…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Squelching the Voice for the Voiceless – The cowardly brutality of a Monarch without a moral compass

Bahrain: Silencing the voice of the voiceless
14 February, 2013 – Shafaqna

SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Bahrain is a small country, often forgotten unless the Fifth Fleet of the US Navy, which it hosts, is in the news. A country where people continue to fight for democracy despite the high, sometimes deadly, price of speaking out. A country which, for the past two years, has been living to the beat of police crack-downs, arbitrary detentions and tear gas shootings.

I visited Bahrain twice since February 14, 2011, when the Arab Spring protests began. I first went, in April 2012, to meet my friend and colleague Nabeel Rajab, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Deputy Secretary General and President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, as well as other human rights defenders, victims of state violence, and government officials.

Rajab, one of Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defenders, was able to provide me with direct accounts of what had been happening in his country over the previous year. For years, he has been fighting to document and expose the abuses of the Bahraini authorities to the rest of the world, particularly the monarchy’s most influential ally, the United States.

My second trip, a couple of months later, was a difficult one as I returned to observe Rajab’s appeal in September. He had been arrested and convicted for supporting and participating in “illegal gatherings” – the regime’s euphemism for freedom of association. He was denied bail at the hearing I attended, and in December 2012, an appeals court sentenced him to two years in prison for participating in peaceful demonstrations and using his Twitter account to call on others to join. During his detention, Rajab was isolated from other prisoners of conscience and housed in a separate unit.

Rajab’s case is the norm rather than the exception for human rights defenders working in Bahrain.

Languishing in prison

Like Rajab, scores of Bahrainis are languishing in prison simply for having marched in the street to call for economic, social and political reforms. Human rights defenders have become a major target of the regime, with one leading human rights defender after another being arrested for documenting the ongoing abuses. It seems that in today’s Bahrain, the surest way to prison is human rights work.

In July 2011, after mounting pressure from the international community, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa empowered a group of international experts to investigate the events of 2011. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) published its report in November 2011, clearly identifying the regime’s repressive practices: arbitrary arrests, torture, harassment, lack of access to independent courts respecting fundamental fair trial principles, unfair dismissals, and the list goes on.

Since the publication of this report, the disproportionate use of force by security forces has already resulted in the death of 24 individuals, mainly during protests and due to the excessive use of tear gas or rubber bullets.

Impunity remains the backdrop for these state-sponsored human rights violations. As of now, very few sentences have been rendered by courts for security officers accused of severe human rights violations and those convicted are low-ranking officers. Moreover, torture accusations by those unlawfully detained continue to be dismissed by the judicial system. …more

Add facebook comments

There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment