08 May, 2013 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is seriously concerned for the health and well being of imprisoned activists, human rights leaders and political leaders who are currently being denied access to adequate healthcare and denied their right to receive visits from family members, their lawyers, and denied consular services. Members of the ‘Bahrain 13′ and Zainab Al-Khawaja are being denied these rights because of their refusal to wear a prison uniform. Members of the Bahrain 13 are currently being denied access to sanitary items, such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, and laundry detergent. In Bahrain, prisoners are required to buy these essential items in a prison store. All members of the Bahrain 13 are currently denied access to this store because they refuse to wear the prison uniform. They are therefore unable to maintain appropriate hygiene. A doctor working closely with the BCHR stated that “denying the prisoners from buying sanitary and hygienic items will promote the spreading of skin diseases such as scabies, body lice and other contagious diseases and risks an epidemic within in the jail”. The BCHR reiterates that healthcare and hygiene are non-negotiable human rights, and under no conditions should they be withheld from prisoners as punishment. The United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners clearly states that “prisoners shall be required to keep their persons clean, and to this end they shall be provided with water and with such toilet articles as are necessary for health and cleanliness.” …source
May 14, 2013 No Comments
29 April, 2013 – Bahrain Freedom Movement
Bahrain refers to protesters who clash frequently with police forces in Shia villages as “terrorists”.
Authorities in Bahrain, which has been rocked by protests for two years, have voiced “dismay” over an assessment by the US State Department of the rights situation in the kingdom.
“The report includes texts which are totally far from the truth, adopting a manner that fuels terror and terrorists targeting Bahrain’s national security,” state news agency BNA late on Wednesday quoted government spokeswoman Samira Rajab as saying.
The strategic tiny kingdom of Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet, has been hit since February 2011 by a wave of Shia-led protests calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa in office since 1971.
A US State Department report released on April 19 said that “the most serious human rights problems included citizens’ inability to change their government peacefully; arrest and detention of protesters on vague charges, in some cases leading to their torture in detention.”
It criticised the “lack of due process in trials of political and human rights activists, medical personnel, teachers, and students, with some resulting in harsh sentences.”
The report claimed that “discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, nationality, and sect persisted, especially against the Shia population” which makes up a majority in Bahrain, ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty.
Rajab “deplored the report for lacking objectivity, totally siding with the terrorists who seek to sow chaos in the whole region.”
Bahrain refers to protesters who clash frequently with police forces in Shia villages as “terrorists” it claims are backed by Shia-majority Iran.
The kingdom “reiterated full commitment to comply with the human rights principles and standards in confronting terror which targets Bahrain and innocent civilians,” said Rajab. …more
May 6, 2013 No Comments
Journalists and Politicals fill Bahrain’s Prisons while Police responsible for Murder and Torture Are Free
03 May, 2013 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Violations against the Freedom of the Press in Bahrain are ongoing, and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights is seriously concerned about reports of attacks against journalists and the media in general. Tomorrow, the 3rd of May, we commemorate World Press Freedom day, to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression. Despite King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa’s pledge to uphold press freedom and reform, conditions over the last year have not improved.
During the last year, several journalists and bloggers in Bahrain have been harassed, assaulted, imprisoned, and allegedly tortured as a result of their work; journalists in the proximity of pro-democracy demonstrations were regularly targeted by security forces. The BCHR has compiled the following of violations that have occurred against the media over the course of the last year.
Arrest and torture of Journalists
On May 16, Ahmed Radhi, a freelance journalist and blogger, was arrestedwithout a warrant by security forces at 4 a.m. after they broke down his door, for criticizing a proposed union of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in interviews he gave to BBC Arabic Radio and the London-based exile television station, Lulu TV. He was reportedly tortured, insulted, and held incommunicado for 10 days after his arrest. Ahmed’s lawyer was not allowed to meet with him until the first week of June, nor was she told what Ahmed was accused of. The BCHR has received a letter written by Ahmed Radhi in which he stated that he was beaten on his head and chest by security forces. He was thrown on a cold and hard floor, handcuffed with his hands behind his back and blindfolded for 48 hours. Ahmed was released on 20 Sep 2012 without a trial.
On December 29, renowned and award-winning photographer, Ahmed Humaidan, was kidnapped by 15 security officers in civilian clothing from a shopping mall in Bahrain, and arrested. According to Humaidan’s family, he was subjected to psychological torture. He was forced to stand up for hours while being handcuffed and blindfolded in a very cold room, holding an unknown object which interrogators told him that its was a timed bomb set to explode. Humaidan is charged along with a group of over 30 persons of burning Sitra police station. However it is believed that Humaidan, who is still in detention, was targeted because of the photographs he takes of the ongoing Bahraini protests.
May 6, 2013 No Comments
26 April, 2013 – Revolutions and Political Violence
Bahrain’s indefinite postponement of Juan Mendez’s planned May 8th-15th visit to the small island nation on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council sparks international concern. The Bahraini government’s decision to cancel this visit, for the second year in a row, follows a spike in national protests and flying rumors of torturing of torture within Bahraini prisons. It also falls on the heels of the internally controversial Formula One Race that was held just a few days ago on April 21st in the coastal region of al-Manamah, nearby the University of Bahrain.
The Formula 1 race had to be cancelled in 2011 due to the political unrest unfolding in Bahrain that year, but the race continued on as planned last year and this year with increased security despite the mass political protests of the people. During this year’s April 12th protests of the race where demonstrators carried signs with slogans like “Stop Racing on Our Blood” and carried signs of solidarity for jailed Bahraini human rights activist father-daughter duo Abdulhadi and Zainab al-Khawaja as well as the activist Nabeel Rajab. To the credit of the Bahraini government, the April 12th protests were officially approved by the recently enacted laws cracking down on large protests, which is at least a small step towards allowing its people to have larger political voices.
It was reported by the Saudi Arabian online news organization, Arab News, that two Bahraini girls were arrested for plotting a terrorist attack at the race track. The unnamed girls were claimed to have been arrested while doing a “dry run” in which one girl had concealed a pillow under her clothes to test the thoroughness of the track’s security. The Arab News article continued on to that the Bahraini police claims to have seized 1000 petroleum based bombs, 72 fire extinguishers intended to be used as bombs, and 137 tires that protestors were intending to set fire to. While the protesters in Bahrain are known for low scale violent acts such as setting tires ablaze at demonstrations, I think we must question the numbers and possible validity of the rest of the claims in this article. Not only are there a reason for the Bahraini government to exaggerate the scale of violence of the protestors, but the Saudi-run paper also has reasons to vilify these protestors in Bahrain. It is a well-known fact that the Saudi Arabian government and the Bahraini government have very close ties, close enough that Saudi forces were deployed onto the small island during the 2011 protests to help the Bahraini government quell protesters. …more
May 1, 2013 No Comments
20 April, 2013 – Rueters – By Alexander Dziadosz
(Reuters) – Young men hurl rocks and petrol bombs at police. Police fire tear gas and stun grenades. Thousands gather to demand an end to a Formula One car race they see as a public relations stunt to gloss over chronic human rights abuses.
But except for the odd plume of black smoke, hardly any sign of Bahrain’s two-year-old political crisis reaches the Grand Prix race site at the Sakhir circuit in the desert about 30 km (19 miles) southwest of the capital Manama.
“When they talk about human rights, I don’t know what the human rights are or what it’s all about,” Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Reuters when asked about the political situation in Bahrain.
Hosting Formula One is a point of pride for Bahrain’s rulers, who pay an estimated $40 million a year for the privilege. An image of the circuit is on the country’s half-dinar note.
Speaking a day ahead of the race, Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman al-Khalifa – seen as one of the country’s more reform-minded officials – said it was a chance to bring the country together.
“There are families out there – fathers, mothers, children – having the best times of their lives without regard to either ethnicity, sect or social income. So, I’m happy. And I go out there and I walk among the people and I’m comfortable,” he said.
SHARP CONTRASTS IN TINY COUNTRY
Along the palm-lined streets of the Formula One paddock, foreign women wear mini-skirts and sleeveless shirts – a blunt contrast to the full black dresses and veils favoured in nearby villages.
Moving just a few hundred meters can make for a dizzying transition in the country, only a quarter the size of Luxembourg. In downtown Manama and the main roads, nothing appears amiss.
But tucked just behind bland suburban strip malls, entire neighbourhoods are coated in graffiti, some decrying the race as “Formula Blood” – others calling for the downfall of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa. Bricks, broken wood, and burn marks are evidence of protests.
Many in these mostly Shi’ite villages see the race as a ploy to deceive the world into thinking there is nothing wrong in a country they say needs urgent democratic reform. Others frame it as part of the corruption they say is widespread.
“In Bahrain, Formula One brings benefits only to the individuals behind it. The people of Bahrain don’t get any benefit from the race,” said Mohamed al-Sughayer, a 61-year-old financial consultant, at a recent protest.
“Go around in any village, and would you believe this country has had oil for 80 years?”
Almost nightly clashes between protesters and police – as well as regular peaceful rallies – have hit the Gulf Arab island kingdom since pro-democracy demonstrations started in February 2011 at the height of the Arab Spring.
The Formula One race was cancelled that year during an uprising in which a government-commissioned report said 35 people died – a figure the mostly Shi’ite Muslim opposition says is too low. …more
April 22, 2013 No Comments
20 April, 2013 – FARS
TEHRAN (FNA)- REDRESS and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) issued a significant new report on torture in Bahrain.
Entitled Bahrain: Fundamental Reform or torture without end? the report describes torture as an integral part of the ongoing crisis in Bahrain, bahrainf1.wordpress.com reported.
The press release reads in part, “In 2011 the Bahrain International Commission of Inquiry (BICI) found that torture and ill-treatment had been used systematically to respond to protests in Bahrain. While the Government of Bahrain has taken some steps to implement the recommendations of the BICI, torture and ill-treatment continue and obligations towards victims have not been met.”
“Bahrain must address the legacy of torture and ill-treatment, as the practice continues to be documented in a number of different contexts, both in detention and by riot police who are ostensibly controlling protests,” said Lutz Oette, counsel at REDRESS. “Providing victims of torture and ill-treatment the reparation promised after the BICI report, and guaranteed to them under international law constitutes an overdue and important first step towards that end.”
Earlier Friday, the Bahrain Rehabilitation and Anti-Violence Organisation (BRAVO) issued its latest report: Resurgence of Sexual Violence as a Torture Technique in Bahrain.
The report summary reads,” sexual violence in its many forms has re-emerged as a torture technique in Bahrain. The Bahrain Independent Commission Inquiry report contains a disturbing litany of testimonies from victims of sexual violence occurring since February 2011.”
“Human Rights Watch had noted ongoing violations before 2010 but there has been a dramatic upsurge in rape, sodomy, sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation of detainees in recent years.”
“Despite numerous testimonies and the findings of the BICI report the Bahraini government denies that sexual violence occurs in their prisons and detention centers.
Bahrain is a signatory of the Convention Against Torture and should repeal laws such as Law 56, 2002, which offers impunity for those responsible.”
BRAVO calls for an independent review of all claims of sexual violence against detainees in Bahrain under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The reports come just days after the death of Colonel Ian Henderson, a British citizen who, for several decades, headed state security in Bahrain as an advisor to the government. Grave accusations of torture have been leveled against Henderson, earning him the nickname “The Butcher of Bahrain”. In 1984, he received a CBE from Queen Elizabeth, for his “services to British interests in Bahrain”. Middle East expert Emile Nakleh, who encountered Henderson in the 1970s, wrote about him on Thursday in a piece entitled: Ian Henderson and Repression in Bahrain: A Forty-Year Legacy.
Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the al-Khalifa dynasty. …more
April 22, 2013 No Comments
31 March, 2013 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its grave concern over the security forces’ continuation in the practice of abducting and beating of citizens, including minors.
The BCHR’s Head of Monitoring and Documentation Unit, Said Yousif Al-Muhafdha, documented disturbing incidents that took place in different areas within the same week which involved abducting civilians from the street or private homes, subjecting them to severe beatings and verbal assaults, including attacks on their sect and religious beliefs.
Three minors under the age of 14 informed Al-Muhafdha that they were abducted on the 28th of March 2013 at around 11 pm. They stated that there was a protest in the village and security forces started collectively punishing the village by shooting excessive teargas. This caused them to suffocate and therefore seek shelter in one of the houses nearby. Police forces noticed them and raided the house, abducted them and they were reportedly severely beaten inside the police vehicle with batons and gun butts while being verbally assaulted by the security forces by insulting their religious sect. One of the abducted showed cigarette burn marks on his arm stating that it was done by security forces. …more
April 2, 2013 No Comments
April 2, 2013 No Comments
25 March, 2013 – Jon Snow – 4News
Charles and Camilla are safely home from Saudi Arabia and assorted Gulf states.
They were in Saudi at a somewhat bumpy moment. The royal couple never got closer than a thousand miles from the “public killing grounds”, as they are somewhat candidly described.
Had they got a lot closer, they might have seen the blood drying from the execution of seven alleged robbers.
I use the word “alleged” because the UN and various human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch’s Middle East section, have argued that the trials of the men – some of whom were juveniles – conducted under sharia law, were deeply flawed.
The suspects were charged with being part of a gang of thieves in the Saudi town of Abha. There was no evidence that any of the accused had killed or injured anyone.
Actually there may well have been rather less blood in the aftermath of the killings than usual. The death sentences were carried out, for the first time, by firing squad. The kingdom has run out of execution swordsmen, so it is no longer possible to disconnect the accused’s head from his or her body. It was a practice which led to a gushing of much blood from the severed neck.
In the same period, two of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent advocates of non violent reform – Mohammed Fahd al-Quatami and Abdullah al-Hamed – were jailed for 10 years apiece.
Charles and Camilla were not alone in bypassing human rights as a discussion point with their hosts. US Secretary of State John Kerry and America’s Attorney General Eric Holder were both in Saudi in recent days. They too decided not to raise human rights. I hate to use the phrase, but the per capita execution rate in Saudi is higher than in any other country on earth.
I have blogged before on the issue of Saudi-financed warfare. I have yet to be contradicted on the claim that there is not a British military boot in overt or covert action anywhere in the world, where the enemy is not in some way financed by Saudi interests.
Can it really be British jobs and a British thirst for oil that neutralise the reality that this just may be a state that it is perhaps unwise to retain as a ‘most favoured nation?’
Charles and Camilla were not alone in bypassing the matter. …source
March 25, 2013 No Comments
21 March, 2013 – Finian Cunningham – Pacific Free Press
Saudi claims of “busting a spy ring” involving Iranian and Lebanese nationals this week smell of yet more dirty tricks by the creaky House of Saud.
But the repeated formula for attempting to smear Iran used by the Saudis and their Western and Israeli partners is in danger of becoming a parody.
Saudi authorities detained 18 individuals across the kingdom this week, who, it is claimed, were working for a “foreign state” in a plot to target vital installations.
“Sixteen Saudis, an Iranian and a Lebanese were arrested in coordinated and simultaneous operations in four regions of the kingdom,” including the capital Riyadh and the holy city of Mecca, the Saudi interior ministry said in a statement.
Wow. Do you feel the bombast in those words “coordinated and simultaneous operations”?
The suspects “gathered information on vital installations which they provided to the country” they had been working for, added the Saudi intelligence experts.
Iran was not mentioned specifically, but the inclusion of an as-yet unnamed Iranian national is something of a finger of accusation that tries to be subtle, but is, in fact, a clumsy attempt to fabricate.
The Lebanon connection can also be seen as a Saudi bid to implicate Hezbollah. That combination is a gauche effort to appear neat, from the Saudi point of view, to resonate with the hoary Western stereotype of Iran and its alleged sponsorship of international terrorism.
The purported busting of an alleged Iranian-led spy ring in Saudi Arabia makes for good headlines in the supine Western media. But between the headlines is the unmistakable stench of another dirty tricks operation, aimed at smearing Iran and covering up the reality of Saudi repression and state-sponsored terrorism across the Middle East.
Scarcely mentioned in the Western media coverage is that the arrests also involved Saudi nationals from among its Shia population in the country’s Eastern Province. This hard-pressed minority within Saudi Arabia has been holding peaceful protests for political freedoms for the best part of two years, closely aligned with their confessional brothers and sisters in nearby Bahrain. In both Bahrain and Saudi’s oil-rich Eastern Province, the House of Saud has sent its shock troops in to try to crush the movement for democracy with brutal, unremitting repression.
Since Saudi forces entered Bahrain in March 2011, up to 100 unarmed civilians have been killed and thousands more mutilated or imprisoned for daring to demand the right to democratic government. Likewise in Saudi Arabia, hundreds have been arrested and thrown into unknown dungeons by the same system of monarchial tyranny that the Western governments have backed to the hilt.
What better way to distract from this reality of crushing democracy than to cook up a tall story about a foreign spy ring – and an Iranian spy ring at that.
That relocates the problem from one of long-overdue political rights among the population of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to one of foreign subversion. Irony upon irony, it also diverts from the fact that Saudi Arabia has over the same period been backing terrorists in Syria causing murder and mayhem for the criminal Western objective of regime change.
The latest claims by the Saudi authorities bear the usual hallmarks of a psyops smear. Details are all-too vacant and the allegations rely on innuendo and sensationalism. Observers familiar with Bahrain will recognize the tired old pattern of “foreign subversion”. Arrests, accusations, momentary headlines, bombastic claims of probes to “reveal the foreign plotters”… followed, always, by scant substance of anything. Political theatrics that have become ridiculous parody.
Recall the “sensational plot” that the Saudis and the Americans made media song and dance of when they accused Iran of trying to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington at the end of 2011.
Whatever happened to the follow-up substance to that risible ruse? Or the two hapless Iranians who allegedly were planning an all-out bombing blitz on Israeli properties in Kenya in May 2012?
Then there were similar claims by Israeli intelligence of Iranian international terror plots in Georgia, Thailand, India, Azerbaijan and Bulgaria, also last year.
Despite copious coverage in the Western media of these threadbare tales, none of these “sensational plots” have amounted to follow-up prosecutions, let alone proof of official Iranian involvement. …more
March 25, 2013 No Comments
Bahrain: Still paying a heavy price for freedom
14 February, 2013 – Amnesty
Prisoners of conscience remain behind bars two years on from 2011 protests, said Amnesty International today.
Amnesty International supporters demand the release of prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.More people have been imprisoned since then for peacefully expressing their views, whether on social media or by participating in protest marches, a new briefing reveals.
“The government of Bahrain cannot carry on imprisoning people simply because it can’t take criticism,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Deputy Director.
“It’s time that people detained simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression be released and for the harassment of other activists to desist.”
Last month, Amnesty International conducted a mission to Bahrain where it met with seven prisoners of conscience detained in Jaw prison. All of them reported they had been jailed on false charges or under laws that repress basic rights.
Mahdi’ Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb, a teacher’s trade union leader who has been in jail since his arrest in 2011, told Amnesty International: “As for the charges against me and Jalila [Jalila al-Salman, a fellow teachers’ union leader and mother of three], no one thinks they are right: we did not call for the fall of the regime – we are people in the education system.”
Mahdi’s daughter, Maryam, recently made this appeal for her father.
In a series of meetings with government officials, Amnesty International urged the authorities to release all prisoners of conscience, lift restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly and bring those who committed human rights abuses against protestors to justice.
“No convincing evidence had been submitted to justify these convictions,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
“It appears that all of those involved were targeted for their anti-government views and for having participated in peaceful protests”.
Many of the prisoners of conscience were allegedly tortured in the first weeks of arrests.
Some complained about the medical treatment they are receiving. Hassan Mshaima’ said:
“It is harassment as when I go to the hospital for treatment that last up to six hours, my face is covered and cannot see the doctor or the medical staff.”
“Many of the allegations put forward by the prisoners of conscience have still not been investigated by the authorities,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui. “The question remains whether the government will ensure justice is served and uphold the rights of the people.” …source
February 19, 2013 No Comments
January 4, 2013 No Comments
Bahrain regime throws Western critics a bone, jails two policemen over detainee’s torture, death – abuse runs rampant
Police beatings in the streets away from station monitors rampant among US-UK Trained Police force
Bahrain policemen jailed over detainee’s torture, death
30 December, 2012 – Agence France Presse
DUBAI: A Bahrain court on Sunday jailed two policemen for seven years each after convicting them of torturing to death a Shiite detainee in the wake of last year’s crackdown on protests, a local daily said.
The Gulf kingdom’s high criminal court found the two national security members guilty of torturing Abdul Karim Fakhrawi to death while in detention, Al-Wasat’s online edition reported.
The court had in May thrown out the case against the two defendants for lack of proof and sent it back to the prosecution for further investigation.
A number of policemen are being investigated or are on trial for allegedly torturing detainees after hundreds of Shiites were rounded up when security forces in the Sunni-ruled state quelled a month-long protest in mid-March 2011.
Authorities say they are implementing the recommendations of an independent commission of inquiry called for by the king that confirmed allegations of excessive use of force by security forces during the uprising.
Home to the US Fifth Fleet and strategically situated across the Gulf from Iran, Bahrain still sees sporadic Shiite-led demonstrations, mostly outside the capital Manama.
According to the International Federation for Human Rights, around 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since the violence first broke out on February 14, 2011. …source
December 30, 2012 No Comments
Bahrain regime reduces bogus prison sentences to appease Western critics of abusive Judicial Practices
26 December, 2012 – Reuters
The Bahrain government says it has taken steps to address the brutality of security forces by dismissing those responsible and introducing cameras at police stations to monitor abuses.
But little progress has been made in addressing the grievances that led to the protests and talks with the opposition stalled.
The Shi’ite opposition wants a constitutional monarchy and a more equitable political system that would allow them to have greater representation, ending decades-old discrimination against them in jobs including the army and security forces.
The appeals court also reduced sentences of 15 years in prison that were handed last year to 15 people for the attempted murder of a soldier, vandalizing the buildings at the University of Bahrain and “inciting hatred of the ruling system”, Jishi said.
The new sentences vary between three, five and seven years in jail. …source
December 26, 2012 No Comments
December 24, 2012 No Comments
William Hague’s “carrot on stick approach” to human rights in Bahrain – stop prisoner rape and we can sell more weapons to continue the crackdown
By ROBERT SMITH – 20 November, 2012 – Gulf Daily News
BAHRAIN’s Foreign Minister will hold talks with his British counterpart today during a meeting that could pave the way for additional support with reforms.
Among topics on the agenda for the meeting between Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and his opposite number, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, is the relaunch of a joint “working group”.
British Ambassador to Bahrain, Iain Lindsay, is accompanying Shaikh Khalid on a visit to the UK and said this year had witnessed an increase in exchanges at the highest levels of government.
“We are discussing a range of bilateral regional issues and obviously the situation in Bahrain,” the ambassador told the GDN yesterday in an exclusive interview from London.
“That meeting (between Shaikh Khalid and Mr Hague) is likely to lead to the relaunch of a working group to take forward the UK’s assistance to Bahrain in a number of areas – some of the areas, for example, covered by the BICI (Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry) report focusing on reform.”
Details of the initiative are due to be announced after today’s meeting, which is part of an itinerary that will also see Mr Lindsay brief officials in the British government, the UK parliament and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on the situation in Bahrain.
Shaikh Khalid and the UK’s Lord Astor, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of Defence, were guests of honour at the annual dinner of the Bahrain Society last night.
Meanwhile, Mr Lindsay is due to give a speech today to the Middle East Association – which promotes business and economic ties between Britain and the Middle East and North Africa – prior to a workshop it is holding on business opportunities in Bahrain.
“The main focus of the speech I’m giving is on business opportunities and my message is there are business opportunities in Bahrain,” said Mr Lindsay.
“We are seeing signs of British companies, new to the market, winning contracts in the last few months, which is very encouraging.
“There are a good number of significant infrastructure and business developments, such as the airport development, Bapco’s major capital works project relating to the refinery and Alba with its expansion plans.
“There are many British companies in Bahrain and the region, but it’s trying to attract new companies because you need that fresh infusion of blood and Bahrain does have competition aplenty in the region – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha just to name three.
“It’s important from my perspective that Bahrain remains competitive so it can actually attract new businesses.”
During the UK visit, Mr Lindsay will be spelling out to potential investors the situation on the ground, but said “sustainable stability” was key to Bahrain attracting companies looking to break into the region.
“People want stability, they want sustainable stability to make those investment decisions,” he explained.
“Companies coming into Bahrain will want some reassurance that the business climate, the general political and security climate, is actually getting better – not worse.
“There are plenty of places people can go to other than Bahrain and still do business in Bahrain.
“Bahrain’s GCC partners are also its competitors.” …more
November 21, 2012 No Comments
Systematic detention of Revolutionary leaders complete – Bahrain Regime moves to redefine Opposition Movement as Rebellion and step-up abuse of force
October 30, 2012 No Comments
UK Foreign Office ‘selective enforcement’ toward Rights Abusing Bahrain on par with failed US State Department practices
By Damien McElroy – Foreign Affairs Correspondent – 17 October, 2012
A Foreign Affairs Committee report found that diplomats allow some countries to get away with abuses that are held against other states.
In particular the Foreign Office has exhibited an inexplicable willingness to maintain normal relations with Bahrain, the Gulf kingdom which has faced down pro-democracy protests from its Shia Muslim majority.
Opposition activists have accused the authorities of using brute force to crush demonstrations, leading to a number of deaths, arbitrary arrests and torture in prison.
The committee continued meetings between government ministers and King Hamid with a principled stand against travel to Ukraine during the European football championships.
“Given the Bahraini authorities’ brutal repression of demonstrators in February and March 2011, we believe that Bahrain should have been designated as a country of concern in the FCO’s 2011 report on human rights and democracy,” the committee said. “The Committee also challenges the Government for being inconsistent in not taking a public stance on the Bahrain Grand Prix but boycotting group stage games at Euro 2012 in Ukraine.”
The report also found fault with the government’s assessment of the risk posed to detainees face with deportation to their home countries. “There are persistent allegations that asylum-seekers who have been returned to Sri Lanka by the UK have suffered torture and ill-treatment. When we tried to explore the issue, the Government was not particularly forthcoming,” it said.
A Foreign Office spokesman rejected the criticisms and said the government was committed to placing human rights concerns at the heart of its policy.
The MPs also recommended that the government place more visa bans on officials responsible for abuses. The findings said that the government had failed to integrate human rights considerations into its arms and trade policies.
“We promote human rights painstakingly and consistently. Our starting point for engagement on human rights with all countries is based on what is practical, realistic and achievable, although we are always ready to speak out as a matter of principle.” …more
October 17, 2012 No Comments
30 September, 2012 – scotsman.com
BAHRAINI riot police killed a teenager when they fired shotgun pellets during clashes with protesters following a demonstration on Friday, the country’s opposition said yesterday.
Thousands rallied in an authorised protest called by the main opposition group al-Wefaq, but as the event ended around 100 people clashed with police.
Witnesses said riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the breakaway group, who, the authorities said, were throwing petrol bombs and wielding iron bars.
The police described the incident as a “terrorist attack” on a security patrol that “targeted the lives of members of the patrol”.
The police had defended themselves “according to their legal authority”, a statement said, confirming a protester had died.
Al-Wefaq named the dead protester as 17-year-old Ali Hussain Nima and photographs show a body covered in blood and flecked with birdshot wounds.
He is the second protester in six weeks to die at the hands of Bahraini police.
Bahrain, headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been in turmoil since mass demonstrations started at the height of Arab Spring unrest last year, led by its Shia Muslim majority. The protests were put down by the Sunni monarchy, which imposed martial law and asked Saudi Arabia to send troops in support.
In mid-August, a 16-year-old protester was killed in a similar incident, when police opened fire with birdshot during clashes after a demonstration, opposition activists said.
The opposition said more than 45 people have been killed in protests since martial law was lifted in June 2011. The interior ministry said protesters have injured more than 700 police officers and that the authorities have exercised restraint.
The latest death comes a day after the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed a Bahraini as the Asia representative to its advisory committee. …source
October 2, 2012 No Comments
2 October, 2012 – FIDH
Paris-Geneva, October 2, 2012 – The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), deplores the decision to further delay the trial on appeal of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and FIDH Deputy Secretary General. Such ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention is one more evidence of the continued criminalisation of human rights defenders’ activities.
On September 27, 2012, the Bahrain Appeals Court once more refused to release Mr. Nabeel Rajab on bail and further postponed the ruling on his appeal to October 16, 2012. The Bahrain Appeals Court was seized by Mr. Rajab’s lawyers to contest the decision taken on August 16, 2012 by the Lower Criminal Court to sentence him to three years’ imprisonment for three cases related to his participation in peaceful gatherings in favour of fundamental freedoms and democracy. In addition, during yesterday’s hearing, the court continued to deal with the three cases as separate cases, rejecting once more the request of the defence to merge them. Mr. Rajab has been detained since last July 9 and has been continuously denied release since then.
Moreover, during the hearing, the judge reportedly showed a DVD containing images of Mr. Nabeel Rajab at peaceful demonstrations arguing with an officer on the legality of the protest, as well as images of young people throwing Molotov cocktails during what the judge alleged was one of these protests. Mr. Rajab’s lawyers insisted that this last part did not take place at the same location nor time as those of the said peaceful protest. Mr. Rajab further recalled that none of the protests he attended had witnessed violence. Mr. Rajab’s lawyers s well as some observers who attended the hearing, consider that this part of the DVD consist in clear montages.
The Observatory is thus extremely concerned over the new postponement decided by the judge, as it aims at sanctioning Mr. Rajab’s human rights activities by keeping him in arbitrary detention. The Observatory further strongly denounces the montages broadcast in court, which clearly aim at discrediting Mr. Rajab and legitimate peaceful protests in general.
In addition, the Observatory deplores that, notwithstanding the commitments expressed on several occasion by the Bahraini authorities to make NGOs’ access to Bahrain easier, the visa request which was submitted by the Observatory on September 19, 2012 to the relevant authorities on behalf of an Observatory-mandated trial observer, was accepted only a few hours before the planned flight departure of the said observer, making it impossible for him to travel to Bahrain.
October 2, 2012 No Comments
Dominate a region through cruel tyrannies – ‘blowback’ and reaping the consequence of US Interventionism
The Price of US Interventionism
26 September, 2012 – consortiunmnews.com – By Ivan Eland
The attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four U.S. diplomats, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, is the latest example of tragic blowback from the U.S. government’s interventionist foreign policy in the Islamic world. That it happened on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an even more severe example of such blowback, is a cruel irony.
After 9/11, President George W. Bush told us that Islamist terrorists attack us for “our freedoms.” This contradicted the conclusion of his own Defense Science Board and other expert opinion — including that of the perpetrator of those attacks, Osama bin Laden — that al-Qaeda attacked us for our foreign policy of intervening indiscriminately in Muslim lands.
A map showing the results of the Arab Spring. Dark blue represents government overthrown; red is for civil war; light blue for civil disorder and governmental change; orange for major protests; beige for minor ones; and dark gray for related disorder in neighboring areas. (Graphic produced by User:Brightgalrs)
The enduring lack of introspection on the part of the American government and people about the ill effects of those needless interventions leads to their continuation and consequent unpleasant blowback. Unfortunately, the killing of American personnel in Libya and the attacks on and violent protests at U.S. diplomatic facilities in 20 Islamic countries are examples of this payback.
At the time, critics of the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi rightfully asked during the process exactly who made up the opposition the U.S. was supporting and what kind of government would replace him. They held out the possibility of post-Gaddafi instability, tribal warfare, and maybe even an Islamist takeover of the country.
The attack on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya is an example of that instability even in an Islamic country with relatively favorable feelings toward America. The new Libyan government was too weak to protect U.S. diplomats and actually blamed the United States for not evacuating its personnel sooner.
Obviously, some Libyan factions aren’t very grateful for the help of Western air power in Gaddafi’s overthrow and continuing Western aid.
However, some would say that it was the Internet film insulting Islam that caused worldwide anti-American violence, not U.S. intervention. Yet the film was only the trigger, and the real underlying issue is U.S. and Western meddling in Islamic lands and culture.
The U.S. superpower has been pursuing an interventionist policy in the Islamic world since World War II — ramping it up even further after 9/11 with the unnecessary invasion of Iraq — and is roundly hated for it, thus making it the target for such blowback attacks, even among peoples the U.S. tried to “help.”
In addition, the Western overthrow of Gaddafi — a long-time nemesis of the United States and West who had recently given up his nuclear program and had begun cooperating with the West, including holding Islamist detainees in his prisons for a U.S. government that had rendered them there — sent the wrong message to other countries thinking about getting or working on nuclear weapons.
The United States showed no respect for non-nuclear Libya or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq but certainly has for nuclear North Korea.
Yet after the seemingly easy overthrow of Gaddafi — using only Western air power supporting an indigenous opposition force, with no need for boots on the ground — pressure is now building for a repeat in Syria. But the blowback attacks in Libya, Egypt, and other Islamic countries should be a cautionary note about what could come after the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad.
Like the heavily armed and rival tribal militias now roaming Libya, Syria has many heavily armed opposition factions, which continue to commit atrocities against civilians and, according to U.S. intelligence, have been infiltrated, and are sometimes commanded, by al-Qaeda.
To illustrate, a doctor recently back from a humanitarian mission in Syria was shocked at the number of radical Islamist fighters in the opposition forces battling the Assad regime. Post-Gaddafi Islamist radicalism should have been no surprise in Libya, because al-Qaeda had always had a high participation rate from Benghazi and eastern Libya, the cradle of the anti-Gaddafi revolution.
After the doctor’s report in Syria, such an Islamist upsurge should be no surprise to the U.S. government in any post-Assad Syria either. Furthermore, overt U.S. military intervention in Syria will do nothing for America’s already very low popularity in the Islamic world. …more
September 27, 2012 No Comments
25 September, 2012 – Toby Jones – sada
In response to pointed criticism from the United Nations Human Rights Council, representatives of the Bahraini government claimed they would accept and implement over 150 of the council’s recommendations for the improvement of human rights and the treatment of prisoners. Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa remarked that “Our actions, more than our words, should dispel any doubts regarding [Bahrain’s] commitment to upholding human rights through the rule of law.” Despite this, there are real reasons to be skeptical that Manama is ready to turn the page. The government is certainly interested in pushing a more progressive image abroad, but the truth at home is that authorities remain committed to pursuing a hardline political agenda that invariably involves sustained suppression of activists.
For one, the crackdowns have only increased. In April 2011, police arrested, tortured, and subsequently sentenced Abd al-Hadi al-Khawaja, a dual citizen of Bahrain and Denmark, to life imprisonment. Though Khawaja had garnered considerable popularity for his criticism of the royal family (and of the prime minister, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, especially), his primary commitment had long been to the protection and advocacy of human rights—working to draw international attention to various abuses inside Bahrain. In July, Khawaja’s longtime friend and collaborator, Nabeel Rajab, was arrested and detained for criticizing the country’s leadership on Twitter—eventually being charged with organizing illegal protests and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. Rajab’s appeal is scheduled to be heard in late September. Abd al-Hadi’s daughter, Zaynab al-Khawaja, was also detained in early August for participating in protests, and has taken considerable public risks in an effort to draw attention to regime brutality; as a result, she has faced periodic arrests over the last eighteen months and multiple charges that could keep her in prison for years.
As a consequence, Nabeel Rajab, the Khawajas, and other key human rights defenders have increasingly come to enjoy widespread popularity and significant political capital. This development of these new players deeply discomfits the government. The government has already deeply politicized the issue of human rights over the last year and a half; since early 2011 the regime has sought to use the uprising as a pretext for punishing its long-time political adversaries. Authorities moved early last year to round up what it considered its most contentious opponents—including Ebrahim Sharif, Abd al-Jalil Singace, Hassan Mushaima, Abd al-Wahab Hussein and others—and almost all outspoken opposition leaders. They justified their detentions as the result of the activists’ “radicalism”—a fictitious claim which served to undermine organizations that could rally a popular movement and constitute the most immediate threat to the regime’s survival.
What is remarkable, however, is that these new activities are not affiliated with the country’s mainstream political opposition societies—such as Al Wefaq or Haq. Whereas Al Wefaq and others have admirably sought (but nevertheless failed) to negotiate an end the crackdowns, Rajab and the Khawajas have remained committed to holding officials accountable and seeking justice for those traumatized and victimized since the uprising began, proving considerably more adept than the formal opposition at drawing international attention. In the absence of more credible leaders, Rajab and the Khawajas have become de facto symbols of popular opposition and for a platform that blends political opportunity with social justice. Along with well-known collaborators Said Yusuf al-Muhafda and Alaa Shehabi, both of whom have also faced periodic arrest, they have helped bring attention to both the government’s abuses and the ongoing resilience of opposition forces. Because they too have been subjected to abuse, their continued commitment to reporting events and supporting calls for accountability have also had the effect of inspiring protesters to carry on. While none of them have sought the kind of authority that comes with office, they have nevertheless become key political icons for much of the country’s restive community. Considering this high visibility and international rapport, perhaps it was just a matter of time before they landed in Bahrain’s dungeons. …more
September 25, 2012 No Comments
Familar pattern of intensified assaults, night raids by regime follows pronounced International criticism of human rights failures
25 September, 2012 – ABNA
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – The regime in Bahrain is escalating its security measures by increasing the pace of house raids and arrests just days after holding the United Nations Human Rights Council to discuss the violations in Bahrain.
This comes after the international community demanded to fully respect the basic human rights of the Bahraini citizens. However, the regime chose to respond swiftly by increasing the number of house raids in different areas around Bahrain.
These raids usually take place at late night or very early morning to terrify the households causing psychological problems especially to children and elderly.
The raids are usually also carried out without presenting arrest warrants. Still, even if there is a warrant it is illegal to terrify the people by breaking doors and vandalizing and stealing private belongings of households, insulting their religious believes, along with both verbal and physical assaults. Such behavior has become a typical conduct of the regime forces when dealing with citizens.
Lack of accountability encourages the regime forces to commit more crimes which are believed to be commands of high ranking officials. Impunity, gives them the chance to commit more violations against pro-democracy citizens who are being punished for their insistence on a democratic transition.
September 25, 2012 No Comments
19 September, 2012 – Bahrain Freedom Movement
Manama: Bahrain has failed to fulfil promises of reform since last year’s unrest in the kingdom, denying even the basic rights to most of its people, the International Federation for Human Rights has said.
“Despite the King’s promises, the reforms remain widely insufficient,” the Paris-based FIDH, a group of human rights organisations, said in its latest report
The report is based on more than a year of investigations into government behaviours and policies in the aftermath of the mass demonstrations.
King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa promised change in line with the recommendations of an independent commission of inquiry into the unrest, but has been repeatedly accused by international rights groups of failing to fulfil the most significant reforms.
“While certain efforts have been made by Bahraini authorities to address many of the [ commission’s] recommendations, the report concludes that the government continues to deny a majority of Bahraini’s fundamental rights on a daily basis,” said FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen.
She further accused authorities of using “governmental structures to attack or control the population rather than protect it, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and fear among the population”.
FIDH further called on the Bahraini authorities to release all current rights prisoners and “to support the establishment of an international monitoring mechanism to be set-up… to monitor the implementation of the recommendations” of the independent commission of inquiry. …more
September 19, 2012 No Comments
September 19, 2012 No Comments