29 Oct, 2007

BCHR ALERT: Journalist and editor fined in defamation case

30 October 2007

SOURCE: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Manama

(BCHR/IFEX) - On 28 October 2007, the Supreme Criminal Court of Appeals convicted journalist Hesham Al-Zayani and the editor-in-chief of "Akhbar Al-Khaleej" newspaper of smear and defamation against the President of Arabian University, Dr. Rafia Ghabbash. They were fined a liability of BD 1000 (approx. US$2,650) in addition to court fees. The initial conviction was made on the basis of article no. 15 of the 1976 Penal Code and no. 47 of the 2002 Press Code.

On the same day, the High Criminal Court postponed the case against journalist and writer Jaffar Al-jamry of "Al-wasat" newspaper until December 2007. Mr Al-jamry was accused of smear and contempt by a female official of the Ministry of Health.

As per a statement by the president of the Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA) in a TV broadcast on 22 October, the number of cases brought against journalists has reached 25. Statistics from BJA show that in 2006, the total number of cases brought against journalists was 27, of which only 7 (26%) were adopted by the Public Prosecution (PP). In 2007, and as per the same source, the total number of cases against journalists is 32 of which 12 (38%) have been moved by the PP, which shows the dramatic deterioration of freedom of expression in general and journalism in particular. BJA, acting as mediator, was successful in amicably convincing many individuals, mostly government officials, to drop their cases. This role played by the BJA, however, has not reduced the number of cases brought against journalists.

The charges in the cases formed against journalists were based on both Press Decree Code no. 47 of 2002 and Penal Decree Code no. 15 of 1976, which have been condemned and criticized, locally and internationally.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the Bahraini Authorities: - urging them to stop the deterioration of freedom of expression and journalism by amending Press Decree Code no. 47 to ensure conformity with international human rights standards - asking that they abolish the Penal Code and cease using it to prosecute journalists and writers, or amend it to ensure conformity with international charters and covenants

APPEALS TO:

His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-khalifa King of Bahrain Riffa, Bahrain Fax: +973 1721 1363

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa Cabinet Prime Minister Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1721 1363

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, Vice-President, BCHR, Manama, Bahrain, tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, fax: +973 1779 5170, e-mail: nabeel.rajab@bahrainrights.org, info@bahrainrights.org, Internet: http://www.bahrainrights.org

24 Oct, 2007

IFEX / BCHR Alert: Three writers for banned Internet site convicted of criminal defamation, fined

ALERT - BAHRAIN

23 October 2007

Three writers for banned Internet site convicted of criminal defamation, fined

SOURCE: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Manama

(BCHR/IFEX) - On 21 October 2007, the Higher Criminal Court convicted three Bahraini writers of insult and defamation, fined them 200 Bahraini Dinars (approx. US$530) and charged them 51 BD (approx. US$135) in damages, in addition to court fees.

The writers were convicted of defaming the director of Dar Al-Manar Elderly Care Centre and her husband, in an article published in the electronic journal "Al-Saheefa" ( http://www.alsaheefa.net ). The three writers are Mr Saleh Al-Amm, a journalist, writer and the editor of the journal; Muath Al-Meshari, a columnist for "Al-wasat" newspaper; and Fareed Al-Shayeb, a writer for "Al-Saheefa".

"Al-Saheefa" is one of the electronic sites banned within Bahrain by the local authorities.

The case began earlier in 2007, when the public prosecution detained and interrogated Al-Amm, later releasing him on bail of 500 BD (approx. US$1330) after charging him with insult and defamation over content on the website. The Lower Criminal Court sentenced Al-Amm to three months' imprisonment or a fine of 300 BD (approx. US$795). In addition, Al-Meshari and Al-Shayeb were fined 200 BD for writing several articles on the website related to the management of Dar Al-Manar, in which they alleged administrative and financial corruption.

The three defendants appealed this first conviction in March. However, the Appeal Court ruled non-jurisdiction and transferred the case to the High Criminal Court, which declared its ruling on 21 October, charging the three writers with defamation, as outlined by Article 365 of the Bahraini Penal Code, Article 15, of 1976.

It is to be noted this Penal Code article and the Press Code number 47 of 2002 have been used, in recent months, to interrogate and prosecute more than 14 journalists as well as bloggers and website administrators.

The BCHR expresses its concern over the systematic attack on all forms of free expression in Bahrain, through the use of notorious laws, promulgated to curtail that freedom.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the Bahraini authorities: - asking that they stop harassing journalist and writers - requesting that they lift the bans on all electronic sites dealing with public, cultural and human rights affairs relevant to Bahrain - urging them to nullify those laws that infringe upon free expression, to ensure conformity with international human rights standards

APPEALS TO:

His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-khalifa, King of Bahrain Riffa, Bahrain Fax: +973 1721 1363

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa Cabinet Prime Minister Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1721 1363

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, Vice-President, BCHR, Manama, Bahrain, tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, fax: +973 1779 5170, e-mail: nabeel.rajab@bahrainrights.org, info@bahrainrights.org, Internet: http://www.bahrainrights.org

The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of BCHR. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit BCHR.

22 Oct, 2007

BCHR/IFEX Flash - Bahraini Authorities Ban an Academic Publication

Bahraini Authorities Ban an Academic Publication

Country/Topic: Bahrain Date: 20 October 2007 Source: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) Person(s): Nabeel Rajab Target(s):Authors, Historians, Artists, Academicians, Researchers Type(s) of violation(s): Ban, censorship, forbidden, Urgency: Flash

(BCHR/IFEX) - The following is a statement from BCHR, a member of IFEX:

In a statement published today info@bahrainrights.org, the Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA) disclosed the news about none endorsement of a book manuscripted by the academician Dr Nader Kathem titled: 'Memory Exploitations: In a Pluralistic Society , Saddled with History'. It is a collection of academic series published by the author in the local press, during the past period.

Dr Kathem's book falls in the context of the development of multiculturalism in Bahrain and discusses the historical and cultural constraints which prevented the establishment of cultural pluralism in Bahrain and the completion of coexistence and harmony between its communities .

After the legal period of three months of submitting a publication request, which was on 19 July 2007, Dr Kathem has not received a response or the authorization from the Publication Directorate of the Ministry of Information (MI) to allow for printing his series in the form of a book.

The vice president of the BJA. Mr Adel Marzouk stated that 'procrastination of the Ministry of Information represented by the Department of Printing and Publishing in issuing an authorization of printing Dr Kathem's book is a mislead compass to genuine monitoring and an indication to a retreat from political reform, respect of freedom of speech and creativity'

It is to be noted that Dr Kathem book will be the second publication to be held within one year, after the novel 'Omar bin Al-Khattab, A Martyr' by the well known writer Abdullah Khalifa, which was passed to the Ministry of Information over seven months ago. For an earlier novel by Mr Khalifa, 'Husain's Head', the official response by the MI is to forbid and ban its publication in Bahrain.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its concerns over the persistent censorship of all forms of freedom of expression in Bahrain. It also seeks the intervention of the new minister to play a active role in changing the policies by which the Bahraini MI is run, considering the world openness and the knowledge transfer across, overcoming all technological and physical borders.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the Bahraini Authorities asking for their respect to freedom of expression by academicians, researchers, novelists and journalists. This require:

- lifting ban on publications in general and in particular, academic researches, novels and artistic products.

- showing respect to academic researchers, artists, writers and novelists who take the burden to produce creative products to humanity.

-taking measure to amend Press and Publication Decree code no 47 of 2002 to ensure its compliance with the international declarations and covenants as well as vows of its leadership to respect freedom of expression .

TAKE ACTION TO:

- His Hightness Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa- King of Bahrain

Riffa -Bahrain

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

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

MORE INFORMATION:

For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, Vice-President, BCHR, Manama, Bahrain, tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, fax: +973 1779 5170, e-mail: nabeel.rajab@bahrainrights.org , info@bahrainrights.org , Internet: http://www.bahrainrights.org

info@bahrainrights.org http://www.alayam.com/ArticleDetail.asp?CategoryId=2&ArticleId=285250

20 Oct, 2007

BCHR/ FEX : The Hollywood film "The Kingdom" has been banned in Bahrain

ALERT - BAHRAIN

19 October 2007

Film banned

SOURCE: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Manama

(BCHR/IFEX) - The Hollywood film "The Kingdom", which explores the "war on terror" through a fictional story happening in Saudi Arabia, has been banned in Bahrain. This act was confirmed by the Publication and Press Directorate of the Ministry on Information without indicating the reasons behind the censorship order.

The film depicts an FBI investigation of two terrorist bombing attacks that took place in Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh in May 2003 and in Al-Khobar in June 1996, during which over 100 people of different nationalities were killed.

Previously, the Bahraini authorities had banned other films from being viewed in cinemas, including the religious film "The Passion of the Christ", which was banned last year on the grounds that it was against Islam because it depicted a prophet (Jesus).

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concerns at how freedom of expression is being targeted and curtailed. This ban is part of a long series of prohibitions and censorship which did not spare artistic products, novels and documentaries.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the Bahraini authorities: - urging them to lift the ban on films of a documentary nature which exhibit no offence to public beliefs and/or traditions - asking that they cease making decisions on behalf of the public and viewers - urging them to take measures to amend Press and Publication Decree code no 47 of 2002 to ensure its compliance with international declarations and covenants

His Highness Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa King of Bahrain Riffa, Bahrain Fax: +97 3 1 721 1363

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

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, Vice-President, BCHR, Manama, Bahrain, tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, fax: +973 1779 5170, e-mail: nabeel.rajab@bahrainrights.org, info@bahrainrights.org, Internet: http://www.bahrainrights.org

19 Oct, 2007

IFEX ALERT : Women's rights defender forbidden from appearing in media

IFEX - News from the international freedom of expression community _______________________________________________________________

ALERT - BAHRAIN

16 October 2007

Women's rights defender forbidden from appearing in media

SOURCE: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Manama

**For further information on previous attempts to silence Ghada Jamsheer, see IFEX alerts of 22 March 2007 and 2 June 2005**

(BCHR/IFEX) - BCHR has expressed its concern about the news revealed by Ms Ghada Jamsheer, a women's rights activist and president of the Bahrain Women's Petition, of the existence of a formal decision preventing her from appearing in any of the Bahraini media. Ms Jamsheer stated that the ban includes radio, television and all local newspapers.

Sources in Bahrain link this media ban to the Bahraini Royal Court and to Ghada Jamsheer's April 2007 letter to the King, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, calling for the dissolution of the Supreme Council for Women, chaired by the King's wife, Sheikha Sabika Bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, due to its failure to promote women's rights and its political loyalty to the Government.

Ghada Jamsheer is a prominent defender of women's rights in the Gulf region and, in 2006, was named one of the heroes of freedom in the Arab region by the American magazine "Time" and one of the ten most influential women in the Arab countries by "Forbes" magazine.

In May 2006, BCHR issued a statement shedding light on the death threats, bugging and harassment faced by Ms Jamsheer in relation to a statement published in local newspapers.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the Bahraini authorities: - asking them to respect women's rights, including freedom of expression in particular - calling on them to cease hindering the access of women and other human rights defenders to the media and other means of public communication - urging them to stop harassing and intimidating human rights defenders in general and women in particular

APPEALS TO:

His Highness Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-khalifa King of Bahrain Fax: +97 3 1 721 1363

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa Prime Minister of Bahrain Fax: +97 3 1 721 1363

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, Vice-President, BCHR, Manama, Bahrain, tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, fax: +973 1779 5170, e-mail: nabeel.rajab@bahrainrights.org, info@bahrainrights.org, Internet: http://www.bahrainrights.org

The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of BCHR. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit BCHR.

18 Oct, 2007

BCHR: Collective punishment to citizens planned a trip to Um-Ne'ssan island

BCHR expresses its deep concerns about the reaction and ill-treatment carried out by the Bahraini Authorities to a group of citizens planned to make a "site seeing" trip to Um Ne'ssan- third largest island of the Bahrain archipelago. This island, to the west of Bahrain, is the first landing of King's Fahd Causeway, linking Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.

Hundreds of security troops, armed with fired tear gas and heavy rubber bullets, were deployed early Monday morning to prevent entry to the sea, besieging the entire west coast from Al-Jasra down to Malekeya. Helicopters were hovering over the entire coast, as well as to support special force, and riot police scrutinizing vehicles intending to pass over King's Fahd Causeway. Around noon time,

A day earlier, the Bahrain's Interior Ministry issued a statement indicating that " the island of Um Ne'ssan is allocated by the King for special military use of Bahrain defense force and therefore, it's banned for anybody to approach or to carry out any activity close to it or he will be violating the law and will be punishable according to Article 135 of the Bahraini Penal Code".

The trip was organized by a local committee comprised of members from four villages on the west coast of Bahrain: Malekeya, Karazakan, Demestan and Hamala. The committee planned the trip to coincide with Eid Al-Fitr vacation, and publicized an advert few days ago such that groups leave the four villages, either by sea or land through King's Fahd Causeway, at 1pm on Monday, October 15, 2007. The idea of the trip came after the minister of municipalities issued a statement saying all the islands were public property.

Just prior to noon time, all roads leading to the west coast have been sealed off with, the aid of armed troops on the ground and the helicopters hovering in the sky of the area. Witnesses reported that Associated Press photographer was threatened by a masked member of the security with a pistol, when he tried to approach the coast and was ordered to leave the premises.

Considering the tenseness of the situation created by the local security bodies all over the area of the west coast and in compliance with the request of many mediators, religious and political figures who promised to raise the islands issue to open the path for future trip, the committee of the trip to Um-Ne'ssan convened publically at 12:30pm. The meeting, which lasted over an hour, was with those wishing to go to the islands, and after discussing the matter thoroughly, the committee decided collectively to postpone the trip, after which everybody peacefully dispersed.

Nevertheless, the special forces at Malekeya coast started intimidating the fishermen who were near the coast looking after their boats, which were dragged by Bahrain Marine Forces last Saturday into the middle of the sea, as first reaction to the advert of the trip. The special forces then fired gas and rubber bullets on the local fishermen who hurried back to their houses. The forces then, besieged the small village, showered it with chemical tear gas and rubber bullets. As a reaction, rubber tyres were blazed by protestor, which were pursued by the security forces, and started ransacking some houses.

Witnesses reported some injuries, and apprehension of some youths, who were collectively subjected to torture and were beaten by batons and heals of the rubber boots before being released. The injuries included women, children and old women who suffered from suffocation and inhaling the chemical tear gas.

BCHR denounces the Authorities reactions and measures taken against the citizens, either in the four coastal villages, or those who were subjected to humiliating inspection prior to the polling station of King's Fahd Causeway. It through light on the issue and legitimacy of islands and public lands misappropriation, considering the inherent right for the right of the people of Bahrain to travel to public islands, as guaranteed by the international charters. BCHR demands setting out a national independent enquiry on this issue ensuring protection and maintenance of public properties, as well as bring to justice those responsible of the violations and atrocities and collective punishment carried out by the security forces in and nearby Malekeya.

18 Oct, 2007

Anti-riot police clash with Bahrainis protesting restricted access to tiny islands

Anti-riot police clash with Bahrainis protesting restricted access to tiny islands The Associated Press Published: October 15, 2007

MANAMA, Bahrain: Hundreds of security troops fired tear gas and heavy rubber bullets on Monday to disperse Bahrainis who gathered in an attempt to visit the kingdom's third largest island, which the public is normally restricted from visiting, local officials and witnesses said. Security troops deployed along Bahrain's western coastal line, especially in Shiite-dominated villages to prevent Bahrainis from approaching Um Nasan island, witnesses said. Helicopters hovered above and women were seen hurrying to their houses fearing anti-riot police, which sealed off roads leading up to the village of Malikiya and other small towns on the western coast. "They fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the people gathering," said Sayed Hashim, one of the protest organizers. No one was allowed to approach the coastal line, including an Associated Press photographer who was threatened by a masked policeman with a pistol and ordered to leave.

Some young Bahrainis reacted by setting tires on fire, according to witnesses. "The young protesters tried to blow up a gas cylinder, but they failed to do so," said Ahmed Mansour, a city council official in Malikiya. The protests appear to have been triggered by Shiite opposition in Bahrain to defy a taboo by debating the royal family's ownership of some 30 Bahraini islands and banning citizens and residents from having access to them. Regular Bahrainis occupy four main islands while the rest are inhibited by royal family palaces and some are used for military purposes. Bahrain's Interior Ministry said in a statement that the island of Um Nasan is for military use and national defense. "Therefore it's banned for anybody to approach or to carry out any activity close to it or he will be violating the law and will be punishable by law," the statement carried by Bahrain's official news agency said. The idea for Monday's protest came after the minister of municipalities issued a statement saying all the islands were public property. A committee of residents from western villages then sent an invitation to Bahrainis to visit the island. On Sunday, the royal endowment warned citizens against visiting Um Nasan. Discussion over the royal family's possession of the majority of Bahraini islands was taboo for many years until about two years ago when the parliament, which Shiites make up about 40 percent, began questioning it. Shiites, who make up more than 60 percent of Bahrain's 700,000 people, have long complained they are squeezed out of power by the Sunni monarchy. Part of the controversy was also sparked when the Web browser-based mapping tool Google Earth was first introduced in Bahrain, showing pictures of the vast areas of Bahraini territories occupied by royal family palaces. Only those who obtain a permission from the king are allowed to enter those islands. Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, is a close ally of Washington.

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/...n-Protests.php

16 Oct, 2007

IFEX ALERT: Internet censorship continues as authorities block website of popular civic organization

IFEX - News from the international freedom of expression community _______________________________________________________________

ALERT - BAHRAIN

15 October 2007

Internet censorship continues as authorities block website of popular civic organization

SOURCE: Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Manama

(BCHR/IFEX) - BCHR has learned that the Bahraini authorities have taken measures to block access by people in Bahrain to the website of the HAQ movement ( http://www.haaq.org ).

The HAQ Movement for Liberties and Democracy is a popular civic organization, established in November 2005, calling for respect for rights and democratization in Bahrain. HAQ and other popular organisations are not registered under the national Civic Organizations Law number 21 of 1989 and the Political Societies Law number 26 of 2005. These laws are believed to have been legislated to impose a legal leash on civic organizations, a suspicion substantiated by the day-to-day practices of the authorities. They are also are considered to be in violation of well-known international human rights covenants and charters. Nonetheless, because HAQ, like many other popular organizations, is not registered under these laws, the authorities consider it to be illegal, and therefore a target for censorship and repression.

Such acts of Internet censorship by the Bahraini authorities are common. Earlier in 2007, BCHR was aware of over 26 blocked websites, local and international. These blockages were mainly in reaction to online reporting about political scandals in Bahrain, especially what was locally dubbed the "Bandergate report" about the misappropriation of public lands, administrative and financial corruption, discrimination and favoritism.

Blocked sites included:

1. Six forums belonging to some villages in Bahrain ( http://www.juffair.com/vb , http://www.tubli.net , http://www.karzakan.com , http://alduraz.net/xforum , http://www.eskanaali.com , http://www.shahrakkan.org ); 2. Four general forums ( http://www.bahrainonline.org , http://www.montadayat.org , http://www.ahraralbahrain.com , http://www.wattani.net ); 3. Two sites of civic organizations and popular committees ( http://www.bhteachers.org/phpBB2/ , http://www.shaheedbh.com ); 4. The sites of two political organisations and movements ( http://www.vob.org and http://www.aldemokrati.org ); 5. The sites of two human rights organizations ( http://www.bahrainrights.org , http://www.hrinfo.net ); 6. The sites of two religious groups (Copts, Arab Christians: http://www.freecopts.net , http://www.arabchurch.com ); 7. One Kurdish nationalist sites ( http://www.kurdtimes.com ); 8. One secular site ( http://www.ladeeni.net ); 9. Two electronic newspapers ( http://www.alsaheefa.net , http://www.rezgar.net ); 10. Two news and advertising sites ( http://www.Albawaba.com , http://www.annaqed.com ); 11. One humour site ( http://www.bahraintimes.org); 12. One blog ( http://www.Mahood.tv ).

Censorship of these sites was made on the basis of the notorious Press Decree Code No. 47 of 2002. Over 14 Bahraini journalists have been interrogated, prosecuted, or taken to trial based on this law.

These actions of the Bahraini authorities violate the right to freedom of expression, as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the Bahraini authorities: - requesting they respect human rights, and the right to freedom of expression in particular - calling upon them to stop blocking websites - asking them to use only legal means, in compliance with the international charters and covenants, when dealing with civil organizations - urging them to amend Press Decree Code No. 47 so that it conforms to international human rights standards

APPEALS TO:

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, King of Bahrain Mr. Jehad Bu-Kamal, Minister of Information Manama, Bahrain Fax: +973 1 721 1363

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

For further information contact Nabeel Rajab, Vice-President, BCHR, Manama, Bahrain, tel: +973 3963 3399 / 3940 0720, fax: +973 1779 5170, e-mail: nabeel.rajab@bahrainrights.org, info@bahrainrights.org, Internet: http://www.bahrainrights.org

The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of BCHR. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit BCHR. _______________________________________________________________ DISTRIBUTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION EXCHANGE (IFEX) CLEARING HOUSE 555 Richmond St. West, # 1101, PO Box 407 Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5V 3B1 tel: +1 416 515 9622 fax: +1 416 515 7879 alerts e-mail: alerts@ifex.org general e-mail: ifex@ifex.org Internet site: http://www.ifex.org/

14 Oct, 2007

BCHR has become Part of IFEX network

At the General Meeting of the International Freedom of Expression exchange (IFEX) held in Montevideo, Uruguay, this week, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights joined more than 70 group across the world by being accepted as a member of the IFEX network. The meeting was attended by the BCHR vice-president Nabeel Rajab and More than 120 free expression advocates and experts from around the world. Earlier this year the BCHR joint the international federation for Human Rights FIDH.

"It is an honor and a step forward for the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights to join IFEX network," president Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja said. "Membership in such a respected and well established organization indicates the credibility of BCHR's work towards promoting freedom of expression and establishing human rights culture in Bahrain."

IFEX definition and goals

The International Freedom of Expression exchange (IFEX) is a voluntary affiliation of freedom of expression organizations which promote cooperation and exchange of information regarding the defense and promotion of freedom of expression and opinion worldwide.

IFEX function

1. To provide a general forum for the discussion of ideas, information and strategies in the field of freedom of expression. 2. To provide a mechanism - through the General Meeting, extraordinary meetings, or electronic communications - for all or some members to develop joint positions, to undertake cooperative action, and to initiate related programs and projects. 3. To facilitate an international exchange of information concerning freedom of expression, as well as to facilitate communication between and among IFEX members, through the support of the IFEX Clearing House.

28 Sep, 2007

BCHR: Moosa Abd-Ali has been granted political asylum in the United Kingdom

The BCHR has recently learnt that Moosa Abd-Ali Mohammed, 26 years, has been granted political asylum in the United Kingdom. AbdAli is a known human rights activist in The Unemployed and Low Income Committee living at Eker village . After organizing several demonstrations demanding rights for the unemployed, Moosa was intimidated, abducted, severely beaten and sexually assaulted by masked men thought to be related to the Special Security Forces. His case is recognized by international human rights organizations and also led to public demonstrations in the country.

Mr. Abdali left Bahrain to the United Kingdom and applied for political asylum after reciving more phone calls, threatening not only his safety but also the safety of his family. Eventually Moosa Abd-Ali left the country in fear for his safety.

Background information and Nature of the alleged violation • Abduction • Sever Beating • Sexual assault • Intimidation According to Mr. Abd-Ali, persons affiliated with or acting on behalf of Bahraini security forces abducted him on the night of November 27th 2005. His abductors released him the same night. On November 30 he filed complaints with the police at Isa Town and with the Public Prosecutor’s office in Manama alleging that his abductors beat him severely, assaulted him sexually, and threatened him with further harm unless he ceased his activities on behalf of the Committee of the Unemployed. Mr. Abd-Ali provided the Bahrain Center for Human Rights with copies of medical examinations, one dated November 28th, from the International Hospital of Bahrain, and the other dated November 29th, from the Accident and Emergency Department of Salmaniyya Medical Center, a facility of the Ministry of Health. The International Hospital report noted contusions on both Abd-Ali’s legs and his upper back consistent with his allegation that he was beaten. The Salmaniyya Medical Center report also noted contusions on Mr. Abd-Ali’s legs, and that the alleged sexual assault did not involve penetration, also consistent with Mr. Abd-Ali’s allegations. The Salmaniyya Medical Center report also contained a notation, “Police to be informed.” Description of the incident On Monday November 28th, 2005 early morning at 1:00, five civil automobiles surrounded the house of the activist Moosa Abd-Ali, as he was taking the garbage out. They were all masked, in plainclothes, and armed with batons and personal guns. They introduced themselves as security personnel asking him to go with them. When Moosa asked for an arrest warrant they mocked him with foul language. Detecting their voices and peculiar accents, Moosa was able to realize that they were from the same Special Forces who attacked him and others on June 19th during an unemployment protest. Moosa was severely injured during that protest and underwent medical treatment which has continued until today. When Moosa tried to escape the perpetrators started shooting in the air. He was then handcuffed and driven to an isolated remote spot of Sitra Island Industrial Area, where he first was brutally beaten using batons, then two of the offenders stripped him of his clothes and got on the top of his back one after the other in direct sexual attempt. Due to his resistance they were not able penetrate, but Moosa was left polluted with sperms over his body. Before leaving, they threatened to assault his family members, and told him to carry this message to the other members of the Committee for Unemployed if they still insist on the protest that was to take place the next day. At around 2:30am, they left the scene, leaving Moosa behind worn out on the ground. On December 4th, Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa , the Minister of Interior, met with Mr. Abd-Ali, his father, and Nabeel Rajab, vice-president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, to discuss the attack against Mr. Abd-Ali. This meeting followed several days of disturbances in Manama in which police clashed with demonstrators who were protesting about Mr. Abd-Ali’s treatment. At this meeting Sheikh Rashid affirmed that the security services under his authority would fully cooperate with an investigation into the matter that was being conducted by the Public Prosecutor. Several national and international human rights organizations including Human Rights watch , Front line and BCHR urge the government to conduct a thorough, impartial, and speedy investigation into Mr. Abd-Ali’s allegations, to make the results public, and to hold accountable any security officials or other persons found to be responsible for this attack. Mr. AbdAli suspended his cooperation with the authorities in December 13th, 2005. After some time Moosa reported more phone calls, threatening not only his safety but also the safety of his family. Eventually Moosa Abd-Ali left the country in fear for his safety.