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Urgent appeal: Bahrain to convict prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab on Monday 10 July

According to Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers and a social media statement published by his family on 4 July, the Bahraini judiciary will issue a sentence on 10 July in one of the two cases for which he is under investigation.

On 3 July, Rajab had his last hearing on the case related to press interviews he attended in 2015 and 2016, under the charges of “publishing and broadcasting false news that undermine the prestige of the state”. Neither him, nor his lawyers attended the trial however. The lawyers have boycotted the trial since 14 June, in protest of the court’s decision to hold the hearings in Rajab’s absence. Rajab is still at the MOI hospital recovering from a major surgery he has sustained in April. Despite his doctor’s statement at the Ministry of Interior (MOI) hospital that he cannot be discharged, the judge went ahead with the hearing, allegedly without his lawyers defence plea being heard by the court.

Nabeel Rajab is the president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and a prominent human rights defender, that has spoken out nationally and internationally against human right violations in the Kingdom. The Bahraini authorities have unlawfully detained Rajab for more than a year now, and subjected him to solitary confinement for most part of his time in jail. His charges were based on press interviews criticizing the ban on foreign press in Bahrain in 2015 and 2016, and on alleged tweets and retweets concerning the use of torture against political prisoners, and the war in Yemen led by a Gulf coalition including Bahrain. He faces three year-imprisonment for the case related to press interviews, and 15 years for the case on tweets and retweets.  

Rajab’s pretrial detention has been marred by allegations of mistreatment. His health has gravely deteriorated while in solitary confinement. On 5 April Rajab underwent surgery for bleeding ulcers. Shortly after he was sent back to solitary confinement where he developed an infection. On 8 April he was rushed back to the MOI hospital. The Bahraini authorities have denied him access to his family for almost two weeks, as well as cutting off communication with his lawyers.

BCHR urges the international community to call on Bahrain to release Nabeel Rajab and other human rights defenders and activists from unlawful detention for merely exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of speech and of expression.

 

 

Bahraini activist arrested over torture claims, says rights group

A Bahraini activist was arrested at her home late on Monday by masked and armed state security officers, a rights group said on Tuesday.

The arrest of Ebtisam al-Sayeh comes a month after she complained of being tortured and sexually assaulted when she was summoned for questioning, according to the London-based Bahrain Centre for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).

Amnesty International on Tuesday urged Bahraini authorities to release the human rights activist, who it said was at "high risk of torture".

Read the article here.

Bahrain 'arrests' activist who claimed she was tortured

A Bahraini human rights activist has reportedly been arrested, a month after she complained of being beaten and sexually assaulted by security forces.
Amnesty International said Ebtisam al-Saegh was detained on Monday night during a raid on her home by about 25 plain-clothes officers wearing masks.
No warrant was presented, but Ms Saegh was later seen by witnesses at the Issa Town detention centre, the group added.
It expressed deep concern about her wellbeing and called for her release.

Read the article here.

Bahrain: Woman human rights defender at high risk of torture, including sexual assault

In response to news about the arrest of human rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh by the Bahraini authorities on the night of 3 July 2017 Samah Hadid, Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International in the Middle-East said: 

“The Bahraini authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Ebtisam al-Saegh whose only crime is speaking up against a government committed to crushing all forms of dissent.” 

“We are deeply concerned about Ebtisam’s wellbeing. When she was arrested in May 2017, she was beaten and sexually assaulted by members of the Bahraini National Security Agency. Bahraini authorities have failed to investigate those claims and we fear that she is at high risk of torture as long as she remains in custody.”

Read the article here.

Bahrain: Women’s rights activist arrested and risks torture

As she was getting ready for bed on 3 July, Bahraini women’s rights defender Ebtisam Al-Sayegh was arrested by masked officers. Her whereabouts remain unknown.

Just before midnight, five civilian cars and one minibus arrived at Al-Sayegh’s home. Two female officers demanded she handed over both her mobile phone and her national identity card. No arrest warrant was presented and the officers did not answer questions from her family on why she was being arrested. Her family believe these officers are from the Bahraini National Security Agency.

Read the article here.

Urgent Appeal: Unlawful Detention of WHRD Ebtisam Al-Saegh

Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Dr. Dubravka Simonovic
OHCHR-UNOG,
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, ​
Switzerland
 
Assistant Secretary-General Andrew Gilmore
High official on reprisals against human rights defenders
cooperating with the UN
 
Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practise
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
CH-1211 Geneva 10,
Switzerland

 

Dear Special Rapporteur,

Dear Chair-Rapporteur,

Dear Assistant Secretary-General,

On 3 July at approximately 11:45 PM Bahraini security forces raided the home of prominent WHRD  Ebtisam Al-Saegh and arrested her. Ebtisam Al-Saegh is currently affiliated to SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights (SALAM DHR) and is well-known for her cooperation with the United Nations mechanisms in exposing human rights violations in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

According to reports from the ground, the Bahraini security forces descended on her house from five civilian cars and a bus. Her family received no explanations as to the reasons behind her arrest, nor have they heard from Ebtisam Al-Saegh on her current whereabouts since then. She is believed to have been detained in Isa Town women’s prison and transferred by the Bahraini National Security Agency (NSA) in an unknown location in the morning of July 4. She is at high risk of torture and sexual violence due to her human rights work. Inmates from Isa prison who are normally allowed out of their cells in the morning have not been allowed to today, allegedly because of Ebtisam Al-Saegh’s presence in the prison and torture and ill-treatment she might be facing.

This is the second time that Ebtisam Al-Saegh is arrested this year. On 26 May, Ebtisam Al-Saegh was summoned by the Bahraini National Security Agency (NSA) to be interrogated in Muharraq. She later revealed that during her seven-hour interrogation, she was sexually and physically abused by her interrogators, beaten all over her body, kicked in the head and stomach. They subjected her to verbal abuse, groping of breasts and rape. The interrogators also threatened her with the safety of her husband and children if she did not quit her human rights activism and her association with the SALAM organization.

During the interrogation, she was asked to disclose information about other Bahraini human rights activists, both in Bahrain and abroad; additionally, she was interrogated on her participation at the UN Human Rights Council 34th session in March 2017. Following the interrogation, Al-Saegh was immediately hospitalized in a state of shock.

Bahrain has a long record of stifling dissent by targeting activists, such as harassments, beatings, arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and torture in detention, unlawful detentions and intrusive surveillance.

While these patterns of repression are well documented, little attention has been paid to the toll of this repression on women activists. Women involved in advocacy campaigns or public event at the UN such as Ebtisam Al-Saegh have been particularly targeted and face an array of abusive practices their male colleagues are less likely to have to contend with – from sexual violence to imposing humiliating positions or questioning during interrogations. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, in addition to being blindfolded as her male colleagues, reported that the officers held her legs open during most of her interrogation and sexually abused her.

According to a recent investigation by BCHR submitted to the CAT, sexual violence and sexual harassment are routinely being used to torture women into confessing to crimes in Bahrain.

As you highlighted in a joint statement,  when women like Ebtisam Al-Saegh are tortured or ill-treated, they are specifically at risk of forms of violence that target them because of their gender.

We respectfully urge you to issue an urgent and public communication to the Bahraini authorities concerning the particular risk faced by Ebtisam Al-Saegh to be subjected to further torture and sexual abuses.  It will greatly help raising her profile of women rights defender, calling attention to the particular risk she faces, and ensuring she receives appropriate remedies.

 

 

 

Human Rights Defender Ebtesam al-Saegh Lawlessly Detained for Second Time in as Many Months; Grave Fears of Renewed Torture

At approximately 11:45 p.m. local time in Bahrain, on the night of 3–4 July, long-time human rights defender Ebtesam al-Saegh was detained by state security for the second time in as many months. When Ms. al-Saegh was last detained in the final days of May, the officers torturing her – using physical violence, sexual abuse, and threats to murder her and her children – openly told her they were from Bahrain’s notorious National Security Agency (NSA), and were equally open about the fact that they were torturing her precisely because she was a human rights defender.

Ms. al-Saegh has been a vital advocate for human rights in Bahrain at a time when voicing such opinions inside the country has become extraordinarily dangerous. She has been one of the few people left willing to speak openly on behalf of human rights in Bahrain, and has done so persistently and courageously at increasingly steep personal cost.

Read article here.

Ebtisem Al-Saegh Arrested, at Risk of Torture

At approximately 11:45pm on 3 July, Bahrain security forces arrested without warrant WHRD Ebtisam Al-Saegh following a raid on her home. In May 2017, Al-Saegh was detained, sexually assaulted and tortured at the National Security Agency in Muharraq, where her family believe she is now being held.

Five civilian cars and a bus arrived at the defender's home, following which masked officers in plainclothes raided the house and arrested her without presenting a warrant. Her family reported that all those raiding the home were wearing masks, body cameras, and weapons.

Read article here.

Women Rights Activist Ebtisam Al-Sayegh Arrested by NSA, Serious Risk of Torture

4 July 2017 – Police have arrested woman Human Rights Defender Ebtisam Al-Sayegh, 48, in a midnight raid on her home. She is believed to be detained by the National Security Agency, and is at high risk of torture. Al-Sayegh was tortured at the NSA building in Muharraq in May. The NSA is the cite of many recent torture allegations and is headed by Sheikh Talal Al Khalifa, a Bahraini royal and Sandhurst graduate.

Read article here.

Bahraini Alleged Torture Victim Arrested-Rights Group

A Bahraini activist was arrested at her home late on Monday by masked and armed state security officers, a month after she complained of being tortured and sexually assaulted when she was summoned for questioning, a London-based rights group said.

Western-allied Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based, has stepped up a crackdown on critics, shutting down two main political groups, revoking the citizenship of a Shi'ite Muslim spiritual leader and jailing rights campaigners.

Officers believed to be from the National Security Agency (NSA) surrounded Ebtisam al-Sayegh's home and arrested her, the London-based Bahrain Centre for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said.

Read article here.