25 Sep, 2015

Open Letter to Join the HRC 30 Joint Statement on Bahrain



To the Governments of: Albania, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Serbia, Slovak Republic, and Spain



RE: HRC30 Joint Statement on Bahrain                                                               24 September 2015


We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations, write to voice our support for the joint statement on the human rights situation in Bahrain delivered by Switzerland at the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). 

Since the last joint statement on Bahrain in June 2014, the government has continued to curtail the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Human rights defenders, political opposition leaders, members of the media, and youth have faced intimidation, arrest, arbitrary detention, unfair trials and acts of reprisal by the authorities.  Furthermore, negotiations of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) for a program of technical capacity building in Bahrain have stalled in the period since the June 2014 joint statement.

We urge your government, therefore, to sign the joint statement on Bahrain delivered by Switzerland at the HRC’s 30th session in order to refocus international attention on human rights in Bahrain and encourage the government of Bahrain to constructively address its ongoing violations.

International pressure on Bahrain continues to assist in addressing human rights violations in Bahrain, as reflected by the decision of the King of Bahrain to release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab under a royal pardon after he spent over four months in prison for a tweet criticizing the government. 

It is critical, therefore, to take action now to reaffirm the high level of international concern over human rights conditions in Bahrain. To abandon collective pressure on Bahrain at a time when the situation is continuing to deteriorate would send an entirely wrong message to the Bahraini government, and undermine both internal and external efforts to foster genuine reform. 

Switzerland has indicated that this joint statement will be open for additional signatories throughout the session. We therefore call on your government to recommit to supporting human rights in Bahrain, and to add your endorsement to this joint statement.



Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

Amnesty International


Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR)

Bahrain Institute of Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

English Pen

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)

European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)

Human Rights Watch

Index on Censorship

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

Pen International

Rafto Foundation

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)


HRC 30 Joint Statement on the Human Rights Situa4on in Bahrain;
Joint NGO Letter: Human Rights Situation in Bahrain (Dated: 16 July 2015) 

Click here for pdf. 

17 Sep, 2015

Bahraini Obstinance Raised in Written Statement to UN

At the 30th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, BCHR, along the Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy and Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, submitted a written statement on the subject of human rights abuses in Bahrain. The statement discussed the continued failure of the Bahraini government to engage in a dialogue with the United Nations and other international organizations. Despite promises from Bahrain to improve its systematic offences and its claims to participate in a more open discussion regarding reform, there continues to be a lack of government effort to follow through with these promises. ADHRB calls on the UN Member States to renew their efforts in pressuring Bahrain to re-establish cooperation with the international community in order to improve the human rights situation.

Click here to read the full statement.

17 Sep, 2015

Bahrain: Oral Intervention at 30th Session of Human Rights Council, 2015 by Nedal Al Salman

On 16 September 2015, the Head of International Relations and Women & Children's Rights Advocacy Nedal Al Salman of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), delivered an oral intervention during the 30th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva: 

IDO, along with Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, would like to thank the Working Group for their diligent efforts to address the issue of enforced disappearances. We join the Working Group in expressing concern at the routine practice of enforced disappearance in a number of States.

For example, in Bahrain, we regularly receive and document reports from families that security forces subject their family members to short-term enforced disappearances upon arrest. Bahraini security forces conduct home raids in plain clothes and masks and arrest individuals without warrants. These detainees are then rendered incommunicado for periods ranging from several hours to ten days. It is particularly during this period that victims are most vulnerable additional human rights abuses,often including acts of torture.

This practice is not new to Bahrain. In 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry reported 196 cases of enforced disappearance, during which detainees were abused and forced to sign false confessions. These confessions were then used to arbitrarily detain victims for sentences up to and including life in prison.

In its most recent report, the Working Group requested“additional information on the specific steps taken by the Government to prevent and terminate alleged cases of short-term enforced disappearance,” and on measures taken to ensure detainees’ relatives are promptly informed of their relatives’detention. 

We therefore ask if the Working Group has received any response from Bahrain toward alleviating the practice of short-term enforced disappearance. We additionally ask the Working to advise on practical steps that States such as Bahrain may implement towards transparently and substantively combating the practice of short-term enforced disappearance.

Thank you.




14 Sep, 2015

NGOs Welcome 5th UN Joint Statement on Human Rights in Bahrain

14 September 2015 – Geneva, Switzerland – Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), welcome today’s joint statement raising the concern of 33 States about the human rights situation in Bahrain during the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council. This joint statement, led by Switzerland, raises the persistent concerns of the international community regarding a wide variety human rights abuses in Bahrain, including the ongoing use of torture, excessive & indiscriminate use of force, and restrictions on the freedoms of opinion, expression and assembly. This latest joint statement builds on four previous joint statements in the Human Rights Council since 2012, which raised similar concerns and enjoy a growing coalition of cross-regional support.

In addition to recognizing a long list of human rights abuses, the 33 States called on Bahrain to take action to substantively address these concerns. The States called on the government to fully implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and Bahrain’s Second Cycle Universal Periodic Review, as well as for enhanced cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Special Procedures. States also called for the release of all persons imprisoned for exercising their human rights, and for the government to “put an end to the repression of peaceful protestors and issue clear instructions to the security forces to refrain from using disproportionate force against the protestors.”

“Today’s statement is a clear message from the international community that Bahrain cannot continue to dodge accountability for its human rights abuses,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. “The Government of Bahrain must address these concerns, or potentially face increased international consequences.”

Since 2012, five successive joint statements have been made on Bahrain at the Human Rights Council, with a growing number of States showing support for addressing these ongoing issues. Since 2013, all of the statements have enjoyed the full support of all European Union Member States, in addition to Switzerland, the United States, and a growing list of Latin American, African and Asian States.

“In Bahrain, we welcome the continued attention and concern of the international community on these longstanding human rights abuses, and hope that the Government will commit to cooperation, transparency, and reform,” said Nabeel Rajab, President of BCHR. The Director of Advocacy at BIRD, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, added that “the Government must act on these concerns now, or the Council may resolve that more serious measures are required in the immediate future.”

14 Sep, 2015

Symposium at Copenhagen University

On September 10th 2015 we held a symposium at Copenhagen University entitled 'Human Rights and Youth: The Case of Bahrain'. A short documentary was shown, followed by interesting and important talks given by Nedal Al Salman of BCHR, Hanna Ziadeh of The Danish Institute of Human Rights, and Magnus Harrison of Humanity in Action. The event then had a lively discussion of the issues, rounded up by drinks and snacks and a chance top talk informally to the speakers. 

We are happy to announce that the BCHR's event was very fruitful leading to interesting discussions and insights. Around 40 engaged and ambitious students showed up with an interest in specifically Middle East and human rights. We would like to thank everyone who was involved in this successful event and especially the talented board of panelists who guided us through the process of mutual learning and perspective expansion. We cannot wait to see what the future hold.

9 Sep, 2015

Champions for Justice: Bahrain’s Imprisoned Politicians

Last year marked the first general elections to be held in Bahrain since the pro-democracy uprising of 2011.  Since the election, which has been named amongst the worst elections in 2014 alongside those in Syria and Afghanistan, the Government of Bahrain has infringed on the freedoms of political opposition societies across the political spectrum. Al-Wefaq, the largest political society in Bahrain who boycotted the election, was the first to see high-profile arrests and trials on charges related to free expression. The government soon placed other societies, including the National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad) and Democratic Unity Gathering Society (al-Wahdawi), under similar pressures.

This month, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) call attention to leaders of the political opposition imprisoned in the past year. Their situations remain significant: Bahrain cannot reasonably claim to have instituted reforms or conducted a national reconciliation dialogue when leaders from the political opposition are imprisoned.

Ebrahim Sharif is the former Secretary-General of the secular nationalist party Wa’ad. He is a member of the “Bahrain 13”,  a group of political prisoners arrested in relation to their activities during  2011’s democratic movement. In June 2011, a military court sentenced Sharif to five years imprisonment, despite evidence that he was tortured in detention. A civilian appeals court upheld the sentence in 2012. In June 2015, Sharif was released on a royal pardon near the end of his prison term, when he was already eligible for parole. However, he was rearrested  just 19 days later, on 13 July, following a speech he gave after his release from prison. In the speech, he stated: “We are for democracy, we are for a constitution which gives wide authorities to the parliament, we are for a government elected by the parliament, we want a constitutional monarchy.” The Public Prosecution has charged him with “inciting violence” and “promoting overthrow of the government.” His next trial hearing is on 12 October 2015.

Fadhel Abbas served as the Secretary-General of the Democratic Unity Gathering Society (al-Wahdawi) prior to his arrest on charges related to freedom of expression. On 26 March 2015, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) announced that Bahrain would be joining Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in conducting air strikes in Yemen. On the same day, the MOI warned that it would take steps against anyone expressing opinions "against the approach that Bahrain has taken." The MOI arrested Abbas later that day in relation to a statement that al-Wahdawi published on Twitter calling Bahrain's involvement in the war unconstitutional. , After Abbas's arrest, the MOI undertook steps to dissolve al-Wahdawi on the grounds that it had been "undermining national security." On 28 June 2015, Bahrain's criminal court sentenced Abbas to five years in prison for "spreading false information that could harm the military operations of Bahrain and its allies" in Yemen. Abbas is currently serving his sentence in Jau Prison. His next appeal court hearing is 10 October 2015.

Sheikh Ali Salman is the Secretary-General of al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest licensed political society. Salman was an opposition leader at the forefront of the national dialogues between 2011 and 2014, during which he has consistently called for a stronger parliament and the release of political prisoners, while emphasizing that peaceful resistance is the only means to achieving reform in Bahrain. On 28 December 2014, officers arrested Sheikh Salman after summoning him for questioning. After more than two weeks in detention without being formally charged with a crime, the Public Prosecution charged him with inciting hatred, civil disobedience and promoting overthrow of the government, in addition to a litany of other charges. A Human Rights Watch study of Salman’s public speeches in question found no basis for the charges. On 16 June 2015, a criminal court sentenced him to four years in prison. His next appeal court hearing is 14 September 2015.

Sheikh Salman is not the only member of al-Wefaq to be targeted by the government. In August, police arrested al-Wefaq member and former Member of Parliament (MP) Sheikh Hasan Isa on his return from a foreign trip and he remains in police custody. In January, ex-MP Sayed Jameel Kadhem received a six-month sentence for disturbing the general elections after he accused the government of attempting to bribe candidates. Majeed Milad, the former elected president of the Manama Capital Municipal Council, a board member of al-Wefaq, and a key member of the 2013 National Dialogue, was detained on 1 July and has been put on trial for “inciting disobedience of the law,” for calling for peaceful protests. His trial resumes on 13 September.

BIRD, ADHRB and BCHR remind the Government of Bahrain that democracy cannot be achieved if political criticism is treated as a criminal act. In highlighting the cases of these three political leaders, we also remember all other prisoners of conscience in Bahrain sentenced on charges related to the exercise of their free speech and association. Freedom of expression, along with the rights to self-determination and political participation, is guaranteed under Articles 1, 19, 22 and 25 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bahrain acceded in 2006.

We call on the Government of Bahrain to honour the provisions of the ICCPR and respect its citizens’ right to freedom of speech, association, and political participation, by immediately releasing all persons charged or sentenced on politically-motivated charges and decriminalizing criticism and free speech.

1 Sep, 2015

AlSalman: New Anti-Hatred/Discrimination Legislation in Bahrain Could Turn to a Suppression Tool to Restrict Freedom of Expression

Sheikh Maytham Al Salman, head of the religious freedom unit at Bahrain Human Rights Observatory, expressed his fear that a new anti-hatred and discrimination legislation in the coming weeks would be utilised as a tool to use blasphemy laws to jail individuals for expressing their personal views. There are serious concerns that this law will restrict freedom of expression, noting that human rights organizations in Bahrain were and are still calling for legislation to prohibit the incitement to hatred in accordance with Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The article prohibits any advocacy of racial or religious or national hatred that constitutes incitement leading to hostility, violence or discrimination. Al Salman stated "However any legislation has to be in line with article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Rabat Plan of Action to counter the incitement of hatred, the Camden principles and resolution 16 18 for combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief."

Al Salman continues, "We held 12 seminars and workshops in Bahrain in the past 4 years on the Rabat Plan of Action and on applicable strategies to create a balance between article 19 & article 20 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Right. We have also communicated in September 2012 with the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay prior to her meeting with a Bahraini official requesting her to advice the Government of Bahrain to embrace the Rabat Plan of Action and prohibit the incitement of hatred that has the likelihood of turning into hostility, violence & discrimination."  In January 2014 the democratic opposition societies in Bahrain also launched a historical document "No to hatred" that adopts the Rabat Plan of Action and the Camden principles and calls for applying article 20 of the  International Covenant on Civil and Political Right whilst pledging to defend article 19. Thus, non-governmental organizations in Bahrain have always welcomed the existence of a law prohibiting the incitement of hatred on the condition of full compliance with international standards for protection of freedom of expression in line with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." Al Salman added: "Any new law that contradicts with international human rights standards will not be supported by us noting that full compliance with article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has to be guaranteed by law to avoid the use of article 20 to suppress Article 19. The new anti-hate legislation would not be accepted and supported internationally and locally unless it is consistent with the Rabat Plan of Action, Camden principles and resolution 1618. We have serious worries of the legislation  being used to further restrict freedom of expression noting that Bahrain had agreed to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations calling for amendment of any provision of law that could be used to prosecute individuals or groups for exercising freedom of expression. The government of Bahrain has also pledged to amend all laws that suppress freedom of expression ensuring that all new laws are compatible with international standards in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ". 

On issuing an anti-discrimination law Salman said: "We are supportive of any legislation that ensures  equal citizenship among all Bahrainis regardless of color, gender, religious affiliation. We would also continue calling for the prosecution of those involved in the exercise of systematic sectarian discrimination". Al Salman also had concerns that the proposed anti - discrimination law would be abused to to legitimize prejudice and as a tool to avoid international criticism of systematic sectarian discrimination in Bahrain." He added: "The international public opinion has come to a firm conviction not marred by doubt of the absence of equal citizenship in Bahrain and the dominance of systematic sectarian discrimination. Reliable reports have confirmed this solid truth which was cited by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, UPR Human Rights Council recommendations to Bahrain, U.S. State Department reports on human rights and international religious freedom, US Commission on International Religious Freedom report (USCIRF) and tens of statements issued by the EU, EP, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First and other respective human rights organizations and bodies."

Al Salman said: "In a country subjected to the the demolition of 38 Shia mosques, the dissolution of the largest religious institution in Bahrain (Ulama Islamic Council), the prohibition of teaching Fiqh al-Jaafari (Shiite Jaafari Doctrine) in public and private schools, revocation of the nationality of Shia scholars, imprisoning thousands of Shia nationals it is more than a necessity to criminalize the practice of racial discrimination at all levels. The elimination of all forms of discrimination in line with International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination and promoting equal citizenship is the path forward to create sustainable social stability in Bahrain. Holding officials and non-official responsible for the practice of sectarian discrimination responsible in front of law is an urgent necessity, but it first requires a comprehensive mapping exercise to determine those involved in the practice of systematic sectarian discrimination in recruitment, assignment, provision of services and privileges noting that all these violations fall under the prohibited  category of racial discrimination."

Al Salman also questioned the compliance of Bahrain with UPR recommendation No. 103 presented by the United States of America which called for creating a more diverse and inclusive police force reflective of society. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom Report in 2015 confirmed that “according to interlocutors, members of the Shia community still cannot serve in the active military and there are no Shia in the upper levels of the Bahrain government security apparatus, including the military and police.” 

Al Salman concluded his statement by demanding authorities allow the visit of the UN Special Rapporteurs on the elimination of racial discrimination, freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief. Furthermore, authorities should assist Bahrain in addressing solutions for restrictions on freedom of expression, prevalence of systematic sectarian discrimination, absence of equal citizenship and countering the growth of the incitement of hatred since 2011.

3- Resolution 1618


27 Aug, 2015

Dr Abduljalil al-Singace hunger strike hits 160 days, 41 NGOs call for immediate release

27 August 2015, London – Bahraini prisoner of conscience Dr Abduljalil al-Singace today hits a milestone 160 days of hunger strike as rights organisations appeal for his freedom. Forty-one international NGOs today released an urgent appeal addressed to the Government of Bahrain to release the hunger striker.

On 21 March 2015, Dr al-Singace went on hunger strike in protest at the collective punishment and acts of torture that police inflicted upon prisoners following a riot in Jau Prison earlier that month. Since then, he has subsisted on water, fizzy drinks and IV injections.

The United States government recently stated their awareness of Dr al-Singace’s case and urged Bahrain to ensure adequate medical care for all prisoners and an investigation into all reports of mistreatment. The UK government has previously raised his case with Bahrain, though they have never called for his release. The 41 NGOs call on the international community, and in particular the US and the European Union, to urge for Dr al-Singace’s release.

The release of the urgent appeal also coincides with a protest led by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democacy (BIRD), English PEN, Index on Censorship and REDRESS outside the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London, calling on them to take action on Dr al-Singace’s case and to put pressure on the Bahraini authorities to end human rights abuses in Bahrain and its prisons.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD: “The United Kingdom should use its leverage with Bahrain to secure Abduljalil’s release and hold their ally accountable. He is a blogger, a journalist, a thinker and categorically should not be in prison.”

Cat Lucas, Writers at Risk Programme Manager, English PEN: “PEN remains seriously concerned for Dr al-Singace, now on the 160th day of his hunger strike in protest at the treatment of his fellow prisoners. We continue to urge the Bahraini authorities to release Dr al-Singace and the many other writers of concern to PEN unconditionally, and to allow him access to the medical attention he requires, as well as to reading and writing materials, as a matter of urgency.”

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO, Index on Censorship: “Dr al-Singace has been on hunger strike for more than five months and the UK has yet to call for his release. His arrest, sentencing and treatment in jail have received international condemnation and we call on Britain to join global counterparts in calling for Dr al-Singace’s release and ensuring he receives appropriate medical assistance.”

Dr Abduljalil al-Singace is a prisoner of conscience and a member of the Bahrain 13, a group of activists arrested by the Bahraini government for their role in peaceful protests in 2011. Dr al-Singace is a blogger, academic, and former Head of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bahrain. Dr al-Singace is currently serving a life sentence ordered by a military court on 22 June 2011. 

21 Aug, 2015

NGOs Condemn Arrest of Former al-Wefaq MP Sheikh Hasan Isa

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) express concern over the recent arrest of Sheikh Hasan Isa, a prominent member of the opposition political group al-Wefaq National Islamic Society. His arrest is the latest in a series of such detentions undertaken by the government against opposition political figures. We condemn this arrest as both yet another act of suppression of free speech and a further attack against peaceful political opposition. We therefore call on the government to lift all restrictions against the legitimate and peaceable work of all political societies in Bahrain.

On 18 August 2015, government security forces arrested Sheikh Hasan Isa as he returned from vacation with his family. A former member of parliament for al-Wefaq National Islamic Society representing Sitra, Sheikh Hasan resigned his parliamentary position following a government assault on peaceful protesters at the Pearl Roundabout in February 2011, but maintained active membership in the political society. Upon his arrest, security forces transported him to the General Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID), a facility run by the Ministry of Interior known for human rights violations including substantial numbers of cases of reported torture. They held him there without charge for over 48 hours in direct violation of Bahraini domestic criminal law. Sheikh Hasan’s family has not been informed of the reason for his arrest, and the government has thus far denied Sheikh Hasan access to his attorney.

Sheikh Hasan Isa’s arrest is the latest in a campaign of government attacks against Bahrain’s peaceful opposition. The Government of Bahrain has also arrested and prosecuted other prominent political opposition figures, including al-Wefaq Society’s Secretary-General, Shaikh Ali Salman, who was recently sentenced to four years in prison for acts of peaceful speech; former Secretary-General of Wa’ad political society Ebrahim Sherif, who was re-arrested for exercising free speech and criticizing the government; Secretary-General of the Democratic Unity Gathering Society Fadhel Abbas, who was sentenced to five years in prison over a statement in which his society condemned the war in Yemen; and al-Wefaq’s General Secretariat member Majeed Milad, who was arrested for a speech in which he demanded fair electoral districts, a democratic State, and self-determination for the people. The government has also summoned other political leaders for interrogation over similar accusations, chiefly including al-Wefaq General-Secretary's Political Assistant Khalil Marzooq.

BCHR, ADHRB, and BIRD believe that the arrest of Sheikh Hasan Isa is in contravention of international legal protections, including his right not to be deprived arbitrarily of liberty as set forth in Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 17 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Based on the above, BCHR, ADHRB, and BIRD urge the Bahraini government to:

  • Immediately release and drop all charges against Sheikh Hasan Isa, and all other prisoners of conscience detained on charges of free expression;
  • Take concrete steps towards resuming a national dialogue, including the release of all members of the Bahrain 13, other prominent opposition leaders including Sheikh Ali Salman, and human rights defenders like Naji Fateel; and
  • Cease all reprisals taken against individuals peacefully exercising their right to free expression as guaranteed by Articles 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On the United Nations and its Member States to:

  • Publicly call on the Government of Bahrain to unconditionally release and drop all charges against Sheikh Hasan Isa;
  • Pressure the Government of Bahrain to end all harassment of political opposition leaders and take concrete steps towards resuming national dialogue;
  • Adopt a resolution on Bahrain in the United Nations Human Rights Council, compelling the Government to urgently implement all recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and Second Cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations;

On the United States to:

  • Reapply and immediately put into effect the recently lifted arms suspension on the Bahrain Defense Force and National Guard;

On the United Kingdom to:

  • Reassess the current program of assistance to the Government of Bahrain in light of the ongoing abuses;
  • List Bahrain as a Country of Concern in the next FCO Human Rights Report;

On the European Union to:

  • Condemn the re-arrest of Sheikh Hasan Isa and adopt the recommendations outlined in the European Parliament’s Urgent Resolution of 9 July 2015 on Bahrain.
15 Aug, 2015

Authorities Suppress Popular Celebration of Bahrain’s Independence Day

Since 2009, it has become the custom to carry out peaceful protests demanding self-determination on 14 August in celebration of Bahrain’s Independence Day. On 14 August 1971, Bahrain was announced as an independent sovereign Arab country, free from the British occupation. This historic decision was issued by the United Nations to crown the struggle and sacrifices of the people of Bahrain to obtain their right to self-determination.

From 2009 and beyond, this day has witnessed the presence of security forces countrywide. They routinely suppressed all protests using shotgun pellets and tear gas which caused injuries among protesters that ranged in severity. In addition, protesters have been arrested for the charge of illegal assembly. The authorities in Bahrain do not hold any kind of celebration on this day.

On 13 August 2010, the authorities launched the most repressive campaign in the history of Bahrain, which started with the arrest of the activist Dr. AbdulJalil Al-Singace because he "was intending to organize an event on the so-called National Day of the Kingdom of Bahrain in this month." The authorities in Bahrain claimed that it was "to promote national division" and proceeded to arrest hundreds of activists and dissidents, who were detained for months. They were released during the temporary period of breakthrough in February 2011, as a result of the popular uprising; but it was short-lived and soon was brutally suppressed, with many more arrests following.

In 2013, a group of citizens announced the formation of the "Tamarod" (Rebellion) group that set 14 August 2013 to be the start to its activities. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) documented a fast escalation of violations by the authorities a month and a half before the start date. There were reports of an increase in violence, arbitrary arrests, house raids, and blocking villages with barbed wires and cement barriers. Also, the Bahraini authorities passed new to restrict opposition activities.


Read the Full Report Here