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Visit of Catherine Ashton to Bahrain: a test case for the EU's human rights policy!

20 April 2011

Ms. High Representative,

Your visit to the Gulf region is scheduled at a moment where the core and universal values which the EU supports and which the Bahraini authorities have adhered to are being blatantly violated and our organisations witness a severe crackdown on human rights defenders, trade unionists and opposition activists in Bahrain.

In particular, around 600 people, including human rights defenders, political leaders, trade unionists, doctors, paramedics and clerics have been arrested since February 2011. The whereabouts of a significant number of them, including human rights defender Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and lawyer Mohamed Issa Al Tajer, remain unknown and access to them, including by their lawyers, is not guaranteed for the majority of these detainees.

Concern about the physical and psychological integrity of those arrested is high, in particular after four people arrested during the protests have died in custody between April 3 and 12, 2011.

In addition, some 2,000 workers in 30 mainly government enterprises have been sacked in the past two weeks for joining trade union actions in support of dialogue and an end to violence, including six members of the Executive of the General Federation of Bahraini Trade Unions (GFBTU). This number is increasing every day.

In this context, our organisations call you to subject your visit to Bahrain to an opportunity to meet Bahraini human rights defenders and trade unionists, an in particular to:

· Visit Bahraini detained human rights defenders Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former MENA Coordinator of Frontline and lawyer Mohamed Issa Al Tajer, in their place of detention,

· Meet the families of detained defenders and Bahraini human rights defenders, who are not in prison, in particular Messrs. Nabeel Rajab, President Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and / Deputy Secretary general of FIDH, Mohammed al-Maskati, President of the Bahrain Youth Human Rights Society (BYHRS), Abdulla Alderazi, Secretary General of the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) and Abdulnabi Alekri from Transparency Bahrain,

· Meet representatives of the General Federation of Bahraini Trade Unions (GFBTU),

· Repeat publicly your call for the immediate release of all of those who have been arbitrarily detained including human rights defenders,

· Encourage EU missions in Bahrain to take an active role in monitoring the whereabouts and conditions of human rights defenders and trade unionists and to make regular contacts with the above mentioned organisations.

Thanking you for your attention to our pressing request, we remain at your disposal to facilitate any of the above.

Your sincerely,

Souhayr Belhassen FIDH President

Eric Sottas OMCT Secretary General

Sharan Burrow ITUC General Secretary

fidh.org

IHRC: Bahrain – Head of University Department Imprisoned

19 April 2011

The crackdown on academics and free thought continues as Dr Masaud Jahromi is inexplicably imprisoned.

Dr Masaud Jahromi, Chairman of the engineering department at Ahlia University in Bahrain, was arrested at 2:30AM on 14th April 2011; having been beaten and dragged from his bed in front of his family. His family, students, friends and colleagues are unaware of his whereabouts and health. Dr Jahromi is a widely respected academic and engineer. He was awarded his PhD from the University of Kent, UK; having already earned his MSc and BSc from the University of Manchester, UK, and the University of Bahrain respectively.

Professor Hamed al-Raweshidy, who supervised Masaud at the University of Kent, is shocked that a former student is being mistreated like this. “Masaud was one of the hardest working, cooperative, and mild mannered individuals I have ever come across. He was not only my top student, but also a wonderful professional. There is no doubt in my mind that the Bahraini authorities have got this completely wrong”.

Massoud Shadjareh, the chair of IHRC, said: “The indiscriminate arrests in Bahrain continue, as the case of Dr Masaud Jahromi reminds us. His imprisonment highlights the sorry state of affairs where the Bahraini regime has ceased to feel obliged to even offer an excuse before imprisoning its citizens.”

For more information please contact the Press Office of the IHRC at (+44) 20 8904 4222, or via email at info@ihrc.org . Alternatively, you can call (+44) 7903053362. [ENDS]

www.ihrc.org.uk

HRW: Bahrain: Attack on Rights Defender’s Home

Click to view more images

April 18, 2011

(Manama) - Unknown assailants lobbed teargas grenades at the home of a leading Bahraini human rights defender in the early hours of April 18, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. The attack, which took place at 3:30 a.m. in the village of Bani Jamra, targeted the home of Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a member of the Human Rights Watch Middle East Advisory Committee. Rajab said two of the grenades spread gas into the adjacent home of his 78-year-old mother, who suffers from respiratory disease, causing her great distress. The third grenade did not detonate. To Human Rights Watch's knowledge, only Bahrain's security forces have access to the types of grenades that were thrown into the Rajab family's compound.

"This attack certainly appears to target Nabeel Rajab for his human rights advocacy," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Bahraini authorities need to investigate this incident and hold those responsible to account."

Markings on the grenades identified them as Triple Chaser CS 515 grenades, manufactured by Federal Laboratories in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. They were thrown over a high wall that surrounds both his home and his mother's, Rajab said. He said that everyone was sleeping in the two houses at the time, and that he was unaware of any unrest in the neighborhood at the time.

On April 10, officials publicly accused Rajab of fabricating photos posted on his Facebook site of the body of Ali Isa Ibrahim Saqer, who died in detention on April 9. The photos showed slash marks all over his back and other signs of physical abuse. A Human Rights Watch researcher saw Saqer's body just prior to his burial and said the photos were accurate.

www.hrw.org

Bahrain: Urgent ITUC Mission Warns of Slide into Dictatorship

18 April 2011: ITUC [International Trade Union Confederation] Deputy General Secretary Jaap Wienen, on an urgent visit to the Bahrain’s capital Manama this weekend, has pledged a comprehensive package of international actions in support of the fundamental rights of Bahrain’s working people, as the trade union movement in the Gulf country faces and all-out assault from the government. “Bahrain is sliding rapidly towards absolute dictatorship, and the authorities seem intent on creating and deepening sectarian divisions. The Bahraini trade unions have been at the forefront of the movement for dialogue, peace and reconciliation, yet the government has clearly decided to try and destroy them. The international trade union movement will not simply stand by and allow this to happen. If the government does not change course, the global diplomatic and economic consequences will be severe,” said Wienen.

Some 2,000 workers in 30 mainly government enterprises have been sacked for joining trade union actions in support of dialogue and an end to violence, including 6 members of the Executive of the ITUC-affiliated General Federation of Bahraini Trade Unions (GFBTU) and 22 local trade union leaders. The ITUC understands that employees of the key employer body, the Chamber of Commerce, have also been dismissed.

The campaign of intimidation by government-sponsored groups has intensified in recent days, with the appearance of billboards including names and photographs of opposition leaders, calling for “no mercy and execution”. Journalists are being dismissed and are facing persecution and arrest, and reports continue to emerge of extreme violence by the authorities against people in detention, including the deaths of four detainees. As ITUC member organisations around the world prepare solidarity actions with the GFBTU and its member unions in different sectors, the ITUC is already planning high-level action at the International Labour Organisation.

“Bahrain has ratified ILO Convention 111 which forbids discrimination in employment. The authorities are clearly targeting and discriminating against workers due to their involvement in union activities. Bahrain is also required, as an ILO member state, to respect freedom of association but regrettably the government seems intent on violating these international legal obligations. We will therefore be pursuing this case as a matter of urgency at the ILO as well as in regard to Bahrain’s governmental and commercial relations,” Wienen added.

As a first step, the ITUC is calling for the establishment of an ILO Commission of Inquiry into Bahrain’s violations of Convention 111. Such a Commission, which can be convened under Article 26 of the ILO Constitution, is one of the most powerful instruments within the UN system, and the ITUC call reflects the extreme level of concern at the government’s actions. “We are seeing governments around the world now turning their attention to the worsening situation in Bahrain. The trade union movement remains open to serious dialogue to ease tensions and deal with the underlying problems in the economy and society. The government should abandon the path of violence, threats and confrontation including against GFBTU leaders before it is too late,” said Wienen.

ituc-csi.org

The Observator​y: Urgent Appeals: Bahrain: Arrest of Mr. Al Tajer and continued arbitrary detention of Mr.Al Khawaja

18 April 2011

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), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources that well-known lawyer Mr. Mohamed Issa Al Tajer had been arrested on April 16, 2011 at 00.30 am, in his house.

At around 11 pm on April 15, a group of more than 20 masked and armed plain-clothes men, belonging to security forces, entered the house where Mr. Al Tajer was present with his wife and young children. After thoroughly searching the house, the office, and taking computers and mobile phones, the men arrested Mr. Al Tajer and took him to an unknown destination.

According to his wife, Mr. Al Tajer was not beaten up or mistreated in the house, nevertheless, his young children were traumatised by this episode. Ms. Al Tajer, a medical doctor, fears she might be arrested herself, like many other doctors in Bahrain, for having provided injured protesters with medical assistance.

The Observatory believes that the authorities are attempting to put pressure on those who provide legal and medical assistance to protesters. The Observatory condemns this crackdown which seems to merely aim at sanctioning their peaceful and legitimate activities for the respect of protesters’ basic rights.

According to the information received by the Observatory about 600 people, including human rights defenders, political leaders, trade unionists, doctors and paramedics and clerics have been arrested since February 2011. The whereabouts of a significant number of them, including prominent rights defender Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, remain unknown and access to them, including by their lawyers, is not guaranteed for the majority of these detainees. Concern about the physical integrity and life of those arrested are high, in particular after four people arrested during the protests died in custody between April 3 and 12, 2011.

The Observatory urges the Bahraini authorities to take the necessary measures to guarantee the protection of all human rights defenders in Bahrain and, more generally, to comply with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Bahrain, including the International International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:

i. Immediately disclose the whereabouts of Messrs. Mohamed Issa Al Tajer, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and ensure their access to their lawyers and families ;

ii. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Mohamed Issa Al Tajer and Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iii. Put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial and administrative level, against Messrs. Mohamed Issa Al Tajer and Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iv. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular :

· its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” ;

· its Article 6 (c) which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” ;

· its Article 9.3 which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, inter alia […] to attend public hearings, proceedings and trials so as to form an opinion on their compliance with national law and applicable international obligations and commitments; and to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms” ;

· its Article 10 which provides that “no one shall participate, by act or by failure to act where required, in violating human rights and fundamental freedoms and no one shall be subjected to punishment or adverse action of any kind for refusing to do so”;

· and its Article 12.2 which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and 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”.

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

Addresses:

· Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587

· Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : +973 172 12 6032

· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; Fax: +973 175 31 284

· Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: info@bahrain-mission.ch

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.

fidh.org

Amnesty International: URGENT ACTION: Bahrain: Defence lawyer detained in Bahrain

UA: 116/11 Index: MDE 11/018/2011 Bahrain Date: 18 April 2011 URGENT ACTION DEFENCE LAWYER DETAINED IN BAHRAIN

A prominent defence lawyer was detained on 15 April in Bahrain's capital, Manama. Amnesty International believes he is a prisoner of conscience and he may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment. Nearly 500 people have been now been detained in Bahrain since March.

Mohammed al-Tajer, a prominent Bahraini defence lawyer who has defended many cases of opposition and human rights activists, was arrested at his house in Manama on the night of 15 April. According to his wife, over 20 security officers entered their house in the middle of the night. Some were in uniforms, some were in plain clothes and all except one were wearing masks. They searched all the bedrooms and confiscated personal items, such as mobile phones, laptops and papers. Following the raid Mohammad al-Tajer was arrested without any explanation. No arrest order was shown to him or his family. He called his family for two minutes on 17 April to let them know he was in the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Manama’s al-‘Adliya district, and wanted them to bring him clothes. When the family asked him what the charges against him were he replied that he did not know.

According to local human rights groups, 499 people have been detained since March, including opposition and human rights activists, teachers, doctors and nurses, for their participation in the February and March protests calling for far-reaching political and other reform in Bahrain. The whereabouts of the great majority of detainees remain unknown; many are believed to be held by the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF). If prosecuted, they may face unfair trials before the National Safety Court of First Instance and a National Safety Appeal Court, established under the State of National Safety (SNS) (martial law) declared by the King of Bahrain on 15 March.

Mohammad al-Tajer is well known for defending political opposition activists. He was the leading defence lawyer in the case of 25 opposition activists, including two charged in their absence, who were tried between October 2010 and February 2011 on charges of plotting to overthrow the government using “terrorism” and other means. The 23 were released on 23 February following an amnesty by the King of Bahrain. Some of them, including Abdul Jalil al-Singace, have been recently re-arrested for their participation in the protests.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Arabic, English or your own language:

-Call on the authorities to immediately disclose the whereabouts of Mohammad al-Tajer and all other people detained in connection with the recent protests and allow them prompt, regular access to their lawyers and families.

-Express concern that Mohammad al-Tajer is a prisoner of conscience detained for his legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and other human rights;

-Urge the authorities to release Mohammad al-Tajer immediately and unconditionally and to protect him from torture or other ill-treatment

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 30 MAY 2011 TO:

King Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa Office of His Majesty the King P.O. Box 555 Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 17664587 Salutation: Your Majesty

Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa Prime Minister Office of the Prime Minister P.O. Box 1000, al-Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 17533033 Salutation: Your Highness Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs

Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khlaifa Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Fax: +973 175 31 284 Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

UA: 116/11 Index: MDE 11/018/2011 Issue Date: 18 April 2011

Front Line Defenders: Bahrain: Arrest and detention of human rights lawyer Mr Mohammed Al-Tajir

Posted on 2011/04/18

On 15 April 2011, human rights lawyer Mr Mohammed Al-Tajir was arrested at his home by Bahraini police officers. Mohammed Al-Tajir is a prominent defence lawyer who has worked with more than 25 lawyers to defend human rights defenders and political activists held in incommunicado detention during the ongoing crackdown. He was one of the lead lawyers involved in the trial of 23 opposition and rights activists arrested during security sweeps last August and September and accused under Bahrain's counter-terrorism laws.

It is reported that, at approximately 11pm on 15 April, a group of more than twenty masked and plain-clothes security officers raided the home of Mohammed Al-Tajir where he was present with his wife and young children. The security officers reportedly ordered him to stay downstairs while they began their search of the premises. They told his wife, Mrs Huda Al-Tajir, to go upstairs and to wake the younger children who were asleep. The security officers then conducted a thorough search of the home and confiscated personal items including mobile phones, laptops and documents. During the search they told Mohammed Al-Tajir to hand over the keys to his law office in Manama. He explained that he shared the offices with other lawyers but they insisted that he surrender the keys to them regardless. The security officers then arrested Mohammed Al-Tajir and brought him to an undisclosed destination. No reason has been given for the arrest and no charges have been brought against him. His whereabouts are still unknown.

Front Line is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Mohammed Al-Tajir, and believes that he may face torture and ill-treatment in detention. Front Line believes that his arrest and detention are directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights and constitute an attempt by the authorities to put pressure on those who provide legal assistance to those arbitrarily arrested and detained.

frontlinedefenders.org

HRW: Bahrain: Defense Lawyer Detained After Night Raid

At Least 15 Doctors Also Detained Without Access to Families and Lawyers

16 April 2011

(Manama) - More than two dozen uniformed and plainclothes security officers, most of whom were masked, raided the home of prominent defense lawyer Mohammed al-Tajer on the evening of April 15, 2011, and arrested him, Human Rights Watch said today. Neither he nor his family was given any reason for his detention.

Human Rights Watch believes that al-Tajer is the first defense lawyer detained in more than a decade. He is well known for defending opposition figures and rights activists arrested in security sweeps. The arrest took place around 11 p.m. on April 15, when security officers surrounded and then entered al-Tajer's home. Security officers searched his home and confiscated personal items including laptops, mobile phones, and documents, before taking him away. Al-Tajer is one of 499 people currently detained by the Bahraini authorities, according to a list compiled by the Wefaq National Islamic Society, an opposition political society.

"The government's arrest of a leading defense lawyer shows that Bahrain is taking a turn for the worse on human rights," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The authorities should either release Mohammed al-Tajer or charge him now with a recognizable offense."

Huda al-Tajer, Mohammed's wife, told Human Rights Watch that at around 11 p.m. one of her sons came and told her and Mohammed al-Tajer that there were some men outside their home. Mohammed al-Tajer opened the door and several masked security officers came inside and began searching the home. They ordered Mohammed al-Tajer to stay downstairs while they initiated their search and told Huda al-Tajer to go upstairs and wake up the younger children who were asleep. During the next hour-and-a-half or so, the officers thoroughly searched all rooms inside the home and confiscated personal items. Huda al-Tajer said she was forced to wake up the smaller children and transfer them from one room to another as the officers completed their search.

Huda al-Tajer said that the officers allowed Mohammed al-Tajer to briefly embrace her before escorting him outside and taking him away in a police vehicle.

"My husband hasn't done anything except defend the rights of others," she told Human Rights Watch. "He is a lawyer. This is his job. He has to have immunity and protection to do his job. I have no idea where he is right now and what they are doing to him. I am really frightened."

During their search the officers also ordered Mohammed al-Tajer to hand over the key to his law office in Manama. Al-Tajer told them that he shares the office with several other lawyers, but they insisted that he give them the key regardless. Human Rights Watch is concerned that al-Tajer's arrest is an effort on the part of authorities to intimidate and silence defense lawyers.

Al-Tajer is part of a group of Bahraini lawyers who have defended opposition figures and rights activists arrested and detained by authorities during the past several years, including those picked up during the most recent security sweeps. He was one of the lead lawyers involved in the trial of 23 opposition and rights activists arrested during security sweeps last August and September and accused under Bahrain's counterterrorism law. The government released all 23 defendants on February 23, 2011, but rearrested several of them following the latest round of targeted arrests. Human Rights Watch has gathered statements indicating that prior to their release on February 23, authorities had subjected some of the 23 to severe abuse and ill-treatment amounting to torture.

Recent Arrests of Doctors

Two days prior to al-Tajer's arrest, authorities detained Dr. Sadeq Abdulla, a vascular surgeon at the Salmaniya Medical Complex. Interior Ministry officials summoned Abdulla to the ministry's headquarters in Manama at around 11 p.m. on April 14, according to a source close to the family. His wife and his father-in-law accompanied him to the ministry. They waited there for several hours but Abdulla never emerged. The source told Human Rights Watch that the family contacted an officer at the Interior Ministry on April 15 to inquire about the status of Abdulla and was told that he would be in custody for "a few more days." No information was provided regarding the reasons for Abdulla's arrest.

Later that day Abdulla called his wife and told her that "he was fine." The authorities allowed Abdulla's family to drop off his medications at the Criminal Investigations Directorate in Adliya on the same day, but have so far not allowed his family or his lawyer to visit him. Abdulla's family believes that authorities are currently detaining him at the Adliya police station.

Abdulla is one of at least 19 doctors arrested by authorities since March 17, at least eight of whom were arrested within the past week. Authorities arrested Dr. Kholood al-Derazi and Dr. Nayara Sarhan on April 14, and Dr. Sadeq Jaffar on April 13. Two days before that they arrested Dr. Nabeel Tammam, Dr. Nabeel Hameed, Dr. Aref Rajab, Dr. Abd al-Shaheed Fadhal, and Zahra al-Sammak. The authorities had previously detained al-Sammak on March 19. She is the wife of Dr.Ghassan Dhaif, who has been custody since March 19. Dr. Tammam and several of the other doctors arrested after March 17 have since been released.

"We have serious concerns regarding the well-being and safety of some of the detainees," said Stork. "The authorities should immediately provide information on the whereabouts of all detainees arrested since March 17 and permit them to meet with their families and lawyers."

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain ratified in 1998, requires that anyone arrested shall be promptly informed of any charges and brought before a judge or other judicial authority. A refusal of the authorities to acknowledge a person's detention or provide information on their fate or whereabouts would be an enforced disappearance.

Since March 15, Bahrain has been subject to martial law, officially labeled a state of "National Safety," that gave authorities wide powers of arrest, censorship, and prohibitions on freedom of movement and association. Even during a state of emergency, fundamental rights - such as the right to life, the right to be secure from torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, and the prohibition on discrimination - must always be respected, Human Rights Watch said.

Any restrictions on other rights during a genuine emergency must be strictly limited.

hrw.org

IHRC: Action Alert: Bahrain – 15 year old Manchester United fan killed by Bahraini Security Services

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Ask Manchester United to remember their fan with a minute’s silence.

Contents 1. Summary 2. Background 3. Action required 4. Sample letter 1. Summary

Sayyed Ahmad Saeed Shams, a fifteen year old child, was playing football wearing a Manchester United jersey when he was shot dead by Bahraini security services on 30th March 2011. This killing took place outside his home in the village of Sa’ar, Bahrain.

IHRC urges campaigners to write letters to the Manchester United Football Club asking them to organise a minute silence at Old Trafford before the kick off on Sunday 8th May which will be the fortieth day after the killing of Ahmad.

2. Background

Ahmad had been playing football, wearing a Manchester United jersey, outside his home in the village of Sa’ar when security forces and military personnel ruthlessly gunned him down. There had been fourteen security forces’ cars spread throughout the village.

His father told IHRC that his son was killed in a very narrow passage. Security men intentionally had gone there and shot him with a rubber bullet in his eye and hit him with the pistol grip on his neck, causing a break in the neck. The father also said, “I picked him up and I could hear him breathing in pain. He took his last breath and then he did not breathe again. He died in my arms”.

His mother said: “He was a normal boy. We want these brutal killings in Bahrain to end.”

Ahmad’s body was taken to the hospital but the hospital authorities did not write the actual cause of the boy’s death for fear of repression from the regime.

IHRC urges campaigners to write letters to the Manchester United Football Club asking them to organise a minute silence at Old Trafford before the kick off on Sunday 8th May which will be the fortieth day after the killing of Ahmad. It will give the family of this boy some comfort that there are people out there who will remember their son through the bond of football and a common humanity.

3. Action required

Write letters and emails to Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United Foundation, to ask Manchester United football club to hold a one minute silence before the match on Sunday 8th May between Manchester United and Chelsea. The match should be dedicated to the memory of Ahmad. Email: enquiries@mufoundation.org with subject title: FAO Sir Alex Ferguson.

4. Sample letter ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Campaigners can also send emails to Sri Alex Ferguson on enquiries@mufoundation.org with the subject title: FAO Sir Alex Ferguson.

[Your name] [Your address]

[Date]

Sir Alex Ferguson, c/o Trafford Training Center, Birch Road, Carrington, Manchester M31 4BH

Dear Sir Ferguson,

Re: One minute silence before the Chelsea match to remember Ahmad

On 30th March 2011, a fifteen year old boy was shot dead by security forces in Bahrain. His name was Sayyed Ahmad Saeed Shams, and he had been playing football outside his home in the village of Sa’ar when security forces and military personnel ruthlessly gunned him down.

Ahmad was unarmed, and did nothing to provoke such a brutal and lethal response. He died not only as an innocent Bahraini teenager, but also as a typical young football fan wearing a Manchester United jersey.

Images of the young boy lying dead in the Manchester United shirt have provoked massive sorrow in Bahrain during what is an immensely important juncture in the country’s future. The harrowing images have become a symbol of the aspirations of freedom which the Arab peoples wish to achieve.

I would appreciate any effort that the club can make to organise a minute’s silence at Old Trafford before the kick off on Sunday, 8th May between Manchester United and Chelsea. The club has a good record of organising minute’s silence to commemorate tragedies which affect both Manchester United fans, and humanity as a whole. I do not believe that the club’s enthusiasm for such efforts should be lessened by the fact that this tragedy occurred in a foreign country. The boy’s family and people around the world would welcome this gesture from the club as an indication of its commitment to promoting the game of football as a way towards peace, coexistence and dialogue.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your response on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature] [Your name]

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below

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For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below.

"And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper." Holy Qur'an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

www.ihrc.org

CPJ: Al-Wasat founder dies in custody in Bahrain

New York, April 15, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Bahraini authorities today to conduct an immediate and transparent investigation into the death in state custody of Karim Fakhrawi, left, founder and board member of Al-Wasat, the country's premier independent daily.

Fakhrawi died Tuesday, a week after he was apparently taken into custody, according to news reports. Human rights defenders told CPJ that Fakhrawi had gone to a police station on April 5 to complain that authorities were about to bulldoze his house.

Earlier this month, the government accused Al-Wasat of "deliberate news fabrication and falsification." Since then, the government has announced it will file criminal charges against three of the paper's senior editors and has deported two other senior staffers.

Fakhrawi is one of numerous investors in Al-Wasat, local journalists told CPJ. He is also a book publisher, the owner of one of Bahrain's biggest bookstores, and a member of Al-Wefaq, Bahrain's chief opposition party.

Bahrain's official news agency said on its Twitter feed that Fakhrawi died of kidney failure. Photographs published online, however, show a body identified as that of Fakhrawi with extensive cuts and bruises.

"The crackdown on dissent in Bahrain has taken a deadly turn with two deaths in custody in unexplained circumstances in less than a week," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "The Bahraini authorities must clarify how they reached the conclusion that Karim Fakhrawi died of kidney failure when photographs show his body covered in cuts and bruises."

Online journalist Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Ashiri also died under mysterious circumstances while in government custody. Authorities claimed that al-Ashiri, who died April 9, had suffered complications from sickle cell anemia. Al-Ashiri was the first Bahraini journalist to die in direct relation to his work since CPJ began keeping detailed death records in 1992.

cpj.org