2 Mar, 2009

Invitation to Press Conference on :Bahrain: Paradoxes of the Kingdom of Silence

Lord Avebury, the Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group

Cordially invites you to a Press Conference on

Bahrain: Paradoxes of the Kingdom of Silence

The ongoing popular uprising has exposed disturbing realities evidenced by neutral monitors at recent trials of opposition figures who had ventured to speak out. 12.00 PM, Wednesday 8th April 2009 . Room 134, Millbank House (Annexe to The House of Lords, London SW1P

For further information please contact: Lord Avebury: 020 7274 4617, Email: ericavebury@gmail.com

27 Feb, 2009

Arrests and accusations based on sectarianism Closure of blogs, online forums and websites of Shiite villages and institutions

Arrests and accusations based on sectarianism Closure of blogs, online forums and websites of Shiite villages and institutions Encouraging preachers and writers who incite sectarian hatred against Shias and their beliefs

Bahrain: 27 February 2009

In the context of increasing sectarian discrimination being implemented by the Bahraini authorities, heavily armed Special Forces attacked Shiite while performing the evening prayer on the curb outside the perimeter of of Al-Sadiq mosque which was besieged early this afternoon. The prayers, men and women, came to pray outside the mosque when the access to the mosque was blocked by the foreign mercenaries who started firing rubber bullets and chemical tear gas on them. This incident after the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs and the Ministry of Interior have issued orders to ban prayers and preaching in the evening of each Friday in Al-Saddiq mosque in Bahrain's capital Manama. This marks a new escalation which affects the freedom of religion of Shiite citizens. The decision was enforced when a large number of the Special Security Forces, made up of non-Bahraini mercenaries, besieged the Mosque on the afternoon of Friday 12th February 2009. The Friday communal prayer is led by Sheikh Abdul-Hadi Al-Mokhodhur, succeeding the well-known activist Hassan Mushaima, the general secretary of the "Haq" Movement for Liberty and Democracy.

Since Monday 26th January, the government has arrested almost 20 activists, among them three of the leaders of Haq Movement. Among the charges include forming an un-licensed organization that aims at incitement against the regime and encourages hatred against it. However, the arrests and charges only included the members which are of the Shia sect, and did not include the other leading members of the same movement who are of the Sunni sect.

The prohibition of prayer in the Shia mosque was preceded by the issuance of ministerial order number 2 for the year 2009, by the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, regarding the control of religious discourse. This order effectively targets and restricts the content of speeches and discussion forums in Shiite religious institutions, exclusively. Staff, sermons and speeches in Sunni mosques fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs, unlike Shiite religious institutions (mosques and Matams), which have long remained independent both financially and politically.

Hand in hand with the repression and controls placed on Shiite religious discourse, the BCHR has received several complaints that the authorities are turning a blind eye to Salafi preachers in certain Sunni religious insititutions, who speak in extremist sectarian terms and incite sectarian clashes and hatred against the Shia. At the forefront of these preachers – a previous and current Member of Parliament who has a close relations with the royal Court – is Jassim Al-Saeedi, whose speeches promote the idea that Shias are akin to Zionists.

This policy of restricting religious freedom coincides with an edict by the new Minister of Information, Sheikha Mai Al-Khalifa (a member of the Royal Family), which has banned numerous websites, including Shiite dialogue forums concerned with religious, cultural, social and political matters, or online forums for Shiite areas and villages. At the same time, the authorities have not extended the ban to web forums dedicated to slandering Shiite citizens and their religious and political beliefs, and that encouraging hatred against them. It is believed that those particular 'anti-Shia' websites are financed and managed by the foreign media department of the Ministry of Information, within a secret network revealed by the former government adviser Dr. Salah Al-Bandar. This team appears to work as part of the Ministry of Information, however its work is closer to the State Security Unit (for Intelligence), and it works on smearing the image of the Shiite citizens at the regional and international level, by using modern technology. This department is headed by Sheikh Abdullah bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa, the former president of the State Security Unit. The State Security Unit is currently headed by Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa – the former president of the same team at the Ministry of Information.

Furthermore, several journalists associated with pro-government newspapers have repeatedly slandered Shiite citizens and their beliefs, and have smeared their image before local and international public, and continue to incite hatred against them. This smear campaign is carried out by a number of Arab journalists and media consultants from other Arab countries, (among them Egypt and Jordan), who are brought to Bahrain by the authorities, and awarded for this role with permanent residency and Bahraini citizenship. The former government adviser had published details and documents in relation to that.

Last January the Bahraini authorities used special security forces to remove slogans and black flags that the Shiite usually hang in their local areas and institutions during the religious observance of Ashoora. Members of the Special Security Forces tore down those banners and slogans in front of the people of Der, Karzakan, Musala and Belad Al-Qadeem in order to provoke them and insult their beliefs. (See photo attached.)

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern regarding the continuous escalation by security forces, as part of a sectarian programme, which targets Shia citizens in all fields. The Center fears that the authority’s sectarian policy may drive the country to further deterioration in its overall stability.

Therefore, the Center calls for the following:

1. To put an end to all the provocative practices and policies which restrict Shiite citizens religious freedoms, and calls on the authorities to respect their religion and their right to freedom of religious practice, as stated in international conventions.

2. To cease the targeting political activists and human rights defenders based on their sectarian belonging, and to release all human rights and political prisoners and to drop all charges against them.

3. To bring an end to the policies and practices revealed by Dr. Salah Al-Bandar revealed – Bahrain’s former government adviser – which foments and encourages sectarian discrimination and elimination, and to bring the perpetrators of that plot to justice.

4. To respect and maintain the freedom of expression according to the standards stated in the international covenants and charters, especially the ones the Bahraini government has committed to, and to amend Bahraini laws in accordance with those covenants.

27 Feb, 2009

Judicial harassment and slander campaign orchestrated against several human rights defenders

February 24, 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.

New information:

The Observatory was informed by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) about the judicial harassment and slander campaign orchestrated against Mr. Abbass Abdul Aziz Al-Omran, BCHR Administrative Board member, Mr. Abduljalil Alsingace, Head of the Human Rights Unit of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy in Bahrain, Mr. Hasan Mushaima, Secretary General of the Haq Movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy, Mr. Mohamed Habib Al-Meqdad, a Shia religious scholar, Mr. Abdul-redha Hassan Al-Saffar, a human rights defender well-known for his role in organising peaceful sit-ins in collaboration with the families of detainees and the Unemployed Committee, Mr. Ali Mushaima, a former leading member of the Unemployed Committee living in the United Kingdom as political refugee, and Mr. Abdulraoof Al-Shayeb, former President of the National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture living in the United Kingdom as political refugee.

According to the information received, on February 23, 2009, the Grand Criminal Court in Manama started the trial of 35 people, including Messrs. Abbass Abdul Aziz Al-Omran, Abduljalil Alsingace, Hasan Mushaima, Mohamed Habib Al-Meqdad, Abdul-redha Hassan Al-Saffar, Ali Mushaima, and Abdulraoof Al-Shayeb, following the indictment No. 1403/2008 issued by the Public Prosecutor on February 10, 2009, and related to the alleged “terror plot” uncovered by the Bahraini authorities mid-December.

All 35 are accused of “joining a group that was established against the provisions of the law, and whose aim is to undermine the provisions of the Constitution and laws and to prevent the public authorities from fulfilling their work, and to abuse personal liberties and the public rights of citizens, including through terrorism” and through the mentioned group “to carry out terrorist operations that target crucial sites and public facilities, and the populated places in the Kingdom of Bahrain and to assault officers and members of the police force, with the purpose of undermining security and public order and to cause instability in the country and to cause damage to the economic viability with the knowledge of that group’s aims”, pursuant to Article 58 of the 2006 Counter-Terrorism Law and the 1976 Penal Code. Defendants other than Mr. Al-Omran were also charged with other similar charges that are punishable by up to life imprisonment.

Though an investigation has been going on for several months and several persons have been arrested since December 16, 2008, it is the first time that the name of Mr. Abbass Abdul Aziz Al-Omran appears in relation to this case. He has never been summonsed for interrogation. Nonetheless, according to the lawyer of Mr. Mohamed Habib Al-Meqdad, in detention since January 26, 2009, the Public Prosecutor brought a fabricated statement by Mr. Abbass Omran to Mr. Mohamed Habib Al-Meqdad in which the former accused the latter.

According to the information received, some of the accused reported during the hearing that they had been exposed to torture and coerced into making false confessions. They also stated that they were not informed that their false confessions would be shown on national TV. They reported that those who coerced their confessions told informed them that they were going to talk to a personality who would convey their apology to the King.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the judicial proceedings against the above-mentioned Bahraini human rights defenders and fears that the Bahraini authorities is resorting to a strategy of intimidation, with the support of the 2006 Counter-Terrorism Law, to repress human rights defenders for their legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory fears that the mentioned defenders have been targeted to deter them from pursuing their human rights activities, and urges the Bahraini authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment against them, in line with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998.

Background information:

On December 15, 2008, the authorities staged a wave of arrests to later announce uncovering an alleged “Terror Plot”. Approximately twenty youths involved in social protest movements were arrested and detained incommunicado until December 28, 2008. According to the detainees’ lawyers, the detainees showed signs of ill-treatment and torture during interrogation.

On December 28, 2008, a Government-owned and run TV “Bahrain Satellite” channel broadcast a pre-recorded video displaying unrelated images of violence amidst confessions of some of the detainees. The second day, daily newspapers showed publication of these confessions, names and pictures of thirteen of the youths, among them those shown in the TV broadcast.

One of the detainees, Mr. Hasan Ali Fateel - a former member of the Unemployed Committee - stated in his confession that Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and Protection Coordinator at Frontline, had encouraged the unemployed in 2006 to organize a series of sit-ins near the Royal Court and the House of Representatives, without making any relevant connection with the alleged terrorist scheme. He also mentioned the names of Mr. Hasan Mushaima and Dr. Alsingace as being instigators for demonstrations and public protests. Other detainees stated in their broadcast “confessions” that they had been instigated and instructed by Messrs. Mohamed Habib Al-Meqdad, Ali Ahmed, Ali Mushaima, a former leading member of the Unemployed Committee living in the United Kingdom as political refugee, and Abdulraoof Al-Shayeb, former President of the National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture living in the United Kingdom as political refugee, to carry out planned acts of terror. All are well known, outspoken and leading participants in activities involving the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular the question of the equality in the enjoyment of economic, political and social rights in Bahrain, particularly in relation to the Shi’a minority.

Messrs. Ali Mushaima and Abdulraoof Alshayeb are now UK residents as they enjoy political asylum status after fleeing repression of the local authorities due to their human rights activities. Before and after the announcement of the alleged “Terror Plot” in December, the Bahrain authorities have been unsuccessfully exerting diplomatic pressure on the British authorities to have their political refugees status nullified in the UK.

On January 26, 2009, Messrs. Abduljalil Alsingace, Hasan Mushaima and Mohamed Habib Al Meqdad were arrested by elements of the intelligence police and subsequently detained incommunicado. The former was released the following day from the Dry Dock detention centre.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Bahrain urging them to:

Ensure that the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Abbass Abdul Aziz Al-Omran, Abduljalil Alsingace, Hasan Mushaima, Mohamed Habib Al-Meqdad, Abdul-redha Hassan Al-Saffar, Ali Mushaima, and Abdulraoof Al-Shayeb be guaranteed in all circumstances;

Immediately release Messrs. Hasan Mushaima, Mohamed Habib Al-Meqdad and Abdul-redha Hassan Al-Saffar, since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities;

Order a thorough and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned ill-treatments, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

Put an end to all forms of harassment, including judicial harassment, against them as well as against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

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”, 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”, and Article 12(2) (“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”);

Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.


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, February 24, 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

L‘OMCT a son siège à Genève, en Suisse. Elle coordonne le réseau SOS-Torture composé de 282 organisations régionales et internationales dans 93 pays sur cinq continents. Contact : omct@omct.org

24 Feb, 2009

Press TV:Nabeel Rajab:Discrimination and sectarian oppression in Bahrain, a systematic reality

Mon, 23 Feb 2009 16:47:39 GMT By Nabeel Rajab

Is there a Shiite-Sunni dispute in Bahrain?

First of all, I have to clarify that the current dispute in Bahrain is not a sectarian Shiite - Sunni dispute or an ideological dispute at all. On the contrary, the dispute is between the Shiite sect, and they are the largest portion of the indigenous people in Bahrain and the regime because of its policy in sectarian discrimination, segregation and apartheid. The authority tries hard to picture the dispute as if it were a dispute between Shiites and Sunnis, It even drives it to be so.

The Bahraini society has a high degree of religious tolerance among all its segments, despite their religious, sectarian and ethnic background. We as Bahraini people are proud of this combination of beliefs and ethnic homogeneity which contributed and enriched building the prevailing civilization and culture in the country since hundreds of years. This even distinguishes our citizens from the others in the [Persian] Gulf region.

Shocking BCHR Report

Days ago, we released the results of our second report on sectarian discrimination, and before that, there was our first report for the year 2003 and which was one of the reason for closing down the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

As for the main results, which were included in the second report, that while the Shiites form approximately two thirds of the population, they only fill 13% of the senior position in Bahrain, and most of these posts are based in service institutions or the non-prevailing institutions.

In many important ministries and government institutions, the Shiite citizens fill 0% of the senior posts and these institutions are:

1. Ministry of Defense 2. National Guard 3. Ministry of Interior Affairs 4. Ministry of Cabinet Affairs 5. The General Organization for Youth and Sports 6. The Royal Court 7. The Crown Prince Court 8. The Central Informatics Organization 9. Survey and Land Registration Bureau And Finally 10. The Supreme Defense Council

This Supreme Council is regarded as the highest security body in the country, meant for decision-making during crisis. This council is formed of 14 members of the ruling family only, and is headed by His Majesty the King and includes in its membership the Prime Minister who is the King's uncle and the Crown Prince who is the son of the King and the heads of the important ministries.

Based on the report of the former adviser Dr. Salah Al-Bandar, the Supreme Council is responsible for laying out a secret plan that considers the Shiite citizens as a threat to the regime, and upon that, a secret network was established headed by member of the ruling family in order to isolate them from all aspects of life.

It was also noted that the Shiite sect form 5% of the judiciary corps, 16% of the diplomatic corps, 7% of the Ministry of Transportation, 18% of the Constitutional Court, 10% of the Ministry of Finance and 6% of the Ministry of Information.

As for the ministerial positions, there are only five ministers of the Shiite sect in the current government among 25 ministers and 3 of those are ministers without ministries . This percentage is the lowest representation of the Shiites in the government since the independence and establishment of the first executive body for the government in January 1970.

Is there a relation between the marginalization of the Shiites and between their level of education or lack of efficiency?

The ruling elite at first absolutely denied the existence of sectarian discrimination; however, the report that was published by the BCHR in 2003 created a shock to the Bahraini society and a surprise to the government, due to it consisting figures and information on sectarian discrimination. Since that time, the ruling elite has been changing its defense strategies in this regard. After it was denying the existence of discrimination in first place, it started justifying it in attempt of proving the saying that there is a lack of qualified people in the Shiites sect, and their low level of education. This is what the authority is trying to let pass lately to its visitors of foreigners and regional and international institutions, as we have noticed through our work at the international level or through some of the column writers that are close to the authority.

In the meantime - as human rights activists - we do not accept these justifications or arguments that contradict logic. We, however, looked into that matter as well and have found that the percentage of Shiites in the lists of honour graduates of boys and girls from high schools for the years 2006 and 2007 are approximately 78%, and that the Shiites form 70% of college students. This conflicts the government's claims of them being incapable or inefficient to fill government posts. The results actually confirm that there is a big gap between the percentages and numbers of educated citizens of the Shiites sect and between their employment in government institutions.

The aspects of discrimination in Bahrain are numerous and are not limited to what we mentioned. There is, in addition, marginalization in the distribution of scholarships, and in building mosques, and in the services provided to their areas and in dealing with the case of the people deprived of the citizenship.There are still many families deprived of the citizenship and They have not received a Bahrain citizenship only due to their sectarian background, noting that they and their parents were all born and grew up in this country, and where the country openly and without shame brings tenth of thousands of members of tribes from some of the Arabic and Asian countries and grants them the Bahraini citizenship in an illegal way.

Why was this period chosen to bring forth the sectarian discrimination issue?

In our previous report for the year 2003, we warned of slipping into violence and counter-violence, as the ruling elite did not put an end to the discrimination policy. In a related context, the International Crisis Group issued a report in the year 2005 in which it also warned of the seriousness of the situation if the government continued in its marginalization policy against the Shiites. However, the Bahraini government responded by closing down the BCHR and ignored all the warnings. Here we are today witnessing what we warned of in the past of almost daily clashes and confrontations between the people of the Shiite towns and villages and the special forces, who are brought as by the Bahraini government as foreign mercenaries.

Now, after 5 years of issuing the first report, and under the King's so-called reform project and with the existence of a parliamentary institution, it became clear that the situation has worsened significantly. The percentage of Shiites representation in the country's institutions is deteriorating and on the decline. After the figure was 18% in the year 2003, it became now 13%, which is equal to a deterioration of 5% in the last five years.

The BCHR is following and with deep concern that clarity that the ruling elite is ensuing in the policy of marginalization on the educational, economic, political, cultural, religious, social and civil level, neglecting all international appeals and recommendations, including the ones issued by the United Nations.

Introducing this report was a result of us being aware of the seriousness of the current situation in Bahrain, and the probability of it turning into a conflict more violent than ever.

We wonder, are we asked to wait for Bahrain to turn into an area of civil conflicts and war? As is the situation in Iraq or Darfur, until we begin to act to set the situation right?

The cleansing crime in Bahrain which is practiced today by the ruling elite sets the foundations, basis and fuel to these clashes, paving the way for a civil war between the citizens.

The Accusation of the Shiites being politically loyal to Iran

If these claims were true, then that means that the regime in Bahrain suffers from a legitimacy crisis, as the Shiites who are more than two thirds of the Bahraini population would be disloyal to it. The account is not so, the ruling elite is working on taking advantage and manipulating the international disputes and contradictions to firmly continue the marginalization of the Shiites. The ruling elite works on taking advantage of the bad relations between Iran on one side and the US and Israel on the other side, in order to publicize to the world the issue of the Shiites' loyalty to Iran to gain sympathy and support from those countries to its policy towards the Shiites.

However, the question is, until when will the ruling elite depend on those international disputes and contradictions, to justifies its oppression against the people? Is there anyone who can guarantee that the map of international relations always remains the same?

The discrimination issue against the Shiites is not a new phenomenon, it started when the rulers of the country invaded Bahrain, more than two centuries ago, and has no relation with Iran who only formed its modern state in the last 30 years.

The British colonizer's existence in Bahrain helped in reducing the discrimination policy against the Shiites at the beginning of the last century. However, since its independence in the early 70's and the return of the reign in the hands of the ruling elite, the policy started gradually once and again. This policy became even more aggressive, systematic, organized since the King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa came in power.

Are Shiites threatening the regime in Bahrain as is alleged?

It is absolutely apparent that the ruling class in Bahrain is living a state of fears and delusion, that the Shiites forms a threat to the Ruling family. However, the reality is not so, up till this moment there are no political opposition forces in Bahrain - Shiite, Sunni, or National - that threat the regime, or that fight over the reign. All the demands are limited to the participation in decision-making, the justice in distributing the wealth, equal citizenship, criminalizing discrimination, equality in opportunity and respect for human rights.

Nevertheless, the continuous of this unjust policy pushes some groups of citizens - out of frustration - to carry out extreme means in expressing their demands, or it may drive others to ask for help from other countries. If we do not want these matters to move into this direction, we should reform our home, now and not tomorrow. Time, in the light of international changes, is beginning to run out.

However, we totally believe that one of the main reasons for the spread of sectarian discrimination, is our negative attitude ignoring to present it, and being ashamed of indicating it even by those groups affected by it, in fear of being accused by the authority and its associates that we are sectarian and work for Iran.

We, in the BCHR, have a moral, ethical, legal and humane commitment that the campaign against the sectarian discrimination is one of our priorities in the coming months or years, on the local, regional and international level.

The author is the president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).

Note: Articles published in this section do not necessarily reflect Press TV's views.


24 Feb, 2009

Bahrain: A Hunger Strike That Might Turn to a Civil Movement

A hunger strike by eight prominent figures in Bahrain, which started on February 13th, has attracted several thousands of supporters who visited the place where the strike is held in Nuwaidrat, a village South West of the capital Manama.

Abdul-Jaleel Al-Meqdad (a senior Shiite religious scholar), Abdul-Wahab Husain (well-known political activist), Abdulhadi Alkhawaja (former president of the Bahrain Center for Human rights), AbdulJaleel Al-Singace (head of the human rights committee at Haq-movment), and four other Bahraini figures started the hunger strike as a protest against the general deterioration of human rights conditions in Bahrain and to demand the release of around 100 detainees. These detainees are said to be arrested due to their human rights activities or for practicing there rights in freedom of opinion, freedom of organization and freedom of assembly.

The participants in the hunger strike announced that it is only one of a series of steps to be taken and announced yesterday that they intend to end their hunger strike on Tuesday, February 24th, in a rally where they will announce their following move. Two of the participants, AbdulJaleel Al-Singace and Abdulhadi Al-Mokhodar, were transferred to Al-Salmania Medical Complex (SMC) to receive medical treatment due to severe hypoglycemia, hypotension, and generalized fatigue.

Several hundreds of people visited the place of the hunger strike every day showing support to the participants including several delegations representing different Shiite cities and villages in Bahrain. Scores of well-known figures and delegations of opposition political groups and non-governmental societies including human rights groups also attended to show their support. Three parallel rallies organized in the same area to support the strike attracted thousands of supporters on the 23rd, 17th and 20th of February. Speeches and statements during rallies and meetings were discussed, amongst other issues, turning this wide support into the start of civil movement.

For more information, please contact:

Organization committee, Tel: +973 39121674

Direct contact to participants:

In Arabic:

· Abdul-Wahab Husain: Mobile: + 973 39400 720

In English:

· Abdulhadi Alkhawaja: Mobile: + 973 39400 720

· Abdul-Jaleel Al-Singace: Mobile: + 973 39668179

More information on the detainees and human rights situation could be found on: www.bahrainrights.org

23 Feb, 2009

ARTICLE 19 concerned about upcoming trial of activists Hasan Mushaima, Mohamed Habib Al-Muqdad and Abdul-Jalil Alsingace

Bahrain: ARTICLE 19 concerned about the upcoming trial of Bahraini Activists

ARTICLE 19 has been following with concern the cases brought against three Bahraini activists in relation to their publishing activities and speeches about the political situation in Bahrain. Mr. Hasan Mushaima, Mohamed Habib Al-Muqdad and Dr Abdul-Jalil Alsingace are due to appear in court on Monday, February 23 2009, for charges related to violating anti-terrorism and criminal laws.

The three activists, arrested on January 26, 2009, have been charged with several offences under the Bahrain Penal Code (Articles 160 and 165) and Article 6 of the Bahrain Terrorism Code of 2006, that carry a penalty of up to five years and life imprisonment respectively. These are "forming an organisation, outside the provisions of the law, which disrupts the provisions of the Constitution or prevents any of the State enterprises or public authorities from exercising their duties", "provoking hatred of the regime" and "inciting violence and the overthrow of the political system". Mr. Mushaima and Mr. Al-Muqdad are still held in custody, while Dr. Alsingace was released on bail but officially banned from travel out of Bahrain.

ARTICLE 19 is concerned about the vagueness of the provisions of the Penal and Terrorism Codes that are being used as a basis for the prosecution of the three Bahraini activists. On the face of it, these provisions are overbroad and include illegitimate restrictions on the rights of freedom of association and of freedom of expression. The anti-terrorism provisions have also been a subject of criticism by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes Bahrain's commitment to introduce political and democratic reforms in the country and the steps the country has taken in this direction. We call on the Bahraini authorities to further strengthen this commitment by bringing its legislation to compliance with international human rights law and standards on freedom of expression and the right to assembly. We also urge the Bahraini authorities to ensure that the trial of the three activists meets international standards of fairness and transparency, in particular, the right to challenge the lawfulness of the detention, the presumption of innocence, the right to examine or have examined all witnesses and the right to a fair hearing.

Updates the Hasan Mushaima, Mohamed Habib Al-Muqdad and Abdul-Jalil Alsingace cases: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/100645/


For further information, contact Hoda Rouhana, MENA Programme Officer, ARTICLE 19, 6-8 Amwell Street, London, EC1R 1UQ, U.K., tel: +44 20 7278 9292, fax: +44 20 7278 7660, e-mail: hoda@article19.org, info@article19.org, Internet: http://www.article19.org



- JOINT ACTION: Twenty IFEX members around the globe denounce jailing of activists for expressing their views

21 Feb, 2009

The Public Prosecution charges human rights defenders with serious accusations based on Terrorism Law

Human rights defender Abbass Omran brought to trial without investigation The Prosecution faces one of the detainees with fabricated confessions taken from Omran The Public Prosecution charges human rights defenders with serious accusations based on Terrorism Law 16 February 2009 The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its deep concern for including the name of its board member, the human rights defender Abbass AbdulAziz Al-Omran amongst the indictment which the Public Prosecution brought to the Grand Criminal Court on 10 February 2009 in case number 1403/2008, with charges relating to the alleged reveal of a “terror plot”[i]. This is not the first time that Abbass Al-Omran gets targeted because of his activity in the human rights field, especially in the committees he helped the BCHR to establish, among them the Unemployed and Low-waged Committee, the Martyrs and Victims of Torture Committee, and the Families of the Detainees Committee. Noteworthy, Abbass Al-Omran carries a membership in the BCHR since the first year of its establishment in 2002, and he became a member in the BCHR’s administrative board since October 2008. The BCHR believes that targeting Abbass Al-Omran goes back to his continuous and effective activity in the human rights field. The Center is stunned by the Public Prosecution, who arrested a large number of people who were accused in this case and interrogated them since the last December, 16, however, did not at any time summon Abbass Al-Omran for interrogation or even call him. He travelled normally through Bahrain’s Airport to London twice on 18 December 2008 and another time when he was sent by the BCHR on 28 January 2009. The Prosecution did not make any contact with him before he found his name being published among the indictment dated on 10 February, to be brought to trial with the others on Februray 23, 2009. The BCHR is surprised that the Public Prosecution – according to one of the lawyers – faced one of the detainees, Sheikh Mohammed Habib Al-Muqdad, with a “confession” against him by Abbass Al-Omran, while the fact is that Abbass Al-Omran was neither arrested nor interrogated, which indicates the kind of methods that the prosecution office resort to in order to pressurize the detainees. According to the indictment, the Public Prosecution accused the detainees, among them Abbass Omran, of the charge that they: “Joined a group that was established against the provisions of the law, its aim is to disable the provisions of the constitution and laws and to prevent the public authorities from practicing their work, and to abuse personal liberties and the public rights of citizens, while terror is one of its means in achieving its aims; and that they joined the mentioned group to carry out terrorist operations that target important sites, public facilities, and the populated places in the Kingdom and to assault officers and members of the Police Force, with the purpose of undermining security and public order and to cause instability in the country and to cause damage to the economic viability with their knowledge of that group’s aims”. It is an accusation based on law number 58 of the year 2006, regarding protecting the community from terrorist acts and it is the law that was condemned by the UN’s Special Rapporteur and several international non-governmental organizations. The indictment includes the names of 35 activists and human rights defenders, among them; 1. Thirteen Bahrainis whom the indictments says are fugitives, among them – in addition to Abbass Al-Omran – two other human rights defenders who have recently obtained political asylum in Britain and they are Abdul-Raoof Al-Shayeb, the former president of the Martyrs and Victims of Torture Committee, and Ali Hassan Mushaima the administrative member in the Unemployed and Low-waged Committee. 2. Nineteen Bahrainis who were arrested during the past two months. The indictment said that they are still imprisoned, among them Hassan Mushaima, the General Secretary of the Movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy (Haq), the cleric defending human rights Sheikh Mohammed Habib Al-Muqdad, and the human rights defender Abdul-Ridha Al-Saffar, the activists in the Families of the Detainees and the Unemployed Committees[ii], 3. Three Bahrainis who were released after ending the investigation with them, among them Dr. Abdul-Jalil Al-Singace, president of the human rights committee in Haq Movement, The charges in this case were based on: 1- the Penal Law for the year 1976 which restricts liberties and punishes practicing them, and 2- the Terrorism law for the year 2006, in which sentences reach life imprisonment, such as article 6 of the law. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights urgently demands the following: 1. The release of all detainees in this case, specially Abbas Omran and other human rights defenders, as the facts indicate that the motives of their arrest is due to their work in defending human rights and/or them practicing their basic rights to freedom of association, assembly and freedom of expression. 2. Drop all the charges, and stop the trials which will not provide the conditions of a fair trial, because the terrorism and penal laws oppose the international standards, and the lack of impartiality and independence of the judiciary. 3. Stop targeting human rights activists, by smearing their reputation, or accusing them of terrorism, or arresting them and exposing them to torture and ill-treatment. 4. To annul the terrorism law and to amend the Penal Law in accordance with the international conventions and obligations. 5. To bring anyone involved in those violations to trial, and to compensate the affected.

20 Feb, 2009

Bahrain: The Authorities gravely violates the UN Convention on the RIGHTS of PERSONS with DISABILITIES

Disabled rights activist Alsingace faces prosecution next February 23rd for charges punishable by life imprisonment for exercising right of freedom of expression and association

Alsingace was arrested from his residence at dawn, held in solitary confinement, interrogated and later banned from travel after release

19th February 2009

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is seriously concerned about the potential punishment of Dr Abduljalil Alsingace- disabled rights activist- of ban of travel, redundancy from his post as an academician and imprisonment, mounting to life duration.

Dr Abduljalil Alsingace (47years) suffers from Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, in the upper limb of the left leg, resulting in permanent disability. As per the knowledge of the BCHR, Dr Alsingace was infected with this viral disease since childhood and since then he has been using crutches for movement. In recent period, Dr Alsingace has been dually using a wheelchair after carrying a surgery in his two rests to release the stress in his both hands after catching the Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Dr Alsingace, a professor at the Mechanical Engineering Department of the University of Bahrain (UOB), is a graduate of the University of Manchester-UK in 1995 and since then has been involved in teaching. The UOB has recently provided Dr Alsingace with all logistic means to conduct deliverance of lectures and other academic duties, which include an electric wheelchair and a tablet labtop personal computer, in consideration for his recent medical condition.

Dr Alsingace and other two activists- Mr Hasan Mushaima- Secretary General of Movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy (HAQ) and Mr Mohamed Habib Al-Muqdad – A scholar and social activist, were arrested just before dawn time (Between 2-3am) of Monday 26th, January and were kept in solitary confinement until transferred to the Public Prosecution (PP) at about 5:30pm of the same day. They were deprived from all contacts with their families, lawyers and the rest of the world. After almost nine hours of interrogation, Mr Mushaima (61yrs) and Mr Al-Muqdad (47yrs) were remanded in custody, while releasing Dr Alsingace on bail and officially banning him from travel and leave Bahrain. The PP has already passed the case to the Higher Criminal Court scheduled on February 23rd.

During interrogation, Dr Abduljalil Alsingace was faced with his speeches and articles addressing public issues and which were considered inciting hatred of the regime and inciting provoking violence and the overthrow of the political system. These two charges are based on the internationally denounced Penal code of 1976 and punishable by imprisonment of up to 8 years. However, the most severe punishment is the third charge, based on the Bahraini counter terrorism law which has been condemned by many international organizations including the UN. The penalty of that charge is punishable to life imprisonment for “forming an organization, unlike the provisions of the law, which disrupt the provisions of the Constitution, laws or prevent any of the State enterprises or public authorities from exercising their duty”. Dr Abduljalil Alsingace denied all the allegations and considered it malicious and politically motivated.

Based on the hostile attitude of the Authorities against Dr Abduljalil Alsingace and other activists, BCHR believes that his arrest, detention and prosecution are related to practicing legitimate and peaceful public activities (Electronic articles, speeches, seminars and presentations). Moreover, the atrocious charges are phony and meant to silence him from expressing his thoughts and performing any peaceful related to democratic reforms and promotion of human rights and civil liberties specially freedoms of expression, assembly and association.

Recently, the Authorities has blocked the electronic blog of Dr Alsingace who uses it to post news, human rights reports, poems, adverts, and articles (published by others and himself), as well as links to Human Rights Watch news, questionnaires about the role of NGOs and other blogs.

In another stance, Dr Alsingace has stated earlier that his personal privacy has been infringed through tapping his phones, emails and posts. Furthermore and in official statement, he reported that his voice and other activists have been replicated by the local Authorities using voice changer software, expressing his concerns about the possibility of using the voice reproduction as means criminalization or basis for indictment.

It is to be mentioned that in addition to other activists, Dr Alsingace was the subject of smear and defamation media campaign waged by the Authorities aftermath his participation in a human rights activity held last October in the US Congress.

On 25th June 2007, the Bahrain Government signed the UN Convention of the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities which entered in force on May 3rd, 2008 . Out of the human rights of the disabled persons, among them Dr Alsingace, are the followings and the relevant article of the Convention:

1) The right for freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as per Article 15. 2) The liberty of movement and nationality, as per Article 18, which includes the right to the freedom of movement of disable persons and leave any country, including their own. 3) Freedom of Expression and opinion, and access to information, as per Article 21. 4) Respect for privacy, as stated by Article 22, which focus on arbitrary or unlawful interference with the disabled privacy, family, home or correspondence or other types of communication or to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation. 5) Work and employment, as per Article 27, which includes the right to gain a living by work in a suitable environment. 6) The right to participation in political and public life, as secured by Article 29, which includes effective and full participation in the conduct of public affairs, participation in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country, and in the activities and administration of political parties.

Demands and appeal:

The BCHR reiterates its concerns on the health and wellbeing of Dr Alsingace after the Authorities move to indict him and other activists in Bahrain. The BCHR, therefore appeals to the international organizations concerned with the rights of disabled to intervene and exert necessary efforts to:

1- The dismissal of charges made against the disabled rights activist Dr Alsingace, and any subsequent reprisals. 2- Respect the right of Dr Alsingace to freedom of expression and opinion, remove travel ban against him, maintain his privacy, and his right to participate NGO’s and associations concerned with pubic affairs. 3- Abide by the articulations in the UN Convention of Human Rights of Disabled Persons. 4- Introduce the required legislations to the promotion and protection of rights in the said convention.

Kindly: Find below more information submitted by Dr Abduljalil Alsingace himself.

Statement of AJ Alsingace Bahrain: 18th February 2009

After almost two years of birth in January 15th 1962, I was infected Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, in the upper limb of the left leg, resulting in permanent disability. Since childhood, I have been using crutches for movement and daily activities.

I am a PhD graduate from the University of Manchester-UK in 1995, in the field of Mechanical Engineering (ME). Since then, I have been employed by the University of Bahrain (UOB), promoted to associated Professor in 2001 and headed the department of Mechanical Engineering for three years since 2002. I have been involved in teaching, academic research and society service.

Because of my activities (Among others; defending detainees, participating in human rights seminars, writing human rights reports, traveling and meeting with human rights organizations and think tanks, petitioning, participating in rights popular protests like sit-ins and demonstrations) and travel to Washington DC (USA), London (UK) and Geneva (Switzerland), I was penalized by the Bahraini Authorities and dismissed from his administrative post at the UOB and retained his academic post as associate professor. Prior to his dismissal, the President of the UOB, Shaikha Maryam Al-Khalifa a member of the ruling family, explicitly told me that had I been to Mozambique, it would have been OK but going to Washington is not acceptable.

I was subject to smear campaign through SMS messages as well as defamatory media campaign after participating in a human rights activity in the US Congress last October.

At the UOB address, I received, twice, threats from the Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA) threatening to take me to court for leading “Committee of Activists and Detainees of Conscience”.

I was involved in the formation as well as the activities of, non-exhaustively: - Unemployed and Underpaid Committee - Committee of Detainees - Committee Against 1% - Committee to Combat High Prices - Committee of Activists - Committee of Victims of Torture - Committee of Stateless (Without nationality) - Committee of Detainees of Conscience

I opened my house for a public event to conduct weekly seminars on human rights and public issues. I was asked about this event at the public prosecution and, more over, one of the speakers was officially banned by Authorities from participation.

In a peaceful authorized demonstration calling for the release of detainees, I was publicly hit by member of Special Forces (made of different nationalities) using a plastic batons resulting in grounding me and using abusive language against me.

Two years back, I suffered from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) causing numbness in the two hands, which necessitated a surgical operation in his two wrests to remove the caused stress. This has caused that I opt to the use of wheelchair inside and outside his residence when possible, to ease loading on his hands and decelerate resumption of the Syndrome. The CTS is back and I have to go on surgery once more in due course.

After the first surgery, the UOB provided logistics for me to perform teaching while he is seated, which includes electric wheelchair, a tablet labtop and assignment of a classroom in the ground floor of the ME department in UOB.

I and two other activists; Mr Hasan Mushaima- Secretary General of Movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy (HAQ) and Mr Mohamed Habib Al-Muqdad – head of Orphan society, were arrested and facing charges because of expressing views and joining association concerned with public affairs issues. For more details on the case; some of the links are below: - http://www.omct.org/index.php?id=&lang=eng&actualPageNumber=1&articleId=8351&itemAdmin=article - http://www.article19.org/pdfs/press/bahrain-article-19-condemns-the-targeting-of-human-rights-activists-and-call.pdf - http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/100743/ - http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3975 - http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/100767/

15 Feb, 2009

Bahrain: ARTICLE 19 Calls for the End of the Harassment of Ghada Jamsheer

ARTICLE 19 has written to Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, King of Bahrain, asking him to ensure that women’s rights activist, Ghada Jamsheer, is protected from harassment and guaranteed her right to free expression.

Jamsheer is leader of the Women’s Petition Committee which works to protect women and advocate for improved women’s rights in the country’s sharia courts. She has been repeatedly harassed in the course of her work and has been effectively banned from the country’s media since 2007.

In November 2008, while attending the AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) Conference in South Africa, Jamsheer’s home was reportedly entered by a state security agent and detailed photographs were taken of her residence. Her house phone, mobile phone and email account were also reportedly put under surveillance.

After reporting this incident to the police, Ms Jamsheer’s 74-year-old mother and sister were then accused by the police of attacking the state security agent. They are now facing court proceedings. Rather than the legitimate process of justice, this appears to be another attempt to intimidate Ms Jamsheer.

Ghada Jamsheer and her family have also received threatening text messages and have allegedly been followed by a car.

Jamsheer is unable to publish any articles or obtain any media coverage under a reported media ban issued by His Excellency Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Minister of the Royal Court.

“The harassment campaign and the media ban against Ghada Jamsheer are directly related to her legitimate work in the defence of women’s rights in Bahrain and is a clear violation of her right to freedom of expression and of the freedom of the press in Bahrain,” comments Dr Agnès Callamard, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19. “It undermines much needed debate in Bahrain and, in particular, silences women’s voices and discourages their participation in civil society.”

In the letter to the Bahraini monarch, ARTICLE 19 expressed its concerns about the physical and psychological welfare of Ghada Jamsheer and her family, and urged the authorities to restore freedom of expression, including freedom of the press, by lifting the ban and putting a stop to all intimidation of human rights defenders in Bahrain.


• For more information, please contact Hoda Rouhana, MENA Programme Officer at hoda@article19.org or +44 20 7278 9292 .


ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works globally to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech. For more information on ARTICLE 19 please visit www.article19.org

6-8 Amwell Street London EC1R 1UQ United Kingdom Tel: +44 2... - Fax: +44 20 7278 7660 - info@article19.org - www.article19.org

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13 Feb, 2009

Activist Abduljalil Alsingace's blog blocked by authorities

Date: 12 February 2009 Source: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

(BCHR/IFEX) - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) confirms that the authorities have taken measures to effectively block local access to the electronic blog of Abduljalil Alsingace, ( http://alsingace.katib.org ). This is the first blog, a personal homepage, to be blocked by an administrative ministerial order, as part of a censorship campaign initiated over a month ago by the newly appointed Minister of Information, Mai Al-Khalifa, a member of the ruling family.

Alsingace's blog, "Al-Faseelah", which is named after a young palm tree, is posted on Katib "Writer in Arabic", a program aimed at "providing an opportunity for intellectuals, rights activists, young people and the Arab world to publish on the web without restrictions except for hate speech" (see http://www.katib.org ). Katib is sponsored and maintained by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information ( http://www.anhri.org ), a non-Bahraini site also blocked by the authorities.

Alsingace uses the "Al-Faseelah" blog to post news, human rights reports, poems, advertisements, videos, portraits as well as articles, published by him and others. "Al-Faseelah" contains links to human rights organizations, questionnaires about the role of non-governmental organizations, and adverts calling for the prosecution of torturers.

On 27 January 2009, Alsingace was officially banned from traveling and leaving Bahrain after bogus allegations were issued against him, accusing him of being involved in a "terror" plot, being a member of the HAQ movement for Liberty and Democracy, and suggesting that his articles were provocative and had "incited hatred against the regime". Alsingace, as well as other activists, are facing charges based on the Barhaini Terrorism law of 2006 and the Penal Code of 1976, a punishment which could amount to life imprisonment.

BCHR president Nabeel Rajab stated: "This is a red blink signal marking an ominous deterioration in human rights in Bahrain, particularly in the level of freedom of expression by activists and dissidents". He added: "The authorities, launching many electronic projects, should realize by now that people can easily circumvent any blocked site, and further censorship on site of dissident voices will do nothing but tarnish its image".

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Send appeals to the authorities: - asking them to respect freedom of expression, particularly for human rights defenders, whose views are important for the maintenance and protection of general rights and liberties - calling on them to stop preventing human rights defenders from accessing the media and blocking their means of communications to the public.

APPEALS TO: His Highness Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa King of Bahrain Riffa, Bahrain Fax: +97 31 766 4587

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa Cabinet Prime Minister Fax: +97 31 721 1363

Mrs Mai Al-Khalifa Minister of Information

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

For further information on the travel ban issued against Alsingace, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/100645


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.bwhrainrights.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