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Prince Charles to visit Bahrain amid claims of rights abuse

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will visit Bahrain later this year despite growing concerns about a crackdown on human rights in the small Gulf kingdom.

Clarence House said on Tuesday that Charles would visit in November on behalf of the British government and was aimed at strengthening the UK’s “warm bilateral relations with key partners in the region”.

The UK has long had close ties with Bahrain, which hosts a British military base and buys millions of dollars of British arms every year.

The two royal families are also said to have close personal ties, with King Hamad notably sitting next to the queen during her 90th birthday celebrations earlier this year.

But the close ties have come under growing criticism since 2011 when Arab Spring-inspired protests in the kingdom were brutally crushed and many activists and political opponents imprisoned.

Read the entire article here.

Human Rights First - Meet Bahrain’s Awful Judges

In a Bahrain court yesterday Judge Ebrahim Al Zayed presided over a brief, few-minute hearing in the case of political dissident Khalil AlHalwachi, arrested two years ago on fabricated charges of various terrorism offenses, including the possession of a rifle. He's on trial with 16 others. The case was adjourned yesterday with a verdict now set for October 20.

It’s a familiar story in Bahrain, where a single family runs a totalitarian regime and the judiciary plays an important role in intimidating and silencing opposition figures and human rights activists.

Read the full article here.

‘Democratic’ doublespeak in Bahrain: how the government spins its summer of repression

Since the beginning of June, the Government of Bahrain has forcibly exiled activist Zainab al-Khawaja; denaturalized the country’s most prominent Shia cleric, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim; dissolved the largest opposition group, Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society; rearrested celebrated human rights defender Nabeel Rajab; brought criminal charges against internationally-renowned interfaith leader Sheikh Maytham al-Salman; and judicially harassed more than 60 Shia religious figures on allegations linked solely to sermons and peaceful demonstrations.

Khalifa Alfadhel, a law professor at the University of Bahrain and a royally-appointed member of the Bahrain Institute for Political Development (BIPD) run by the Minister of Information Affairs, seems to think it’s obvious. In two similar articles recently submitted to RealClearPolitics and openDemocracy – “Bahrain's Little Known Democratic Move” and “The suspension of Wefaq: a triumph for democracy in Bahrain” – Alfadhel characterizes 2016 as a watershed year for the country, asserting that the government has finally defeated the forces of “neomedievalism” in the name of “pluralism, tolerance and political liberalism” by closing Al-Wefaq and prohibiting religious leaders from political participation


Read the full article here

Czech Republic condemns human rights violations in Bahrain

20 September 2016 - During the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic, Jan Kára, delivered a statement on item 4 during the General debate, in which he condmned the human rights violations in Bahrain.

In the statement, he said that "we regret that the Bahraini authorities deprive individuals of their nationality and continue the systematic harassment of the prominent human rights defenders such as Sheik Maytham Al-Salman or religious leader and politician Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Quassim."

Read the full Czech statement here.

Switzerland concerned about Al-Wefaq dissolution and travel bans for activists

On 19 September, the Swiss representative at the United Nations Human Rights Council expressed his country's concern about the dissolution of Bahrain's major opposition party the Al-Wefaq Islamic National Society, and increasing the imprisonment sentence against its Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman to 9 years. He also condemned the travel ban imposed on the Bahraini rights activists.

Read the full statement here (French only).

UK Concerned about Recent Bahrain Developments, Confirms Regular Follow-up on Bahrain Issues

The UK expressed concern over the recent developments in Bahrain, citing fears of an aftermath to dissolving the major opposition party in the country, Al-Wefaq Society, and the revocation of the Shiite majority spiritual leader, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim's citizenship.

In response to a parliamentary question, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Tobias Ellwood said, "We are concerned about the recent developments in Bahrain, and we have clearly responded in our public and private meetings."

Read article in "Bahrain Mirror" about the statement here.

Or find the full statement here.

Bahraini Interior Ministry: NYPD Ready to Exchange Expertise with Bahrain

The Bahraini Interior Ministry announced that the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the United States said it is willing to contribute to exchanging expertise with Bahrain, in the field of police work and force.

In a statement issued Saturday (September 17, 2016), the Interior Ministry quoted the second senior official at the office of the State's Public Security Chief, James O'Neill, saying, "the entire NYPD is willing to contribute to exchanging expertise and knowledge in a way that achieves the aspirations of both sides."

Read full article here.

BCHR at HRC33: Council Should Pass a Resolution on Bahrain

On 19 September, Maryam al-Khawaja, Co-Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), delivered an oral intervention at the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva under Item 4, together with Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Institute for Human Rights (BIRD) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).

Please continue reading for full remarks or click here for the PDF. You can find a video of the intervention here.


Mr. President,

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, together with the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Gulf Center for Human Rights, would like to call the Council’s attention to the Government of Bahrain’s long-standing and systematic abuse of human rights, particularly concerning prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders.

In early 2011, the Government of Bahrain, with the support of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, violently suppressed the popular pro-democracy movement calling for human rights and democratic reforms. Five years later, many of the abuses of 2011 have been institutionalized by the Bahraini state.

Torture and arbitrary detention are widespread and systematic in Bahrain, where false confessions extracted under torture lead to arbitrary convictions by courts lacking any semblance of independence under international standards. Under Bahrain’s counter-terror law, freedoms of assembly and expression are vastly restricted, including blanket ban on protests in the capital, Manama, and all forms of dissenting expression are criminalized. As a result, Bahrain’s prisons are now home to almost 4,000 political prisoners, among them are almost all of Bahrain’s leading political opposition figures, activists and human rights defenders.

In addition, most of the “Bahrain 13” 2011 protest leaders, remain in prison today. Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Dr. Abdujalil al-Singace, Abdulwahab Hussain, Hassan Mushaima, Mohammed Habib al-Miqdad, Sheikh Saeed al-Noori, and Sheikh Abduljalil al-Miqdad are serving arbitrary life sentences, while Sheikh Abdulhadi al-Mukhodher, Mohammed Hassan Jawad, Sheikh Mirza al-Mahroos, and Mohammed Ali Ismael are serving 15-year sentences.

Those that they don’t imprison, Bahrain has chosen to denaturalize and expel from the country. The government has arbitrarily denaturalized over 300 Bahrainis, the majority of whom are human rights defenders, political opposition figures, journalists, academics and Shia religious leaders.

We therefore call on this Council to pass a resolution on Bahrain that insists that the government immediately release all prisoners of conscience and mandates independent investigations into past and present abuses to facilitate accountability.

Thank you.

BCHR at HRC33: arbitrary detention

On 16 September, Sayed Alwadaei, the Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy delivered the intervention under Item 3 on special procedures at the 33rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, together with the AlSalam Foundation, the Americans for Rights and Democracy in Bahrain (ADHRB) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).

See full remarks below. 


Mr. President, 

Alsalam Foundation, together 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 raise our concern over increasing trends of arbitrary detention. 

For example, in the special procedures’ joint communications report released this week, the mandates raised concerns about the detention of the human rights activist Zeinab al-Khawaja and her infant son in Bahrain. While Zeinab has now been released and forced into exile under threat of renewed indefinite detention, many others in Bahrain face different circumstances. 

Following the arbitrary denaturalization of Bahrain’s Shia religious leader, Sheikh Isa Qassim, hundreds, if not thousands, of people took to the streets of the village of Diraz to stage a peaceful sit in around his home to prevent his deportation. Since then, the Bahraini government has begun systematically targeting other Shia clerics with interrogations, harassment, arrest and arbitrary detentions in relation to their gathering in Diraz in support of Sheikh Isa. 

Prominent human rights defenders have also recently been targeted with arbitrary arrest. At the start of the last HRC, Nabeel Rajab, President of BCHR was arrested in relation to tweets, and may serve up to 15 years social media comments in relation to his work. Likewise, Sheikh Maytham al-Salman, an interfaith leader and human rights defender has also been arbitrarily arrested and interrogated by Bahraini authorities. 

We therefore call on all states, including Bahrain, to end the practice of arbitrary arrest and detention, and for the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners. 

Thank you. 


Read the intervention in pdf format here

US Representative at HRC Expresses Concerns over Freedom of Expression in Bahrain

The US Representative to the Human Rights Council, Keith Harper, expressed his country's concerns over the Bahraini government's recent measures, which included an imposed travel ban on human rights defenders who wanted to take part in the Human Rights Council's 33rd session. In a statement delivered by Harper at the council, the US demanded that these measures be put to an end, and stressed that the steps taken by the Bahraini government trigger concerns over the respect of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the Gulf kingdom.

Read the full article here.