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Prominent Bahraini Blogger and Online Activist Under Arrest

In a new escalation by Authority after launching the security crackdown to arrest activists

An archived photo of Ali Abdulemam taken in his first arrest

06 September 2010

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern at the continued escalation and vicious attack on freedom of opinion and expression in Bahrain which synchronizes with a wave of arrests of activists and defenders of human rights, and the attack on public freedoms and the confiscation of the right of expression. This was represented recently in the arrest of Ali Abdulemam, a Bahraini blogger and a prominent online activist on "Global Voices" networks and the owner of the most popular online forum in Bahrain "Bahrain Online" bahrainonline.org. He was arrested on the evening of Saturday, September 4th, 2010, after being summoned for investigation by the National Security Apparatus (NSA), which then has charged him with "broadcasting false news, wrong and tendentious about the current situation in Bahrain." This was followed by the shutdown of the site in the afternoon of Sunday, September 5th, 2010, in what may be a result of the pressures suffered by Abdul-Imam to disclose the passwords of the website to the authority.

Few hours before his arrest, Abdalimam (in his thirties, married and father of three children) had told friends on e-mail and via his page on Facebook that he had received a call to appear before the National Security Apparatus. Nevertheless, the Authority has claimed later that they had arrested him while he was trying to flee to a Gulf state, which increases concern about his fate, especially in light of the recent news notions of ill-treatment of detained political and human rights activists and subjecting them to severe torture.[1]

It is worth noting that the popular online forum “Bahrain Online” has excelled in recent years, and even more in last days since the start of the security crackdown, in publishing news of the arrests, the ongoing rights violations in the country, its photo coverage rapid reports of protests and peaceful movement for rights, and publication of articles and data with oppositional views to the Authority, In addition to statements of human rights organizations, including the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Yet this forum is blocked in Bahrain since its creation in 1998, but the surfers routinely pass blockage through the use of proxy or alternative links. Thus, “Bahrain Online” was one of the most important sites, which continued to report the news despite the ferocity of the crackdown, which caused the blocking and shutting down of dozens of Websites recently[2]. It seems that the authority has become fed up with its continuing failure to stop the site, and had no other option but to arrest the owner and force him to hand over control of the website, which led to its closure later.

This is not the first arrest of blogger Abdulimam, as it was preceded by the arrest[3] in February 2005 with another 2 moderators of the “Bahrain Online” website, after the publication of critical reports to government policies by some of the site users. Ali and the moderators have been charged with inciting hatred against the regime, and were detained for more than a month before being released without dropping their charges.

This time the arrest of Abdalimam comes amidst a fierce security crackdown aimed to eliminate the freedom of opinion and expression in Bahrain and suppress all opposition voices and remove the means to publish their opinions or to transfer information and news about this campaign. Dozens of activists and human rights defenders have been arrested since August 13. The campaign began with arresting human rights defender, blogger and academic, Dr. Abduljalil Alsingace.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights perceive that the arrest of blogger Abdalimam and the targeting of activists and bloggers on the Internet and the closure of websites, come to grip all independent means of expression and to create a complete blackout on the means of dissemination of information. The Centre regrets that the authority targets individuals who express views in civilized ways while turning a blind eye to the websites that fuel sectarian animosity between citizens, and abuse them.

This organized crackdown campaign against online activists and websites contradicts with Bahrain's position as a member of the Human Rights Council and with its claims to respect the freedom of opinion and expression. It also contradicts Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Bahrain and states: "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice. "

Thus, based on the above information, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands that the Government of Bahrain:

1. Immediately release the blogger Abdalimam as well as all detainees, including the activists and human rights defenders because they have been arrested based on reasons related to them practicing their fundamental rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembling which are guaranteed to them by international laws. 2. Immediately stop the systematic torture by the National Security Apparatus, and to dissolve it; presenting its officials to a fair trial, and to redress the victims from its violations; 3. Put an immediate stop to the implementation of the Anti-Terrorist Law which allows arbitrary detention, torture, and unjust trials; all of which have been openly condemned by the UN and international organizations; 4. To stop the media campaign that is inciting hatred and pushing the country towards sectarian clashes; 5. To lift the ban and blockage against all online forums, cultural and religious websites that have been blocked before and after the latest security crackdown. 6. The withdrawal of all actions that would restrict freedom of opinion and expression, or prevent the transmission of information. To start a serious and real political reform to resolve all the outstanding human rights cases related to civil and political rights along with their the economical, social and cultural rights.

--- [1]Political, Human Rights and Religious Figures Facing Torture and Humiliation [2]New Web crackdown Blocks dozens of websites and electronic forums in Bahrain [3]http://freeali.blogspot.com

Bahrain: arrest of human rights defender and leading blogger Ali Abdulemam and ten other human rights defenders

2010/09/06

Human rights defender and leading Bahraini blogger, Mr Ali Abdulemam was arrested on 4 September at 9 pm by Bahraini National Security Agency (NSA). Ali Abdulemam created and managed since 1999 a leading news website on Bahrain (ww.bahrainonline.org) as well as a blog. He has been active internationally raising attention to the situation of freedom of expression and the media environment in Bahrain.

On 4 September 2010, Ali Abdulemam received a phone call summoning him to appear at the office of the NSA. He was later arrested at approximately 9 pm and has been held in incommunicado detention since then. The Ministry of Interior declared on Sunday that his arrest was "part of the investigations into the terrorist network accused of planning and executing a campaign of violence, intimidation and subversion in Bahrain". Since Sunday 5 September, a day after his arrest, the website of BahrainOnline remains unavailable, both in Bahrain and from abroad. There are fears that Ali Adbulemam may have been forced to reveal the password of the database of his discussion forum, as following his arrest, members of his team found that the database's password was changed and they could not access it.

Five years ago, in February 2005, Ali Abdulemam was arrested and detained for two weeks.

Front Line is seriously concerned at the wave of arrests of human rights defenders taking place in the past three weeks in Bahrain on the basis of an alleged terrorist plot. Since 13 August 2010, the security forces have arrested at least eight other human rights defenders, namely:

1.Dr. Abduljalil Al-Sengais: arrested on 13 August 2010. He is spokesman and Director of the Human Rights Bureau of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy (see Front Line Urgent Appeal of 15 August 2010);

2.Abdul-Ghani Khanjar: arrested on 15 August 2010. He is spokesperson for the Bahraini National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture (see Front Line Urgent Appeal of 15 August 2010);

3.Suhail Al-Shehabi: arrested on 19 August 2010. He is active in a number of associations including the Committee of the relatives of detainees and the Committee of the Unemployed;

4.Ahmed Jawad Al-Fardan: arrested on 19 August 2010. He is a member of the Committee of the relatives of detainees in Karzakan;

5.Ali Jawad Al-Fardan: arrested on 20 August 2010. He is member of the Committee of the relatives of detainees in Karzakan;

6.Salman Naji: arrested on 21 August 2010. He is member of the Committee of the Unemployed;

7.AbdulHadi Al-Saffar: arrested on 22 August 2010. He is chairman of the Committee against high prices and actively involved in other associations including the Committee of the relatives of detainees;

8.Hassan Al-Haddad: arrested on 23 August 2010. He is member of the Committee of the Unemployed.

Two other human rights defenders, Mr Jaffar Al-Hessabi and Dr Mohammed Saeed, were reportedly arrested on 16 and 17 August 2010 respectively. Dr Mohammed Saeed is a board member of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.

According to the information received all the human rights defenders mentioned above have been held in incommunicado detention or have otherwise had their right to access a lawyer restricted. Some of them were able to see their lawyer during an interrogation with the public prosecutor but were not permitted to have a private meeting. Several of them also alleged to have been subjected to torture during their detention. Salman Naji was reportedly seen as not being able to move his hand.

Front Line fears that another leading Bahraini human rights defender, Mr Nabeel Rajab, may be arrested. On Sunday 5 September, the pro-government Gulf Daily News published on page 2 a picture of Nabeel Rajab linking his name to the alleged terrorist network.

Front Line believes that the arrest and detention of Ali Abdulemam and the other human rights defenders mentioned above is directly related to their human rights work. Front Line is very concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of the aforementioned human rights defenders after reports suggested allegation of torture in Bahraini prisons.

Front Line

Bahrain arrests dozens of Shiite Muslims accused of plotting coup d'etat

State-run media report on an alleged foreign-backed plan to overthrow the country's Sunni Muslim monarchy. The accusations come as the Persian Gulf Arab kingdom gears up for parliamentary elections.

By Alexandra Sandels, Los Angeles Times September 6, 2010|10:56 a.m.

Reporting from Beirut — When Nabeel Rajab saw his picture splashed on the front pages of a state-run newspaper over the weekend as an alleged member of a terrorist network plotting to overthrow the government, he knew it was time to start packing. The prominent Bahraini human rights activist sent his children away and put toothpaste and shampoo into a small bag in anticipation of his arrest.

"I've kept the children out of our home for the past four days," he told the Times by telephone on Monday. "I don't want to be beaten in front of them."

Rajab was among dozens of Shiite Muslims, including already-jailed opposition leader Abdul Jalil Singace, who were accused this weekend of taking part in a foreign-backed plot to overthrow the country's Sunni Muslim monarchy.

Singace and seven other prominent Shiite opposition figures and human rights activists were arrested in mid-August. Others picked up in recent security sweeps included taxi drivers, academics and civil servants. At least 23 people were arrested over the weekend and accused of being part of a terrorist network.

Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which patrols the Persian Gulf. Its minority Sunni population dominates the country's majority Shiites in a divisive political conflict with regional overtones. Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia backs the monarchy while Iran, with its Shiite majority, considers itself the patron of the kingdom's Shiites.

Bahrain's King Hamed ibn Isa Khalifa on Sunday delivered a harsh condemnation of the alleged plotters, many of them longtime activists who returned from exile over the last decade during a now-tattered reform era.

"They took the pardons granted over previous illegal activities and abuses as evidence that they were above the law, and they continued to train themselves and others on all types of vandalism," the king alleged. "It saddens us that they are wrong and away from righteousness."

The arrests and accusations come as the Persian Gulf Arab kingdom is gearing up for Oct. 23 parliamentary elections. Shiites currently hold 17 out of 40 seats, and Sunnis fear they could gain a majority. Human rights organizations estimate that more than 250 Shiites, mostly youths, have been arrested in the ongoing security crackdown, which has sparked fiery riots and streets clashes with police.

Bahrain and its Saudi patrons may fear that Iran could use the island nation's Shiites during the upcoming elections to further its influence, analysts said. Riad Kahwaji, head of the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said Gulf Arab countries fear Iran could use some of the members of the Shiite communities in these countries as cells for sabotage or espionage.

"In Bahrain it takes different dimensions since Shiites are a majority there and could pose serious threat to the regime," he said. "They want to make an example … sending out a message to other possible players that you will be uncovered."

Rajab says he and his wife have been waiting at their home in Bahrain for him to be picked up by law enforcement since the local media started naming him as a member of the alleged terror ring. Sunday's edition of the Bahrain-based English newspaper Gulf Daily News published an article headlined "Terrorism Network is Broken" in which Rajab was named and pictured as a "supporter" of what prosecutors are describing as a "sophisticated terrorist network operating with international support."

But as of Monday evening no one has shown up to arrest Rajab, who is the Bahraini representative of several international human rights organizations and travels frequently to Europe.

The official Bahrain News Agency reported on Monday that prominent Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam, administrator of BahrainOnline.org, had been arrested on suspicions of belonging to the alleged network.

Sandels is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Borzou Daragahi contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

Take action! Appeal for urgent intervention as activists are tortured for speaking out

3 September 2010

IFEX member Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is urgently calling on concerned individuals to write to the Bahrain government to end the systematic torture and imprisonment of those expressing their views, including political, religious and human rights activists. Abdul-Jalil Al-Singace, Sheikh Mohammed Habib Al-Muqdad, Sheikh Saeed Al-Nori, Abdul-Ghani Khanjjar and BCHR's Dr. Mohammed Saeed are among those who have endured brutal physical and mental torture. In an unprecedented wave of torture, detainees have been handcuffed, blindfolded, held in solitary cells, denied food and water for long periods, hung by their hands, their legs tied and their bodies beaten until swollen and bruised, deprived of sleep, and forced to listen to the screams of others being tortured.

BCHR strongly believes these arrests are connected to the activists' work in exposing human rights violations in the country. The Bahrain government is brutally silencing voices of dissent not only by prohibiting peaceful and legitimate activities related to democratic reform, but also by punishing human rights activists for engaging in these activities.

"They beat me on my fingers with a rigid instrument; they slapped me on my ears and I was pulled by my nipples and ears by tongs, and I was hit with a rigid object on my back... to force me to sign papers I had no knowledge of what was written on them," Al-Singace told a public prosecutor.

Bahrain is currently in an unofficial state of emergency with a security campaign launched against government critics. In addition, Shiite villages have been surrounded by militias, where arbitrary searches, arrests and kidnappings continue. At least 200 people have been detained. Most detainees are being held incommunicado and denied contact with lawyers and family members.

As well, state-owned media have published articles inciting sectarian tensions and smearing the reputation of the detainees, incriminating them before they are brought to the Public Prosecution and Court. The state-owned media, particularly "Al Watan", has been targeting the past and current presidents of BCHR directly as leaders in a so-called "terrorism network", although they have not been arrested. Nabeel Rajab, BCHR President, and Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, former BCHR President and currently with Frontline, were pictured in a 1 September "Al Watan" article about the violence.

Please write to the Bahrain government to ask them to:

- release all the detainees and especially human rights activists who have been arrested for practicing their fundamental rights to free expression and peaceful assembly; - immediately stop the systematic torture by the National Security Apparatus, dissolve this Apparatus, bring those responsible to a public trial and redress the victims of its violations; - allow access to the detainees by international observers; - allow detainees to contact and meet their families and lawyers, and access appropriate health care; - immediately stop implementing the Anti-Terrorist Law that allows arbitrary arrests and unjust trials.

Please send appeals to: Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa King of Bahrain Fax: +973 176 64 587

Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa Prime Minister Fax: +973 1753 2839

Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa Minister of Foreign Affairs Tel: +973 172 27 555 Fax : +973 172 12 603

Sheikh 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. info (@) bahrain-mission.ch

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

For more information, please visit: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/3273

IHRC: Action Alert: Bahrain –Haq Movement leader alleges torture during incommunicado detention

03 September 2010 Islamic Human Rights Commission

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

1. Summary

Dr Al-Singace was arrested at Manama Airport on the morning of 13 August, as he and his family returned to the country from London. He only had access to his lawyer after almost two weeks in incommunicado detention.

Al-Singace, spokesperson for Haq (Haq movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy), accused Bahraini authorities of torturing him whilst in detention.

Other human rights defenders who were also arrested were taken to hospital to receive treatment for injuries as a result of suspected torture. The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) has reported that the total number of activists arrested during the recent crackdown is 200. The BHCR have also recorded many witness statements describing torture by state authorities.

2. Background

Al-Singace has described to his lawyer the brutal torture he endured which included being kept in solitary confinement for a fortnight, his crutches and wheel chair were taken away from him and he was forced to stand for hours on one leg because of the paralysis in his other leg, he was stripped naked and beaten repeatedly, the masked torturers used electric shock devices which they attached to his ears and nipples, he was repeatedly slapped across the face and ears till he partially lost his hearing, he was forced to listen to the screaming of other prisoners who were being tortured and he was forced to sign statements written by the authorities.

According to the BCHR other key members of the human rights movement in Bahrain have been taken to hospital after the suspected torture they received during their detainment, vocal critics such as Shaikh Mohammed Habib Almuqdad, Abdulghani Khanjar and Abdulhadi Alsaffer.

Such brutal measures used by the Bahraini authorities clearly violate numerous articles within the International Covenant on Civil and Political (ICCPR). Violent measures to suppress the plight of human rights defenders will be counterproductive and lead to increased violence and unrest. Until the key issues of civil and economic inequalities experienced by the Shia majority are addressed there will be no progression towards a harmonious society.

Bahraini authorities have an obligation to investigate the accusations of torture and prosecute the guilty parties responsible for the authorisation and act of torturing.

For further background information, please visit the following links:

Bahrain: Open Letter to UN Special Rapporteur on situation of HR defenders http://tinyurl.com/257b6e9

PRESS RELEASE: Bahrain – IHRC asks UN Special Rappateur to take up case of Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace http://tinyurl.com/289bqeg

Urgent Alert: Bahrain – Dr Al-Singace, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Haq Movement arrested on return to Bahrain http://tinyurl.com/2f7t8wp

Open letter to Khalifa bin Sulman Al Khalifa, prime minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain http://tinyurl.com/2c7doxs

3. Action required

Write to the following authorities requesting them to urge the Bahraini government to investigate the claims of torture and allow citizens their right to freedom of expression and association in the country.

a) Minister of foreign affairs in your country, urging him/her to raise this issue with his/her Bahraini counterpart. UK campaigners will find the appropriate address, fax and email on the sample letter below.

b) Bahraini ambassador in your country. UK campaigners will find the appropriate address, fax and email on the sample letter below.

4. Sample letters ----------------------------

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.

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

a) Minister of foreign affairs in your country. (UK campaigners can write using the address supplied below, fax: +44 (0)20 7839 2417 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

[Your name] [Your address]

[Date]

Rt. Hon. William Hague MP Foreign & Commonwealth Office King Charles Street London SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr. Hague,

Re: Bahrain – Human rights leader alleges torture during incommunicado detention

Dr Abdul Jalil Al-Singace spokesperson for Haq (Haq movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy), was arrested at Manama Airport on the morning of 13 August, as he and his family returned to the country from London. He only had access to his lawyer after almost two weeks in incommunicado detention.

Al-Singace has described to his lawyer the brutal torture he endured which included being kept in solitary confinement for a fortnight, his crutches and wheel chair were taken away from him and he was forced to stand for hours on one leg because of the paralysis in his other leg, he was stripped naked and beaten repeatedly, the masked torturers used electric shock devices which they attached to his ears and nipples, he was repeatedly slapped across the face and ears till he partially lost his hearing, he was forced to listen to the screaming of other prisoners who were being tortured and he was forced to sign statements written by the authorities.

According to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) other key members of the human rights movement in Bahrain were taken to hospital after the suspected torture they received during their detainment, vocal critics such as Shaikh Mohammed Habib Almuqdad, Abdulghani Khanjar and Abdulhadi Alsaffer.

Such brutal measures used by the Bahraini authorities clearly violate numerous articles within the International Covenant on Civil and Political (ICCPR). Violent measures to suppress the plight of human rights defenders will be counterproductive and lead to increased violence and unrest. Until the key issues of civil and economic inequalities experienced by the Shia majority are addressed there will be no progression towards a harmonious society.

Bahraini authorities have a responsibility to investigate the accusations of torture and prosecute the guilty parties responsible for the authorisation and act of torturing. Please take this up with your Bahraini counterpart as an urgent matter.

I look forward to your response on this pressing matter.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature] [Your name]

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

b) Bahraini ambassador in your country. (UK campaigners can write using the address supplied below, fax: +44 (0)20 7201 9183 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

[Your name] [Your address]

[Date]

HE Shaikh Khalifa bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Khalifa 30 Belgrave Square London SW1X 8QB

Your Excellency, Re: Bahrain – Human rights leader alleges torture during incommunicado detention

Dr Abdul Jalil Al-Singace spokesperson for Haq (Haq movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy), was arrested at Manama Airport on the morning of 13 August, as he and his family returned to the country from London. He only had access to his lawyer after almost two weeks in incommunicado detention.

Al-Singace has described to his lawyer the brutal torture he endured which included being kept in solitary confinement for a fortnight, his crutches and wheel chair were taken away from him and he was forced to stand for hours on one leg because of the paralysis in his other leg, he was stripped naked and beaten repeatedly, the masked torturers used electric shock devices which they attached to his ears and nipples, he was repeatedly slapped across the face and ears till he partially lost his hearing, he was forced to listen to the screaming of other prisoners who were being tortured and he was forced to sign statements written by the authorities.

According to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) other key members of the human rights movement in Bahrain have been taken to hospital after the suspected torture they received during their detainment, vocal critics such as Shaikh Mohammed Habib Almuqdad, Abdulghani Khanjar and Abdulhadi Alsaffer.

Such brutal measures used by Bahraini authorities clearly violate numerous articles within the International Covenant on Civil and Political (ICCPR). Violent measures to suppress the plight of human rights defenders will be counterproductive and lead to increased violence and unrest. Until the key issues of civil and economic inequalities experienced by the Shia majority are addressed there will be no progression towards a harmonious society.

Bahrain’s international image and credibility has been deeply damaged by these accusations. Therefore it’s imperative in order to preserve your standing in the international community to investigate the accusations of torture and prosecute the guilty parties responsible for the authorisation and act of torturing.

I look forward to your response on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature] [Your name]

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

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Invitation to Press Conference on Recent Attacks by the Government of Bahrain on Public Liberties

Lord Avebury, the Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary HR Group

Cordially invites you to a Press Conference on:

Bahrain’s slide to the abyss and the need to defend its people

Political and human rights activists will discuss the recent attacks by the Government of Bahrain on public liberties, the arrest of human rights activists, the resumption of torture at an unprecedented scale and the implementation of genocidal policies.

10.45 am Tuesday 7th September 2010

1 Abbey Gardens (Annexe to the House of Lords), London SW1P 3SE

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

New Web crackdown Blocks dozens of websites and electronic forums in Bahrain

In Sync with the Security Crackdown Launched by the Bahraini Authorities against Political Activists, Religious Figures and Human Rights Defenders

4 September 2010

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concerns regarding the Bahraini authorities’ continuous actions against freedom of opinion and expression by blocking web sites. This time the action consists of closing dozens of websites and online forums of an organized campaign aimed to consolidate media blackouts of internal security on political activists, religious figures, as well as defenders of human rights. Bahrain Center for Human Rights has received numerous complaints from owners of websites which were blocked without warning. Among the blocked websites is BahraniNet.net[1] which is known for its rapid media coverage and photos of protests and the instability in the country. It constantly follows up on news of rising arrests, and publishing press statements of the oppositions and human rights organizations. These are topics that the local press usually do not convey as a result of the regime dominance on audio, visual and printed media. Several other similar websites known for publishing oppositional views were blocked, as well as some religious and social websites. The majority of the recent blocked websites are discussion forums that belong to the Shiite villages; villages witnessing continuous nightly unrest, protesting for several months because of the discrimination they suffered, and the constant political naturalization to change the demographics. These villages witness the takeover of land and the coasts by the king and his family in addition to the arrest of many of the protestors in the villages. Moreover, a Yemeni website "Taiz today" concentrating on local Yemeni news and some news from the Arab world was also blocked. It is believed that the reason for blocking this site is because it has been publishing statements and reports from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

This web crackdown synchronized with appeals by parties close to the regime aired on Bahrain TV[3], where they called on the government to block websites, claimed to "incite to spread poisonous ideas and damage national unity", incriminating several websites that publish documented coverage with photos and evidences of the violations of citizen rights in the Bahraini villages committed by security forces. In addition to this, cases in which the National Security Apparatus is responsible for the kidnappings, and physical and sexual abuse by the militias belonging to it.

In the absence of independent press and media and with the governmental dominance on all sources of information, these online forums and websites have become competitors with newspapers and local media in terms of the speed of news reports. They also discuss freedom of speech and sensitive and taboo subjects, and the ability of these sites to document the political and human rights is forbidden. Among the recent blocked sites are:

Village of Sar: www.ahrarsar.com Village of Sanabis: www.forums.sanabis.net Public forum: www.alsarh.org Village of Sitra Forum: www.satrawicool.com/vb/index.php Village of Maameer Forum: www.maameer.org/vb Online news site: www.ezaonline.com Islamic Site: www.yamahdinet.net Islamic Audio: www.mahdimedia.net Public forum: www.omalbaneen.org Public forum: alqrayyamatam.net/vb/index.php Village of Maameer Forum: www.maameerna.com Sitra Forum: www.sitraisland.net Village of Malkiya Forum: www.malkiya.net/vb ublic forum: www.aljnoobonline.org Village of Karzakan Forum: www.ahrarkarzakan.org

In addition to these sites, Google cached pages have been blocked.

The Committee to Protect Journalists[4] had previously written a letter to the king of the country in 2009 expressing great concern about the web crackdown led by Bahraini Authorities against independent and essential websites that discuss social, political and human rights issues. Yet, hundreds of websites are still blocked in Bahrain including the website of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

The recent blockage campaign comes in sync with the security and media campaign[5] ran by the Bahraini authorities. This is aimed at many political activists, religious figures and human rights defenders in an organized campaign designed to arrest and discredit them at the local and international level.

It also contradicts with Bahrain's position as a member of the Human Rights Council and with its claims to respect the freedom of opinion and expression. It contradicts Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Bahrain and states: "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

Thus, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the following from the Bahraini government:

• To lift the ban and blockage against all public affairs, cultural, social, legal, political and religious websites. • The withdrawal of all actions that would restrict freedom of opinion and expression, or prevent the transmission of information. • To commit to its international obligations and respect all forms of freedom of expression as enshrined in international conventions and treaties. • To amend the Press Law No. 47 of 2002 and make it in line with international standards of human rights.

--- [1]http://bahraninet.net [2]http://www.taiztoday.com [3]http://www.alwasatnews.com [4]cpj.org [5]The Arrest of the Human Rights Defender Dr. Abdul-Jalil Al- Singace Declares the Beginning of the Implementation of Threats

August 2010: a black spot in the history of Bahrain:

Terrifying Testimonies about Torture and Unethical Cover-Up from the Public Prosecution The Public Prosecution is trying to justify the Torture Marks with the Detainees Attempt to Escape Prison

Archived photo of protests against torture in Bahrain

3 September 2010

The terrifying testimonies and horrific complaints filed by the victims of political activists, human rights defenders and clerics before the Public Prosecution, which were received by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, warns of the beginning of a new era of deterioration of the conditions of human rights in Bahrain. As far as the nature of torture is concerned and the social symbolism of the groups targeted with this torture, there is a rapid growth of using groundless tactics of systematic persecution which the BCHR has never perceived before.

The methods of torture used against the most recent detainees as opposed to the previous captives such as activists and human rights defenders were subjected to, was severe torture that exceeded anything the BCHR had documented before. The features and complexion of the body of the detainee Salman Naji, member of the Committee of the Unemployed, is disfigured due to the severity of the continuous torture and brutal beatings with hands, legs and unidentified weapons, which caused him to be fully maimed in one of his hands and fingers losing most of the ability to feel with them, the ability to move and use them. He was also injured with deep wounds that almost reached the bones around his wrists and ankles due to the long period of being hanged with cuffs. This left clear forensic evidence of ongoing beatings on his body leaving parts of his skin black, blue and red marks. Jaffar Hisabi (a person of dual citizenship, Bahraini and British) complained from being hung by his hands, also known as the Falaqa way, which caused his legs to swell and pieces of his skin to peel off. This caused his hands to become numb; nerves and tissues were torn and damaged, again from the severity of beatings and torture. He was blindfolded and handcuffed the entire time of the arrest and torture. He was sleep deprived for consecutive days, and he was beaten in the head, back, and legs with a plastic rod. The brothers, Ahmed and Ali Jawad Al-Fardan from the Committee of Defenders for the Karzakan Detainees, complained that they suffered severe torture, especially physical torture. The deep visible wound that almost reached the bone surrounding the feet of Ali Jawad were caused by the unnecessary cuffs tightly sealed around them the entire time. His brother Ahmed Jawad passed out several times because of increase in blood sugar and blood pressure due to the torture and forcing him to stay awake for five days in a row. The torture marks and torture wounds were also apparent on his knees and feet as well. As for Abdul-Ameer Al-Aradi, he was forced to stand for 14 continuous hours depriving him from sleep for two days. Like the other detainees, he was tortured and stepped on while lying on the ground. The detainee and former member of the Committee of Unemployed, Hasan Al-Haddad was transferred while handcuffed to the Military Hospital together with the National Security men, and he is still in the Military Hospital, heavily guarded, visits prohibited. It is unknown as to what the reasons are that are causing the need for hospitalization. Sheikh Abdullah Mirza Al-Mahroos was severely beaten on the head with a rubber rod injuring one of his eyes. He was transferred to a hospital more than six times to receive treatment and to conceal the torture marks on him. Al-Mahroos complained about being handcuffed and blindfolded the entire time of his arrest in solitary confinement, also complaining about the punching and kicking on different parts of his body and forcing him to stand for a full day depriving him from sleep for several hours. Sheikh Abdul-Hadi Al-Mukhodur spoke to the Chief Prosecutor about a period of ninety continuous hours of torture. The torture was divided between hanging him the Falaqa way, forcing him to stand for days, beating him with a plastic rod and kicking him all over his body mainly on his head.

To the right: Activist Jaffar Hisabi and to the left:BCHR member, Dr. Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahlawi

The BCHR member, Dr. Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahlawi was subjected to severe torture as he was repeatedly beaten and punched all over his body hanging by his hands and then hung in the Falaqa way. He was also slapped continuously on the face until he fell on the edge of the table from the severity of the abuse. During this process he was blindfolded, which doubled the pain of torture. He also complained to the Chief Prosecutor about the severe pain in his knee and fingers. The interrogation with him concentrated on his work with the “illegitimate” organization, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

In a clear conspiracy with the National Security Apparatus, the Public Prosecution reports that the torture marks on the detainees is a result of their attempt to flee prison. They even extracted testimonies from confrontations with security guards. How is the public opinion to be convinced of that at a time when all the detainees are handcuffed and blindfolded since the moment of their arrests, and are detained in solitary cells.

All the detainees stated that they did not know who was arresting or interrogating them or the place they were taken to. All the victims spoke about the period that preceded taking them to the detention centers or Public Prosecution, where the interrogators tried to conceal their wounds quickly by using oils and powders to conceal the torture marks; however, due to the severity of these wounds most of them were still visible when they arrived at the Public Prosecution. All the detainees were surprised to be taken to the Public Prosecution without their knowledge, and their lawyers were only informed a few hours before the investigation began, in violation to all the procedures that require that the lawyer is informed at least a day before. In the interrogation room, the lawyers were prohibited from staying alone with their clients, and even in the interrogation room the lawyers were forced to sit behind the detainees, so that there is no eye-contact with the detainees.

In parallel with the arrests, the kidnappings continued and all the demonstrations and protests which requested authorization were banned. The unauthorized demonstrations were subjugated with severe force and tens of electronic websites and forums were closed down, including the website “Al-Wefaq”, the largest political society in Bahrain. All the political and human rights societies, including those registered, were threatened with taking legal action against them according to their position, publications and media articles published by them. The BCHR will release detailed reports about that attack on public liberties and human rights.

Based on the above, the BCHR calls upon all the concerned bodies, including the local and international associations and organizations to seek the Bahraini Authorities and demand the following:

1. To immediately present all the detainees to an independent medical committee, to examine their health and mental state; 2. To immediately stop the systematic torture by the National Security Apparatus, and to dissolve it; presenting its officials to a fair trial, and to redress the victims from its violations; 3. To allow the detainees to contact and meet their families, and to hold regular and private meetings with their lawyers, as that is a part of their fundamental rights and it will keep the torture from persisting; 4. To release all the detainees, including the activists and human rights defenders because they have been arrested based on reasons related to them practicing their fundamental rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembling which are guaranteed to them by international laws; 5. An immediate stop on implementing of the Anti-Terrorist Law which allows arbitrary detention, torture, and unjust trials, all of which has been openly condemned by the UN and international organizations; 6. To stop the media campaign that is inciting hatred pushing the country towards sectarian clashes; 7. To stop publishing the names and photos of detainees in the Bahraini newspapers, as the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. 8. To start a serious and real political reform to resolve all the outstanding human rights cases related to civil and political rights along with their the economical, social and cultural rights.

Amnesty: Bahrain: allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be independently investigated

3 September 2010

Amnesty International has urged the Bahraini government to set up a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into allegations that well-known members of the country’s Shi’a Muslim community arrested in recent weeks were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while being detained incommunicado.

Several detainees are reported to have complained that they were tortured when taken before the Public Prosecutor for questioning about alleged offences against Bahrain’s security. On 28 August 2010 Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad, a Shi’a cleric who had been held since 15 August, told the Public Prosecutor that he had been suspended by the wrists for several hours and punched by security officials while he was detained reportedly at the headquarters of the National Security Agency in Bahrain’s capital, Manama. His lawyer, who was allowed to observe but not participate directly when Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad appeared before the Public Prosecutor, has told Amnesty International that his client had visible marks on his body which appeared to have been caused by torture. Other detainees who have been held since mid-August are also reported to have alleged torture when they appeared separately and individually before the Public Prosecutor, including ‘Abdul-Jalil al-Singace, ‘Abdul-Ghani ‘Ali ‘Issa al-Khanjar and ‘Abdul-Hadi al-Mokhoder..

‘Abdul-Jalil al-Singace, a well-known member of al-Haq, an unauthorized political organization with support within Bahrain’s Shi’a community, was arrested on 13 August 2010 at Bahraini International Airport when he returned with his family from a visit to the United Kingdom. His arrest sparked protests, some of which became violent, by supporters of al-Haq movement and was followed, within days, by the arrests of at least 11 other prominent members or supporters of al-Haq and other Shi’a political and religious groups. They were initially held incommunicado and denied access to lawyers but all 12 were subsequently taken before the Public Prosecutor between 27 and 31 August and formally charged with “forming an illegal organization” aiming to “overthrow the government and dissolve the constitution”, inciting people to “overthrow and change the political system of the country”, fundraising and planning terrorist acts, and other offences. The Public Prosecutor authorized their continued detention for two months under Article 27 of the 2006 Anti-Terrorism Law.

As yet, the Bahraini authorities have not disclosed the place or places of detention of the 12 detainees, even to their families and lawyers, and their families have been refused permission to visit them. They have been permitted access to their lawyers but, as yet, have not been permitted to speak to them in private despite repeated requests made to the Public Prosecutor. The lawyers have been permitted to meet their clients only in the Public Prosecutor’s office and in the presence of officials. On 28 August the Public Prosecutor ordered a ban on reporting on the detention of the Shi’a opposition activists. Journalists and lawyers who publish or broadcast information about the case face prosecution and up to one year of imprisonment if convicted under Article 246 of Bahrain’s penal code.

Amnesty International is urging the Bahraini authorities to investigate immediately, independently and thoroughly the torture and other ill-treatment allegations made by the detainees, to disclose their current whereabouts and allow them access to their families and to consult confidentially with their legal representatives. Amnesty International is also calling on the Bahraini authorities to ensure that any officials found responsible for torture or other ill-treatment or abuse of detainees’ rights will be held fully to account.

Public Document

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For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: press@amnesty.org

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

www.amnesty.org

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders: Urgent Appeal

Acts of physical and psychological torture perpetrated against Messrs. Abduljalil Al-Sengais and Abdulghani Ali Issa Al-Khanjar while in detention

1 September 2010

The Observatory has been informed by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) about the acts of physical and psychological torture perpetrated against Messrs. Abduljalil Al-Sengais, Spokesperson and Director of the Human Rights Bureau of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy, and Abdulghani Ali Issa Al-Khanjar, Spokesperson of the National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture (NCMVT), while in detention.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

On August 27, 2010, Mr. Abduljalil Al-Sengais appeared before the Public Prosecutor [1]. On August 29, Mr. Abdulghani Ali Issa Al-Khanjar also appeared before the Public Prosecutor. On that occasion, they denounced the cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment they were subjected to during their detention.

The Public Prosecutor charged them with “forming an illegal organisation with the objective of overthrowing the government and dissolving the constitution”, “forming an illegal organisation with the intention of overthrowing the basic system of the country”, “participating in the forming and organising and inciting to overthrow and change the political system of the country”, “forming an organisation that deals with collecting funds in an illegal manner”, “inciting and planning terrorist acts”, “inciting hatred and contempt against the regime”, “agreeing to and inciting others to damage public property and committing terrorist acts”, “spreading false information”, “inciting others in public methods to not abide by the laws”, “inciting hatred against a certain sect”, “inciting acts of burning, resisting authorities and demonstrating”, “contacting and working with international organisations”, and “receiving funds from international parties”.

The Public Prosecutor then extended their detention to an additional period of two months, but no information could be obtained regarding their place of detention as of issuing this urgent appeal.

Mr. Abduljalil Al-Sengais, who suffers from complete paralysis in one leg and partial paralysis in the other due to poliomyelitis, told the Public Prosecutor that he was held handcuffed and blindfolded in solitary confinement for more than two weeks. His wheelchair and crutches were confiscated, and he was forced to keep standing on his partially paralysed leg for two consecutive days. He was also prevented from sleeping by loud sounds played whenever he was about to fall asleep. Mr. Al-Sengais further reported that he was repeatedly beaten on his fingers with a rigid object and slapped on both ears. His nipples and earlobes were pulled with tongs and he was beaten in the back during the interrogation period in order to force him to sign papers of unknown content. The perpetrators moreover threatened to rape him as well as his female relatives. Mr. Al-Sengais almost lost his hearing ability and suffers from sever injuries in his back and other parts of his body.

On August 26, 2010, Mr. Abdulghani Ali Issa Al-Khanjar, together with other detainees, was reportedly transferred in a police ambulance from the Ministry of Interior’s Police Fort Clinic in Manama to an unknown destination, suspected to be the military hospital in Riffa. His whereabouts remained unknown until he appeared before the Public Prosecutor on August 29, 2010, and denounced the acts of torture he suffered while in detention. Mr. Al-Khanjar was forced to stand for two days, severely beaten and prevented from sleeping during five days.

On August 28, 2010, the Public Prosecutor ordered a ban on any publications related to the case of Mr. Abduljalil Al-Sengais and the other detainees as well as on torture allegations.

Furthermore, Mr. Jaffar Al-Hessabi, a Bahraini, human right activist involved in the fight against torture who has been living in the United Kingdom (UK) for 15 years and Mr. Mohammed Saeed, a board member of BCHR, who were respectively arrested on August 16 and 17, 2010, also remain detained incommunicado to date (see background information and Urgent Appeal BHR 004 / 0810 / OBS 101).

The Observatory calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Messrs. Abduljalil Al-Sengais, Abdulghani Ali Issa Al-Khanjar, Jaffar Al-Hessabi and Mohammed Saeed.

In addition, the Observatory strongly condemns the cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment that Messrs. Abduljalil Al-Sengais and Abdulghani Ali Issa Al-Khanjar were reportedly subjected to, which seems to only aim at sanctioning their human rights activities, and fears for their physical and psychological integrity. Therefore, the Observatory calls upon the Bahraini authorities to take prompt action in order to immediately and unconditionally release them, and to order an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned facts, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law.

More generally, the Observatory urges the Bahraini authorities to ensure the ability of all human rights defenders and organisations in Bahrain to carry out their work without hindrances in accordance with the Bahraini legislation.

The Observatory also calls upon European Union (EU) embassies in Bahrain to attend all upcoming hearings in the above-mentioned cases, as well as to visit human rights defenders in jail, in line with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

Background information:

On August 13, 2010, early in the morning, Mr. Abduljalil Al-Sengais was detained at Bahrain International Airport while he was returning from the UK with his family. On August 5, 2010, he had participated in a seminar on the situation of human rights in Bahrain at the House of Lords and had addressed the resurgence of torture, the increase of discrimination, the decline of public liberties and the deterioration of the environmental situation in the country. Mr. Al-Sengais had also visited several international human rights organisations during his stay in the UK.

On the same day, at around 5.30 pm, the Special Forces violently dispersed with tear-gas, sound bombs and rubber bullets a peaceful gathering set up in solidarity in front of Mr. Al-Sengais’ house, inflecting several injuries among the demonstrators.

At around 3 am on August 15, 2010, Mr. Abdulghani Ali Issa Al-Khanjar, was arrested at his home by the Security Forces. His computer and mobile phones was also confiscated.

Messrs. Abduljalil Al-Sengais, Abdulghani Ali Issa Al-Khanjar are accused of “forming an organised network aiming at weakening the security and the stability of the country” under the Anti-Terrorism Law and the Criminal Code. According to Government representatives, this network would be involved in “illegal practices and other acts that would harm the stability of the Kingdom of Bahrain and its civil peace”, and would have been calling for “violence and terrorist acts”. The Public Prosecutor’s Office reportedly issued a warrant to search Mr. Al-Sengais’ house and belongings and, as of issuing this Urgent Appeal investigations would be ongoing to “uncover the remaining members of the network”.

On August 16, at 11:30 pm, Mr. Jaffar Al-Hessabi was arrested at Bahrain International Airport, and on August 17 at 3 am, Mr. Mohammed Saeed was arrested at his home.

Sheikh Mohammed Al-Moqdad and Sheikh Saeed Al-Nori, together with Sheikh Mirza Al-Mahroos and Sheikh Abdulhadi Al-Mukhuder, also religious and political activists involved in peaceful protest actions for the release of political prisoners, have been arrested between August 15 and 17.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Bahrain to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Abduljalil Al-Sengais, Abdulghani Ali Issa Al-Khanjar, Jaffar Al-Hessabi and Mohammed Saeed, as well as of all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of torture and ill-treatment, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring all those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;

iii. Take prompt action in order to disclose the whereabouts of Messrs. Abduljalil Al- Sengais, Abdulghani Ali Issa Al-Khanjar, Jaffar Al-Hessabi and Mohammed Saeed and ensure their immediate and unconditionally release since their detention is arbitrary as it only aims at sanctioning their human rights activities;

iv. Put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Abduljalil Al-Sengais, Abdulghani Ali Issa Al-Khanjar, Jaffar Al-Hessabi and Mohammed Saeed, and against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

v. 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”, and its Article 12.2 which provides 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”;

vi. 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.

------ Footnotes

[1] Article 27 and 28 of the Law n°58 on “Protecting the Society from Terrorist Acts” promulgated in August 2006 provides extended detention without judicial review, without charge, and based on secret evidence, for up to 15 days following an arrest.