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Amnesty Intl., EU parliament urge Bahrain to release rights activist Nabeel Rajab

Amnesty International and the European Parliament have independently called on Bahrain to free prominent human rights defender and activist Nabeel Rajab, insisting charges against him be dropped and calling his detention "a shameless attack" on free speech. "Bahraini authorities must immediately release human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and drop all charges against him," Amnesty International said in its statement  on Friday, denouncing what the organization called Bahrain’s "barefaced assault on freedom of expression."

Read the entire article here.

FIDH - Twenty-Six NGOs Call for Immediate and Unconditional Release of Bahraini Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab, Prior to His Trial Tomorrow

Tomorrow, 12 July 2016, the trial of the prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab begins. Facing charges related to comments on the social media website Twitter, Rajab may be sentenced to more than ten years in prison. We, the undersigned NGOs, hold the government of Bahrain responsible for the deterioration of Rajab’s health due to poor detention conditions. We call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Rajab, and to drop all charges against him.

Read the full article here.

Index - European Parliament adopts resolution condemning Bahrain’s human rights abuses

Yesterday, the European Parliament adopted, with a large majority, a resolution condemning recent human rights abuses performed by Bahraini authorities, and strongly called for an end to the ongoing repression against the country’s human rights defenders, political opposition and civil society.

Members of the European Parliament called for the immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab and other human rights defenders jailed over charges related to the exercise of their freedom of speech. They further condemned Bahraini authorities’ measures to prevent representatives of civil society from participating in the work of international bodies, such as the recent imposition of travel bans on the delegation set to attend the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June

Read the entire article here.

Torture, imprisonment and killing – so what would it take for Bahrain to be criticised by Philip Hammond?

Bahrainis are calling their government’s intensified repression of all opposition “the Egyptian strategy”, believing that it is modelled on the ruthless campaign by the Egyptian security forces to crush even the smallest signs of dissent.

In recent weeks leading advocates of human rights in Bahrain have been jailed in conditions directed at breaking them physically and mentally, while others, already in prison, have been given longer sentences. The Bahraini citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qasim, the spiritual leader of the Shia majority in Bahrain, was revoked and the headquarters of the main opposition party, al-Wifaq, closed and its activities suspended.

Bahrain, once considered one of the more liberal Arab monarchies, is turning into a police state as vicious and arbitrary as anywhere else in the region. Mass protests demanding an end to the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty’s monopoly of power during the Arab Spring period in 2011 were violently suppressed with Saudi military and financial help. The authorities agreed to an international investigation into what had happened that revealed widespread use of torture, unjust imprisonment and killings of protesters. Repression continued over the following five years but failed to eliminate entirely the protest movement, despite imprisoning at least 3,500 Bahrainis.

Read the entire article here.

Bahrain accused of launching cyber war on protest village

Bahrain has been accused of shutting down internet and mobile coverage in a village beset by anti-government protests, while automated Twitter accounts bombard a popular local hashtag with sectarian, anti-Shia content. 

The latest round of demonstrations in Diraz began on 20 June when Bahrain’s government stripped the country’s highest ranking Shia cleric and Dirza resident, Sheikh Isa Qassim, of his citizenship. 

Read the full article here.

European Parliament adopts an urgency resolution condemning Bahraini authorities’ crackdown on civil society and political opposition

08 July 2016 – Brussels, Belgium – Yesterday, the European Parliament adopted, with a large majority, a resolution condemning recent human rights abuses performed by Bahraini authorities, and strongly called for an end to the ongoing repression against the country’s human rights defenders, political opposition and civil society.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) called for the immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab and other human rights defenders jailed over charges related to the exercise of their freedom of speech. They further condemned Bahraini authorities’ measures to prevent representatives of civil society from participating in the work of international bodies, such as the recent imposition of travel bans on the delegation set to attend the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June.

In the resolution, MEPs urged the Bahraini government to stop persecuting legitimate political opposition. They condemned the decision to suspend the country’s biggest opposition group, Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, and called for the release of Sheikh Ali Salman, the group’s secretary general whose sentence was increased from 4 to 9 years in May.

The MEPs particularly condemned the Bahraini authorities’ misuse of anti-terrorism laws and mechanisms for denaturalisation as means of political pressure. The European Parliament strongly called on the authorities to reverse the decision to revoke the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qassim and to “restore Bahraini citizenship to all those individuals who were unfairly stripped of it.”

The resolution also called for the effective implementation of the 2011 recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, the Universal Periodic Review and the country’s own constitutional provisions linked to the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Furthermore, the resolution recognised the risk of impending execution faced by Mohammed Ramadan and Ali Moosa

Finally, MEPs condemned the agreements on trade in weapons and technologies used to violate human rights and called for the prohibition of exports of tear gas and anti-riot equipment to Bahrain until investigations have been carried out into their inappropriate use.

The undersigned NGOs strongly welcome the resolution as a clear signal to the Bahraini authorities that they must respect their international commitments, as well as their own constitution, and allow their citizens to exercise their basic rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression and assembly.

We believe that it is of the utmost importance that EU policy and decision-makers assert the respect for human rights and legitimate expression of political dissent as a condition for any further development of relations with Bahrain and GCC countries. The next opportunity to do so will be the EU-GCC ministerial meeting which will be held in Brussels on 19 July 2016.

Please read the full text of the resolution here.

Background:

In what has been a concerted crackdown on civil society, media and fundamental freedoms, Bahraini authorities have in the past month embarked on a series of arrests, impositions of travel bans and denaturalisations of their citizens who have tried to exercise their fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

These moves include:

  •   the arrest and prosecution of the prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab;
  •   the suspension, announced dissolution and the asset-freeze of the country’s biggest opposition party, the Al-Wefaq Islamic Society;
  •   an increased jail sentence, from 4 to 9 years, for the party’s Secretary-General, Sheikh Ali Salman;
  •  the imposition of travel bans on journalists and activists, including a delegation of human rights activists set to participate at the 32nd UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva;
  •  the forced exile of prominent human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja;
  •   the suspension of several non-governmental and religious organisations;
  • the denationalisation of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the Bahrain’s Shia majority population

These moves, and in particular the decision to revoke the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qassim, provoked a wave of mass protests across the country, representing the largest public outcry since the 2011 unrest.

Signed By,

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
English PEN
European Centre For Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
Index on Censorship
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Justice Human Rights Organization  (JHRO)
PEN International
Reprieve

Time For U.S. State Department To Finally Listen On Bahrain

Here it comes. A Bahrain court will decide on Monday July 11 whether its largest opposition group should be formally dissolved a month after it was suspended. June was the month the kingdom’s government told its people that from now on, not only are you not allowed rights, you’re not allowed to complain about it.

Since Bahrain’s 2011 popular uprising was violently crushed by the regime, academics, security analysts, NGOs, journalists, and former senior U.S. government officials have urged the State Department to be more assertive with the kingdom. Yet its ruling family has continually strung the Obama Administration along with false promises of reform while continuing to attack human rights.

There’s really no satisfaction in saying “we told you so,” but this last month’s activity confirms what many of us have been reluctantly predicting for five years: that without punitive consequences for its human rights repression, Bahrain would steadily get much worse.

Read full artile here

EU LAWMAKERS CONDEMN BAHRAIN RIGHTS CRACKDOWN

BRUSSELS (AP) -- European Union lawmakers are condemning Bahrain's crackdown on human rights defenders and political opponents and calling for the release of jailed campaigners.

They urged the authorities to amend the law and to restore citizenship to more than 300 people, including rights activists, politicians, journalists and religious figures.

In a resolution adopted Thursday the lawmakers urged Bahrain's government to "ensure the security and safety of all citizens irrespective of their political views, affiliation or confession."

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EU parliament condemns Bahrain's 'campaign of repression'

European parliamentarians voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to condemn a crackdown in Bahrain over the past month that has seen human rights activists jailed and officials move to dissolve the country’s leading opposition party.

The resolution “expresses grave concern about the ongoing campaign of repression” and called for the immediate release of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Al-Wefaq opposition party.

It also called for the release of arbitrarily detained prisoners and the end of citizenship stripping, highlighting the case of Sheikh Isa Qassim, a leading Shia cleric whose citizenship was taken on 20 June, fuelling protests in his village near Manama.

Read full article here

 

European Parliament voted Resolution on Bahrain

Parliament condemns recent crimes and widespread discrimination against albinos in Malawi, ongoing restrictions of fundamental democratic rights in Bahrain and practices that discriminate against Myanmar’s Muslim minority, in particular the Rohingya, in three resolutions voted on Thursday.

Read the Press Release here.

Read the Resolution on Bahrain here.