facebook twitter youtube blogger flickr rss Previous Next Left Arrow Right Arrow alert

Bahraini Higher Criminal Court: Banning Publication of News or Information Related to the “Bandar-Gate” Scandal

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights

Ref 06100500

The Higher Bahraini Criminal Court has ruled on Wednesday the 4th of October, 2006, that any publication of information, news or comments on the recent “Bandar-Gate” scandal is to be prohibited. in accordance to articles 40 and 71 of Law 47 for 2002 related to regulating publications, distribution and Press. Mr. Salah Al-Bandar is facing charges related to seizing government papers and the stealing of two private cheques.

Mr. Al-Bandar was deported to the United Kingdoms on September 13th after he circulated a 216-page report, which was distributed by the Gulf Centre for Democratic Development (GCDD), which revealed and documented the actions of a secret Web operating in Bahrain lead by high ranking government officials. The Web, according to the report, aimed to manipulate the results of coming elections, maintain sectarian distrust and division, and to ensure that Bahrain's majority Shia population remained oppressed and disenfranchised.[1]

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights is skeptical as to the possibility of a fair trial given the enormity of the scandal and the implications of high ranking government officials in the case. Mr. Al-Bandar was not given a chance to defend himself against the allegations and charges brought against him due to his deportation and has declared himself willing to stand trial and support the information published. The Courts decision is also questionable due to its timing, the local press had continued for the past month to defame Mr. Al-Bandar and publish allegations that he works in foreign Intelligence and is a spy, only recently had Mr. Al-Bandar begin to publicly defend himself against these allegations.

Furthermore, the content of the report began to get widely circulated amongst the Bahraini population, and recently a part was published in one of the local newspapers, prompting the court to declare that the move to ban the publications followed the actions of some newspapers, which handled the case in a manner that "harmed public interest, incited sedition among members of the community and influenced the court by publishing events without the relevant documents that were not presented to the Public Prosecution or investigated".[2]

The BCHR declares that the courts ruling violates peoples right to information which is stipulated by International Human Rights Conventions which Bahrain committed itself to. The Courts lack of both transparency and independence only serves to highlight the skepticism of many observers as to its ability to serve as both judge and prosecutor in this case.

[1] BCHR: “Al-Bandar Gate”: A Political Scandal in Bahrain

[2] GDN: High Court Issues Bandar Press Gag, 5th October, 2006

BCHR and other Human Rights Organizations Condemn the Harassment by UAE Authorities against Human Rights Defenders

Human Rights Organizations Condemn the Harassment by UAE Authorities against Human Rights Defenders

Press release from 33 NGOs in 12 Arab Countries

In a serious development, the UAE authorities issued an order to arrest Dr. Mohamed Al-Mansouri, President of Rights Advocates Association (RAA) and banned him from traveling. The decision has been circulated by the General Department of Security in Abu-Dhabi Police. Also Dr. Mohamed Al-Rokn, Professor of Constitutional law, and Ex President of UAE RAE has been subjected to security disturbances due to demands he made for reforms and improvement of human rights conditions. http://www.cihrs.org/Press_details_en.aspx?per_id=134&pr_year=2006

It's worth noting that Dr. Al-Mansoury, RAA president, and Ph.D. holder in General International Law, author of a book entitled "Reform in UAE", recently become an activist in disseminating human rights culture in UAE, and defending women rights by getting involved in a legal debate on the Personal Status Law. He calls for expanding the jurisprudential circle of options to serve the interest of the family, criminalizing marital violence, and granting the right to citizenship to the children of a female national, since the State constitution stipulates for equality between all.

Al-Mansouri has also drawn the attention to the violations by the UAE against labor rights. He stated how obsolete the labor law is and how the arbitration committees are inactivated, besides to the non-existence of international courts. As well, he pointed out to the lack of commitment on the part of the owners of companies and institutions as well as the employers towards their employees in terms of providing a decent accommodation and health care. Thus Al-Mansouri called for reform and democracy, and condemned the violation of human rights by UAE. Moreover, he disclosed the contact made by the Prosecutor General to an officer in the Presidential Council in relation to a decision of releasing an accused of making frauds of documents and seals of the Nationality & Migration Department, then he let the accused run away from the country. The governing authorities launched a security campaign with a view to deterring and punishing Al-Mansouri, as well as forcing him to quit his human rights activities!

It's of great importance to mention here that Dr. Mohamed Al-Rokn, an active lawyer in the field of freedoms, and labor rights, pleaded in a number of rights-based cases. He is banned from appearing in UAE media. In this context, one ought also to know that both Dr. Al-Rokn & Al-Mansouri are nominated to run for the elections of the National Council to be held towards the end of this year.

The hereunder signing organization, condemning the UAE authorities in their campaign against human rights activists, demand the following: cancellation of the decision to the effect of arresting Dr. Al-Mansouri and banning him from traveling; ensuring his freedom of movement as stipulated in the International Covenant for Civil and Political rights; respecting international conventions and covenants on human rights; stopping the harassment of Dr. Mohamed Al-Rokn; compensating both Dr. Al-Mansouri & Al-Rokn for the moral and material damages they experienced as a result of the campaign launched by the AUE authorities against them.

- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

- Habi Center for Environmental Rights (Egypt)

- Syrian Organization for Human Rights

- Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti Violence Studies ( Egypt ) - The Arab Organization for Penal Reform (Egypt).

- Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies

- Saudi Center for Human Rights. - Palestinian Organization for Human Rights (Lebanon).

- Association for Democracy Development (Egypt).

- The Committee for the Respect of Freedoms and the Humans Right in Tunisia.

- Sisters' Arab forum for Human Rights (Yemen).

- The Program of Human Rights at Al-Khawei Institute (Iraq/UK).

- Egyptian Association for Supporting Democratic Development.

- Association for Jurists (Emirates).

- Khartoum Center for Human rights and Environment Development.

- Amel Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture.

- Shumuu for Human Rights and care of disabled and Community Development (Egypt).

- Al-Haq – Ramallah , Palestine .

- Land Center for Human Rights (Egypt).

- Bahrain center for Human Rights. - Amman Center for Human Rights Studies.

- Human Rights Information and Training Center – Yemen.

- Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.

- Arab Network for Human Rights Information ( Egypt ).

- The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement - The Yemeni Organization for the defense of Human Rights and democratic freedoms.

- Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners (Egypt).

- The Association for the Defense of Right and Liberties "ADDL" (Lebanon).

- Filastiniyat.

- Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance.

- Al-Nadim Centre for Psychological Therapy and Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence (Egypt).

- Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections.

- The Association For Human Rights Legal Aid (Egypt).

- Iraqi Social Education Team.

"Al Bander Report": Demographic engineering in Bahrain and mechanisms of exclusion

Maintaining Sectarian Division and Penetrating NGO’s

The Al Bander report: what it says and what it means

English Translation of AlBandar Report -Part1

English Translation of AlBandar Report -Part2

Original Report [Arabic] - Part1

Original Report [Arabic] - Part2

 

Summary and analysis

By Zara Al Sitari, Bahrain Center for Human Rights-

September 2006

A secret web lead by a high government official, who is a member of the royal family, has been operating in Bahrain with an aim to manipulate the results of coming elections, maintain sectarian distrust and division, and to ensure that Bahrain's Shias remain oppressed and disenfranchised, according to Dr. Salah Al Bandar, strategic planning’s chancellor at the Council of Ministers Affairs. As a result of leaking the information, Dr Al Bander was deported to the United Kingdom on September 13th as he is a British citizen. The 216-page report, which was distributed by the Gulf Centre for Democratic Development (GCDD), contains almost 200 pages of cheques, receipts, letters, bank statements and accounts sheets to support this claim.

The full 216-page report (in Arabic) can be downloaded from here (31MB).

The secret web works through a media group, an electronic group, an intelligence team, a newspaper, a Shia to Sunni conversion programme, and civil societies to carry out these activities, the report says. The total cost of these activities (so far) is said to be more than BD 1 million, and the main financier is named as Civil Informatics Organization (CIO) head Shaikh Ahmed bin Ateyatalla Al Khalifa , founder of the higher committee for elections. It seems that the secret organization is established and has built its strategies based on the analysis and recommendations of a confidential study written in September 1st, 2005 entitled: “A Proposal to Promote the General Situation of the Sunni Sect in Bahrain”. The study, which is published in the leaked report- is reportedly written by an Iraqi Academic, Dr. Nezar Alani, who is now heading the Ettehad University in the United Arab Emirates. The leaked documents show that Dr. Alani had received an amount of BD3000.

How the web works:

Shaikh Ahmed has five main operators working underneath him, who he pays from his personal bank account at Kuwait Finance House, the report says.

Main Operator 1: Dr Raed Shams

Shaikh Ahmed's "right hand man" in running the organization is said to be CIO statistics directorate head and member of the elections committee Dr Raed Mohammed Abdulla Shams. Dr Shams has well-known connections to the Sunni Islamist Al Eslah Society and its political wing, Al Menbar. He is said to be paid BD 1,200 per month for supervising the Jordanian intelligence cell and liaising with members of Bahraini NGOs who are allegedly paid to act on the organizations' behalf. The Jordanian intelligence cell was supplied with an office in Bahrain's diplomatic area and collectively paid more than BD 5,000 per month to monitor political developments in Bahrain, with particular attention to the Shia, the report alleges.

  • A payment authorization slip included in the report allegedly shows that Shaikh Ahmed paid Dr Shams a BD 1,578 installment towards "residence costs for the Jordanians".
  • The payment slip is matched with a BD 3,578 bill for room charges and meals at the Hilton hotel.
  • Receipts in the report allegedly signed by a Lieutenant Colonel Amr Al Raddad, purport to show the payment of BD 6,784 in January this year, and BD 6,384 in February this year, in salaries for the four members of the intelligence team.

The four NGOs shown to be on the organization's payroll are the Jurists' Society, the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society, the Bahrain First Society and the Bahrain Political Society. The report contains correspondence allegedly showing Jurists' Society member, Al Watan newspaper columnist, and lawyer Youseff Al Hashemi requesting BD 2,643 for the society's expenses. It also contains a number of receipts which allegedly show Mr Al Hashemi receiving BD 1,000 in incentives.

  • Payment authorization slips signed by Shaikh Ahmed and Dr Shams allegedly show the following payments to the society: BD 1,132 on October 21 2005 for electricity bills and books, and BD 5,500 on December 11 2005 for nine months' rent.
  • The December payment authorization slip is also shown to be signed by a man named as the organization's banker at Kuwait Finance House, Hamad Ahmed Al-Muhaiza.
  • Receipts also allegedly show Shura Council member and Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society member Faisal Fulad, Bahrain First society member Mohammed Al Maran, and Bahrain Political Society member Jaber Al Swaidy receiving BD 500 each for 'incentives', in January, February and March this year.
  • A receipt allegedly signed by Mr Al Swaidy appears to show him receiving a payment which will give BD 3,000 to MP Jassim Al Saeedi, BD 2,000 to parliamentary candidate Jamal Dawood Salman and BD 3,000 towards the society's building.
  • A letter included in the report allegedly shows Mr Salman, a candidate in the Northern constituency number eight, requesting the "head of electoral campaigns" (who is not named) for BD 1,200 to pay for his campaign tent and furnishings.
  • The BD 1,200 payment is listed in a breakdown of the organization's expenditure, alongside BD 1,000 in "financial assistance" for a football game and cultural event, purportedly organized by Mr Salman as part of his campaign.

Others electoral candidates allegedly on the organization's payroll are said to be Khamis Al Rumaihi, Salah Al Jalahma and Dr Salah Ali. The report also contains a receipt for BD 10,000 allegedly signed on August 25 by an individual named Adnan Mohammed Abdulrahman Bucheeri, who it describes as being in charge of financing candidates.

Main operator 2: Mohammed Al Qaed

Shaikh Ahmed's "left hand man" is said to be CIO IT directorate manager, electronic voting supervisor and higher elections committee head Mohammed Ali Al Qaed. Mr Al Qaed also sits on the elections committee and has well-known connections with the islamists Al Menbar and Al Eslah groups. He is paid BD 1,200 per month as supervisor of an "electronic group" which are involved in running Bahrain's e-voting program, running websites and Internet forums which foment sectarian hatred, and SMS campaigns for the organization, the report says. The "Electronic group" is said to be headed by Bahrain Airport Services employee and soon-to-be IT head at the Cabinet Affairs Ministry.

  • A receipt from South African Celerity Systems included in the report shows the purchase of "block SMS credits" worth 740 Euros on August 1 last year attributed to a Bahrain address.
  •  
  • A bill for BD 7,639 purportedly drawn up by Mr Al Qaed details payments made to individuals working on e-voting projects, technical assistance, administrative work and to pay for printers, scanners and computers is included in the report.
  • It is matched with a cheque for the same amount written to Mr Al Qaed from Shaikh Ahmed on August 8.

Main Operator 3: Adel Busaiba

The third "civil leader" is said to be CIO employee, Islamic Education Society Social Activities director and Al Asalah Society member Adel Rashid Busaiba. Mr Busaiba is paid BD 1,000 per month for activities to mobilize Sunnis against Shiites and for running a "Sunni Conversion" project and a "Sectarian Switch" project, the report alleges.

  • A cheque worth BD 955 purportedly written to Mr Busaiba from Shaikh Ahmed on August 2, to pay for "advertisements" is included in the report.
  • It is placed alongside an invoice to the Islamic Education Society from the Akhbar Al Khaleej newspaper publishing house requesting BD 555 to pay for an advertisement on February 27 and an invoice from the Al Watan newspaper publishing company asking for BD 400 to pay for an advert on August 2.
  • An undated advert from an Arabic newspaper shows a statement bearing the name of 15 Islamic charities and 9 Islamic societies - including the Islamic Education Society and the Al Asalah Society - condemning attacks on Sunni mosques in Iraq.
  • A receipt included in the report also purports to show Mr Busaiba receiving BD 1,501 on August 17 2005 for "the cost of payments towards converts from Shia to Sunni (literally, 'those who have been enlightened')".
  • The report also contains charts listing small sum (BD30 to BD 150) alleged payments to individuals for electricity, telephone and water bills, school fees and educational courses, and a list of 37 names under the heading "new converts in 2005".

Main Operator 4: Nasser Lori

A former CIO employee, Royal Court assistant undersecretary for coordination and follow up and 10 per cent shareholder in the Bahraini Al Watan newspaper Nasser Lori, is named in the report as another of the five "civil leaders". Mr Lori, the report suggests, is involved in a secretive naturalization program at the Royal Court and has well known connections with Salafi Islamist groups in the Gulf and Middle East. He is allegedly paid BD 1,000 per month through a Shamil bank account to supervise the activities of the Al Watan newspaper, which the report suggests is fully complicit in the organization's work.

  • The report contains a BD 39,375 cheque written to "the Al Watan newspaper" allegedly signed by Mr Lori on July 25.
  • A receipt for a BD 1,000 "incentive for the month of June" allegedly signed by Mr Lori is also included as well as two cash deposit slips: one worth BD 5,000 paid into his Shamil bank account on November 9, 2005 and another for BD 9,000 paid into his account on February 22, 2006.

Main Operator 5: Jamal Al-Asiri

The fifth "civil leader" is said to be advisor to Royal Court minister Mohammed bin Ateyatalla Al Khalifa, editor of the Al Watan newspaper, former BBC (Arabic) correspondent and former Al Eslah society magazine coordinator, Jamal Yousif Al-Asiri. Mr Al Asiri is paid BD 800 per month as head of public relations and news for the organization, the report alleges. He is said to be provided with BD 3,000 per month to run a monitoring body called the "Centre for Public Opinion" with his brother Yacoub Yousif Al-Asiri, and Al Watan board of board of directors head Hisham Abdulrahman Jaffer Bucheeri.

  • A series of cheques included in the report purport to show Mr Al Asiri receiving BD 3,000 in January, February, March and April from Shaikh Ahmed as "salary for running a centre for public opinion".
  • A receipt from July 8 also allegedly shows Mr Lori receiving BD 800 as an "incentive for the month of June".
  • Receipts also purport to show Al Watan journalists receiving "incentive" payments.
  • Mr Lori is also said to receive further funding to pay local media and public relations workers from government ministries and private newspapers who work as part of an "Egyptian Media Group". The "Egyptian Media Group" is said to work from offices in the Zinj and Riffa areas under the control of Royal Court media worker Ali Radhi Hasanain. The group was allegedly paid BD 12,000 towards its establishment and said to work by planting stories in local newspapers under false names, preparing media pieces (mainly for Al Watan newspaper), and providing local columnists with prepared articles for them to reproduce as their own.
  • A cheque for BD 1,600 allegedly signed by Shaikh Ahmed and written to Mr Lori is matched with a request for BD 1,600 to pay individuals belonging to a "media support group".
  • The report also includes receipts allegedly showing media and public relations workers receiving financial "incentives" and payments for "services".
  • Kuwait Finance House employees Hamad Al Muhaiza and Ahmed Khayri also receive monthly incentive payments for the "work" they do for the organisation, the report alleges. A receipt included purportedly shows Mr Al Muhaiza receiving BD 500 on March 31 as an "incentive for the month of February".

What it means:

At a crucial time for the new democratic process in Bahrain, these allegations cast a shadow of doubt on the genuine opportunity for all people in Bahrain to live in equality and with dignity. According to the findings of this report, policies to subjugate Bahrain's Shia majority are not left behind in the pre-reform era, but are being practiced today by high ranking government officials. These allegations are devastating to the goodwill of people who embraced the chance for a better life under a new regime, and a provide a bitter confirmation to those who have rejected the reforms as being merely a facade. For the sake of trust, stability and security in Bahrain, the BCHR calls for:

  • an independent and honest fact finding commission into these allegations.
  • Officials implicated must have their positions frozen pending an investigation, and detach themselves completely from the electoral process.
  • Those found guilty of this crime against the Bahraini people should be brought to justice.

All related document The full 216-page report (in Arabic) can be downloaded from here (31MB).

Seminar on Constitutional Petition Banned and Prevented by Force:Riot Police Attack Gathered Seminar Crowd Without Warning

Reports of Injuries Due to Use of Tear Gas and Rubber Bullets

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights Ref: 06092400

The BCHR has learnt that the Riot Police yet again prevented, by use of excessive force, a Seminar which was to be staged by the Freedom of Liberties Movement(HAQ) yesterday, Friday the 22nd. The Seminar was to be originally held on Friday the 15th of September, but was banned by the Special Security Force (SSF) by an enforcement of a security blockade around the area. Threats were allegedly made to venue representatives to refrain from hosting the Seminar(BCHR ref:06091600). In a statement, the organizers of the event declared that they chose to postpone the Seminar to this past Friday the 22nd, rather than engage in a confrontation with riot police. The Ministry of interior justified the attack with claims that the gathering was not authorized and that no permit was requested by the organizers.[1] This is required by law in Bahrain, in accordance to the controversial amendments to Decree No. 18 of the year 1973 of Public Meetings, Processions and Gatherings or what is known as the “Bahraini Gatherings Code”.[2]

Upon arrival at the Seminar site, BCHR representatives witnessed a large number of riot police geared up with batons in the actual site and at the exits of the village in which the Seminar was to be held. A Surveillance helicopter monitored the area as crowds continued to gather awaiting the Seminar. Eye witnesses relate to the BCHR that without previous warning, the Riot Police attacked the gathered crowds which included woman and children in addition to representatives of political and civil societies. Rubber bullets and tear gas were used excessively which lead to a flee and stampede, resulting in injuries of gatherers and by passers. The BCHR has been informed of many complaints, of them, a woman Nazha Seyed Ahmed, 29 years, Bilad Al-Qadeem, who according to her husband, got trampled and was taken to hospital where she received stitches in the head, she was also treated for bruises to the forehead and nose in addition to a broken tooth. Another serious injury was Ali Hassan Qambar, 28 years, Nabih Saleh, who received stitches between the brow and the right eye due to receiving a rubber bullet during the attack. A third documented case is that of Muhammed Sahwan, who was also taken to hospital with head injuries resulting from a rubber bullet.

The BCHR can see no justification for this use of unnecessary force by Riot Police and condemns the aiming of rubber bullets at civilians, whether it be intentional or otherwise, and calls for an end to the excessive use of tear gas in crowds and heavily inhabited areas. Furthermore, the BCHR, once again calls for the immediate revision of the Bahraini Gathering Code which has been condemned widely by local and International Civil and Human Rights Organizations as restrictive and in violation of the fundamental rights of Freedom of gathering and association as stipulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

[1] "Crowd stampede woman recovers", Gulf Daily News, 24th September, 2006

[2] Joint Letter by Amnesty International and Article 19 Regarding Gathering Code

Report by Human Rights Watch on Gathering Code

BCHR and Human rights organizations condemn the on-going deterioration of humanitarian situation in Darfur

Cairo, September 17, 2006

In the Global Day of Solidarity with Darfur:

Human rights organizations condemn the on-going deterioration of humanitarian situation in Darfur and call upon the Sudanese Government to accept the deployment of the UN forces

Statement from 31 Organizations in 10 Arab Countries

The undersigned Human Rights organizations called upon the Sudanese Government to accept the deployment of UN forces in Darfur to monitor the implementation of the Abuja Peace Agreement and protect civilians. The said organizations reiterated that the on-going deterioration of human rights and humanitarian status in Darfur is attributed to the fact that the parties to the conflict, topped by the government, have disregarded a series of agreements that have been concluded since 2004 to reach a cease fire, protect civilians, disarm the government-backed militias "Janjaweed" and safeguard humanitarian protection and relief, until the Abuja Peace Agreement was signed on May 5, 2006. The said organizations called upon the international community and the Arab League to intensively pressurize the Government of Sudan to accept the UN Forces.

The organizations added that during the three months that followed the Peace Agreement, no improvement has taken place at the security level, as some ceasefire breaches by the parties to the conflict have been monitored. Then successive assaults followed, which claimed the lives of civilians at the hands of the Jandjawid militias and the government forces, together with armed opposition parties. The head of the UN mission in Khartoum Yan Brunik pointed out last August that the international organization's estimates show that about 1600 civilians have been killed in exchanged attacks between the parties to the conflict in the province. According to a report issued by the UN Secretary General last June, about 250 thousand persons have been displaced during the first half of this year. It has recently been reported that about 1000 people have been forced out in the aftermath of the government's attacks in northern Darfur which claimed the lives of dozens of civilians. The UN World Food Programme warned against the deteriorating food status of about 6 million people in Darfur, due to shortage of necessary funding. Furthermore, the ongoing violence in the province and the lack of a convenient security environment for the relief teams and the humanitarian organizations hinder the delivery of aids to about 3 million persons in Darfur and on the borders with Chad. Cases of rape and sexual violence are incessantly repeated against displaced women, while the Sudanese police take no procedures to identify the perpetrators.

The government has not respected its obligations to disarm the Janjaweed militias which committed crimes against humanity, as well as war crimes, since the dispute broke out in 2003. The government has not taken any procedures to bring perpetrators of these crimes to justice. Meanwhile, Sudanese Officials are disseminating counter propaganda against the UN presence in the province and against the International Criminal Court which is vested, according to the Security Council resolution no. 1593, with the authority to investigate the crimes committed in the province.

It is worth mentioning that since 2003 more than 2 million people in Darfur have been displaced and live in camps in Sudan or in refugee camps in Chad. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed due to armed assaults, rampant diseases and malnutrition. It is also worth mentioning that the Abuja Peace Agreement has been signed on May 5, 2006 between the Sudanese government and Minni Minyawi wing of the Sudanese Liberation Movement. Yet this agreement was countered by other factions, out of their dissatisfaction with the mechanisms of power and wealth sharing set out in the agreement, and due to lack of sufficient guarantees for the implementation of its provisions. The agreement has also overlooked the issues of justice, and compensation for the victims of conflict. The agreement has provided for several principles related to human rights. Nevertheless, such principles have not been practically applied since the signing of the agreement. The African Union has raised the numbers of its troops in Darfur from 300 to more than 7000 persons, and changed the mission of this force from controlling the ceasefire to protecting endangered civilians. Nevertheless, the African Union mission suffers a shortage of capabilities, a lack of technical support as well as obstacles continuously placed before it by the Sudan government, a matter which eventually hinders the effective performance of its role. Moreover, the mandate of the African Union mission will terminate by the end of the current month. The Security Council issued resolution no. 1706 on August 31, 2006, which provides for expanding the scope of the UN troops in Sudan to include Darfur. However, this is conditional upon the consent of the Sudanese government as per the resolution.

In this context, and concurrently with the proceedings taking place today worldwide in solidarity with the people of Darfur, the undersigned organizations reiterate the following recommendations:

1. Calling upon all the parties to the conflict, topped by the Sudanese government to immediately stop any military actions that threat the lives of civilians, and that all parties should bear their responsibility as regards the implementation of the Abuja Peace Agreement, and should respect the ceasefire, to put an end to the state of security disorders in the province.

2. urging the Sudanese government to support the arrangements necessary for transferring the peacekeeping and civilians protection missions to the UN, in execution of the Security Council resolution no. 1706 and calling upon the international community and the Arab governments to exercise pressures on the Sudanese government to approve the resolution, together with the necessity to support the African Union troops in the province until its mission is transferred to the UN.

3. Calling upon the international community to mobilize all resources in order to provide the humanitarian aids necessary for the life of displaced persons and refugees; and to exercise pressures for creating a secure and stable atmosphere for the humanitarian organizations and relief teams to work in the province.

4. Stressing the fact that any agreement necessarily requires the consent of all the parties concerned, and that it may not be imposed on the refusing bodies. In this context, the organizations urge the main mediators in the peace process not to close the dialogue with the armed movements that reject the agreement in its current form. The mediators should also try to reach satisfactory solutions to all parties, together with stressing the necessity of holding the Inter Darfurian Dialogue, proposed by the agreement, with the participation of all parties including the factions that reject the agreement. In this regard, the participation of the Arab and African civil community as observer should be ensured, provided the conference is vested with broader powers to reach resolutions acceptable by all parties.

5. Calling upon the Sudanese government, and other governments concerned, to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court, and to facilitate the mission of the Attorney General assigned to investigate the atrocities committed in the province, and to hold the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity accountable before the international court.

6. Calling upon the Sudanese government to promote the judicial system in the Sudan to guarantee its independence and integrity; to put an end to the policy of escaping penalty; and to realize justice and equity to the victims of human rights violations.

7. Pressurizing the Sudanese, government and the provincial governments in Darfur, to combat the forms of violence against women, especially the cases of sexual violence prevalent in Darfur, through the investigation of rape cases, the facilitation of complaint procedures, as well as streamlining the tasks of NGOs concerned with the psychological rehabilitation of victims.

The undersigned organizations:

1. Amel Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture (Sudan)

2. Al-Khawei Institute (Iraq).

3. Arab Network for Human Rights Information ( Egypt ).

4. Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti Violence Studies ( Egypt )

5. Bahraini Center for Human Rights

6. Bahraini Youth Society for Human Rights

7. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

8. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance

9. Center for Human Rights and Democracy Studies – Morocco

10. Civil Society Forum (Yemen).

11. Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies

12. Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.

13. Egyptian Association for Supporting Democratic Development.

14. Egyptian Center for Women's Rights

15. Filastiniyat

16. Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners ( Egypt ).

17. Khartoum Center for Human rights and Environment Development (Sudan)

18. land center for Human Rights

19. Moroccan Organization for Human Rights.

20. Palestinian Organization for Human Rights (Lebanon).

21. Saudi Center for Human Rights.

22. Sudanese Organization Against Torture " SOAT"

23. Sisters' Arab forum for Human Rights (Yemen).

24. Syrian center for media and freedom of Expression

25. Syrian Human Rights Organization.

26. The Association for Democracy Development

27. The Arab program for Human Rights Activists (Egypt).

28. The Yemeni Organization for the defense of Human Rights and democratic freedoms.

29. The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement

30. The Association for the Defense of Right and Liberties "ADDL" (Lebanon ).

31. The Committee for the Respect of Freedoms and the Humans Right in Tunisia.

Only 2 weeks after Banning Seminar Bahraini Authorities Ban Public Seminar with Threats and Security Blockade

Only 2 weeks after Banning Seminar on “Political Neutralization:

Bahraini Authorities Ban Public Seminar with Threats and Security Blockade

Fear of Excessive & Disproportionate Penalties for Activists

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights

Ref: 06091600

In a disturbing development which occurred yesterday evening, the Bahraini Interior Ministry banned a Public Seminar which was to be held by the HAQ Movement (Movement of Liberties & Democracy), under the pretext that it violates the Public Gathering Code. The Venue, in which the Seminar was to be held, was surrounded by special security forces and surveillance helicopters, hours before the event took place. The Local Police Precinct approached the Head of the Venue in which the Seminar was to be held, with orders that the Seminar be cancelled, and that a permit be requested in accordance to the Decree No. 18 of the year 1973 of Public Meetings, Processions and Gatherings (“Bahraini Gatherings Code”) . In a statement to the BCHR HAQ’s official spokesman stated that the movement refuses to submit to the controversial Code and will defy it, and declared that they would not request permission to exercise their natural rights. The movement did not wish to enter into a confrontation with the security forces or compromise peoples safety, therefore it chose to postpone the seminar until next week.

The Seminar was expected to shed light on the campaign carried out last month in the United States and the United Kingdoms by the “HAQ” movement, during which the representatives of the movement submitted a petition to the office of the United Nation Secretary General, signed by 82,000 Bahrainis calling for a new constitution. Significantly, The Bahraini Prime Minister had recently issued public threats against the activists who lead the campaign (BCHR Ref: 06090301) and the BCHR fears that the authorities might take action against members of the Movement in accordance to the highly excessive penalties associated with the gathering Code.

On a related matter, the BCHR has learnt that the authorities had banned another Seminar 2 weeks ago which was to be organized by political societies on the issue of “Political Naturalization”. Similar pretexts were used as justification for the banning. The Venue in which the Seminar was to be held, the “Al-Uruba Club” has previously been closed down by the authorities for hosting the BCHR seminar on “Poverty and Economic Rights”. The Gathering Code has been used to prevent many events since, and the recent amendments made to the former merely increases it restrictiveness and enhance it capability of violating such basic rights as freedom of gathering, freedom of assembly and freedom of Speech long guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Bahraini Gathering Code, has been condemned by local as well as international Human Rights Organizations in that it restricts freedom of speech as well as freedom of gathering in a way as to impose censorship on any entity which opposes the authority, and provides the authorities with an overall authority to ban any gathering or event. In an open letter to the Bahraini King prior to approval of additional restrictive amendments to the Code, Human Rights Watch warned that: “ that the law as presently drafted has the potential to undermine rather than protect the right of peaceful assembly as codified in Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”[1] Furthermore, in a joint letter by Amnesty international and Article 19, the law was criticized on numerous bases, and its penalties were described as “excessive and disproportionate for speech-related conduct”[2].

The BCHR calls once again for an immediate review of the Bahraini Gathering Code, which if kept in its current state will allow the authorities to impose further restrictions and violations on people’s Civil liberties and Human Rights. The Centre also calls for the protection of activists who merely exercise their right to freedom of speech, assembly and gathering.

[1] Human Rights Watch: Letter on the Amendments to Law 18 (1973) on Public Gatherings, 8th June 2006

[2] Joint Letter by Amnesty International and ARTICLE 19 regarding Public Gathering Law, 15th June 2006

Call for an end to the Harassment of Human Right Activists in the Region, Harassment of Prominent UAE Human Rights Activists

Call for an end to the Harassment of Human Right Activists in the Region Harassment of Prominent UAE Human Rights Activists by Special Security Forces Bahrain Centre for Human Rights Ref: 06080400

A wave of condemnation has spread throughout the Human Rights community following the continuous harassment of Dr. Mohammed Al-Rokan, a prominent Human Rights Activist , Law Professor at the UAE University and member of BCHR board of advisors. Dr. Al-Rokan has been arrested twice in the past three months due to Vocalizing his opinion on certain Human Rights issue in the region and in the UAE. The State Security forces have been accused of harassing Mr. Al-Rokan in an attempt to intimidate him and prevent him from continuing in his activities.

According to a recent Frontline report, the UAE authorities have confiscated the passports of Mr. Al-Rokan and he is not allowed to participate in media interviews or allowed to write articles in the press. The Report states that the two arrests occurred first in July, after an interview by the former to an Arab Television Channel on the Lebanon War, and the second arrest occurred on August 23rd where state security forces arrested him from his office. He was later released without facing any charges.

The BCHR is greatly concerned upon hearing allegations, that the State Security forces attempted to blackmail Mr. Al-Rokan, by threatening to smear his reputation with charges of indecent conduct, an approach that is becoming common with Special Security Forces. Bahrain has witnessed similar cases, the most recent being the case of Mr. Abdel-Raouf Al-Shayeb, president of the Victims of Torture Committee who was sentenced to 1 year in jail after he was tried with charges related to alleged aid of prostitution. He later received political asylum in Britain where he currently resides.

Moreover, the BCHR has learnt that another UAE Human Rights activist, Mr. Mohamed al-Mansoori, a human rights lawyer and President of the Independent Jurists association, has also suffered continuous harassments due to his line of work. A warrant of arrest has been issued in the UAE on Mr. Al-Mansoori, who is currently in London.

The BCHR condemns the harassment of Human Rights Activists in general, and Mr. Al-Rokan and Al-Mansoori in particular, and calls for an intervention of Human Rights Organizations around the world in order to secure their safety and freedom.

In a heated Session which BCHR Vice-President was Prevented from Attending “The Supreme Criminal Court” adjourns the trial"

In a heated Session which BCHR Vice-President was Prevented from Attending

“The Supreme Criminal Court” adjourns the trial of the Dana detainees until the 26th of September

Detained Activist Plea to Judge to Look into Continuous Mistreatment

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights

Ref: 06091400

The Supreme Criminal Court, with the chairmanship of Judge Mohammed Al Khalifa, adjourned yesterday, the trial sessions of the Dana detainees until September 26th in a session which ended in the families’ shouts and cries and the fainting of two of the detainees, because of their bad health condition and their strike which has reached its 14th day. The defendants who fainted as well as a distressed mother of one of the detainees were moved to hospital, the detainees were later returned to their detention Centre in the Dry Dock.

After the prosecution witnesses testified and were cross examined before the judge and defense, the defendant Moosa AbdAli, an activist with the Unemployment Committee who fainted at the end of the session, stood before the court to demand the judge look into, “their deteriorating health conditions, and the fact that prison guards in the past week, only call for an ambulance after one or two hours detainees faint,” informing the Judge that they, “went on a hunger strike because for the four past trial sessions prosecution witnesses had not attended and court sessions were postponed.” He also pointed out in an intense tone that, “they were exposed to physical torture, and the torture scars are still there, and one of the defendants who is 15 years old got sexually molested, which violates the Child Rights Agreement which Bahrain had joined.”

Abdali also mentioned that, “the defendant is innocent until proven guilty, that is why I request the court’s justice in releasing us on bail, so we can be able to file complaints to the public prosecution about our abuse, and we had already sent three letters to the Interior Minister without getting any reply.”

Significantly, one of the articles of Bahraini Law stipulates that it is possible that “the judge receives complaints from the defendants directly without the need for them to even go to the public prosecution,”. The Judge requested that the lawyers present a written complaint of the former, whether or not any action will prevail is still to be seen.

The defense, (Fatima Al Hawaj and Abdullah Al Shamlawi), posed questions during the session to the prosecution witnesses and they are (an officer with a major rank, and a policeman) about the details of arrest of the defendants.

Al Hawaj asked the two witnesses about using tear gas or rubber bullets, but they denied. One of the witnesses said that the defendants threw stones at them specifically and not randomly.

However, at the same time they were not clearly answering some of the particular questions claiming that they do not remember, as a long time had passed since the Dana incidents happened. One of them said that he found a fire extinguisher with one of the defendants, and when he was asked by the defense about it he said that he “did not keep it.” Furthermore both witnesses confirmed that they did not hear any call by the riot police to the demonstrators to disperse before the attack, a procedure they must conform to before attacking any demonstration.

Al Hawaj called upon one of the defendant’s wife as a denial witness, and the witness said that she was with her husband in Dana Mall for shopping, to “prepare for the awaited baby” and she went to the restroom but when she came out she could not find her husband. She called him several times without getting a respond, “even with a deliberate hang up some times” as she states, until she found out that the riot police had arrested him.

Several people protested in front of the court’s building, carrying slogans that demand the release of the detainees. A concentrated presence of security was noticed in front of the court’s building and inside the session.

Significantly, the Vice-President of the Bahrain Centre for Human rights Nabeel Rajab and one of the activists that was accompanying him, were prevented from attending the trial session.

Ministry of Social Development Threatens Civil and Human Rights Societies with Legal and Administrative Action

Ministry of Social Development Threatens Civil and Human Rights Societies with Legal and Administrative Action

Societies Law of 1989 Used Yet Again to Intimidate Societies

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights

Ref: 06091100

Sources from the Ministry of Social Development went on record to the Alayam Daily Newspaper, on the 5th of September, 2006 with threats of legal and judicial review of a number of civil Societies, amongst them the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, and the Bahrain Child Society. The Ministry claims both Societies have failed to receive permits which enables them to function. The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights’ request for a permit was previously refused by the Ministry, and so was the request made by the Bahrain Child Centre. The Societies law of 1989 prohibits minors under the age of 18 of organizing themselves or establishing a Society.

The Ministry claims that the Youth Society continues to participate and organize events both in Bahrain and outside. It stated that other societies are working without permits, and they will be addresses shortly, but the former had previously received an official warning and have chosen to continue their work. The Societies Law of 1989, the sources clarify, prohibit any society from commencing in any work without an official permit. On the other hand, members of the Youth Society deny receiving any previous warning, and have informed the BCHR that their participation in International Human Rights Conferences and Sessions outside Bahrain as well as their organizing of events internally is a fundamental part of their freedom of association and freedom of speech, protected by the International Declaration of Human Rights.

Significantly the Head of the Youth Society, Mr. Mohammed A-Masqati assisted in the organization of the first regional workshop on human rights in cooperation with the Yemeni Youth Development Centre in The Republic of Yemen, from the 26th to the 31st of August, the workshop was attended by youth from a number of Arab countries. The Society had also recently organized a workshop “Youth and the Challenge of Human Rights” from the 2nd to the 5th of July. The workshop aimed at training over 30 Saudi and Bahraini youth on Human Rights issues and hosted a number of Human Rights activists, amongst them Mr. Al-Khawaja, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.

On a related matter, the BCHR has learnt that the Women’s Petition Committee have also received a harsh verbal warning from individuals in the Ministry, threatening to drag the head of the Society Ms. Ghada Jamsheer to court again. Ms. Jamsheer has been in and out of court on matters relating to Womens Rights for the past years.

The BCHR calls for an end to these continuous threats against Civil and Human Rights Societies by the Ministry of Social Development, and yet again requests an immediate review of the Societies Law of 1989, which the BCHR was closed down in accordance to 3 years ago, after the arrest of the Centers President Mr. Abdul-hadi Al-khawaja. The Ministry had claimed that the Centre was working outside its jurisdiction therefore justifying its closure, and continues, up to date, to threaten the Centers members with legal prosecution due to their continued work. The Societies Law has been denounced and criticized by International Human Rights Organization more than once in the past, and the BCHR feels that a failure to put an end to this law might result in the closing down of additional Societies in the future.

BCHR Urgent Action:Moosa Abdali on Hunger Strike Since Friday Protesting his Detention

Activist Renews Hunger Strike & Requests Meeting with Interior Minister

Moosa Abdali on Hunger Strike Since Friday Protesting his Detention

Reports of Mr. Abdali’s Referral to Hospital Twice Since Strike

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights

REF: 06090401

The BCHR has learnt that, Mr. Moosa Abdali, 26 years, Ekr Village, an active member of the Unemployment Committee, has decided to renew his hunger strike in prison in order to protest his arrest and has requested a meeting with Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa, the Minister of Interior to discuss his case. The Minister, had assured Mr Abdali, after a meeting with Mr. Abd-Ali, his father, and Nabeel Rajab, vice-president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights on December 4th, 2006 that he would start an investigation into the allegation made by Mr. Abdali that he was abducted and severely beaten, and bring those responsible to justice. (Refer to BCHR report describing allegations made by Mr. Abdali that a number of plainclothes persons affiliated with or acting on behalf of Bahraini security forces abducted Mr. Abdali on the night of November 27, Ref:04020603). Nothing had come of these promises, and Mr. Abdali had decided to suspend his cooperation with the authorities(BCHR Ref:06010101) before his arrest in connection to what became know as the “Dana Mall” case which he is currently facing charges participation in an unauthorized gathering (Ref:06081701).

The Defendants in the Dana Mall case have repetitively protested against prison condition and treatment, and have previously gone on a hunger strike which ended after security officials promised them better conditions and possibly, a speedy trial (Ref: 06082201). According to Mr. Abdali, these promises have not been kept, therefore since last Friday, he has renewed his hunger strike. Reports have been received that Mr. Abdali has been moved to the Bahrain Defense Force hospital (BDF) twice since the strike.

The BCHR requests an urgent intervention on behalf of the activist Moosa Abdali, and once again protests against the authorities targeting of active members of Civil and Human Rights Societies in a systematic manner in order to silence them. The BCHR will be following the Dana trial, the next hearing to be held on the 14th of September, 2006, and will relate details of the trial as it proceeds into its 6th month without witnessing any substantial development, and with no indication of any end in sight.

Kindly refer to BCHR Website for relevant documents and reports at: www.bahrainrights.org