for several hours without allowing him to get any information regarding the denial of entry or what those security reasons were until he was returned to Bahrain in the evening of the same day.

Mohammed Salman had been detained in what was named the (Hujaira) case December 2009, and he was released in recent months with a group of political activists and human rights defenders . It is believed that holding him is related to the security lists that the National Security Apparatuses is distributing to the Gulf countries and some of the Arabic countries to prohibit the political activists and human rights defenders from entering those countries and to restrict their freedom of movement.

The phenomenon of holding and harassing political activists and human rights defenders on the boarders of neighboring countries in recent months has increased. At the beginning of the current month, Sheikh Mohammed Habib Al-Muqdad, who is a well-known activist and the president of Al-Zahraa Society for Orphan Care, was arrested on the Syrian Borders, and then released few days later after the Syrian authorities had made sure of the malicious case against him by the Bahraini authorities. Before him, the human rights activist Abdul-Ghani Khanjjar, who is member of the National Committee of Martyrs and Victims of Torture, was held on 2nd December in Doha Airport for several hours, and then returned to Bahrain after being photographed and fingerprinted, and after being informed that the holding him was based on a list sent by the Bahraini security apparatuses. There are dozens of Bahraini citizens who face the same circumstances at the borders and airports of the neighboring countries, and some of them are elected members in the Bahraini House of Representatives.

It is believed that what the Bahraini authorities are doing aims at undermining the activities of the human rights groups and any of the political activists who do not agree with the authority's policy.

Based on the above, the BCHR calls for:

1. Putting an end to distributing security lists which aim at harassing the opponent groups and human rights activists;

2. The Bahraini government has to stop involving and implicating the governments of the neighboring countries in legitimate internal disputes;

3. The governments of the Arab Gulf countries should distance themselves from internal disputes between the Bahraini authorities and its citizens related to legitimate human rights and political demands, and not to drift towards the demands of the authority which would lead to having those countries enter disputes they are not a part of.

19 Jul, 2009

Journalist faces defamation charges over article on corruption

(BCHR/IFEX) - According to a 26 June 2009 statement, the Public Prosecution (PP) has referred the case of journalist Husain Sabt, who is accused of defamation, to court after reviewing the evidence against him. Ahmed Bucheeri, the Capital Public Prosecutor, stated that the said journalist, without mentioning his name, declined to appear before the PP and hence lost the opportunity to defend himself and refute the evidence against him. The PP further stated that it communicated with the Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA) to call on Sabt, whose name was mentioned in a statement by "Alwaqt" newspaper as being one of its reporters, to appear before the prosecution. In a statement by "Alwaqt", dated 28 June, the newspaper's management and Sabt denied that they had been approached by the PP in relation with any charge. Sabt and Radhi Al-Mowsawi , head of the local news and then deputy managing editor, were summoned in March before the Capital Police station to issue a statement about a complaint against a report made by Sabt about corruption in the Bahrain Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA). The report was published in the newspaper on 11 March and referred to the resignation of an LMRA official amidst news of corruption and manipulation. This was considered defamatory and, two days after the publication of the report, the LMRA responded in a statement published in "Alwaqt" negating the reasons behind the resignation of the said official.

For its part, the BJA confirmed that, as per the Bahraini Press Code of 2002, its role is restricted to appearing (in court) with the journalists only after receiving the attendance notification from the PP. In a statement, BJA reiterated that it is not legally responsible for notifying journalists of cases against them, nor does it "act as being part of any case against any journalist. All it does is to comply with the law".

The charges in the case filed against Sabt, as with other journalists in Bahrain, are based on the Press Decree Code no. 47 of 2002 and the Penal Decree Code no. 15 of 1976, which have been condemned and criticized, both locally and internationally.

Nabeel Rajab, President of BCHR, stated in this respect:" We are alarmed by the manner in which the case against Mr Sabt was expedited to the court by the Public Prosecution. The PP has grossly violated the Criminal Procedure law of 2002 in forming the case against Mr Sabt without carrying out a basic procedure of summoning him". Mr. Rajab added: "This is a suspicious and prejudicial act by the PP and shows disrespect for Mr. Sabt's right to express his point of view."

The BCHR expresses its deep concern over the deterioration in the level of freedom of expression and journalism and encourages all parties to exert the necessary pressure on the Bahraini Authorities and demand that they respect journalism and freedom of expression. Mr Rajab concluded: "This case shows that speaking about corruption in any official institution in Bahrain is forbidden and subject to prosecution".

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Send appeals to the Bahraini Authorities, urging them to: - stop harassing and prosecuting journalists when performing their duty by reporting on and analyzing the conduct of public institutions - amend all legislation, in particular, the Press Code of 2002 and the Penal Code of 1976, to ensure that they conform with the international charters and covenants - repeal the case against Mr. Husain Sabt and ensure that no reprisals are carried out against him as a result of shedding light on corruption in an official establishment.

APPEALS TO: Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, King of Bahrain

Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, Cabinet Prime Minister Fax: +97 3 1 721 1363

14 Jul, 2009

Women in Bahrain to Lobby for Equal Nationality Rights

Women in Bahrain to Lobby for Equal Nationality Rights Written by Rose Foran Published Monday, July 13, 2009

Bahrain’s Supreme Council for Women (SCW) announced the launch of a major campaign for equal nationality rights, along with several other Bahraini women’s advocacy organizations.

The SCW gathered representatives from Bahraini women’s groups across the country to plan a push to revise Article 4 of Bahraini Citizenship Law, which does not allow for equal nationality rights for women.

In Bahrain, women married to foreigners do not have the right to pass on their nationality to their husbands or children, even if they are born on Bahraini soil. There are at present over 2,000 ‘stateless’ families, whose children cannot obtain citizenship because they were born to a foreign father.

“Children of Bahraini mothers don’t have the chance to be normal citizens, and they face a lot of difficulties when they go to hospitals or schools,” Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, told The Media Line. “They’re not treated equally by government institutions.”

“The government has always treated this issue in a very discriminative way: for a man who marries a non-Bahraini, his children are entitled to Bahraini nationality. But this does not apply for women.”

According to Article 4 of Bahraini Citizenship Laws, only men can pass nationality to their families: their children are automatically considered Bahraini citizens by birth, and a foreign wife must wait five years to attain citizenship.

However, the same article states that illegitimate children of Bahraini women will be granted nationality, provided that the father is unknown or legal ties are severed.

“There are a lot of contradictions in Bahraini laws without any justifications,” Rajab explained. “I understand it’s because they are afraid of Bahraini women marrying to an Iranian, for example. That could be one of the reasons.”

According to Rajab, there are many issues at play with the contradictions in citizenship laws. “The upsetting thing is that Bahrain is importing tens of thousands of people from many different countries and giving them Bahraini nationality, to decrease the number of indigenous Shiites and increase the number of Sunnis,” he said.

While the SCW mobilizes their efforts, Rajab feels that, as in past years, the battle over Article 4 will continue to remain at standstill.

“They do cosmetic changes here and there but there have been no significant improvements to this issue in the past year,” he said.

However, there does appear to be some progress on the issue of equal nationality rights, despite Article 4 remaining unchanged.

In the past month, Bahrain endorsed a law that would give families of Bahraini mothers with foreign husbands the same treatment as naturalized families regarding government fees and services, with a focus on education and health.

Copyright © 2008 The Media Line. All Rights Reserved.

Have comments? Email editor@themedialine.org. http://www.themedialine.org/news/news_detail.asp?NewsID=25775

26 Jun, 2009

Politically Motivated Closure of the Bahraini Akhbar Al-Khaleej Newspaper

The Newspaper had always taken advantage of the dispute with Iran to incite Internal Sectarian hatred without governmental objection

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern regarding the administrative decision of closing the daily Akhbar Al-Khaleej newspaper, without any court order or stated reasons. In a news piece published on Monday 22/6/2009 in all the local Bahraini newspapers, it said that the Bahraini authorities ordered to withhold the issuance of the Bahraini Akhbar Al-Khaleej newspaper until further notice. The newspaper, which is the oldest in Bahrain, mentioned that the authorities informed the editor-in-chief Mr. Anwar Abdul-Rahman on the dawn of that day of the decision to stop the publication of the paper due to issues relating to violating the press law. It, however, did not state the article being violated or the type of violation that is referred to. Yet, the government allowed the newspaper to be released again on the next day and which was Tuesday 23/06/2009.

It is believed that the reasons for withholding the mentioned newspaper, and which is closely related to the cabinet of ministers and the prime minister, is related to the article of the Bahraini Shura Council member Mrs. Sameera Rajab in which she launched a scathing attack against the Shiite religious leaders and the political leadership in Iran. Bahrain had a few months earlier lodged a strong protest to Iran over an article published by one of the Iranian writers in which he claims that Bahrain belonged to Iran. This article created great tension in the Bahraini Iranian relations. However, the Iranian government disowned the opinions expressed in the article and it attributed it to the freedom of press provided in Iran, and which it cannot interfere with. It is believed that the Bahraini writer’s article was going to cause embarrassment to the Bahraini authorities if it ignored it, at the time when it had launched a campaign on Iran due to the above mentioned article and which one of the Iranian newspapers had published.

The chairman of the board of directors and editor-in-chief of the mentioned newspaper is Mr. Anwar Abdul-Rahman, and he is a Bahraini citizen of Persian origins. This newspaper adopts a clear opposing position to the political system in Iran and to its foreign and internal policy. Usually the extent of criticism reaches the Shiite religious beliefs and ridiculing the religious figures and leaders. The writer Sameera Rajab was known for her support for the former Iraqi regime and its president Saddam Hussein, and for her acute writings and seminars, not only against Iran but against the Shiite sect in Bahrain and their religious beliefs and political figures, where she often used to incite the government against them and stirs sectarian hatred against them. Her articles nearly caused sectarian conflicts and strives in the past, by accusing the Shiite to be linked to Iran and that they get trained abroad on weapons, and by doubting their loyalty to their countries, and accusing them of hiding weapons in their religious and social centres that, however, she was not able to prove any of those accusations. Sameera Rajab is a Bahraini citizen of Shiite origins, and the king had honoured her by appointing her as a member in the Shura Council, and the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa Salman Al-Khalifa had singled her out from the rest of the reporters and writers with a special meeting whose news and photos was published in the local newspapers. This was considered a sign of the authority’s support to Sameera Rajab’s extreme positions against the opposition and especially those of the Shiite people.

The BCHR considers the decision of closing the newspapers an arbitrary act due to transgressing the judiciary, yet, it even did not take into account the applied condemned law number 47 of the year 2002 regarding the regulation of press and printing, and which article 84 states that the Ministry of Culture and Information should warn the newspaper before taking any action against it.

The BCHR would like to recall what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated and which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, and especially article 19 which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966, states the same principles in article 19. At the same time, the BCHR would like to draw attention to article 20 of the same Covenant and which states, “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”

Based on the above, the BCHR calls for the following:

1. To consider the closing of the Akhbar Al-Khaleej newspaper arbitrary and to ensure non-repetition;

2. To stop the punitive, administrative and superior decisions and to always seek decision from court to be the criterion;

3. To stop using the political opinion and press writing to incite sectarian strife and contempt for others or their religious beliefs, and to transmit and implant the spirit of tolerance between the people away from their religious, sectarian and ethnic backgrounds.