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Testimony of Joe Stork before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

Hearing on the Human Rights Situation in Bahrain

May 13, 2011

Congressman McGovern and other Distinguished Commission Members:

Thank you very much for holding this important hearing on the human rights situation in Bahrain, and for inviting me to participate.

Human rights conditions in Bahrain have grown increasingly grave since mid-March, when the government violently put down pro-democracy and anti-government street protests. Since then, we have seen an unrelenting official campaign of punitive retribution against Bahrainis who participated in or otherwise supported the protests.

This campaign has included the apparently arbitrary detention of more than a thousand persons, of whom some 630 remain in detention. Almost all have had no contact with lawyers or a brief phone call with families and their whereabouts and well-being are unknown, including elected members of parliament as well as doctors and other professionals. This pattern of incommunicado detention is all the more worrisome in that in April four persons died in custody, some apparently as a result of torture and others from medical neglect. Early this week, 14 opposition activists were brought before a special military court, at least one of them bearing unmistakable signs of torture.

More than 1200 workers and employees have been summarily dismissed from their jobs apparently because of participation in the protests, in violation of Bahrain's labor laws as well as international standards. Several professional associations, such as the Teachers Society and the Bahrain Medical Society have been suspended or effectively taken over by the authorities. The government engineered a hostile takeover of the country's only independent newspaper, expelled this week the Reuters correspondent who was Bahrain's only in-country international journalist, and have denied access to other foreign journalists wishing to report from the country. Meanwhile state-controlled Bahrain TV and pro-government print media routinely vilify pro-democracy groups as traitors operating at the behest of Iran and feature commentaries fomenting hatred against the Shia community - who comprise the majority of Bahrainis and majority of protesters.

It is important to note that this fierce and sometimes deadly repression has continued - and indeed intensified - despite the fact that since mid-March the government has been fully in control of the security situation. In Bahrain people continue to face arbitrary arrest, and effectively be "disappeared" and subjected to torture, many weeks after the protests have been suppressed. This is not Libya, where rebel forces have taken up arms against the government, or Syria, where thousands of protesters take to the streets week after week in city after city. This repression is purely vindictive and punitive.

And unfortunately, in contrast to Syria, Libya, and other sites of unrest and repression, the United States government has had little to say about any of this, at least in public, and those few words have tended to be general in the extreme. We know, and just about every Bahraini knows, that the Obama administration weighed in forcefully, behind the scenes but with success, to persuade the Al Khalifa ruling family to pull back troops and security forces after they violently attacked protesters between February 14 and 17, killing seven and wounding many more. We also know that the administration worked very hard, though futilely, to head off Saudi Arabia's military deployment to Bahrain. At that time, and since, senior administration officials have publicly criticized the Al Khalifa family's resort to force, but these remonstrations have been for the most part quite general, stating for example that Bahrainis, like other people, should enjoy universal rights.

Quite frankly, at a time when night after night masked armed men, both uniformed and plainclothes, are breaking into homes and hauling off Bahrainis to unknown locations, to interrogation centers where torture or ill-treatment are routine, a time when people are pulled out of cars at checkpoints and beaten, a time when people suffering gunshot or other wounds inflicted by security forces fear going to medical centers where other security forces beat and arrest them - these are times when something more forceful and more specific is badly needed.

Mr. Chairman, I have been closely following the human rights situation in Bahrain since 1996, when I joined Human Rights Watch and, as one of my first assignments, documented rampant abuses during an earlier period of unrest in the country. I witnessed the sharp and substantial improvement that occurred after King Hamad took over from his father in 1999: in the early years of his reign, he abolished the State Security Courts, freed political prisoners, and invited those in political exile, in many cases having been forcibly expelled from their own country, to return.

While Human Rights Watch continued to criticize failures to institutionalize reforms in areas of free expression and freedom of association, we noted that reports of arbitrary arrests and abuse in detention declined markedly. It was with considerable dismay, then, that we received increasing reports, beginning in late 2007, of a revival of torture during interrogation, which we documented in a report we released in the capital, Manama, in February 2010. Despite official promises to investigate and hold accountable anyone found responsible, the only investigation we are aware of was superficial in the extreme, and no one, to our knowledge, has been criminally investigated or prosecuted. And, it must be said, the US government has at no point publicly commented on the problem beyond reporting in the annual State Department country report that we had made such allegations.

Mr. Chairman, my colleagues were on the ground in Bahrain from the night of February 17 until April 20, when the authorities refused to renew a colleague's visa. On May 4, our legal consultant travelled to Bahrain in order to observe trials before the special military court, but was turned away at the airport. Although our on-the-ground access has been restricted for several weeks now, we will continue to work with Bahraini authorities to insure that we are able to return, and we hope that Bahrain will not join the ranks of Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia as countries completely closed to international human rights reporting.

Based mainly on our field work - I myself was part of the team on the ground on the week of March 21 - I would like to summarize the most critical human rights issues in Bahrain and conclude with some recommendations of steps that Congress and the Obama administration should urgently take.

Suspect Deaths

Human Rights Watch confirmed the use of live ammunition against [largely] peaceful protesters, as well as the misuse of birdshot pellets and rubber bullets, between February 14 and 17, killing seven protesters and wounding many more. The government announced the formation of an investigative committee of three officials headed by a deputy prime minister to investigate the deaths, but if it has pursued this assignment it has done so with a complete absence of transparency. Committee members refused to discuss their methodology with Human Rights Watch, and other government officials have told us that they did not know what the committee had done, if anything. In mid- March another dozen or so people were killed in clashes, including several security officers and at least one South Asian worker killed by a mob. Further deaths occurred in subsequent raids on Shia villages in the week that followed.

To give just one appalling example that we investigated: on March 19, 32-year-old Hani Jumah, a cleaner from Khamis village and father of year-old twins, was outside his home when police swept through his neighborhood. According to witnesses, he was not protesting at the time or engaged in any unlawful behavior. Police chased him into an apartment building under construction. Neighbors found him unconscious, lying in a pool of blood, with massive injuries to his knees and arm caused by a shotgun firing pellets at point-blank range. Several days later my colleague found fragments of his knee-bone as well as a tooth and pieces of human tissue stuck to the wall and ceiling of the empty room, apparently the result of the force of the shots that maimed him. As far as we are aware, Jumah never regained consciousness: late on the night he was shot, security forces moved him from a private hospital to the Bahrain Defense Force hospital; when his parents went to the BDF hospital to ask about his condition, officials denied he was there. The next information they received was five days later, on March 24, when hospital officials called the parents to tell them to retrieve his body the next day.

As noted below, the hundreds of persons arrested are being held incommunicado, without access to lawyers or families, their whereabouts and well-being unknown. These are exactly the conditions that are conducive to torture or ill-treatment, and we know of four deaths in custody in April - some apparently as a result of torture and others from medical neglect. On April 28 state-run Bahrain TV aired a program that included a videotaped "confession" by Ali Isa Ibrahim Saqer - one of those who had died in custody earlier in the month and whose body - seen by Human Rights Watch at the time of his burial - bore unmistakable signs of torture.

Approximately 30 persons have been killed since February 14, most of them protesters or bystanders at the hands of security forces. We are aware of no investigations into the circumstances of what in many cases appear to be unlawful killings. While this number may appear small compared with deaths inflicted by security forces in Libya or Syria, in just 10 weeks they exceed the total number of deaths that occurred in the five years of serious unrest in the mid and late 1990s, and they occur among a population of just 500,000 Bahrainis (and an equivalent number of expatriate workers).

Arbitrary Arrests and Detentions

The Bahraini government has provided no information about the total number of persons arrested, detainee whereabouts and well-being, or in most cases the reasons for arrest. We believe that the number of persons arrested to have been approximately 1,000, with approximately 630 presently in detention. These include leaders of legally recognized political opposition societies, like Ibrahim Sharif, a Sunni who heads the secularist National Democratic Action Society, and Matar Ibrahim Matar and Jawad Fairouz, recently elected members of parliament representing the Wifaq society, a Shia Islamic party that made up the largest opposition bloc in the parliament.

As noted, the widespread use of incommunicado detention raises serious concern about torture or ill-treatment in detention. We have already mentioned several deaths in custody. On May 8, authorities brought 14 protest leaders before a special military tribunal on charges ranging from plotting to overthrow the government - apparently based on the calls of some to transform the monarchy into a republic, although most of the protesters were demanding a constitutional monarchy - and specious offenses such as spreading false news and harming the reputation of the country. One of the 14, human rights and political activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, bore facial fractures and head injuries, apparently the result of severe beatings he sustained since authorities detained him a month earlier, on April 9. Several defendants in the courtroom walked with distinct limps.

Attacks on Medical Professionals

Attacks by security forces on medics first occurred in the pre-dawn February 17 raid on Pearl Roundabout protesters, when police attacked a volunteer medical tent, beating and in some cases arresting nurses and doctors. As a result of this as well as allegations that the authorities had prevented the dispatch of ambulances to attend to wounded protesters, the grounds of Salmaniyya Medical Complex, the country's largest public hospital, for weeks became a protest site as well, with protest posters, blown-up photos of wounded protesters, and occasional speeches by opposition leaders.

When the authorities declared martial law on March 15 and launched a wholesale crackdown on the street protests, Salmaniyya hospital was also targeted. On March 16 armed and uniformed masked men took control of the hospital, including patient wards, and restricting entry to and exit from the complex. Persons whose injuries appeared to be as a result of confrontations with security forces were frequently arrested and beaten, with those requiring urgent medical care moved to the sixth floor, which became an improvised detention area with highly restricted access.

My colleagues had frequent and relatively unrestricted access to Salmaniyya hospital prior to March 16, and occasional access several weeks later. Government allegations that doctors refused to treat Sunni patients, or brought in weapons, or used the hospital's blood supply to simulate more grievous protester injuries - which surfaced only after the military takeover of the hospital - appear to be fictive. Human Rights Watch wrote to the Minister of Health on April 21 requesting information about these and other allegations but we have not yet had any response.

Salmaniyya hospital remained under the direct control of security forces when the last of my colleagues departed in late April, and according to Doctors without Borders, this remains the case today.

Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals have been among those targeted for arrest. According to Physicians for Human Rights, more than 80 doctors and other medical professionals have been arrested, of whom about 20 were since released. On May 4, officials announced that 150 doctors and nurses had been suspended pending investigations, and two days ago, on May 11, the pro-government Gulf Daily News carried a so-called news story headlined, "Rogue doctors seen working." The military prosecutor has brought charges against 24 doctors and 23 nurses and paramedics that include embezzling funds, possessing weapons and ammunition, inciting sectarian hatred, dissemination of false news, and participation in unauthorized rallies and meetings. Human Rights Watch has received reports in the past several days of additional arrests of doctors and medical workers from Salmaniyya and other health facilities.

Restrictions on the Right to Freedom of Information

The government has banned numerous websites and publications, including those of legally recognized political societies, arrested journalists and bloggers, and carried out a hostile takeover of the country's one independent newspaper, Al Wasat. In mid-March, unknown assailants attacked and partially destroyed the newspaper's printing press. The founding editor of Al Wasat, Mansoor al-Jamri, along with two other former editors, are being tried next week - the first session is scheduled for May 18 - on charges of "publishing fabricated news and made up stories...that may harm public safety and national interests." According to the editors, the six fabricated stories had been sent as e-mails from different addresses but a single external internet protocol (IP) source based in a neighboring Arab country. All the stories dealt with alleged incidents, such as nighttime raids on homes by riot police, that have been frequent and routine in Bahrain since March 15. The emails appeared to have been sent to other Bahraini papers, making them appear more authentic, but with small mistakes in the addresses so that in fact Al Wasat was the only recipient. Two Iraqi journalists working with Al Wasat since 2005 were summoned for questioning and summarily deported, along with their families, when they refused to support official claims that al-Jamri had knowingly fabricated the stories in question. In other words, not only the stories but the criminal charges appear to have been fabricated. Human Rights Watch monitored Al Wasat's content before and since al-Jamri's removal, and found that it had largely - although not completely - ceased publishing news and analysis differing from that of the rest of Bahrain's mass media.

Two other points of note with regard to freedom of information.

First, while some international journalists have been permitted to report from Bahrain since March 15, others have been refused entry. This week the government ordered Frederik Richter, who for the past three years has been the only international journalist based in Bahrain, to leave the country within the week.

Second, the role of the state-run Bahrain television, and the remaining print media which are all friendly to the government and mainly function as its mouthpieces, have actively promoted government allegations against Al Wasat, against the medical professionals, and more broadly against Shia Bahrainis as traitors and worse. The Gulf Daily News on May 1 published a "letter," signed "Sana P.S.," riffing on termites and white ants as an "intelligent type of pest" that periodically swam and destroy buildings and crops, and concluding that "to me they are very similar to the February 14 group that tried to destroy our precious, beautiful country. The moral is: to get rid of white ants so they don't come back is to get rid of the mother (the head) responsible for these destructions. There is no point in capturing and getting rid of baby ants when the mother is still reproducing!"

Summary Workplace Dismissals

Since late March, according to the independent General Federation of Bahraini Trade Unions (GFBTU), more than 1200 workers have been summarily dismissed from their jobs. In most cases the stated reason for dismissal has been absence from work during and immediately after street protests, but the dismissals were carried out in violation of Bahraini law, which requires that such absences be for at least 10 consecutive days and that workers receive written warnings after five consecutive absences. Human Rights Watch interviewed 18 workers fired from six companies. All said they were given no advance warning and the companies did not conduct independent investigations to determine that they had violated company or government regulations before they were dismissed. Those fired include 22 local union leaders and six members of the GFBTU executive board. We note that the AFL-CIO has petitioned the US government to notify Bahrain of its intent to suspend the Bahraini-US Free Trade Agreement for violation of ILO conventions prohibiting violations of freedom of association. The International Trade Union Confederation, for its part, has called for the establishment of an ILO Commission of Inquiry into Bahraini violations of ILO Convention No. 111, prohibiting discrimination in hiring and firing for reasons of, among other things, political opinions. The government itself has fired or suspended hundreds of employees from ministries and other official institutions.


Human Rights Watch strongly urges the US Congress and the Obama administration to speak out vigorously and publicly about rampant and continuing serious human rights violations in Bahrain. The United States should not be seen as complicit in a campaign by an autocratic government to stifle popular demands for democratic rights, a dynamic that has an especially dangerous sectarian dimension in Bahrain, where the ruling family and its close allies are mainly Sunni and Shia make up the majority of the citizenry.

First, particularly given the close and longstanding security relationship between the United States and Bahrain, the US should announce a comprehensive ban on security assistance to Bahrain, including the commercial sale of riot control as well as military hardware, until authorities there take measurable steps to halt the violent suppression of peaceful protesters and to hold accountable those responsible for the unlawful use of force, the use of torture or ill-treatment, and arbitrary arrests and detention. Because Bahrain values its military and security relationship with the United States, and seems less concerned with its civilian relations with Washington, it is crucial that US military officials stress to their Bahraini counterparts, including Marshal Khalifa bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, the head of the current martial law government, that continued close military relations, including the presence of the US Fifth Fleet headquarters, require a prompt and comprehensive halt in serious human rights violations.

We further urge the Congress and the Obama administration to criticize by name the most flagrant abuses, such as unlawful killings and torture, and the wholesale impunity for serious crimes in violation of international law - and to do so publicly. Administration officials have told us that they have not done so because they do not think it will be any more effective than private demarches for reversing the deteriorating human rights situation. While we cannot guarantee that public diplomacy will have the desired effect, the time for relying only on "quiet" diplomacy is long past, given the current state of affairs. It is also important to realize that what is at stake is not only the situation in Bahrain, but US credibility regarding human rights issues throughout the region. As long as the US speaks forcefully regarding violations in Iran, Syria, and Libya, as it should, but is publicly silent when it comes to Bahrain, it undermines the efforts and credibility of the US to promote human rights in all countries, whether allies or adversaries.

Finally, it is crucial for the Obama administration to take the lead in calling for the UN Human Rights Council to address, by name, Bahrain's human rights crisis. This need not take the form of a special session, such as those held recently on Syria and Libya, but it should clearly and specifically be directed at Bahrain, perhaps along with other serial abusers such as Yemen. The efforts of the Obama administration to transform and rehabilitate the role of the Human Rights Council are badly undermined by its deafening silence when it comes to Bahrain.


Human Rights First: Obama Administration Declines Opportunity to Lay Out Bahrain Position

May 13, 2011 Washington, D.C. — Under Secretary William Burns and Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman declined the opportunity to testify today before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on rights abuses in Bahrain. After this disappointing decision, Human Rights First is increasingly concerned by the Obama Administration’s unclear approach to handling the Bahraini government’s violation of human rights. While the Administration maintains that it disapproves of the Bahraini government’s treatment of peaceful dissenters, the U.S. has failed to take concrete steps to hold Bahrain accountable. In yesterday’s State Department press briefing, Acting Deputy Mark Toner claimed that the U.S. remains very concerned with reports of human rights abuses in Bahrain, and will continue to encourage dialogue with the Bahraini government and ask that the government take action against individuals in a “transparent manner in accordance with international human rights obligations.”

Human Rights First recognizes the Obama Administration’s desire to maintain a positive relationship with the Bahraini government during this period of turmoil, but the U.S. can do much more to support human rights in the country, and its failure to lead in doing so creates considerable confusion about U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. should speak vigorously and publicly not only about the imperative of international human rights norms, but also about the specific types of violations perpetrated by the Bahraini security forces against individuals with names.

Yesterday, Acting Deputy Toner also admitted there has been only loose communication between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Bahraini officials, explaining that there has been no contact with the Bahraini Government since the Secretary met with the Bahraini Foreign Minister last week. HRF’s Brian Dooley, who today left Bahrain, said, “The Obama Administration needs to be assertive with the Bahraini government, and President Obama and Secretary Clinton need to publicly challenge the abuses happening in Bahrain. The U.S. should tell the Bahraini government to free those imprisoned for peaceful protests, conduct fair trials, make credible investigation into official acts of violence and hold people accountable.”

The credibility of the U.S. in the region is affected by its role in the Bahrain situation. Yesterday, Human Rights First joined with a coalition in a letter urging Secretary Clinton to support efforts at the United Nations Human Rights council to convene a special session on Bahrain.


Human Rights First: Torture and Unfair Trial of Protesters in Bahrain

May 12, 2011

Manama, Bahrain— Human Rights First is gravely concerned at today’s unfair trial in Bahrain of 21 suspects involved in recent protests calling for greater respect for human rights and democracy in the island kingdom.

Human Rights First was refused entry at the courtroom door this morning despite assurances from the Bahraini authorities that human rights organizations and other observers would be admitted. “Relatives of the defendants who were permitted access told us they looked in bad physical and mental shape,” said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First. “Several were limping and others have suffered drastic weight loss. They have not had adequate time to consult their lawyers, and there are credible reports of their torture in custody.”

The 21 suspects before the Lower National Safety Court today include prominent human rights defenders and opposition leaders. They have been charged with various national security crimes, including “insulting the army,” “organizing and managing a terrorist group for the overthrow and the change of the country’s constitution and the royal rule,” and “seeking and correspond[ing] with a terrorist organization abroad working for a foreign country to conduct heinous acts.” Some of these charges carry the death penalty.

“The hearing today was conducted in a heavily militarized atmosphere,” said Dooley. “The court buildings were full of armed soldiers, some wearing black masks.” Leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al Khawaja is among those charged. His wife and daughter Zeinab were allowed a 10-minute meeting with him on Sunday. Zeinab told Human Rights First that his face had been badly damaged with multiple fractures while in the custody of security forces. He had undergone a four-hour operation in the military hospital. “But when he was supposed to be recovering from the operation they tortured him again,” she said.

He was in court today with 13 others – Abdulwahab Hussain Ali Ahmed, Ibrahim Sharif Abdulraheem Mossa, Hassan Ali Mushaima, Abduljalil Abdullah Al Singace, Mohammed Habib Al Saffaf, Saeed Mirza Ahmed, Abduljalil Radhi Mansoor Makki (Abduljalil Al Muqdad), Abdulhadi Abdulla Mahdi Hassan, Al Hurr Yousif Mohammed, Abdullah Isa Al Mahroos, Salah Hubail Al Khawaja, Mohammed Hassan Jawad and Mohammed Ali Ismael. Seven more being tried in absentia are: Akeel Ahmed Al Mafoodh, Ali Hassan Abdullah, Abdulghani Ali Khanjar, Saeed Abdulnabi Shehab, Abdulraoof Al Shayeb, Abbas Al Umran and Ali Hassan Mushaima. The court adjourned until Monday May 16.

The special courts consist of two civilian judges and one military judge in a process which falls far short of international fair trial standards. Another international legal observer was also refused admission to the court despite Sunday’s official statement announcing that “attending trials is permitted for all civil society institutions, human rights organizations and media representatives to reflect the Kingdom’s keenness to respect its international commitments in the field of human rights.”

“The U.S. government needs to take a stronger stance in support of peaceful protesters in Bahrain demanding their legitimate rights for an end to discrimination and for a more representative government,” said Dooley. “Hesitation and perceived weakness in support of human rights in a close U.S. ally like Bahrain weakens U.S. support for peaceful democratic change throughout the region.”


Fifty-seven IFEX members and partners call on world authorities to help stop human rights violations and free expression abuses

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 9 May 2011 - Forty-two IFEX members and 14 partners appeal for global attention to stop detention, torture and threats to journalists and free expression activists: President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500

Baroness Catherine Ashton High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Commission Vice-President European Union

Irina Bokova Director-General of UNESCO UNESCO Headquarters 7, place de Fontenoy 75352 Paris 07 SP France

Dear President Obama, Baroness Ashton and Director-General Bokova,

We, the undersigned freedom of expression organisations, members and partners of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), ask for your immediate attention to human rights violations and free expression abuses taking place in Bahrain on a daily basis. While we welcome recent condemnation of death sentences passed on four detainees without due process, we would like to highlight the death in detention of two journalists, as well as the ongoing detention, torture and threats to journalists and free expression activists.

Rights organisations have documented hundreds of detainees, including a number of journalists, bloggers and rights activists. Many others have fled the country, been deported or gone into hiding to protect themselves.

Two days after being arrested Karim Fakhrawy, a founding member of "Al Wasat" newspaper, and owner of a library was declared dead under mysterious circumstances on 12 April, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Zakariya Al Aushayri, online activist, founder and manager of Al Dair online forum, also died on 9 April under mysterious circumstances while in government custody.

Bahraini authorities have also charged Mansoor Al-Jamri, chief editor of "Al Wasat", and two other editors "with publishing fabricated news and made up stories . . . that may harm public safety and national interests," according to Human Rights Watch. Bahrain's Information Affairs Authority suspended "Al Wasat" on 2 April 2011 and allowed it to resume publishing on April 4, only after Al-Jamri resigned, along with the managing editor and local news editor.

Reporters Faisal Hayyat, Hayder Mohammad, and Ali Jawad, and other bloggers and e-activists have been arrested. Many other journalists have been fired, according to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Others who are foreign nationals have been deported, and international journalists are restricted in their movements. A CNN news team was briefly detained and threatened in April by the government's security forces as they were visiting the house of BCHR President Nabeel Rajab, reports Index on Censorship. Dozens of journalists have been subjected to lay-offs, arrests and threats because of their work, says BCHR. ANHRI says 30 journalists from "Al Watan", "Al Ayam" and "Al Bilad" newspapers have been laid off. BCHR and other groups have recorded numerous cases of online censorship and website blocking.

After a brief few weeks of freedom in February and March of this year, where political prisoners were released and demonstrators were allowed to freely gather, the Bahraini authorities cracked down on all dissent in a brutal and aggressive manner, assisted by soldiers from Saudi Arabia.

Nabeel Rajab made history as the first person prosecuted in the Arab world for a tweet, according to ANHRI. He was accused of alerting readers through Twitter to "fabricated" pictures of the tortured body of Ali Isa Saqer, alleged to have died at the hands of security forces in a Bahraini prison. On 10 April, Bahrain's Interior Ministry issued a statement accusing Rajab of distributing fabricated images of Saqer and declared that he will be prosecuted by the military. There are serious concerns for his liberty and his safety, particularly after he found out he is still banned from leaving the country on 5 May.

On 9 April, activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former president of BCHR, was beaten unconscious when 15 masked men raided his daughter's home. She was also beaten. Al-Khawaja was dragged away bleeding and barefoot by authorities, along with two of his sons-in-law, their whereabouts unknown. On 3 May, Human Rights Watch received credible reports that Al-Khawaja has been badly beaten while in detention, to the point of being unrecognisable. As well, blogger and activist Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace remains in detention after being brutally dragged away from his home one night in March, according to PEN International's Writers in Prison Committee. He was one of the political prisoners initially freed in February.

We are dismayed at the silence of governments across the world in the face of ongoing violations, which seem particularly difficult to comprehend given the widespread condemnation of human rights abuses in Libya, in the face of pro-democracy demonstrations. Citizens of Bahrain have been peacefully gathering to call for democratic reform. People from all professions have been arrested for expressing dissent, from journalists to athletes to professors – others have been arrested for aiding protestors, including lawyers and doctors.

The undersigned organisations call upon you to urge the Bahraini authorities to:

- investigate the suspicious deaths in detention of journalists Karim Fakhrawy and Zakariya Al Aushayri; - immediately and unconditionally release rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and blogger and activist Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace as well as all those arrested for peacefully demonstrating; - drop the politically-motivated charges against Mansoor Al-Jamri, chief editor of "Al Wasat"; - immediately lift the travel ban against Nabeel Rajab; - allow journalists, whether local or international, to freely carry out their professions; - cease all measures targeting the media, as well as activists and human rights defenders, and conform with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Bahrain.


IFEX member:

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study - INTERIM MEMBER Arab Archives Institute ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression Association of Caribbean Media Workers Bahrain Center for Human Rights Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Center for Media Studies & Peace Building Centre for Independent Journalism Comité por la Libre Expresión Committee to Protect Journalists Egyptian Organization for Human Rights Freedom House Greek Helsinki Monitor Human Rights Network for Journalists - INTERIM MEMBER Independent Journalism Center Index on Censorship Initiative for Freedom of Expression Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information Institute of Mass Information Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela - INTERIM MEMBER Maharat Foundation (Skills Foundation) Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance Media Foundation for West Africa Media Institute Media Rights Agenda National Press Association - INTERIM MEMBER National Union of Somali Journalists Norwegian PEN Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de création Pacific Islands News Association Pakistan Press Foundation Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms Public Association "Journalists" Southeast Asian Press Alliance South East European Network for the Professionalization of the Media World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers World Press Freedom Committee Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International

Non-IFEX member signatories:

Arab Sisters Forum for Human Rights - Yemen Association for Human Rights Legal Aid - Egypt Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement Front Line - The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Human Rights First - Saudi Arabia International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Center Iraqi Association for Defending the Rights of Journalists Kurdish Committee for Human Rights in Syria, "Alrased" Land Center for Human Rights - Egypt Legal Aid Society for Human Rights – Egypt School of Democracy - Yemen Tunisian Observatory for the Rights and Freedoms of Trade Unions Yemeni Organization for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms

cc. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs

European Parliament committee chairs Gabriele Albertini (Foreign Affairs), Heidi Hautala (Human Rights Sub-Committee) and Angelika Niebler (Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula)


Bahrain: From hospital to prison

While medical staff in Bahrain are being unfairly targeted by government forces, the rest of the world remains silent.

Christopher Stokes

12 May 2011 In the kingdom of Bahrain, to be wounded by security forces has become a reason for arrest, and providing healthcare has become grounds for a jail sentence. During the current civil unrest, Bahraini health facilities have consistently been used as a tool in the military crackdown, backed by the Gulf Cooperation Council, against protesters. The muted response from key allies outside of the region such as the US - who has significant ties to Bahrain, including a vast naval base in the country - can only be interpreted as acceptance of the ongoing military assault on the ability to provide and receive impartial healthcare.

While the government and its supporters in Bahrain continue to refer to the protesters as 'rioters', 'criminals', 'extremists', 'insurgents' or 'terrorists', the label that remains conspicuously absent for those who are wounded is 'patient'. Since April 7, when Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) first raised the alarm about the situation, our team has seen patients in villages across the country who were severely beaten or tortured in jail; schoolgirls who have been both physically abused and threatened with rape; and patients in urgent need of hospitalisation who still refuse to be referred due to the high risk of their arrest.

The militarisation of the only public hospital, Salmaniya, persists. Although Ministry of Health statistics show an increase in patients accessing the hospital, tanks and security checkpoints are still manned by masked soldiers at its entrances, searching cars and people. The wounded tell MSF that they are still too afraid to go to the hospital in case of being arrested or beaten in the wards.

Doctors and nurses also continue to be arrested during raids on health facilities, or on their homes at night. In fact, forty-seven medical staff are now being prosecuted by the Bahraini authorities. Within Bahrain, the medical community itself is polarised. Many oppose the blatant militarisation of medical assistance, while others support the military presence in the hospital and the legal charges against fellow health workers. However, the impact on the patients is often disregarded.

Al Jazeera interviews Christopher Stokes, from MSF, about the abuse of medical workers in Bahrain

By dragging the health system deeper into the political crackdown on dissent, Bahraini authorities continue to undermine patient's trust in health facilities. All of the 88 people that MSF has managed to see in their homes are at risk of being arrested if they were to present themselves at health facilities - simply for being wounded in protests by government forces. Some of them need to go to hospitals for surgery or x-rays, but MSF is unable to safely refer them.

This is because hospitals in Bahrain have received directives that any patient who presents with wounds associated with the current unrest must be reported to the police by health staff. While there is a legal provision to report trauma cases to judicial authorities in many countries, this is designed to assist and protect victims of violence. However, in Bahrain today, the reality is that hospitals are being used to catch and imprison wounded people.

Our medical teams then face the impossible choice of knowing that patients who need medical attention risk arrest and a serious deterioration of their health condition in prison. MSF has seen the results of violence and torture perpetrated against those imprisoned, caused by beatings with iron rods, boots, hoses and cattle prods on the back, legs, buttocks, genitals and soles of the feet. MSF has also seen the serious impact of psychological abuse on those arrested, including extreme anxiety and fear as a result of sexual harassment and humiliation.

Ensuring the safe and impartial provision of treatment for the wounded is a basic legal obligation under humanitarian law. It is entailed in mandatory provisions of Common Article 3 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions - and is valid at all times. Thus, as a state party to these Conventions, the Bahraini authorities must respect its obligations regarding the protection and provision of health care to the sick, injured and prisoners.

This healthcare should be provided by the high quality Bahraini health system, without precluding the offer of medical services by an impartial humanitarian organisation such as MSF. Although we now have authorisation to begin training Bahraini health workers to deal with psychological trauma, other crucial assistance remains blocked. Our requests to set up a referral system, whereby MSF can accompany wounded patients to health facilities to ensure they receive lifesaving care, are still met with insufficient guarantees about their safety.

The national security agenda of Bahraini authorities must not come at the expense of the lives and health of wounded people, whether in hospital or prison. Doctors and nurses must be allowed to provide healthcare in line with medical ethics, without the fear of reprisal. This is impossible when health facilities are used as bait for arrest and torture, with the support of Bahrain's closest allies.

Christopher Stokes is General Director of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).


EU Should Ban Arms Sales to Yemen and Bahrain

by Letta Tayler Published in: EUObserver May 11, 2011

The text message from a Yemeni activist was desperate. Security forces had opened fire on a square occupied by anti-government protesters in the port city of Aden on 30 April, killing two and wounding dozens. "The shooting doesn't stop," she wrote. "Please, help us!" Cries for help have been streaming out of Yemen since February, when security forces and pro-government assailants began brutal crackdowns on peaceful protesters seeking to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The attacks have killed at least 121 people and injured hundreds, many from gunfire. People are also pleading for help in Bahrain, where security forces shot dead at least a dozen protesters as well as several security agents during demonstrations in February and March.

Yet while European leaders deplore the violence in both Bahrain and Yemen, they have done precious little to stem the flow of weapons that both governments have used against their citizens. Each year, EU states export millions of euros worth of guns, teargas, and other arms to these repressive governments, with scant regard for how these sales make them complicit in the murders of ordinary people demanding their rights.

When EU ministers meet on Friday (13 May) in Brussels, they should ban all arms sales to Yemen, Bahrain, and any other country that is using excessive force to quash legitimate dissent.

EU members already have taken a few important steps, but they fall far short of what is needed to end the brutality. On 6 May, EU foreign ministers agreed to suspend weapons sales to Syria after security forces there killed hundreds of peaceful protesters.

In February, the UK revoked 156 licenses for weapons sales to Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain, and ordered a review of weapons sales to Yemen. France swiftly followed suit by announcing it was suspending arms sales to Bahrain and Libya.

This piecemeal approach, though, willfully ignores the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports of 1998, which calls on all member states not to sell weapons to countries or regions where there is a clear risk that they will be used for internal repression or other human rights abuses.

The code has been in place in its current form since 2008, when repression was already well documented in countries whose citizens ultimately rose up in this year's so-called 'Arab spring.'

Yet total EU arms exports to north Africa and the Middle East nearly doubled, from €5.8 billion in 2008 to €11.6 billion in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, according to the EU's annual report on arms exports.

That included weapons sales of €100 million in 2009 to Yemen. The biggest EU supplier that year was Bulgaria, which sold €85.9 million worth of firearms, ammunition, bombs, rockets or missiles, followed by the Czech Republic, with €7.4 million and France, with €4 million.

In 2008, the UK led the pack in weapons sales to Yemen, its sales that year valued at €17.8 million.

According to a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, the 2009 Bulgarian sale included 30,000 assault rifles as well as explosives and rocket propelled grenades. The cable expressed concerns that the deal, financed by the United Arab Emirates, would contribute to small arms proliferation in Yemen - a country with an active al-Qaeda branch and where the ratio of weapons to people already approaches 1:2.

The UK was a leading arms exporter to Bahrain in 2010, with £5.7 million [€6.4 million] in sales, according to the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade. UK sales to Bahrain in the past five years include sub-machineguns, sniper rifles, smoke canisters, stun grenades, tear gas and riot shields.

In 2009, Bahrain received €39.8 million in weapons from EU member states; France sold it €28 million, Belgium €6.3 million, Sweden €2.4 million, and Germany €2 million, the EU arms report said.

The EU is hardly alone in selling arms to human rights violators. The US is the world's leading supplier of conventional arms to the Middle East, and hundreds of people suffered severe reactions after security forces in Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen fired US-made tear gas at peaceful protesters. The US in April announced that it is reviewing arms sales to the region on a "case-by-case" basis. The EU can do far better.

The 27 EU member states immediately should ban exports of arms and security equipment to Yemen and Bahrain in response to their brutal repression of peaceful dissent until authorities in the two countries stop their violent crackdowns against citizens, conduct independent investigations into the attacks, prosecute suspected perpetrators, and recognize and compensate victims.

Until the EU matches its words with those actions, the blood of Arab spring protesters will stain its hands.

Letta Tayler is a Yemen researcher at Human Rights Watch

RSF: Foreign media still targeted in Bahrain

11 May 2011

Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s decision by the Bahraini authorities to expel German journalist Frederik Richter, the Reuters correspondent in Manama since 2008, for alleged bias in his coverage of the pro-democracy protest movement. He has been given a week to leave. “Reuters regrets Bahrain’s decision to expel its correspondent,” editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said, adding that the agency stood by his reporting. The Information Affairs Authority nonetheless insists that it is not closing down Reuters’ operations in Manama and is prepared to accredit another correspondent appointed by the agency.

Monica Pietro of the Spanish daily El Mundo was denied entry on arrival at Manama airport on 9 May and was sent back to Spain the next day. Read her account in Spanish: http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2011/....

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the government’s attempts to obstruct news media that are trying to cover the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain and urges it to allow foreign journalists to enter the country and work without any restrictions.

Ali Omid, a young blogger and activist who heads the Ali AlAsghar Society and moderates its online forum (http://alialasghar.us/vb), which has been blocked in Bahrain since 2009, was arrested at his home in Muharraq at 1:30 a.m. yesterday and was taken to an undisclosed location. A solidarity page has been created on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/ke1pOG


FIDH and OMCT call for the immediate end of repression!

11 May 2011

On the eve of the second hearing of a trial held against 21 opponents and defenders in Bahrain, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) strongly denounce the ongoing harsh repression against individuals considered as opponents or linked to the opposition movement by the Bahraini government.

21 opponents and human rights defenders have been brought to trial before the National Security Court on charges of ”organising and managing a terrorist organisation”, “attempt to overthrow the government by force and in liaison with a terrorist organisation working for a foreign country,” and the “collection of money for a terrorist group”. FIDH and OMCT consider that these proceedings against them actually aim at sanctioning their involvement in the peaceful protests demanding democracy and respect for human rights and/or political changes in the country.

Out of the 21 individuals tried, 14 of them [1] are currently arbitrarily detained. The seven other persons [2] have not been arrested and are being tried in absentia. At the May-8 hearing, the 14 all appeared to have lost weight during their detention and some of them reported that they had been kept in solitary confinement and subject to continuous torture. Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former MENA Protection Coordinator for Frontline and former Director of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), bore visible signs of torture.

FIDH and OMCT strongly deplore the arbitrary nature of these charges and of the entire proceedings against these 21 individuals, which contradict international human rights standards reaffirmed in a press statement issued by the Kingdom of Bahrain on May 8, 2011, underlining that individuals could not be charged “for any political or human rights activity, or for the exercise of legitimate rights of opinion or expression".

FIDH and OMCT therefore call for their immediate and unconditional release, and for the end of the proceedings against them.

FIDH and OMCT are further shocked by the acts of torture and ill-treatment against the aforementioned individuals and call on the authorities to immediately end such practices. FIDH and OMCT also call for a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned acts, the result of which must be made public, in order to prosecute and try the perpetrators of these violations before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal.

In the context where a Royal decree was issued on May 8, 2011, providing for the lift of the State of National Safety for June 1, 2011, FIDH and OMCT call for the immediate end of the harsh repression in Bahrain in blatant violation of fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, where international observers -even journalists covering the events- are subjected to constant hindrances as evidenced again on May 10, 2011 by the expulsion from Bahrain of Manama-based Reuters correspondent. In addition to the fact that all foreign media are currently prevented from working in Bahrain, local independent journalists face systematic acts of harassment.


[1] Messrs. Abdulwahab Hussain Ali, Ibrahim Sharif Abdulraheem Mossa, Hassan Ali Mushaima, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, Abduljalil Abdullah Al Singace, Spokesperson and Director of the Human Rights Bureau of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy, Mohammed Habib Al Safaf, Saeed Mirza Ahmed, Abduljalil Mansoor Makki, Al Hurra Yousif Mohammed, Abdullah Isa Al Mahroos, Salah Hubail Al Khawaj, Mohammed Hassan Jawad, Mohammed Ali Ismael, and Abdul Hadi Abdullah Mahdi Hassan.

[2] Messrs. Akeel Ahmed Al Mafoodh, Ali Hassan Abdullah, Abdulghani Ali Khanjar, Spokesperson of the National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture (NCMVT), Saeed Abdulnabi Shehab, Abdulraoof Al Shayeb, Abbas Al Omran, former member of BCHR, and Ali Hassan Mushaima.


Amnesty International: 47 Doctors are likely to face military trial in Bahrain

Index: MDE 11/025/2011 (Bahrain update) Date: 11 May 2011 To: Health professionals From: Amnesty international APPEAL FOR ACTION re: health professionals held incommunicado

UPDATE: On 26 April 2011 Amnesty International reported that more than 30 health professionals, including doctors and nurses, had been arrested in Bahrain. The numbers of those detained has risen since, including at least three doctors arrested in the last two weeks. Now, 47 health professionals detained in Bahrain since mid-March have been formally charged and are likely to face trial soon before a military court. A further eight female doctors detained since mid-March were released on 4 May. During a press conference on 3 May, the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs and the Acting Minister of Health announced that 47 health professionals -- 24 doctors and 23 nurses -- had been formally charged on 3 May by the Military Prosecutor and were now facing trial before a military court.

The 47, who are all from the majority Shi’a population, face a trial before the National Safety Court of First Instance, which is a military court. None of them has been visited by their families or relatives because family visits are not allowed by the authorities. Access to lawyers has been very limited.

According to the Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs the charges against the 47 health professionals include the following:

refusal to provide assistance to a person in need,

embezzlement of public funds,

assault that resulted in death,

unauthorized possession of weapons and ammunition,

refusal to perform duties and putting people’s lives and health at risk,

illegal detention,

abuse of authority to suspend and stall laws and regulations,

attempt to occupy buildings by force,

incitement to the forceful overthrow of a political regime,

incitement to the hatred of the regime,

incitement to the hatred of a segment of society,

dissemination of false news and malicious rumours that could harm the public interest and

participation in unauthorized rallies and meetings.

The information Amnesty International has obtained on the charges indicates that they are generally vague and that some of them appear to be trumped up. Amnesty International fears that many of the detained health workers are being punished for their role during the protests when they treated injured protesters and spoke out against the government crackdown, including to foreign media.

Amnesty International also fears they might be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. These fears are heightened by the fact that many protesters were reportedly tortured following arrest and that four detainees died recently in suspicious circumstances.

The authorities have not released the names of the 47 health professionals who have been charged and Amnesty International has so far not been able to obtain information on their identities by other means. However, the organization is aware that the following doctors have been detained for at least several weeks and may be among those who have been charged:

Dr Ali al-Ekri, Dr Mahmood Ashgar, Dr Ghassan Dhaif, Dr Basim Dhaif, Dr Nader Dewani, Dr Abdulhalek al-‘Oraibi, Dr Nabeel Hameed, Dr ‘Arif Rajab, Dr ‘Abdul-Shaheed Fadhel, Dr Sadeq Ja’far, Dr Sa’eed al-Samahji, Dr Sadeq ‘Abdullah and Dr Fatima Haji.

Between 29 April and 4 May three more doctors were detained: Dr Hassan al-Tublani, Dr Raja Kadhem and Dr Majeed Khalaf. Amnesty International is not aware whether they have been charged or not.

On 4 May the following eight female doctors were released from prison, apparently without charge: Dr Nada Dhaif, Dr Khulood al-Derazi, Dr Zahra al-Sammak, Dr Nehad al-Shirawi, Dr Khulood al-Sayaad, Dr Nayera Sarhan, Dr Dunia al-Hashimi and Dr Nedhal Khalifa.


- Explaining that you are a health professional concerned about human rights;

- Urging the authorities to ensure immediate protection for all health workers attending victims of violence and full protection of the right to all appropriate medical care of those suffering injuries;

- Express concern that the charges announced against the Shi’a doctors and other medical staff may have been politically motivated and that they are being punished for treating injured Shi’a protesters and supporting protests in February and March 2011;

- Ensure that all detainees are granted access to lawyers of their own choosing, their relatives and any medical treatment that they may require, and that their places of detention are immediately disclosed;

- Urging that doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health and medical workers are able to carry out without discrimination their professional responsibilities to provide emergency and other medical care to those who have sustained injuries, and to document and report on their injuries, without interference or fear of reprisal.


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

King Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa Office of His Majesty the King P.O. Box 555 Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: + 73 17664587 Salutation: Your Majesty

Commander-in-Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa Bahrain Defence Force Riffa Road Bahrain e-mail: dgcbdf@gmail.com Fax: +973 17663923 Salutation: Your Excellency

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


Amnesty International: Fair trial urged for Bahraini opposition activists

11 May 2011

A military trial on Thursday for a group of 21 prominent Bahraini opposition activists must meet international fair trial standards, Amnesty International said today amid continuing reports of torture.

The mainly Shi’a activists have been charged with alleged crimes in relation to weeks of pro-reform protest in Bahrain that began in February.

“Bahraini authorities have already denied the defendants their basic legal rights and at least two have said they were tortured, raising fears about their chances for a fair trial in this military court,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Among the charges levelled against the defendants are that they set up “terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution”, insulted the army, incited hatred, disseminated false information, and took part in rallies without notifying the authorities.

Bahraini authorities also allege the men raised funds for and have “links to a foreign terrorist organization”, purportedly Hizbullah.

Amnesty International believes that many of the defendants are likely to be prisoners of conscience detained simply for exercising their right to peacefully express their political views in public.

“Those that are detained for nothing more than peacefully taking to the streets and demanding political change must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther.

The defendants, like hundreds of others detained in connection with the protests, have been denied visits from their families. Lawyers have been granted very limited access to them, and were allowed during questioning by the Military Prosecutor, but not during National Security Agency interrogations following the defendants’ arrests.

At least two of the defendants, ‘Abdelhadi al-Khawaja, a prominent human rights defender, and Ebrahim Sharif, the leader of Waad, a secular political party, were reportedly tortured following their arrest. ‘Abdelhadi al-Khawaja reportedly suffered severe injuries to his face and skull as a result and was admitted to the Bahrain Defence Force hospital for six days.

Bahrain’s military prosecutor has prohibited the activists’ lawyers and families from speaking publicly about the case. Meanwhile, government media have been orchestrating a campaign against the activists.

“Bahrain’s government has stacked the deck against the defendants and there is very little chance they can receive a fair trial in the current circumstances,” said Philip Luther.

“The authorities need to ensure that allegations of torture are fully investigated, that any evidence extracted as a result is discarded and that the lawyers can meaningfully defend their clients.”

The 14 prominent Bahraini opposition activists who will appear before a military court on Thursday are: Hassan Mshaima’, leader of the al-Haq movement (a Shi’a opposition group); Ebrahim Sharif, a Sunni and leader of Waad; Abdelwahab Hussain, leader of al-Wafa’, a Shi’a opposition group; ‘AbdeHadi al-Khawaja; Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, a leading member of al-Haq; Mohammad Habib al-Muqdad; Abdel-Jalil al-Muqdad; Saeed Mirza Ahmad; Abdullah al-Mahroos; Abdulhadi ‘Abdullah Hassan; Al-Hur Yousef al-Somaikh; Salah ‘Abdullah Hubail; Mohammad Hassan Jawwad; and Mohammad ‘Ali Ridha Isma’il.

Seven defendants will be tried in absentia, including Saeed al-Shehabi, who lives in exile in London.