Amnesty International: Incorrect reporting of Amnesty International statement in Bahraini newspapers
2 September 2011 AI Index: PRE01/437/2011
A number of Bahraini newspapers published articles on 2 September containing incorrect information about Amnesty International statements on Bahrain.
The articles incorrectly state that Amnesty International called on Bahraini political groups not to use children in protests for political gains or as human shields.
Amnesty International has never published such a statement and urges all these newspapers to immediately withdraw this article from their websites and to publish corrections in their printed editions.
Note: this statement has been amended to reflect new information that more than one newspaper published this incorrect information about Amnesty International.
The National: Former prisoners bear witness to Bahrain's security operation
Zoi Constantine Sep 1, 2011
MANAMA // Bahrain's king this week dismissed charges against some people detained during crackdowns against pro-democracy protests and allowed compensation to prisoners abused by security forces.
But as more Bahrainis have been released from prison in recent weeks, a clearer picture has emerged about the conditions in which they were held and the treatment handed out by members of the security forces. One piece of grainy video footage posted on YouTube shows two men scrambling to get away, as several police jeeps follow them along a dusty Bahraini village street.
Policemen can be seen hanging out of the vehicles, weapons pointed towards the fleeing men as shots ring out and both fall to the ground, before the jeeps drive off.
The scene is just one of many posted online from the height of the government's security operation in March. Like many of those wounded during the violence that ensued, one of the young men seen on the video was treated in hospital for serious injuries after he was hit at close range with birdshot.
Several days after Bahraini security forces took over the hospital where he was being treated, he disappeared, leaving his family fearing the worst.
That man was Mohammed, the only name he was prepared to give when The National tracked him down. After he was shot, he says, he was taken to a military hospital, where he was beaten as he lay blindfolded and tethered by his hands and feet to a hospital bed for more than three weeks.
Mohammed, in his twenties, remained in detention for the next four months, moving between hospitals and prison medical and detention facilities.
He is just one of many who speak of arbitrary detention, physical mistreatment and lack of access to legal representation or their families. Others say the screams of other prisoners or threats were as close as they came to torture. There have also been reports that jail conditions improved recently.
The Bahraini government has released scores of prisoners in the past month, including some high-profile figures such as Matar Matar, a former MP and senior figure within Al Wefaq, the country's main opposition group. Also among those released was Ayat Al Gormezi, 20, who was arrested after she read an anti-regime poem at a rally in March. Ms Al Gormezi has said she was severely beaten during her time in prison.
In a speech on Sunday, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said that Bahrain's Supreme Court would oversee compensation payments for victims of abuse or for families of those killed during unrest, including security forces.
The recently set-up Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry - a fact-finding body charged with investigating human-rights violations since the crisis in Bahrain broke out in February - has so far facilitated the release of at least 157 detainees.
However, it is still not clear exactly how many people linked to the protest movement remain in jail. The Bahraini government has not responded to queries on the issue, but local human-rights activists estimate that there are still between 500 and 600 people tied to the protests in jail.
On Tuesday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for the release of all prisoners detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The rights body also called on the Bahraini government to release the names of all of those arrested since March 15.
For those who have been released, the commission is in the process of investigating reports of mistreatment and torture, with forensic medical experts expected to help with the inquiry.
Mohammed's family says he has already submitted to investigators his account of what happened to him after he was shot by police in March.
Speaking recently to The National, Mohammed recalled how he left his house to go to the supermarket, when he was caught up in a large gathering that turned into a confrontation with security forces.
Lifting his T-shirt, he showed that his back was still dotted with scars left by the birdshot. Around 150 of the small metal pellets remain lodged in his body. A long scar where he had emergency surgery has left his stomach distended and misshapen. He said he was even hit on his wound while in hospital.
"Whenever I said anything they would beat me," Mohammed recalled. "When I said: 'Where am I? Where are you taking me?' they beat me."
Mohammed recalls instances when a nurse tried to make him more comfortable, but that was the exception. "All the time I was expecting hitting and I was always tense. They also insulted and humiliated me, telling me I wasn't Bahraini, I was Iranian," he said.
Meanwhile, Mohammed's family searched for him. "For three months we didn't hear anything about him," said one of his brothers. "We went to hospitals, to the police stations. No one gave us anything … We got to a point where we had no hope of seeing him again and thought maybe he had died."
Finally at the beginning of June, he was allowed to call his family, who were later given permission to visit him on four occasions. Then, at the end of July, Mohammed was released and this month was cleared on charges of participating in an illegal gathering.
His family now says he is in need of rehabilitation and further treatment, for which they are trying to gather funds.
However, while the number of arrests appears to have declined in recent weeks and Mohammed and other detainees are being released, security forces continue to use force in mainly Shiite neighbourhoods, according to human-rights activists.
Late last month, a 27-year-old man said he was picked up in the village of Deih, taken to a police station and physically assaulted.
Lying on his hospital bed the following day, the man could hardly speak - his jaw had been broken in at least three places. He had broken bones in both his arms and several broken ribs.
His twin brother hovered over the bed, deciphering what he was saying: that he was picked up by police, beaten, urinated and spat on, before he was dumped on the side of a road two hours later.
AP: Bahrain says poet included in protest pardon
30 August 2011 MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain says a royal pardon for some protest-linked suspects includes a 20-year-old woman sentenced to a year in prison for reciting poetry critical of the Gulf nation's crackdown on an uprising.
A statement Tuesday from Bahrain's information authority says the king's pardon extends to Ayat al-Qurmezi, who gained prominence for verses denouncing the attacks on Shiite-led protesters.
The statement, however, did not give the full total of those pardoned Sunday by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Al-Qurmezi was convicted in June of anti-state charges. Hundreds of people were arrested after protests began in February.
Bahrain's majority Shiite claim they face widespread discrimination by Sunni rulers.
- Independent: Poet jailed in protests claims she was beaten by Bahraini royal
- Telegraph: Bahraini woman poet tells of torture while in custody
- Huffington Post: A Freedom Poet: The Ai Weiwei of the Middle East
- Amnesty International - Urgent Action: Bahraini activist jailed for reading poem
- Amnesty International - Bahraini poet set to face verdict for protest reading
- The Independent - Detained poet 'beaten across the face with electric cable'
- BCHR Report: Death threats and arrest as a direct result of expressing opinion, All in the name of “National Safety”
- English Pen - Bahrain: Poet and writer arrested; fears for their safety
- The Independent - Locked up for reading a poem
- The Telegraph - Female poet brought before Bahrain military tribunal
- Jadaliyya: A Poetry of Resistance: The Disappearance of Ayat al-Qormezi in Bahrain's “Hidden History”
- Documentary about Ayat
- A solidarity campaign for her release on Facebook
- English translation of her poem
BYSHR: Prominent Rights Activists are in Hunger Strike in detention Protesting against the Brutal crackdown and arbitrary arrest
September 1st, 2011
In solidarity with the Medical Staff and detainees on hunger-strike in Bahrain’s Dry Dock Prison, Prominent Human Rights activists Mr.Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and Dr. Abduljaleel Alsingace today announced an open hunger-strike from their prison in Gurayn (Military Prison).
In a letter, they said that it was also in protest to the arbitrary detention, unfair trials of the detainees and Brutal crackdown
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) expresses its concern about the situation of detainees in Bahrain after they started an open hunger strike.
Mr.Alkhawaja and Mr.Alsingace are currently serving life sentence along with prominent opposition leader including Mr.Ebrahime Sharife General secretary of Waad and Mr.Hassan Mushame leader of Haaq in Military Prison
Mr.Alkhawaja:was the former president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and former MENA coordinator (frontline-Human Rights Defenders). Mr.Alsingace:Coordinator of Human Rights bureau in “Haq” movement.
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.
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.
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-...).
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.
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.
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
Further information on UA: 227/11 Index: MDE 11/045/2011 Issue Date: 30 August 2011