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Opening Statement by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein about Bahrain "HRC 33rd Regular Session"

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, Calls on the Bahraini Government for Compliance with the Human Rights Mechanisms

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, Calls on Bahraini Government to Comply with Human Rights Mechanisms

In a welcome move, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed his concern about the current situation in Bahrain as the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council opened in Geneva on 13 September 2016.

He articulated his concerns about the harassment and arrests of human rights defenders and political activists. Furthermore, he criticised Bahraini legislation for enabling the revocation of citizenships.

“The past decade has demonstrated repeatedly, and with punishing clarity, how disastrous the outcomes can be when the government attempts to smash the voices of its people instead of serving them.”


He called for more intensified cooperation by asking the Bahraini government “to comply with the recommendations of the Human Rights mechanisms” and to engage more productively with his office and the Human Rights Council’s special procedures. Bahrain’s human rights record will be examined under the Universal Periodic Review in 2017. He stressed that, “Only by working together can we solve our common problems. There is no alternative.”

In support of High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein’s comments, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls on the Bahraini government to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release all arrested human rights defenders and political activists, including BCHR’s founders Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who are detained for expressing their opinion;
  • Adhere to international human rights standards by respecting as well as upholding the right to freedom of expression without any restrictions;
  • End the practice of arbitrary citizenship revocation and reinstall all citizenships revoked for politically-motivated purposes; and
  • More actively engage with the Human Rights Council and UN mechanisms, including the upcoming Universal Periodic Review.

Listen to Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein's full statement here

Human Rights Watch Testimony at Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Hearing on Human Rights in Bahrain: Next Steps

Chairman McGovern, Chairman Pitts, members of the Commission, thank you for the invitation to testify on Bahrain. This hearing comes at the end of a week when Bahrain’s most notable human rights defender had an op-ed in the New York Times, only to be charged the next day with “deliberate dissemination of false news and spreading tendentious rumors that undermine the prestige of the state.” In response, the Times ran a stinging editorial which notes that relying “on rulers who have responded to dissent with torture, tear gas, jail cells and travel bans is not a defensible long-term strategy.” 

As you know, the majority of Bahrainis are Shiite but the country is ruled by the Al Khalifa family, a Sunni-dominated autocratic monarchy that has shown a clear aversion to meaningful reform, despite a number of cosmetic initiatives. In 2011, the authorities used lethal force to suppress a largely peaceful pro-democracy movement, which proved to be a turning point and required the government to engage more directly – and publicly – on structural reform. Unfortunately, although King Hamad appointed an independent commission – the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) –  to document human rights violations and dutifully accepted all of its recommendations, he has done little to implement the most substantive ones.


Read the full statement here.

Human Rights First’s Dooley Testifies on Bahrain before Congressional Committee

In testimony today before the U.S. Congress’s Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley will urge U.S. policymakers to take action to press for human rights reforms in Bahrain. He will also urge members of Congress to support a bipartisan bill that would ban the sale of small arms and ammunition to Bahrain until the government demonstrates human rights progress on recommendations laid out in a 2011 report. 

“Through the smallest country in the Middle East, Bahrain exemplifies several of the major challenges for U.S. policy in the region,” Dooley noted in his prepared statement. “2016 promises to be a definitive year as a series of issues converge to threaten Bahrain… The remaining months will be important as President Obama shapes his legacy in the Middle East.”


Continue reading here.

Bahrain Clerics Appeal to HRC: Sectarian Persecution Reached Dangerous Levels

Bahrain's Shiite clerics sent a letter to the Head of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the diplomatic missions of Member States at the Geneva council during its 33rd session.

They declared in their letter that the rising sectarian persecution against the Shiite majority is reaching dangerous levels.

In their letter dated Friday (September 9, 2016) the reigious scholars listed a chain of governmental actions that was recently conducted against the Shiite majority, most serious was the trial of Shiite spiritual leader in Bahrain, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, and the revocation of his citizenship, on the basis of performing a Shiite religious obligation (Khums).


Continue reading here.

Deep Concerns at Health of Detainee Khalil Al-Halwachi after Suffering from Stroke that Made him Lose Ability to Move

Bahrain Mirror: Head of the Monitoring and documentation department at the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights (EBOHR), activist Fatima Al-Halwachi, said that her father Khalil Halwachi (59 years), who has been in the pre-detention prison since over 2 years, suffered from a new stroke in prison which made him lose the ability to move his body.

Fatima posted on her own twitter account saying that her father was transferred to the Dry Dock prison's clinic and he did not receive the adequate medication or needed treatment.

She continued "in a short phone call with my father from the prison, he explained the symptoms he suffered from; inability to move his body, numbness and pain in the stomach, chest and heart."

Read full article here

US calls for release of Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab

The US State Department on Tuesday called for Rajab's immediate release after The New York Times published a letter by the activist that said he was facing prosecution for his work exposing human rights abuses in Bahrain and criticising the war in Yemen.

Prosecutors in Bahrain filed new charges on Monday against an unidentified man, believed by rights activists to be Rajab, for "publishing a column in a foreign newspaper in which he deliberately spread news, statements and false rumours that undermine the kingdom's stature".

"The case is still being investigated by the public prosecution," said a  Bahraini government spokesperson, who did not name Rajab as the subject of the new charges. "The public prosecution is independent of the government. Every suspect, as per the laws of the Kingdom of Bahrain, is not guilty until proven otherwise."

Read full article here

Australian Greens Party Seeks Halting Export of Advanced Monitoring Devices to Bahrain

The Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights said that The Australian Greens (Australia's Green Political Party) has promised to intervene diplomatically to halt the export of advanced monitoring devices to the Bahraini Interior Ministry. These devices are used in the authorities' repression of pro-democracy peaceful protests.

Read full article here.

US Department of State calls for immediate release of Nabeel Rajab

The Spokesman of the US State Department, Mark Toner, said in yesterday's ( 6 September) Press Briefing that the United States is "very concerned" about Nabeel Rajab's ongoing detention and about the new charges filed against him. He further stated that the US Government calls on the Government of Bahrain "to release him immediately".

Read the transcription of the press briefing here on the State Department's webpage or watch the piece here via twitter.

Punishing Dissent in Bahrain

Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist in Bahrain, has racked up a long rap sheet of trumped-up charges over the past decade for peacefully exercising his right to criticize the government. The latest charges illustrate how far the gulf nation’s leaders are willing to go to crush dissent. On Monday, prosecutors in Bahrain announced that Mr. Rajab had been charged with “deliberate dissemination of false news and spreading tendentious rumors that undermine the prestige of the state.” His supposed offense? Writing an op-ed article, titled “Letter From a Bahraini Jail,” which was published Sunday in The Times.

Read full article here