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“Terrorist network” first hearing – Trial Testimonies - 28th October, 2010

28 Oct 2010

The judge started by reading out the names of the detainees and the charges against them. All detainees pled not guilty to all charges, and alleged torture and that their confessions were coerced. The lawyer Hassan Radhi spoke on behalf of all lawyers and stated that the lawyers had not had access to their clients since their arrest and that according to Bahraini law this was a breach of their rights. Therefore he requested time to consult with the clients before the beginning of the trial. The judge granted them 30 minutes and ordered the courtroom be cleared of everyone except the lawyers and the detainees. 30 minutes later, everyone was brought back into the court room, the judge again read the names of the detainees and the charges against them, to which they pled not guilty. They also alleged that all confessions were coerced. As per the request of the lawyers, the detainees were allowed to make statements to the court.

1. Dr. Abduljalil Alsingace: I was subjected to severe beatings since I was arrested on the 13th of August. I was beaten on my ears, my crutches were taken away and I was forced to stand for long periods of time in a basement under the National Security Apparatus building. They threatened to rape my wife, daughters and sister, and every night I heard the screams of others being tortured. One of the times, before they finished interrogating me, they opened the door so I could hear the others being tortured, and this went on every night after midnight and until sunrise. They forbid me from using my prescription glasses for 9 weeks, I was not allowed to take my medications and I was suspended from my job. I want guarantee from the court that I will not be tortured again because on the night when I was taken to the public prosecution, where I denied all charges, they did not allow me to sleep after that. They forced me to stand until the next night, forbid me from using the bathroom and I was not allowed to pray until the second time I was taken to the public prosecution. They threatened me again that they would beat me if I did not do as told this time. One of the interrogators from the National Security blindfolded me and grabbed me from my neck, telling me I better not repeat what I did the night before. At the public prosecution I asked them to make a note of what I said several times, but they did not. They made me sign a statement I had not seen or read. That same night they took me to see a physician, and one of the interrogators hit me on the chest and told me that he will show me.
2. Alsheikh Mohammed Habib Almuqdad (Swedish citizen): The charges made against me are void, I did not partake a role in any terrorism, on the contrary, I am a victim of the terrorism being carried out against us. Since my arrest when I was taken to an underground prison, I have been severely tortured. They used electric shocks, my eyes were blindfolded and my hands tied behind my back. I was not allowed to sleep for the first 5-6 days. When I was allowed to pray or sleep they refused to remove the blindfold, to add to that the place was dark. I was made to stand for long periods and it exhausted me. I asked the officer to allow me to sleep for only an hour and he would reply not even a second. Whenever I would fall to the ground out of exhaustion they would beat me and tell me to stand again. I fell several times and fainted. I was beaten severely and hung, the torture marks are still on my body today. They used creams to hide the marks when I was taken to the public prosecution. At the public prosecution I told the public prosecutor about what I had been subjected to despite that I had been threatened by the National Security that they would torture me again. I mentioned that in front of the lawyer, and the public prosecutor saw the marks of torture on my body. After that they took me to see a physician, and he wrote a report but it was not compatible to the marks on my body. Due to the severity of the beatings on my head and ears, both my ear drums have torn. I was taken to the Bahrain Defense Force hospital, where Dr. Amal told me that I had torn both ear drums. Some nights I bled on the pillow due to the severity of the beatings as well as the electric shocks. That and the insults I received drove me to agree to sign a confession at the National Security. They showed me the confession and I tried to read it but they did not allow it and they forced me to sign. I signed not knowing what was in the confession. I am still in solitary confinement. They accused me of funding terrorism. I am prepared to spend the rest of my life in prison if they are able to prove that I spend a single penny according to what they have said. They told me I had paid Alsingace and I said no. They tortured me so I said write what you want. They wanted me to say an amount so I asked what Alsingace had said. They told me 2000 dinars, so I told them to write 2000 dinars. I am completely positive and sure of my innocence, and a victim of terrorism.
3. Alshaikh Saeed Alnuri: I was kidnapped because I cannot call what happened an arrest. They took me to the intelligence agency and immediately hit me on my turban and head. I was forced to stand for two days and this was during Ramadhan until sunset (time of breaking the fast). I was blindfolded the whole time, even at the time of ablution and prayer they refused to remove my blindfold. The interrogator cursed at me and insulted me during the interrogations, while being blindfolded, and he would threaten to take my clothes off as he said he would like to see me naked. As a cleric this to me was worse than the physical torture and beatings. I was tortured and beaten on my hands, legs and face. I was hung in the falaqa way and they beat me on the soles of my feet until they turned blue. They then used cream to hide the marks but they are still visible. I was given electric shocks and I was forced to sign anything they asked, especially documents concerning the funding charge; as I told them that I had funded some boys to carry out acts of violence. I do not know what kind of oath you take here, but as a cleric I swear by the God of the heavens and earth that I never paid anyone a single penny to burn or any kind of similar act. At the public prosecution I told the public prosecutor that I had been beaten and seen a physician but he ignored the marks on my body. Finally, I ask that I be removed from solitary confinement and I want a guarantee from this court that I will not be tortured again.
4. Dr. Mohammed Saeed Alsahlawi (Board member of Bahrain Center for Human Rights): Directly after my arrest they stripped me of all my clothes and told me to kneel, and the interrogator told me that they could do anything they wanted to me, even rape. Then they made me stand, they blindfolded me and tied my hands. I was taken to an interrogation room and I do not know how many people were there. They threw me on the floor while I was completely naked and someone sat on top of me while another grabbed my legs. Then one of them started beating the soles of my feet using a hose. They then beat me with their fists and shoes on my ears and I fell to the floor several times due to the severe beating. My body was full of bruises. I asked the public prosecutor to see a physician, and when I did, the physician sat in his seat and did not do a checkup. Being a doctor myself, I told him that there were certain things he needed to do like take an x-ray and do tests so he said why did you not tell the interrogator that. He then asked me if I had torture marks on me.
5. Alshaikh Abdulhadi Almukhodher: Due to your request that I keep this brief, I was subjected to the same kind of torture mentioned by the other detainees for around 90 consecutive hours. I was hung in the falaqa position and forced to stand for consecutive hours. I was subjected to everything mentioned by Dr. Alsingace and Dr. Mohammed Saeed. They forced me to break my fast during Ramadhan, as I had to choose between dying due to torture or drinking the water. I request protection from this court because last night an officer from the National Security came to me and threatened to torture me again more severely than before if I deny the charges today or mention the torture. I also request you remove me from the solitary confinement and that I be allowed family visits.
6. Abdulghani Khanjar: I was in solitary confinement for 7 days since they first took me. They forced me to sit on a metal chair, when I stood up I had sharp pains in my back and joints. I sat on the chair despite that I have cartilage dislocation. I was subjected to torture and beating on my head and I lost consciousness. They took me to get treated for five days, and I was underground in a small room in the National Security Apparatus building.

7. Alshaikh Mirza AlMahroos: I was beaten severely, and got beaten on my stomach which caused internal bleeding and I had to be taken to the Bahrain Defense Force hospital. The torture included keeping me blindfolded, keeping my hands tied and forcing me to stand for long periods of time.
8. Jaafar Alhasabi (British Citizen): I stayed for 23 days without sleeping. They allowed me to sit only during prayer times and when eating. I was subjected to severe torture and there are clear marks on my hands due to being hung in the falaqa way. They threatened to rape me. My only crime is that I live in Britain with Saeed Alshehabi.
9. Renowned Blogger Ali Abdulemam I was subjected to torture, beatings, insults and verbal abuse. They threatened to dismiss my wife and other family members from their jobs. I was interrogated in the prosecution without a lawyer, and the officer there who appeared to be from the National Security dismissed my denials to the allegations put against me. He never allowed me to respond to the questions he was asking, but rather answering them himself whilst I was stood behind the door as I was not permitted to sit during the investigation.
10. Sayed Aqeel Al-Sari I was subjected to all of the acts of torture which the previous defendants outlined, and they threatened to dismiss my wife from her job. Because of the severe torture I experiences, I am still receiving treatment at the Military Hospital to this day.
11. AlHurr Yousif I was subjected to all of the acts of torture which the previous defendants outlined, as well as being stripped off my clothes on a number of occasions and forced to sign the first statement which was brought to me. As for the second statement, I was forced to sign it without seeing it. In the Attorneys office, the prosecutor threatened to beat me if I did not sign the documents. The effects and signs of torture are still apparent on my body as I was hung from my feet. The prosecutor then asked me about the government services I was given, such as housing, and informed me that these would all be taken off me. They warned me last night not to mention in court today any of the torture acts that I was subjected to, such as being stripped naked and sexually assaulted by inserting a hose into my anus.
12. Ahmed Al Fardan I arrived to the prison without knowing where I was as my eyes were covered and I was handcuffed on our journey to the prison. I informed the officers that I suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, and a slipped disc but they continued to beat me until I fell to the ground. They then warned me that I would be dismissed from my job, and have all my governmental services withdrawn including my house. I was kept in solitary confinement the whole time I was held, and when I had mentioned this to my lawyer Mohamed Al-Tajer when I met him in the prosecution, I was warned that I would be tortured again. When Mohamed A-Tajer had left, the police officer that was with me made a phone call to somebody who threatened to beat me, which became a reality later on that night. The officer then warned me not to denial the charges put against me, or bring up issues of torture in todays court hearing.
13. Ali Al Fardan The night before I was arrested, my brother Ahmed was arrested and I requested them to provide me with the request. Is this why I was arrested? I was arrested the next day from my bedroom, and I was subjected to the same kind of torture as the previous defendants.
14. Ahmed Malallah One of my finger nails was removed, and another removed in the hospital. The signs and effects of torture are still very clear. I was threatened in the bus on the way to the public prosecution, and after I signed the confession, they took me to the basement again and asked me about Mr. AbdulWahab Hussain after which I was taken somewhere else and tortured. Since my arrest this is the first time I see a lawyer.
15. Salman Naji: I was subjected to torture like the others (and he revealed his arms and legs to show marks of torture) I cannot move my legs until now, and whenever I ask to go to the hospital they say there is no need. I was threatened last time that I would be tortured again if I deny the charges. Finally I ask to see a physician.
16. AbdulAmir Alaradi: I was subjected to less torture than the rest because I have an injury in my cartilage and back and informed the officer. They beat me anyway which caused me to fall to the floor several times. For three days I was kept barefoot in the cell and bathroom. There was a strange incident in which they asked me what my job is and I said that I was supervisor for drilling in the Ministry of Agriculture. They told me to not even dream about going back to my job and that I will see the same as what happened in the Ministry of Electricity. I understood that he meant the situation of discrimination against Shia’s. I am surprised that in the interrogation and at the public prosecution they were not able to prove anything against me, but put me on the list of those accused anyway.
17. Hassan Alhaddad: I was subjected to the same torture mentioned by the others. In the beginning the treatment was so severe that I did not even get the chance to tell them that I was on medication for my colon. The beatings made my colon problem worse and I was taken to the Bahrain Defense Force hospital to get an appendectomy. I requested to call a lawyer but they refused and they interrogated me in the public prosecution without a lawyer. Last night they threatened to torture me again. The first statement I signed I did not see, but the second statement, I laughed when I read it and told them but I did not do any of this. They forced me to sign it after they called an officer who threatened to severely torture me. I am still in solitary confinement. My last family visit lasted for only a minute and they forbid us to meet with them, allowing me to only greet them; they did not even allow me to ask about the lawyer.
18. Mahmood Ramadhan: I was subjected to everything mentioned by the others.
19. Suhail Alshehabi: I was subjected to everything mentioned by the others.
20. Hussain Omran: Six years ago I had an operation done in my back due to cartilage dislocation and I got paralyzed in my leg. Six months ago I had another operation and I recovered completely. Now, due to the torture, I have severe pain and I think my condition has returned. I cannot be sure of that without an MRI, not through a physician in the prison.
21. Abdulhadi Alsaffar: I was tortured less than the others. They beat me on my feet and hung me in the falaqa way. I want a guarantee from the court (to not be tortured) and to be removed from solitary confinement.
22. Ahmed Jamsheer: I was not tortured and at the public prosecution I denied all charges against me.
23. Ebrahim Taher: I was subjected to torture and I am now in solitary confinement. In Ramadhan I did not fast or pray for 7 days due to the torture and interrogations. I was beaten on my legs and hands and sprayed with hot and cold water. I was given electric shocks and after denying all charges at the public prosecution I was tortured on the bus. I want a guarantee that I will not be tortured again and that I be removed from solitary confinement.

(24-Hassan Mushaima and 25-Saeed Alshihabi were absent – in London)

The Defense:

- The defense has provided the invalidity of the proceedings in front of the public prosecutor and the presiding judge, and ask that the investigation be done again according to article 176 from the law of legal procedure. - The defense request that the proceedings be halted until the detainees are taken to medical checkups by a specialized medical committee. - The defense request the release of all the detainees, and should this be denied then the defense requests that they be moved to a prison not belonging to the National Security Apparatus and to guarantee that they will not be tortured again. - The defense request that the lawyers be allowed visits to the detainees, as they have provided proof that they have not been allowed visitations despite the public prosecutors statements in the media. - The defense requests that they be given all the documents related to the case and that the families of the detainees be allowed visits.

An hour after the court was adjourned, the judge decided the following:

- That the detainees be moved to another prison under control of Interior Ministry instead of the National Security Apparatus. - That the lawyers be allowed to meet with the detainees. - That five of the detainees be allowed to see physicians. - That the next hearing will take place on the 11th of November, 2010. - To present the lawyers with the documents related to the case.

These testimonies and information was received from Laila Dashti, a Bahraini Human Rights Activist who was present at the court.

Colangelo - Brian: We Hope to Meet with Officials from the «Public Prosecution» as Well as the Ministry of Interior

and to be Allowed to Visit the Detainees

Joshua Colangelo

Alwasat Newspaper- Amani Al-Maskati

27 Sep 2010

Mr. Joshua Colangelo Brian, a delegate From «Human Rights Watch» and a senior lawyer in the New York Office of the Dorsey & Whitney Institute, said he hoped to meet with officials from the Public Prosecutors office as well as from the Ministry of Interior in regards to the detainees arrested recently in relations to security issues.

Mr. Colangelo - Brian, who Alwasat had met during his current visit to Bahrain, described what had been said in regards to the expulsion of journalists from the private meeting he had with the family of detainees arrested in relations to the current security issues at Waad as «fabrication».

Following is the text of the meeting with Colangelo:

What is the purpose of your visit to Bahrain?

- «Human Rights Watch» launched a detailed report on Bahrain last February, and asked (in the report) for the Government to respond to what was written and to launch an investigation into the allegations that have been documented, but unfortunately we did not hear about any action taken, nor did we receive the governments reply to the report.

Recently, several reports have been released about the detainees arrested in relations to security issues, and abut two weeks ago we heard that a human rights activist, who we have worked with on several human rights cases, was included in pictures published in a Bahraini newspaper, published in English, with references to serious charges. When we heard of this, we decided that the time had come for an emergency visit to Bahrain.

Therefore, the goal is to investigate these reports and allegations by meeting with those involved. And consequently, we immediately requested a meeting with the concerned officials, but unfortunately did not receive any response to our request from the official authorities.

Who are the official bodies that you requested a meeting with?

- The Public Prosecutors Office as well as the Ministry of Interior. We also asked, through these requests, to meet with some of those arrested, but we have not received any response from these bodies as yet.

Have you met the defense counsel for the detainees arrested in relations to the security issues?

- Yes, I met some lawyers, but it is clear that the Public Prosecutors Office has identified the information that lawyers are allowed to discuss in regards to this case and that it has also prevented the press from publishing about it.

In any case, it must be emphasized that it is within the detainees’ right to meet with their families and their lawyers, as it is also their right to be treated well in their place of detention.

What do you think about the medias circulation of photos and personal information of detainees arrested in relations to the security issues?

- The description of a person as a "terrorist" and posting their picture on TV before they are presented to a trial to insure their involvement and conviction of carrying out terrorist acts is a very dangerous thing. We also regret the describing of an activist, who has collaborated with «Human Rights Watch» for years, as a "terrorist" and subjecting him to criticism because he defends those arrested in security issues.

I have personally worked with Bahraini human rights activists for several years, even before working for «Human Rights Watch», when I was a lawyer for the Bahraini detainees at «Guantánamo». And those human rights defenders, who I am talking about, were our biggest support in the case of the Guantánamo detainees. This proves to me that they are sincerely interested in human rights regardless of who the victims are. There is no doubt that the accusation that such individuals are terrorists or sectarian is laughable.

What is the truth about what happened in your meeting with the relatives of the “security issues” detainees which was held at the National Democratic Action Society (Waad), as you were accused of expelling some journalists from the meeting?

- I must make it clear that I did not know how the time was chosen nor how the participants of the meeting were selected, but when I heard that the families of detainees wanted to meet me to discuss their problems, I consented.

At the beginning of the meeting, it was clear that there were journalists from various newspapers in the audience, and consequently they were informed that the meeting was private and not public. That is when the journalists protested and some of them started screaming rudely and declaring that their attendance of the meeting is considered a human right. But I told all the journalists, at that time, that I would be happy to contact them and answer their questions after the meeting.

Did you speak with them personally after the meeting?

- I requested that they be contacted, because I do not speak Arabic and I was not confident that all of them spoke English. I was asked by one reporter during the meeting to contact him after the meeting, and that's what I did, as I called him after the meeting immediately and we talked together. As for the other journalists, I learned that they did not ask to contact me nor did they try to contact me later even though they were provided with my contact numbers. I think that what was conveyed about what happened at the meeting is just a clear fabrication. And I can say that these journalists did not have any desire to speak to me, and this is what was made apparent afterwards as they made no attempt to contact me after the meeting.

What was said to the reporters during the meeting, which made them angry enough to leave the society?

- The director of the meeting spoke to the reporters in Arabic, so I cannot know what he said exactly, but according to my understanding, he told them that the society which is hosting the meeting wants to keep the meeting private and without any press, and therefore, attendance would be limited to the organizers and families as well as me.

It is clearly impossible to hold a private meeting with journalists attending, as it would be the worst way in the world to hold a private meeting.

But how did the journalists learn of the meeting if there was no invitation addressed to them?

- I do not know, I did not inform any of the journalists of the meeting. I think it's a shame that so many articles be written on this subject and to attack the meeting, while there are many questions of far greater importance and urgency that are never referred to in the majority of the local newspapers.

Do you think that the fuss made during the meeting was aimed at the representative of «Human Rights Watch»?

- It's hard to know what the motives of the journalists were. For example, the journalist who I spoke to after the meeting, did not have any question about the reasons for Human Rights Watch’s visit to Bahrain. I can therefore say that there was no interest by any of the journalists who attended the meeting in the organization or the purpose of its visit to Bahrain.

What are the main issues discussed, with the families of those arrested, during the meeting?

- Most of what they said confirms what we had heard and read in the reports that have spread internationally. I cannot reveal details of what took place in the meeting out of respect to the desires of the families of the detainees who attended the private meeting.

What do you think about the decision to disband the Board of Directors of the Bahrain Human Rights Society?

- Formal Information disclosing the reasons for the closure of the society is not logical, and raises concern that the Society was not shut down because it violated the societies law, but because of the bold positions taken by the society on a number of issues.

Do you have any other meetings in Bahrain?

- So far, I have met with a large number of politicians and members of societies as well as some of the children who were arrested in security issues and then released, in addition to meeting with their families. But I do regret very much that I was not able to hold meetings with official bodies, because such meetings could have help in the current situation.

How will your organization deal with the information you have received during your visit to Bahrain?

- We will collect information on the cases, and then the organization will do what it finds suitable with the information that was collected.

I have a final word that I would like to say ... Prior to being a member of «Human Rights Watch» I spent thousands of hours in the defense of the Bahraini detainees at «Guantanamo». I traveled there 12 times, and I was, at that time, the only contact between the detainees and the rest of the world. I always spoke about the lack of justice in the detention of these Bahrainis in abusive conditions without allowing them to see their families and the imposing of severe restrictions on seeing their lawyers. And through all of this, I was supported by individuals in Bahraini Civil Society, such as Nabeel Rajab, and representatives from parliament and the media as well as official bodies.

And I think that the Bahrainis who have helped me in discussing these matters made it clear to all that Bahrainis support fellow Bahrainis, whether they are inside or outside Bahrain, and without consideration of their affiliation.

RSF: Bahrain : Two bloggers to go on trial tomorrow along with other detainees

Reporters Without Borders is very worried about bloggers Abdeljalil Al-Singace and Ali Abdulemam, who are among the 25 human rights activists and opposition supporters arrested in August and September whose trial is due to begin tomorrow against an electoral backdrop liable to contribute to the undermining of their defence rights.

The press freedom organization calls for the immediate release of the two bloggers and the human rights activists, who are unjustly detained in deplorable conditions, and urges Bahrain’s judicial authorities to behave transparently by ensuring that lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and international observers have access to the court, and by lifting the ban on media coverage of the trial.

The authorities must respect the fundamental rights in the international conventions that Bahrain has signed and ratified.

An academic and head of the pro-democracy and civil liberties movement Al Haq, Al-Singace was previously arrested in 2009 for allegedly trying to destabilise the government because he used his blog (http://alsingace.katib.org) to denounce the deplorable state of civil liberties and discrimination against Bahrain’s Shiite population.

When re-arrested on 4 September, he was reportedly roughed up and received a blow to his head that perforated an eardrum and left him partially deaf. He is now being held in solitary confinement in a National Security detention centre, where he is being treated in a degrading manner and is being denied the use of his wheel-chair.

Abdulemam, a very active blogger regarded as one Bahrain’s Internet pioneers, was also arrested on 4 September, in his case after receiving a summons from the National Security department. He is accused of disseminating false information on the pro-democracy forum BahrainOnline.org, a website that gets 100,000 visitors a day although access is blocked within Bahrain.

A contributor to the international bloggers network Global Voices, Abdulemam has taken part in many international conferences at which he has denounced human rights violations in Bahrain. He was previously arrested in 2005 for criticising the government on his blog.

The authorities have step Internet filtering in recent months and hundreds of sites are currently inaccessible. They include many opposition sites, sites with newsletters such as those of the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society and the National Democratic Action Society (Al-Wa’ad) and the sites of human rights organizations such as the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

Bahrain was ranked 144th out of 178 countries in the press freedom index released by Reporters Without Borders on 20 October 2010, falling 25 places in a single year. The fall was due to the increase in arrests of bloggers and netizens and the increase in online censorship. It is listed as a “country under surveillance” in this year’s Reporters Without Borders “Enemies of the Internet” report.

rsf.org

ANHRI: Bahrain: Court holds mass hearing for human rights activists

Cairo , October 27th,2010

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said today that the Supreme Criminal Court will hold a session tomorrow for 23 political and human rights activists in Bahrain among whom are the blogger Ali Abdulemam and Mohamed Said, board member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, banned by the Bahraini government. The court will charge them with planning to topple the government , committing terrorist acts, inciting the public for overthrow and ruining the constitution.

Bahraini government has recently launched a crackdown on activists and Shiites’ human rights’ defenders before the public elections that were run a few days ago. Abd El Galil AlSingace,PhD was arrested in August ,2010 as well as activists and Shiite leaders ; Soliman Nagui,Abdallah al-Mahrous and other political and rights’ activists. There were news about them being tortured and about the complicit prosecution that were unfair regarding the complaints of physical and psychological torture. Following , the Bahraini prosecution decided to prohibit publishing on that case . Moreover, Bahraini government blocked the sites which published torture incidents and investigations.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights information said,” Bahraini security detained the activists for a long time without trial. Then , the activists were charged with fabricated criminal charges for defending Shiites rights , enjoying their right to expression and exposing the human rights violations committed by the Bahraini government.There is a possibility that the crackdown targets keeping the activists away of the elections such that they would not expose the violations of the Bahraini government”.

The Arabic Network added,” The Bahraini judiciary should hold a fair trial such that the activists would have the right to defense. The court should drop the fabricated charges of those activists as they call for democracy and respecting human rights in Bahrain. There must be an inquiry into the torture allegations ,prosecution arbitrariness as well and the perpetuators should be held responsible”.

The Arabic Network calls on all stakeholders in Bahrain and world wide to follow up on the trial and attend the hearing that will be held at the Supreme Criminal Court in the ministry of justice and social affairs.

http://www.anhri.net

Front Line: Bahrain: Human rights defenders may face unfair trial after security clampdown

As the trial of 11 human rights defenders and other political activists gets underway in Bahrain today (Thursday 28 October) Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, based in Dublin, reiterates its doubt whether the trial will meet international fair trial standards.

Front Line feels that the right of Ali Abdulemam and the 10 other human rights defenders named below may be prejudiced by:

- the fact that all the detainees were subjected to incommunicado detention for significant periods of time - lack of access to their lawyers , including denial of the right to private visits - unsubstantiated claims in the Bahrain media that they had confessed to participating in a terrorist plot - the failure, to date, by the Bahraini authorities to fully investigate allegations of torture of the detainees

On 4 September 2010, human rights defender and blogger 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 was in incommunicado detention until 23 September since when he has had limited access to his family and lawyers. Some of the detainees were eventually allowed access to their lawyers but were not allowed to have private meetings.

“Front Line is concerned that this denial of full access to their lawyers may prejudice their right to a fair trial”, said Mary Lawlor, Executive Director of Front Line in Dublin today.

Front Line is also concerned at allegations of torture during pre-trial detention and is calling for the full investigation of these charges.

Ali Abdulemam is one of 11 human rights defenders detained during the recent clampdown on human rights and political activity. “The recent clampdown takes place in a climate of increasing repression in which the authorities systematically seek to to limit the legitimate activities of human rights defenders”, said Ms Lawlor.

Human Rights defenders have been subjected to arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, threats and harassment. Despite provisions for basic rights in Bahraini law and the fact that it has ratified a number of international human rights treaties, the enjoyment of civil and political rights is,in practice, limited.

Front Line is calling on the Bahraini authorities to grant the accused full access to their lawyers, legal representatives and families and to allow the accused the right to a fair trial as guaranteed under international law.

Front Line also urges the Bahraini authorities to carry out a full and independent inquiry into allegations of torture against the human rights defenders while in prison.

Front Line requests international observers to attend the trial of the accused human rights defenders.

Front Line also appeals to international organisations and governments to call upon Bahrain to ensure that the accused receive a fair trial.

The human rights defenders currently awaiting trial are:

1. Ali Abdulemam, arrested on the 4th of September 2010, owner of bahrainonline.org 2.Dr. Abduljalil Al-Sengais: arrested on 13 August 2010, spokesman and Director of the Human Rights Bureau of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy: 3.Abdul-Ghani Khanjar: arrested on 15 August 2010 is spokesperson for the Bahraini National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture: 4.Suhail Al-Shehabi: arrested on 19 August 2010 is active in a number of associations including the Committee of the Relatives of Detainees and the Committee of the Unemployed; 5.Ahmed Jawad Al-Fardan: arrested on 19 August 2010 is a member of the Committee of the Relatives of Detainees in Karzakan; 6.Ali Jawad Al-Fardan: arrested on 20 August 2010 is a member of the Committee of the relatives of Detainees in Karzakan; 7.Salman Naji: arrested on 21 August 2010 is a member of the Committee of the Unemployed; 8.AbdulHadi Al-Saffar: arrested on 22 August 2010 is chairman of the Committee Against High Prices and actively involved in other associations including the Committee of the Relatives of Detainees; 9.Hassan Al-Haddad: arrested on 23 August 2010. He is member of the Committee of the Unemployed. 10.Mr Jaffar Al-Hessabi, independent human rights defender supporting the rights of detainees in Bahrain, arrested on 16 August 2010. 11.Dr Mohammed Saeed arrested on 17 August is a board member of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. ENDS

For Further Information please contact:

Jim Loughran Head of Media and Communications- Front Line. Tel+353 1 212 37 50 Mob+353 1 (0)87 9377586 Email jimloughran@frontlinedefenders.org

http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/13656

Bahraini Authorities Block Seminar and Launch of the Book 'Unbridled Hatreds'

24 October 2010

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern at the continued restrictions imposed on the freedom of press and publishing, with the local authorities prohibiting the distribution of a book entitled ‘Unbridled Hatreds: Read in the fate of ancient hatreds’ written by the famous Bahraini author Dr Nader Kadim. The planned discussion seminar which was supposed to take place at the same time as the book launch was also blocked.

The Press and Publication office informed the entity that is holding the book fair of the ban on the entry and distribution of the book in Bahrain without specifying the reason behind the decision. On the 26th of September 2010, a few hours before the start of the books discussion seminar which was supposed to accompany the book launch, the event organizers announced that the seminar was canceled on the grounds that it will publicly discuss ideas of the banned book. Copies of the book are held at the Department of Press and Publication, after arriving a few days prior to the conference, whilst the administration have not made any written comments regarding the ban[1].

Dr. Nader Kadim in his book "Biography of Unbridled hatreds in history", reviews that instinctive desire, rooted in the human person and its uses in different contexts throughout history, and he ponders on what is going on today for this type of stubborn impulses instinctive and its fate in light of important changes began with the emergence of the state and its laws that criminalize hate speech, insult and slander, defamation, libel and insult, and the rise of the public sphere in the modern era, and flexibility of transportation, but instead of communication and openness, these hatreds demonstrated ability to circumvent all of these radical transformations, and even adapted to take advantage of it".[2]

Dr Nader Kadim had previously published sections of his book in the form of articles on a local newspaper with no objections from the Department of Publications. However, this was not the first time the Department of Publications has banned the work of the author. In 2008, his book ‘Using Memory…In a Society Plagued by its History’, as it was considered dangerous to the so called principles of modern day society[3] .

In June 2010, the Department of Publications also banned the publication and circulation of the Arabic translation of ‘The Personal Diary of Charles Belgrave’[4] , the British advisor to the ruling family from 1927 to 1957. This publication is considered by many as being critical, as it contains important and objective facts reflecting an import period within Bahrain’s history that is published for the first time. In addition, 25 publishing houses were banned from exhibiting their books in the annual book fair, which was held in Manama on March 17th 2010.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concerns with the recent developments preventing the freedom of publication and press. The prevention of such books being freely distributed and promoted is a clear violation of international human rights, and in particular Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which clearly states that individuals have the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Individuals should have the right to express their views and opinions freely with no interference, whilst being allowed to express their views freely to others by whichever communication channel they choose.

Based on the previously discussed, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the Bahraini authorities to:

- Immediately lift the ban on the book ‘Unbridled Hatreds’, in the absence of no justifiable reason for the ban. - To lift the ban on all other books and publications, and to allow their free distribution. - To stop the harassment and pressure being imposed on local publishing houses and libraries from importing books and publications which do not correspond with the views of the authorities.

--- [1]http://www.arabiyat.com/content/coverage/1224.html [2]http://www.neelwafurat.com/itempage.aspx?id=lbb190793-159917&search=books [3]http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/1600 [4] http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/ar/node/3104

Bahrain dropped 25 places on the 2010 World Press Freedom Index

Bahrain's position as one of the regional leaders in Press freedom has dipped because of media censorship, according to a global report.

Reporters without borders said in its 2010 World Press Freedom Index that "Bahraini’s ranking in the Index dropped from 119th to 144th place, which can be explained by the growing number of imprisonments and trials, notably against bloggers and netizens."

Get the full Reports

Bahrain: UPDATE- Trial date set for Ali Abdulemam and 10 other human rights defenders currently in prison in Bahrain

18 October 2010

Further to the Urgent Appeal issued on 6 September 2010, Front Line has received the following information concerning Ali Abdulemam and 10 other human rights defenders currently being held incommunicado in Bahraini prisons. A trial date has been set for 28 October 2010, to held in the Ministry of Justice and Social Affairs in the “High Criminal Court Room”.

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 lawyers during an interrogation with the public prosecutor but were not permitted to have private meetings. Several of them also alleged that they had been subjected to torture during their detention.

Front Line calls on the Bahraini authorities to grant the accused access to their lawyers and legal representatives, and allow the accused the right to a fair trial as guaranteed under international law.

Front Line also urges the Bahraini authorities to carry out a full and independent inquiry into allegations of torture against the human rights defenders while in prison.

Front Line requests international observers to attend the trial of the accused human rights defenders.

Front Line also appeals to international organisations and governments to call upon Bahrain to ensure that the accused receive a fair trial.

Please see the Front Line Urgent Appeal issued on 6 September 2010 for further information: Original Front Line Appeal

frontlinedefenders.org

Bahrain: Retroactively Forged Elections

On October 23rd the Electors will Head towards Elections Whose Results have been Pre-decided

A copy of the secret report, which spoke in detail about the plan to manipulate the electoral process to control the legislative branch - Click to view larger image

17 October 2010

Bahrain differs from some of the other countries in the region which in manipulating the election results rely on forging a number of votes in the election polls. Instead, the Authority in Bahrain dispense about it by relying on electoral rules and systems – which are set by the Executive Authority without resorting to any public panel – and which enables it to control forming the High Commission for Elections and sketching out the electoral districts on the basis of sectarian and political loyalties, and it grants the immediate right to vote to tens of thousands of people who have exceptionally been granted the citizenship based on their political and sectarian belongings and loyalties. This is in addition to the policies and procedures during the elections such as controlling the list of electors and changing their residential addresses, and controlling the local monitoring of elections and banning external monitoring, and guiding the votes of the security forces and army, as well as dominating public media such as radio and TV, and restricting the use of other media such as newspapers and electronic media, and influencing external media by freely and generously hosting them. All these measures have been taken by the government to guarantee that its loyal majority wins in the Parliament and to hold back the opposition candidates or the real independent ones from reaching.

All that despite the fact that the forthcoming Parliament has restricted authorities, due to it sharing its legislative authorities with the King and the Shura Council appointed by the King. The current regime – according to the controversial Constitution of 2002 and according to the tribal nature of the regime – lacks the actual determinants of democracy where the people do not enjoy the right of changing the government, while the members of the ruling family dominate the Prime Ministry and two thirds of the ministerial posts in the government, these and along with the King, Crown Prince and the Minister of the Royal Court form the Supreme Defense Council which rakes all the crucial decisions in the country and its membership is limited to the officials of the ruling family members. Both the High Judicial Court and the Constitutional Court lack independency as the King appoints all their members.

The King and the Ruling Family: A Party in the Elections!!

Despite the King and the ruling family members being not direct parties in the parliamentary and municipal elections, as they are not officially represented by any political group or candidate, they have direct benefit in the success of the ones loyal to them in the elections against the opposition candidate, and especially that the wide public spread of the opposition may lead to forming an opposition parliament that actually monitors the government’s performance and reveals the practices of the influential figures whose majority are from the ruling family, as well as opening the files of violations and corruption, and which may push towards governmental adjustments or constitutional reforms that oppose the benefits and powers of the ruling family who in turn dominates all the State’s vital apparatuses and posts, besides its dominance of the economic life. Therefore, the polarization in the parliament is always between a majority of those loyal to the ruling family and the government who reach through manipulating the elections, and opposition MPs whose societies enjoy a wide public spread without that being reflected in number in the parliament.
It could be argued that the Authority deliberately pre-controls the results of the elections by working on four basic aspects:

First: Discriminating between the citizens in the value of their electoral votes

The Unjust Division of the Electoral Districts Annuls the Principal of Equality among Citizens

The electoral districts have been distributed in a sectarian and confidential manner, and the electoral lists are only announced a few weeks before the date of elections so that the Authority guarantees a loyal majority in the Parliament, at a time where it is marginalizing the areas where the majority are Shiite such as the Northern Governorate or some of the areas with a mixed sectarian make-up, and which the Authority doubts their loyalty to the ruling regime. The gap between the numbers of electors in the 40 districts has continued to grow; where the first electoral district in the Northern Governorate, and which is the largest and it includes 16,223 electors grew with a 5% from the previous elections in 2006. On the other hand, the number of electors in the sixth electoral district from the Southern Governorate became less to reach 770 electors only, after it had included 1200 electors in the previous elections[1] , in other words the one vote in the sixth district in the Southern Governorate which is a district that is considered loyal by the regime is equivalent to 20 votes in the first district from the Northern Governorate. This policy violates the principal of justice and equality, where the difference between votes in the electoral districts should not exceed 2% as is the case in the democratic countries, while in Bahrain it reaches 1000%. This unjust distribution was a main reason that almost 64% of the electoral votes only got 45% of the number of seats in the Parliament in 2006.
The Intervention of the Central Informatics Organization in the Elections to Control Distributing and Annulling Votes

The Central Informatics Organization entirely dominates the election process and directs it, and this organization is headed by a controversial figure and he is the State Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Sheikh Ahmed bin Atyat Allah Al-Khalifa, and he is a member who belongs to the radical wing of the ruling family and which is chaired by the head of Royal Court, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, who is believed to be behind many of the crisis that hit the relationship between the ruling regime and the people. The name of Atyat Allah appeared as the head of the secret network revealed by the former government adviser Dr. Salah Al-Bandar – a British National. Based on this report, the network headed by Atyat Allah works on isolating and marginalizing the Shiite on all levels, and it also works on sparking sectarian differences between them and the Sunni sect, as well as manipulating the election process and curtailing the role of the opposition in the legislative institute, and weakening and cutting them off from the districts that have an influence on the Authority’s institutes. All this occurs at a time where the name of Atyat Allah does not usually emerge in the subject of elections, however it has become known to everyone his direct management of this entire process.

Diagram of the Secret Network Headed by Ahmed Atyat Allah - Click to view larger image

Hundreds of citizens[2] complained that their electoral addresses have been changed without their knowledge into housing projects that are not even ready yet, and hundreds of names registered in the list of electors in the fourth district from the Central Governorate (where the activists Muneera Fakhroo – a government opposition – is a candidate) have been revealed without them having a place of residence[3] , where their addresses have been changed to the Ministry of Labour, gas stations and some restaurants.

What confirms this manipulation is that almost 25% of the electors in the 2nd district in the Capital Governorate are missing and there is an unnatural increase in the 8th district in the Northern Governorate which increased with 24%. This district includes a number of blocks from Hamad Town where a large number of naturalized individuals, both military and civilians, reside in. In addition to a very slight and disproportionate increase according to the size of the bloc in the first district of the Northern Governorate, and which is the largest electoral bloc in the Northern Governorate and in Bahrain as a whole where it only witnessed a 5% increase which totals a number of 774 electors. It is believed that the unnatural lack of votes in some of the districts and its increase in some other districts is due to circulating the votes among the districts by changing the addresses in order to manipulate the votes. This intervention basically means that the opposition elector loses his or her electoral ability when moving him or her into a district that is loyal to the government, while thousands of loyal votes are moved to districts that are overcome with opposition to influence the poll results. The Central Informatics Organization changes the names of some the areas and residential complexes, and the addresses of thousands of citizens and individuals without informing them in order to influence the distribution of votes in the electoral districts in a manner that conforms with the schemes of the Authority.

Despite the fact that the law states that the electoral lists have to be displayed for 7 days, in order to provide the opportunity to the electors to confirm the accuracy of their information and correct them, displaying the lists was limited to four hours per day only, and the time of display was chosen when people were busy with their social activities during the last days of the month of Ramadan, which clearly indicates that the aim is to make it difficult for the citizens to confirm their information.

Besides that, and according to the Central Informatics Organization[4] , all the people holding the old CPR card will not be permitted to participate in the coming elections, which means that many are expected to lose their right to elect due to not using the “smart card”, although the law of exercising political rights in Article 22 made the passport the essential document to vote and it did not require having the new or old CPR card.


Pushing Towards Some of the Representatives Winning by Acclamation

Five out of 40 candidates officially reached parliament after their competitors withdrew a month before the election date, and among them are four representatives that are loyal to the Authority, and it is believed that it had indirectly intervened in some of the districts to push their competitors to withdraw to guarantee seats for its candidates. Thus, 12.5% of the entire election process has been finalized, where all the electors in these five districts are considered “participants”. After the five “acclaimed representative” won, almost 18,380 citizens registered in the elector lists in the districts of the winning representatives will not head towards the polls. The Authority aims through automatically registering all the electors of the acclaimed districts as participants in the elections to raise the percentage of electors before the local and international public opinion at a time where the observers are expecting a severe decline in the participation rate in comparison with the previous elections.


The Manner of Displaying the List of Electors Gives Way for Obscured Manipulation and Swapping Votes between the Districts

The obstacles to monitoring the elections started since the beginning of displaying the lists of electors[5] where the lists were displayed without the addresses of the electors which makes it difficult for the candidate as the names are not enough to confirm the accuracy of the lists of electors, and it makes monitoring the public centers impossible where the way for manipulating addresses and registering them in the common districts between the forces of opposition and loyalist is open, and it enables those whose addresses have been changed to quietly vote in the remote public centers.

The lists of electors in the specified electronic website were not attached in a public manner, and the lists of electors for each governorate was displayed in the quarters of the supervising committee of each governorate only, and they were not published in all election committees or public centers, and they were displayed for four hours only in a weeks time, which made the chances of reaching them a difficult one. Although a number of candidates asked the court to display the electoral lists again, and this time including the addresses of the electors and to extend the display period for a week from the date of publishing the lists, including the addresses, their requests were met rejection[6] . At a time where the opposition or independent candidates are deprived from the lists of electors that include their addresses, it is believed that the full lists are available for the candidates of the Authority only and the panels that support them such as Al-Watan newspaper, and this was evident through the calls made by that newspaper and the polling stations that the electors belong to in each district, which shows that it holds the lists of electors and their addresses in all districts.

Despite all these difficulties, the number of objections and appeals[7] filed to the committees supervising the integrity of the elections reached 246 objections and 9 appeals, which signals the possibility of the amount doubling-up if the period of displaying the lists were longer and the addresses had been included in them.

Second: Limiting the Competition Ability of the Opposition Candidates

Linking the Candidates Right to the Residential District the Person Lives in

In contradiction to the electoral systems recognized in many of the democratic countries, including the gulf neighbouring country Kuwait, and in contradiction to what was implemented in the parliamentary elections of 1973 where any citizen had the right to run for any district in his or her country, the current election law in Bahrain compels that the residential address of the candidate to be in the same district he or she intends to be a candidate in, and this is the obstacle the Authority takes advantage of to hinder the non-loyal individuals from running for candidacy in some of the districts. Two address of the candidates of Al-Wefaq[8] opposition political society have been changed without their knowledge to other districts other than the ones they intended to be candidates in, while the representatives from Al-Wefaq Society, Sayed Jameel Kadhim, succeeded in adjusting his address from the second district in the Central Governorate to the eight district in the Capital Governorate through the appeal committee, however the other candidate who is a municipal candidate of Al-Wefaq Society in the fifth district of the Northern Governorate, Abbass Mohammed Ali, whose address was changed without his permission to the ninth district in the same governorate, lost the chance to be a candidate in his district after the High Appeal Court rejected the appeal he filed against the committee supervising the integrity of the elections. As well, Ali Al-Binali, candidate for the Democratic Progressive Forum Society for the parliamentary elections had to give up his candidacy[9] after the Central Informatics Organization refused to change his residential address from the area of Qufool in the 3rd district of the Capital Governorate to Riffa’ in the seventh district of the Central Governorate, which is his area of residence.
Dominating the Newspapers and Closing all the Partisan Ones of them and their Electronic Websites and Politically Harnessing the Media

With the announcement of the parliamentary election date, the government initiated an all-inclusive security campaign that is still ongoing until the moment of publishing this report and just days before the parliamentary election date. Besides the arrests that targeted hundreds of activists, it blocked most of the electronic websites of the societies[10] participating in the elections, as well as their publications and partisan newspapers under the pretext that it is committing violations. This is followed with blocking hundreds of electronic websites during the last months. This blocking policy led to weakening the opposition candidates’ ability to compete just like the candidates loyal to the government, where the pro-government newspapers have been harnessed to promote them and their programs. The same Authority newspapers started attacking the candidates of the opposition societies and calling them traitors most of the time and depriving them even from the area to defend themselves, and this was apparent in Al-Watan[11] newspapers which is affiliated with the Royal Court – whose name has been mentioned in the Bandar report as one of the tools to execute the sectarian plot, which made Wa’ad political society file a judicial complaint against the newspaper due to the constant defamation and libeling that the society’s candidates are facing[12] .

The radio and television are fully run by the government, and the opposition or any other political force cannot own such channels. The candidates are not given the opportunity to broadcast their election campaign through those public channels, and the electoral rallies and programs are not covered. However, alternatively, the main broadcast channels are being utilized in the mental mobilization to the benefit of the ruling family, the reform project and the government which is directly in the interest of the loyal candidates and weakening the opposition candidates[13] .


Fabricated Polls Broadcasted by Pro-Authority Institutes to Influence the Electors

The only public polls are published by Al-Watan newspaper which refers them to the Public Opinion Center which is affiliated with the same newspaper that associates with the Royal Court, and whose name has been mentioned in what is known as the Bandargate report[14] . This Center is engaged in publishing polls exclusively in Al-Watan newspapers and in the electronic website specified for the elections www.bahrain2010.com in a manner that evidently aims at emotionally and negatively affecting the opposition candidates and the opinions of the electors and guiding them to results whose credibility is questioned, which indicates the loss of the opposition candidate and the winning of the Authority’s candidate, and it also signals to the electors the ineffectiveness of voting for the opposition candidates whose loss was expected by these polls, among them the secretary-general of “Wa’ad” political opposition society, Mr. Ebrahim Sharif, whose loss was indicated by one of these polls[15] .


Removing and Destroying the Advertisement Campaigns of the Opposition Candidates

The Ministry of Municipality and other bodies that claim to be affiliated with the Higher Committee to Supervise the Elections have removed some of the advertisements of some of the opposition candidates, and among them the candidate of the National Democratic Action Society, Dr. Muneera Fakhroo in the fourth district of the Central Governorate, due to the slogan of her campaign “Enough Corruption”[16] which caps her advertisements, however she was lately permitted after the appeal filed by the candidate. The same targeting was faced by the Wefaq National Islamic Society candidate Khalil Al-Marzooq and the municipal candidate of the same society Majeed Milad, and whose advertisements had been removed without specifying the reasons[17] , and after they were returned they were distorted by using paint. Al-Wefaq has complained that 80% of its advertisements were distorted. The fact that the Ministry of Municipality and Agriculture removes the advertisements of some of the candidates is considered a violation of the candidates rights and a transgression of the responsibilities of the official panels concerned with monitoring and regulating the election campaign, and it is an influential key on their competitive ability under the light of depriving them from the other modes of communication with the electors through the other media channels.


Financing the Competing Candidates to Strike the Opposition Candidates

It is believed that the Authority and in order to further limit the competitive ability of the opposition candidate is financing their competitors in the districts they are running for candidacy in, and provides them with financial support and services to execute their campaign and to enlist the electors. The Secretary-General of Al-Wefaq National Islamic Opposition Society, Sheikh Ali Salman, spoke about granting a candidate in a small village whose electors do not exceed 600 to 700 electors, an amount of 15 thousand BD to enter as a competitor to the candidate of the opposition society[18].

Third: The Game of the Public Centers to Move the Votes of the Naturalized and Military Men

There are reports about an undeclared policy applied by the Authority over the last years in granting the citizenship in an exceptional and selective manner to a large number of expatriates and citizens of neighbouring countries to affect the election results. According to the law of political rights, the recently naturalized person is entitled to participate in the elections directly after obtaining the citizenship, although this contradicts the law of citizenship which requires that 10 years elapse from the date of obtaining the citizenship in order to participate in the elections. The primary estimate of the number of naturalized who participated in the elections[19] of 2006 are 38,000, which is more than 13%. While the number is expected to increase even more in the current elections in light of the continued political naturalization policy to reach 20%. The number of military men and civilians working in the security and military apparatuses who hold a Bahraini citizenship reach up to 10% of the electors’ votes, and this rate changes to 30% if we add the average of their family members. The Authority guides the votes of those electors who are naturalized, military men, members of the security apparatuses and their family members to vote for the candidates who are loyal to the government and to make the opposition candidates fail. It was noticed that in the elections of 2006, the Saudi Arabian citizens, who have been granted a Bahraini citizenship before the elections although they have never resided in Bahrain – flocked on the Public Voting Centers on the King Fahad causeway[20] in cars provided to them by the State in order to participate in the elections before going back home in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia. Reports also indicate that the military men in the Ministries of Interior and Defense made them vote for certain candidates selected by the government.

It is believed that the Central Informatics Organization is playing a vital role in changing the addresses and circulating the votes to other districts where the Authority needs assistance in influencing its results. The Authority also takes advantage of the Public Voting Centers to slip in votes of naturalized and military men, where any elector can vote in these centers, and they are difficult to monitor or know its integrity, it is also believed that these moving votes were a direct reason behind the failure of any of the six candidates of “Wa’ad” Opposition Society in the former elections, where some of them and among them Muneera Fakhroo and Abdul-Rahman Al-Noaimi won in their own districts while they lost in the Public Centers that are special for the naturalized, military men and their families.

Fourth: Banning Independent Monitoring and Appointing Government Institutes to Monitor the Elections

There is no independent monitoring panel that can be given the process of supervising the elections as the current responsible panel is the Ministry of Justice headed by the ruling family member Sheikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa. The government of Bahrain does not permit international monitoring of the elections despite the repetitive demands of the civil society institutes, including the National Institute for Democracy and the Republican Institute, the two American civil organizations which had applied to monitor the elections but their applications were rejected. In a statement by the member of the Higher Committee of Elections, Khalid Ajajji he said, “the international monitoring of elections is still talking place in countries with crisis, or the ones who are unable to monitor, and we do not believe that there is any need for the international supervision in the Bahraini elections.[21]” The societies request to appoint agents for the candidates to monitor the Public Centers was met with rejection[22] . Five local panels were permitted to monitor the parliamentary elections[23] , and the majority of those institutes are “GONGOs” institutes that have been created by the government over the years such as the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society headed by the Shura Council member Faisal Foulad[24] , as well as the National Institute for Human Rights[25] which is a government institute founded during the last months and it has no known work or activity. One of the participators in the monitoring process is the Bahrain Human Rights Society which the Authority seized power of and appointed a government employee to run just weeks after the Society announced its intention to observe the elections[26]. The latter released a statement announcing its refusal to observe the elections without running its own elected board members and warns from dealing with the observers that have been drawn into the monitoring process on behalf of the Society[27] , and it also declared itself not responsible for it. The Bahrain Transparency Society might be the only independent party that will have a chance to monitor the elections, which had monitored the 2006 elections as well, however, and even at the time of writing this report, no meeting was held between the monitoring associations and the Supreme Committee for Elections, and the Supreme Committee has not delivered the permits to the observers nor the the electors list, which limits the possibility of a good monitoring on the elector register. Also the Committee has imposed on the monitoring associations to send only one observer in each of the elections committees with the possibility of rotation of observers for each registered association, except that this restriction may limit the ability and the movement freedom of the observer within the hall of voting, according to the opinion of Bahrain Transparency Society.


Controlling the Monitoring and Media Coverage

As to monitoring the performance of the media in the elections, obstacles have been set in front of the “Arabic Group of Monitoring Media” to hinder its project related to monitoring the performance of the media in elections, and this was represented in preventing to give visas to the trainers and intimidating the societies that agreed to hosting the monitoring team and practicing great pressures on the ones carrying out the project, which made it end with the executive officer of the project announcing his withdrawal from the project and making statements that commend the Authorities and declare that the project has been stopped. According to the statement of Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, minister of the Information Affairs Authority, only 12 Satellite stations were allowed to cover the elections, in opposite to the previous practice of the Kingdom in the 2006 elections where there was no ceiling to the participants of the media. The Authority also announced that foreign journalists will not be allowed to cover the elections unless they electronically pre-register, which is the method approached by the Authority to select the media panels it desires to attend, and which it has the ability to influence by granting it gifts and services which would turn some of the journalists into biased tools in the hands of the Authority.

According to the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the coming elections lack transparency, neutrality and integrity, and its results have been pre-determined. It is moving towards making the majority of the government candidates reach Parliament and to prevent the arrival of the independent and opposition candidates, which clearly violates the political rights of citizens stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Bahrain acceded to, and it undermines any possibility that the parliament in Bahrain becomes a parliament that enjoys the true future authorities in monitoring and legislation.

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[1]http://www.alwasatnews.com/elections/page/471405.html [2]http://www.alwasatnews.com/2916/news/read/472261/1.html [3]http://www.manamavoice.com/index.php?plugin=news&act=news_read&id=4631" [4]http://www.alwasatnews.com/elections/page/466712.html [5]http://www.alwasatnews.com/elections/page/470911.html [6]http://www.alwasatnews.com/2918/news/read/472596/1.html [7]http://www.alwasatnews.com/2917/news/read/472544/1.html [8]http://www.alwasatnews.com/2921/news/read/473108/1.html [9]http://www.alwasatnews.com/2919/news/read/472753/1.html [10]Islamic Action & Al-Menbar Democratic Newsletters Banned Crackdown against Civil Rights and Free Expression Results in the blockage of the Website of the Largest Political Society [11]http://www.alsahfe.com/News-2280.htm [12]http://www.manamavoice.com/index.php?plugin=news&act=news_read&id=4772 [13]TV Advertisment Video [14]The Report: What it says [15]http://alwatannews.net/news.aspx?id=N2nzlFQOaWmwjhGogmgXrQ== [16]http://www.aldemokrati.org/ar-BH/ViewNews/5/2560/News.aspx [17]http://www.manamavoice.com/index.php?plugin=news&act=news_read&id=5087 [18]http://www.alwasatnews.com/2953/news/read/482602/1.html [19]http://www.alwaqt.com/print.php?aid=22839 [20]http://www.alwaqt.com/art.php?aid=29491 [21]same as 18 [22]http://www.alwasatnews.com/elections/page/483736.html [23]same as 14 [24]The King of Bahrain recently formed a governmental body under the name of “the National Human Rights Institution” [25]http://www.alwasatnews.com/2953/news/read/482601/1.html [26]A Statement by Members of Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) about their Stance of Parliamentary and Municipal Elections 2010 [27]The authorities puts great pressure to prevent the Arab Group from monitoring the media performance of 2010 elections

HRW: Bahrain: Elections to Take Place Amid Crackdown

Civil Society, Media Under Assault; US Government Avoids Public Comment

What we are seeing in Bahrain these days is a return to full-blown authoritarianism. The government has taken over associations and shut down media it doesn’t like to silence the loudest critics and intimidate the rest, and Washington says nothing publicly. Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch

October 20, 2010

(Washington, DC) – The Bahrain government has detained prominent opposition activists on terrorism charges, closed publications and websites, and intimidated civil society activists in the period leading up to parliamentary and municipal elections scheduled for October 23, 2010, Human Rights Watch said today.

Bahraini authorities should investigate torture allegations by the detainees and allow them to meet with lawyers, and rescind closure and takeover orders against independent media and civil society organizations, Human Rights Watch said.

“What we are seeing in Bahrain these days is a return to full-blown authoritarianism,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The government has taken over associations and shut down media it doesn’t like to silence the loudest critics and intimidate the rest, and Washington says nothing publicly.”

Although the US Embassy in Manama is fully apprised of the current situation, the Obama administration has failed to speak out about what has become a serious human rights crisis. Human Rights Watch urged US officials to issue an unambiguous public statement deploring the sharp deterioration in human rights in Bahrain in recent months. Bahrain, a close political and strategic ally of the United States, is home to the US Fifth Fleet.

The crackdown began on August 13 with the arrest of opposition activists, some of whom had just returned from participating in a public event in London at which they criticized the government. The arrest of a blogger, Ali Abdulemam, on September 4 brought the total of high-profile detainees to 22. They have been charged under Bahrain’s 2006 counterterrorism law with advocating and plotting the overthrow of the government. Most of the specific charges relate to their political opinions and writings, including “spreading false information” and “inciting hatred of the government.” They have not been permitted to meet privately with lawyers, contrary to Bahraini law, and many allege they have been subjected to torture during interrogation. A mass trial of 25 prominent opposition activists and bloggers arrested in August and September, including several living abroad who are not in custody, will start on October 28, according to a recent government announcement. Other arrests throughout September swept up a large number of less prominent individuals, at least some of whom face charges in connection with recent street violence. Some trials in those cases have begun. The exact number of those arrested since mid-August is not known, but it appears to be between 250 and 300. Human Rights Watch said that it is also concerned about alleged torture and basic due process violations against these detainees. Several of the prominent detainees are members of opposition groups that the government considers illegal and that advocate boycotting the elections. The Information Affairs Authority has also blocked websites affiliated with legal opposition societies participating in the elections and has shut down the newsletters of the two main opposition societies, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society and the National Democratic Action Society (al-Wa’ad). On September 6, the Social Development Ministry dissolved the board of the independent Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) and appointed a ministry official to run the society, after the society expressed concern publicly about allegations of torture and other violations of the rights of detainees. “The government has not just put the brakes on political reforms initiated a decade ago but shifted abruptly into reverse gear,” Stork said. “Under the current circumstances, it is hard to see how these elections will meet basic conditions for fairness – such as freedom of expression and association.”

The human rights society had been expected to play the leading civil society role in monitoring the elections. The takeover order was accompanied by a ministry statement criticizing the group for “only serving one segment of society.” On October 6, the ministry announced it intends to prosecute board members of the group for alleged financial, administrative, and criminal violations of the Civil Associations Law (Law 21/89). The members of the dismissed board have denied these allegations. With the exception of the local Transparency Bahrain organization, most of the groups now mandated to monitor the elections are closely affiliated with the government or fully support its agenda. During visits to Bahrain in September and October, Human Rights Watch met with government officials to raise concerns about allegations of abuse and the closing of media associated with opponents and critics of the government. Bahrain is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which among other things, protects freedom of expression and the right to receive and exchange information. Bahrain has also ratified the Convention against Torture, which prohibits torture and other ill-treatment under all circumstances. In a February 2010 report, Human Rights Watch documented the systematic use of torture by security officials for the apparent purpose of coercing confessions from security suspects from 2007 through 2009. Bahraini officials claimed in response that torture is not systematic, and that any official found responsible would be punished. But to Human Rights Watch’s knowledge there have been no independent investigations or prosecutions concerning cases documented in its report. US officials have so far declined to issue any public statements criticizing the Bahraini government’s crackdown despite the manifold human rights abuses it has engendered, although some have told Human Rights Watch that they have raised concerns privately with Bahrain at high levels. After the State Department spokesperson in Washington responded to a media question on September 15 with a non-specific statement of concern, the Bahraini government forced newspapers in Bahrain to use its version of the statement, which suggested complete US support for its actions, Bahraini journalists told Human Rights Watch. As far as Human Rights Watch is aware, the US Embassy in Manama took no steps to correct the record despite being fully aware of the situation.

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