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Bahrain: 16-year-old Abbas Oun Arbitrarily Arrested and Subjected to Enforced Disappearance

Oun brothers

A 16-year-old boy, Abbas Oun, has been subjected to enforced disappearance since his arrest six days ago. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) calls on the government of Bahrain to end the practice of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearance in Bahrain, and to respect the rights of the child.

On 14 February 2017, at around 8pm, Abbas Ali Abbas OunOun (16 years old) was arrested a few meters away from his home. Oun is a handball player on the team of the Samaheej sports Club. His family told BCHR that he was beaten on the head at the time of arrest, and when his mother tried to talk to the officer, a security man pushed her then beat her with a gun on her shoulder. As well, Oun’s sister was slapped in the face, beaten with a gun on her shoulder and sprayed in the face with pepper spray. Marks of the attack on the shoulder were still visible on the next day.

On 16 February 2017, Oun had an interrogation session at the public prosecution where he was charged with “illegal gathering, possession of a molotov cocktail, damage of a police vehicle” -  all charges which he has denied. Oun told the prosecutor that he was subject to beating immediately after his arrest by police officer Nawaf Al-Buaineen, who beat Oun on his eye. He was interrogated at Samaheej police station where he was threatened with torture to force his confessions. He was not allowed to talk to his lawyer prior to the interrogation. The prosecutor has ordered Oun to be kept in detention for another 15 days pending investigation, which puts him at risk of being subject to further ill treatment at the police station.

Since then, Oun’s family were not able to have any direct contact with him. They have expressed fear for his safety given that he is a sickle cell patient.

Abbas, the youngest brother in the family, is the latest victim of the practice of arbitrary arrests, torture, and excessive force. Another three brothers are already in detention over similar circumstances.

Jaffar Ali Oun (29 years old) 

Jaffar Ali OunJaffar Ali Oun has been subject to repeated arrests since 2012, but his last arrest was on 11 October 2013. He was beaten from the time of arrest in the street, then subjected to 8 days of enforced disappearance. He was sentenced in 2014 to 3 years on charges of allegedly attacking the police and rioting. He was moved to detention at Jau prison since June 2014. He has reportedly been subject to torture on different occasions since his arrest including during the disturbances in the prison in March 2015. He was allegedly beaten on his head, ears, and back with plastic hoses, iron rods and wires until he was bleeding. His family reported in August 2016 that he has been suffering from a growing swelling in the head for which he didn’t receive treatment for several months. He was eventually taken for surgery to remove the swelling, however he was not provided his reports or taken to any follow up appointments.

In November 2016, he finished his 3 year sentence, and his family paid a fine to suspend the sentences pending appeal on another 2 cases, however he was taken back to the Criminal Investigation Directorate, held incommunicado for several days, then sent back to Jau prison to serve a 5-year sentence on a case he was never interrogated for, nor tried for, although he was sentenced in absentia over charges of illegal gathering and rioting.

Ahmed Ali Oun (21 years old)

Ahmed Ali OunAhmed was injured in 2012 with a metal pellet lodged in his eye which was fired from a police shotgun during an attack on a pro-democracy demonstration. He sought treatment in a private hospital where he received the primary surgery on his cornea. A second surgery was needed to remove the bird shot from his eye, but he was arrested from the hospital by plain-clothed police officers on 13 May 2012 before this could be completed. He was reportedly beaten and subjected to sexual harassment in detention. He informed his family that he suffers from bleeding in his eye and severe pain and that he fainted multiple times during detention. Due to deprivation of medical care, Ahmed has lost the vision of his right eye.

He was arrested again multiple times. On 21 March 2014, he was shot by police while he was jogging in one of the streets of Samaheej village, close to Bahrain International Airport. According to the family’s statement, Ahmed’s injury was described as critical as the splinters settled in the face, neck and right shoulder in addition to the chest and hands, which required transferring him to Intensive Care while he was unconscious. He was then officially arrested and kept in police custody.

On 19 October 2014, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison for rioting, illegal gathering, and attacking police. It was later reduced to 3 years on February 2015. Additionally, he received another 6-month sentence in June 2014 for illegal gathering in a different case.

Hasan Ali Oun (23 years old) Hasan Ali Oun

Hassan Ali Oun was arrested multiple times since 2011, the last time on March 2015. During his multiple arrests he was reportedly subjected to torture, including being repeatedly raped by insertion of a hose in his anus. Following an arrest in 2012, the results of torture were visible on Hassan’s body as his lawyer at that time reported. He told her that he had been beaten severely, he was forced to stand for more than 11 hours, was beaten with a hose on his feet, was stripped naked and threatened with rape.

Hassan was sentenced to 5 years in prison on November 2015 for rioting, and he is still going through other trials.

Article 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that “States Parties shall ensure that: (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

BCHR calls on the government of Bahrain to do the following:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Abbas Oun, and guarantee his safety from further ill-treatment in detention;
  • Allow Abbas Oun to have direct and immediate contact with his family and lawyer;
  • Put a stop to the practice of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance and torture; and
  • As a signatory to the International Convention for the Rights of the Child, respect, uphold and implement the conditions of the international treaty.

Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab’s trial to resume after nine postponements

Geneva-Paris - Nabeel Rajab is being prosecuted for exercising his right to freedom of expression and denouncing human rights violations perpetrated by the Bahraini authorities. His arbitrary detention and judicial harassment must end now, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership) says today.

On February 21, 2017, Mr. Nabeel Rajab will face a series of charges, including “deliberately spreading false information and malicious rumours with the aim of discrediting the State”, “disseminating false rumours in time of war”, “insulting a statutory body” and “offending a foreign country [Saudi Arabia]” before Manama’s Fourth High Criminal Court following the court’s decision on January 23, 2017 to postpone the hearing for the ninth time. Conviction would expose Nabeel Rajab to up to fifteen years in prison.

Read more here

The Trump team's deal with Bahrain could ignore its human rights abuses

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson professed in his Senate confirmation testimony that “our values are our interests when it comes to human rights.” Yet one of his State Department’s first acts may be to abandon that stance with the tiny but strategic Persian Gulf state of Bahrain.

Concerns in Congress and the human rights community are high that the Trump team is planning to approve a multibillion-dollar sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter planes to Bahrain without any conditions, reversing an Obama administration decision to demand the government take small reform steps in exchange for the jets.

“I’m hoping the Bahrain deal is going to roll out without the restrictions,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said last month. “I think it could happen soon.”

Read more here.

Human Rights Watch: Activist's Speech-Charges Trial to Resume

The trial of the prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab is scheduled to resume on February 21, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. He faces a total of 18 years in prison based on two sets of speech-related charges that clearly violate his right to free expression. His eight months in pretrial custody appeared to amount to arbitrary detention.

Rajab’s initial charges stem from comments critical of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen and of alleged torture in Bahraini prisons. Authorities also charged him with making “false or malicious” statements based on television interviews in which he criticized the Bahraini authorities’ refusal to allow journalists and rights groups into the country.

“What worries Bahrain authorities is the truth,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The reason Nabeel Rajab is in jail and facing a long sentence is that he has insisted on shedding light on Bahrain’s human rights abuses.”

Read more here.


European Parliament - Human rights: Nicaragua, executions in Kuwait and Bahrain, and Guatemala

Executions in Kuwait and Bahrain

The European Parliament strongly condemns the executions of seven people by the Kuwaiti authorities on 25 January 2017 and the executions of three people in Bahrain on 15 January 2017. It deplores the decision of these countries’ authorities to revive capital punishment when more than 160 other UN states have outlawed or ceased to use it, and calls upon Kuwait and Bahrain to impose a moratorium on the death penalty as a step towards its abolition.  

Further, MEPs are extremely worried by reports from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that defendants in both countries did not receive a fair trial, and that one of those convicted in Bahrain was under the age of 18 at the time of his alleged crime. They reiterate the EU’s opposition to capital punishment and call for a retrial of those currently awaiting execution according to international standards.

Read the entire press release here.

Find the resolution on the executions in Bahrain and Kuwait here.

European Parliament Condemns Executions in Bahrain

16 February 2017 - The European Parliament has voted through a Resolution on Executions in Kuwait and Bahrain condemning the recent executions in these countries. We, the undersigned, welcome the resolution and call on Bahrain to listen to the European Parliament’s calls and halt imminent executions and respect the rights and freedoms of the Bahraini people.

Read the draft resolution here. (The final version will be published later).

The European Parliament also voted through amendments: amendment 1, calls for a national dialogue in Bahrain, amendment 2 calls on Bahrain's police to refrain violence and human rights violations, noting the sixth anniversary of the 2011 uprising. Amendment 7 calls for the release of imprisoned human rights defenders Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja abd Khalil Al-Halwachi, and the final amendment passed, amendment 8, highlighted the vulnerability of domestic workers in Kuwait.

Amendments 1 and 2 are available here.

Amendments 7 and 8 are available here.

The resolution condemns the use of the death penalty, echoing the condemnation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings. It calls on Bahrain to halt the execution of Mohammad Ramadan and Husain Moosa, two torture victims at risk of imminent execution in Bahrain. The resolution urges Bahrain and Kuwait to issue immediate invitations for the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who has been denied entry to Bahrain multiple times since 2011. It further calls for the release of Nabeel Rajab, and an end to excessive use of force and the arbitrary stripping of citizenships. The resolution calls for the EU to adopt stronger human rights initiatives with regards to Bahrain and Kuwait.

Throughout the debate prior to the vote, MEPs also expressed criticisms of the arbitrary deprivation of nationality, continued arbitrary arrest and torture, and the imprisonment of human rights defenders.

Julie Ward MEP said: "Mohammad Raman and Husain Moosa must not be executed and must be abolished." She turned her attention to the case of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab: "Instead of putting Nabeel Rajab through yet another hearing on 21 February, release him." She called on all countries, in particular the UK, to hold human rights in their foreign policy over arms. Rajab, a leading human rights defender in the Gulf, currently facing up to 17 years in prison for exercising his freedom of expression. His next trial date is 21 February.

This is not the first EUP resolution on Bahrain. In 2016, the European Parliament passed resolutions on the case of Mohammad Ramadan and on Bahrain generally. In 2015, the EUP adopted a resolution on the case of Nabeel Rajab.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy: "This is a landmark which must be noted. Bahrain must listen to the voices of the international community and halt the executions of Mohammad Ramadan and Husain Moosa, who were tortured and unfairly tried in court."

Husain Abdulla, Executive Director, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain: "The brutality of the death penalty has been condemned now by the UN, the EU and the European Parliament. Human rights violations do not go unnoticed. All executions in Bahrain must be immediately halted. Rather than persecuting innocents and victims, Bahrain should hold its police force accountable for abuse and torture."

Pavle Licina, Advocacy Associate, European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights: "By strongly condemning the recent executions in Bahrain and Kuwait, the European Parliament once again stood up for the respect of human rights and dignity and sent a clear message to both EU member states and governments in the Gulf that capital punishment, but above all torture and unfair trials leading up to it, must not be tolerated."

In January 2017, Bahrain executed three torture victims, Ali Al-Singace, Abbas Al-Samea and Sami Mushaima. Convicted on capital offences following unfair trials, they were unlawfully killed by firing squad. Al-Singace, Al-Samea and Mushaima were all arbitrarily arrested, tortured to confess, and deprived of access to legal council. The courts dismissed the defence's arguments out of hand, and the torture allegations of the three were not properly investigated. They were sentenced to death in 2015; in January 2017, the highest court of appeal upheld their sentence, and they were executed less than a week later. Neither the condemned nor their families were informed of their impending executions. Kuwait has also recently carried out the executions of seven individuals. The executions were the first in several years in both countries, ending their respective moratoriums. In Bahrain, it was the first execution since 2010.


European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights

Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain


Bahrain: Violent Attacks on the Protests on the Sixth Anniversary of Bahrain’s Peaceful Uprising

*******Warning -graphic material

Bahraini security forces have continued to respond to ongoing and increasing protests with excessive force, leading to serious injuries. Such attacks and injuries have been observed prior to, and on the sixth anniversary of the 2011 Bahraini popular uprising on 14 February, as Bahraini people took the street demanding freedom and democracy. Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern that the ongoing practices exhibited by the Bahraini authorities in exerting excessive force threatens the life of protestors and distant Bahrain from resolving its serious human rights issues.

Excessive Force

On 14 February 2017, BCHR was able to record 94 protests in 55 villages, out of which 48 were attacked using tear gas and shotgun pellets. Tear gas was deployed in excessive amounts, in areas that were crowded with civilians and over residential spaces. From the photos analysed by BCHR, it appears that many of the injuries caused by shotgun pellets were on the top parts of the body, including the face. 

Shotgun pellet injuries have caused the death of many protesters in previous years, including the first victim of extrajudicial killing, Ali Mushaima, who was shot in the back with pellets on 14 February 2011. The killer of Mushaima is reportedly free, while Muhaima’s mother is sentenced to 1 year in prison for allegedly “insulting the king.”

BCHR has observed that an increasing number of injuries to protestors have been caused by shotgun pellets since the beginning of the year. The increased frequency of protests following the execution of three torture victims in mid January has meant that the number of injured protesters is only increasing. Further protests erupted following the MOI announcement on 9 February 2017 of the killing of another three men while trying to flee Bahrain. The authorities did not release the men’s bodies until four days after announcing their death, only two members of each family have been allowed to attend the burial of the men, and the families were forced to reduce usual funeral rites. People responded to these actions by the Bahraini authorities by protesting, and have since been subjected to excessive force.

In the past week shotgun injuries were reported in different areas, including Bani Jamra, the home of the men who were killed. Injuries were varied but included shots in the back, and the head (Photo). Property, such as cars and houses have been damaged.

Damaged car during protests' attacks 13 February 2017  Damaged car 12 February 2017 (click to view source)                                                       

   Injured protesters 11 February 2017 (click to view source)


Even a religious procession was attacked with tear gas in Duraz on 11 Feb 2017:

Arbitrary Arrests

Alongside attacks on protesters, Bahraini authorities have escalated their arrest campaign. The past week has witnessed the largest number of arrests since the beginning of the year: 48 individuals were arrested between 6 February and 12 February 2017, including 3 children and 5 women. Only 1 of the individuals was later released. 21 more individuals were arrested between 12-14 February 2017, including 1 woman and 2 children. In some cases, multiple family members were  arrested together, Sheikh Mohamed Saleh AlQashami, was arrested from his house on 9 February 2017 along with his son and daughter.

Based on the above, BCHR calls on the government in Bahrain

  • to respect citizens rights to rights to free expression, opinion and assembly, as protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Bahrain acceded to in 2006 and
  • to stop jeopardizing protesters’ right to life by subjecting them to tear gas and shotgun pellets.

Bahrain hit by protests on uprising anniversary

An explosion wounded two civilian passers-by in Bahrain, the interior ministry said on Wednesday, as demonstrators marked the sixth anniversary of an anti-government uprising that was bloodily suppressed.

The ministry did not say what caused Tuesday evening's blast in a village outside the capital Manama, but demonstrators sometimes throw petrol bombs during the sporadic protests that still grip the Sunni-ruled but Shia-majority kingdom.

"Terrorist blast in Sitra causes minor injuries to a married couple passing the site. Police at the scene," the ministry said on its Twitter account without elaborating.

Read more here.

Bahrain’s Day of Rage, six years on

Bahrain’s Day of Rage on 14 February 2011 kickstarted one of the largest popular uprisings in the country’s history. Bahraini youth took to social media and called on people “to take to the streets” in protest of the endemic corruption, discrimination and injustice.

Many of the 55 peaceful demonstrations on the day were met with violence from police and soldiers, leaving more than 30 protesters injured and one dead.

Six years on, the Bahraini government has fostered an atmosphere of fear and repression, through the detention and torture of opposition leaders, designed to stifle all dissent.


Continue reading here

Bahrain protesters, police clash as island marks uprising

Anti-government protesters in Bahrain clashed with police on Tuesday as they marked the sixth anniversary of the tiny island kingdom's Arab Spring uprising.

Images posted on social media showed masked protesters hurling rocks and other projectiles at riot police, who responded with tear gas. Protesters elsewhere were seen marching peacefully through rain-soaked streets, carrying the national flag.


Read the full article here