Bahrain Regime contradicts its own Human Rights “findings”, fails to overturn unjust prison sentences against Democracy Reformers
Model: Bahrain13 case of political and human rights leaders in the so-called issue of “Alliance for the Republic”
7 January, 2013 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights
1. This memorandum reviews several inconsistencies between the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal in case No. 124/2011 dated 04/09/2012 and the reported observations and recommendations associated with this case in the report issued by the “Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry” on November 23, 2011. Which makes this case ideal model to test the seriousness of the Bahrain authorities to apply the recommendations of the committee on its anniversary.
The timing of the issuance of this memorandum comes before the final verdict by the appeal Court in the case, and expected to be 7th Jan 2013.
2. And what makes the BICI report have a strong link for the Bahrain13 case:
1. That all the charges in this case involving juveniles witnessed by Bahrain in February / March 2011, and the king of Bahrain has formed the BICI committee to look in the course of events that took place in Bahrain during February and March 2011 and the resulting aftermath ..” (According to the Royal Order No. 28 of 2011).
2. That the BICI report presented in detail the role of the accused in the events, and what they suffered during the arrest, search, detention, investigation and in the national safety courts, which are directly related to the seriousness of the accusations and the legality of the evidence and judgments.
3. That King had received the BICI report and accepted it. He then ordered state agencies to the implementation its recommendations.
3. This memorandum is based primarily on the citation and comparison between the texts of the Supreme Court of Appeal decision issued in the case (which is in 77-pages) and the report published by the BICI.
Although the total number of defendants in this case are 21 Bahraini political figures and human rights activists, this note will focus only on the thirteen defendants against whom the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal sentenced.
Topics of the memorandum and the main conclusions:
First: the role of the accused “Bahrain13″ in the events of February and March 2011: The BICI findings refute the responsibility of the defendants in the juvenile and planning of the events, and addresses the BICI differently on the Alliance for the Republic.
Second: the BICI report documenting the violations during the arrest and search, and lawyers argue that “what is built on falsehood is false,” the appeals court ignored all of that in its condemnation of the accused.
Third: The BICI report documented the violations (on Arbitrary arrests, detention, solitary confinement, torture and ill-treatment) and recommended achieving a neutral and independent investigation but the Court of Appeal ignored all that and rely on its judgment on testifies taken forcibly and based on witnesses who were involved in torturing the defendants.
Fourth: Court of Appeal ignored the BICI conclusion and recommendation concerning the topic “arrest and trial in relation to freedom of expression, assembly and association,” and criminalised the defendants who exercised these freedoms by expanding the interpretation of Bahraini laws which restrict freedoms, for the purpose of convicting defendants of inciting violence and terrorism.
Fifth: The Court of Appeal condemns some of the accused of spying, despite the fact the BICI report denied it stating that there are no signs of external interference in the events.
Sixth: a final summary.
First: the incompatibility between the BICI report and the rule of “the Supreme Court of Appeal” with respect to: the nature of the role of the accused in this case in the events of February / March 2011, and the reasons for the escalation of these events, and the “Alliance for the Republic”:
1. Came in the judgment of the “Supreme Court of Appeal” on 24.07.2012, that: “… on the subject of the thirteen appeals, and when the incidents are well known to the court, .. is obtained that the impact of the arrest of the terrorist cell known as the twenty-five, the trial (it was on 15/8/2010 .. which was six months prior to the events) have been monitoring the movement of the first defendant (Abdul Wahab Hussein Ali) and he is an official in the unauthorised Al-Wafa Islamic Party – and to form a group aimed to violate the laws and regulation ie, the Alliance for the Republic, intended to change the regime in the kingdom and disrupt the provisions of the Constitution and the laws in coordination with leading the so-called Al-Haq movement , the Bahrain Freedom Movement and Islamic Movement and Salvation Movement who are residents in London are accused of second (Hassan Ali Hassan Mushaima) .. and others is appellants .. in conjunction with some activists within the plaque They accused (Abdul Jalil Radhi Mansour al-Miqdad) .. and (Abdulhadi Abdullah Al-Khawaja) .. (Salah Abdullah Al-Khawaja), (Mohammed Hassan Jawad) .. and (Mohammed Ali Radhi Ismail). They all agreed on the composition of the so-called coalition of for the Republic .. The defendant (Abdul Wahab Hussein Ali) took advantage of the emergence of some calls that have been talking on over the internet .. to choose 14th Feb .. to claim certain rights, as they called to do demonstrations and marches .. on that day with the composition of groups to work with all area .. with work on the exploitation of houses of worship .. to incite public disorder and riots and vandalism .. for implementation of the scheme aimed at regime change and the Constitution .. …more
January 7, 2013 No Comments
November 27, 2012 No Comments
Bahrain al Khalifa regime set-up Bassiouni “fact-finding” mission to exonerate Murderers not to reform abuse
26 November, 2012 – FARS
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Al-Khalifa regime set up the fact-fining committee led by Mohammed Sharif Basyouni in a bid to exonerate the agents who have killed protesters, a member of Bahrain’s Center for Human Rights said.
“The regime’s refusal to implement the contents of Basyouni committee’s report formed at the order of the (Bahraini) king indicates that the goal pursued by establishing this committee was not settlement of the country’s crisis, but to exonerate the agents involved with the massacre and clampdown on people,” Fallah al-Rabie told FNA on Monday.
He also blamed the Bahraini regime for escalation of crisis in the country, and said the regime still continues “torturing” prisoners, “clamping down” on popular protests and “revoking citizenship” of legal and political activists.
Some international organizations, including the Amnesty International and the UN, have blamed the Al-Khalifa regime for killing and detaining activists and failing to deliver on its promise of reforms.
Security forces have even intensified arrests since the start of the holy month of Muharram.
Muharram, a religious month is commemorated by Muslims across the world annually. The holy month which started on Friday bans people from killing, arresting, committing any wrong doing or crime.
The forces have also insulted the religious slogans chanted by people during the holy month.
Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty’s over-40-year rule, end of discrimination, establishment of justice and a democratically-elected government as well as freedom of detained protesters.
Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13, 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.
So far, tens of people have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured. …source
November 26, 2012 No Comments
Does BICI have relevance beyond pointing out previously acknowledged egregious crimes by the regime and its unwillingness to change?
26 November, 2012 – POMED
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain held a panel discussion entitled, “Human Rights in Bahrain: Assessing Progress on the One-Year Anniversary of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry Report,” to discuss the current status of implementation of the BICI recommendations. The panel featured Mohammad al-Tajer, co-founder and President of Bahrain Rehabilitation & Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO), Dr. Fatima Haji, co-founder and Director of Training and Development at BRAVO, Brian Dooley, Director of Human Rights First, Richard Sollom, Deputy Director at Physicians for Human Rights, and was moderated by Husain Abdulla, Director of Americans for Human Rights & Democracy in Bahrain.
For full meeting notes continue reading or here for a PDF.
Husain Abdulla introduced the panel and discussed the background of the BICI report. He noted that many of the recommendations in the report have been met with continued violence instead of the reforms many had hoped for.
Mohammad al-Tajer spoke of his experience as a lawyer for detainees, saying lawyers are often unable to speak privately with their clients or to present a proper defense. He also addressed the failure of the BICI report, citing cases of torture, indefinite detention, and the demolition of mosques as examples. Al-Tajer expressed frustration that “there is nobody held responsible for the killings” in Bahrain.
Brian Dooley pointed out that the situation in Bahrain is worsening. He said, “If we look at this time last year … there wasn’t a blanket ban on demonstrations,” and the violence was not as severe. “Things are sliding in a horribly frightening direction,” Dooley stressed. He mentioned the U.S. has sent observers to trials, which do not comply with international standards, and urged the Obama Administration to make a statement on the issue, referencing Obama’s comment last year that “you can’t have a real dialogue with parts of the opposition in jail.”
Richard Sollom discussed his experience documenting the situation for public health officials, stating that of the 95 medics detained, 20 had been convicted on felony charges, 28 on misdemeanor charges, and nine had been acquitted. However, those acquitted were not reinstated to their previous positions, and many who had not gone through the legal system still had their licenses revoked or had been removed from their position. Sollom called this the “biggest violation of medical neutrality” he had ever witnessed.
U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) made an appearance to thank the panel for their “courageous defense of human rights,” and encouraged everyone to “continue to tell the story.” He said the “government of Bahrain has not lived up to the (BICI) recommendation,” and that the U.S. hasn’t “been active enough.” “The violations of human rights occurring (in Bahrain) are not small, they are quite serious and demand our attention,” Ellison added. He concluded by saying he would encourage the U.S. government to look into a different location for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet as a possible means of putting pressure on the Bahraini government.
Dr. Fatima Haji discussed her detention for providing medical assistance to injured protesters in Bahrain, mentioning that she has not been reinstated to her position, and has been threatened with having her medical license revoked. She said the main hospital in Bahrain’s capitol, Manama, has been militarized with checkpoints and a security detail. Haji added that many people who arrive at the hospital for care are first questioned about the nature of their injury. If security forces conclude that the patient was injured during a protest, they are immediately detained without medical attention.
During the Q&A, al-Tajer answered a question about the revocation of citizenship for 31 Bahrainis, a group includes panelist Husain Abdulla, saying they no longer have access to schools, the healthcare system, or jobs, He said that their land and homes will be confiscated, because only Bahraini citizens may own land in the country. When asked about moving the Fifth Fleet’s naval base, Haji said the opposition movement would gladly accept a U.S. discussion on the Fleet’s relocation if it would change the current situation. Abdulla recommended the U.S. start using the leverage it appears to have over Bahrain, including the Fifth Fleet, to address the human rights crisis. In closing, Sollom said President Obama and the U.S. Secretary of State should “talk about the reality of what is taking place in Bahrain,” while al-Tajer added that “Bahrain is looking to the outside world to help end this crisis.” Haji urged the “U.S. government to revise their policy,” on Bahrain, while Dooley again emphasized the importance for the U.S. to condemn unsubstantiated trials against opposition figures.
November 26, 2012 No Comments
21 November, 2012 – Amnesty International
Bahrain is facing a stark choice between the rule of law, or sliding into a downward spiral of repression and instability, Amnesty International warned in a new briefing today.
The briefing Bahrain: reform shelved, repression unleashed comes days before the first anniversary of a landmark report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which was established by the country’s authorities to investigate abuses during the 2011 anti-government protests.
The BICI report found the Bahraini government responsible for gross human rights violations and documented widespread abuses. It made a series of recommendations including calling on the authorities to bring to account those responsible for human rights abuses and to carry out independent investigations into allegations of torture and other violations.
After BICI published its report in November 2011, the government committed itself to implementing the recommendations.
But as this briefing makes clear, instead of fulfilling this undertaking, the authorities swiftly moved to entrench repression, culminating in October 2012 in the banning of all rallies and gatherings in the country in violation of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and in November with the stripping of Bahraini nationality from 31 opposition figures.
“The scale and nature of the violations unleashed in Bahrain since the BICI made its recommendations are making a mockery of the reform process in the country,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
“As Amnesty International has documented in this briefing, the authorities have reneged on their promises to pursue the path of reform. Any claim by the government that it is committed to the rule of law and to improving human rights sounds hollow, in the face of a moribund reform process.
“Indeed, it has become evident that the authorities in Bahrain do not have the will to take the steps necessary to reform. Protestations to the contrary only underscore the gap between their rhetoric and reality.
“As the country is engulfed in entrenched unrest and instability looms, the international community, and especially Bahrain’s allies, have a duty to condemn what is happening in the country and to stop using the BICI report a shield to avoid having to criticize the Bahraini authorities.”
The establishment of BICI, made up of international human rights and legal experts, was considered a groundbreaking initiative, but a year on, it has been effectively shelved.
For victims and their families, justice and reparation remain elusive.
One such victim is Roula Jassim Mohammed al-Saffar who was among health professionals sentenced by a military court to between 5 and 15 years in prison in September 2011. She was subsequently acquitted by a civilian court on appeal. Following her arrest on 4 April 2011 she says she was tortured in detention. When Amnesty International met her in Bahrain while she was on bail she described what happened during questioning at the Criminal Investigation Department:
“A woman officer entered the room and said ‘I will blindfold you and I will deal with you now’. Then three men entered the room and started hitting me… She had an electric device in each hand and hit me with it on both sides of my head at the same time. I felt dizzy and lost consciousness. I don’t remember what happened straight after. Then they took me to another room and one of them called me a whore and insulted my family… On the third day she gave me electric shocks again and she asked if I went to the strike. Another woman started slapping me. She cut my hair with scissors. Then they burned my hair on the sides. They hit me and sexually harassed me by putting their hands all over my body… This continued for four or five days.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International continues to document widespread violations by security forces, including the use of unnecessary and excessive force against protesters, sometimes fatal.
Hussam al-Haddad, 16, died on 17 August 2012 in al-Muharraq, the day after he was shot by riot police. His family say he had gone to a nearby cafe while demonstrations were going on in the area. A family member who was present alleged that after Hussam al-Haddad was shot and, while he was on the ground, a riot police officer hit him with his rifle and kicked him. Hussam al-Haddad was taken to the military hospital and then to Salmaniya Medical Complex. His family was informed about his death at around 2am that night. On 9 October the Special Investigation Unit determined that the policeman who shot at him was acting in self-defence after being attacked and the case was therefore closed.
Since the beginning of 2012, an increasing number of gatherings have involved participants reportedly throwing Molotov cocktails or blocking roads. According to the government, two policemen have died in recent weeks after having been reportedly attacked in riots. Such violent attacks are not protected forms of expression under international human rights law, and those suspected of carrying them out may be brought to justice in conformity with standards of fairness and due process.
However, the use of violence does not exonerate the authorities from their obligations to respect human rights. Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Bahraini authorities to refrain from using excessive force against protesters; the organization considers that policing of assemblies should always be guided by human rights considerations.
An increasing number of children aged between 15 and 18 have been held in adult prisons and detention centres in Bahrain in the past few months. The total may number 80, according to lawyers and local human rights groups. Human rights defenders and activists denouncing such abuses are repeatedly harassed and some have been jailed for carrying out their human rights work and peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
And in an ominous move, the Bahraini authorities on 7 November stripped 31 opposition figures of their Bahraini nationality. A Ministry of Interior statement indicated that the group, including politicians, activists and religious figures, had their nationality revoked because they had caused “damage to state security”.
Bahrain risks sliding into protracted unrest and instability and is at a crossroads. The BICI report provides a roadmap to put Bahrain on the path of the rule of law; only the genuine implementation of the BICI report recommendations would halt the slide. Bahrain’s close allies, including the USA and the UK can no longer shield behind BICI and pretend it’s business as usual. …source
November 21, 2012 No Comments
Bahrain, One Year Later
The Arabist – 16 November, 2012
From POMED’s report assessing the implementation of the BICI report:
We have found that the Government of Bahrain has fully implemented three of the BICI report’s 26 recommendations. Two other recommendations were impossible for us to properly evaluate due to a lack of available information, and 15 recommendations have only been partially implemented. Finally, the government has made no meaningful progress toward six of the recommendations, which are precisely the most important steps that need to be taken – accountability for officials responsible for torture and severe human rights violations, the release of political prisoners, prevention of sectarian incitement, and the relaxation of censorship and controls on free expression.
Nearly as troubling as the failure to address key areas has been the unrealistic assessment by the Government of Bahrain of its own progress. Bahraini government officials, including the Ambassador to the United States, have claimed in public statements to have fully implemented 18 of the 26 recommendations. It is difficult to expect the government to make significant progress on the many unfulfilled recommendations while it maintains that most of those steps have already been completed.
November 16, 2012 No Comments
Bahrain BICI Report and a well manipulated “Lantos Commission” becomes Kingdom’s tool to remain free from accountability and guarantee impunity from murderous abuses
2 August, 2012 – By Colin S. Cavell- PressTV
And why did the US government pressure King Hamad to establish this commission and to issue this report? Because the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, and the US wants to maintain its basing rights on the island kingdom in order to protect its hegemonic position to assert its dominance and control over the Middle Eastern Arab regimes. The commission and the report would demonstrate, it was argued, the maturity of the Al-Khalifa regime and its ability to learn from its mistakes and reform its government.”
Hearings were held today, Wednesday, August 1, 2012, in the US Congress on the “Implementation of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry Report” by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (named in honor of the former Democratic representative from California who died in 2008).
Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) co-chaired the hearings which took place in Room 2237 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC.
And what did they examine you ask? They purportedly examined the extent to which the government of Bahrain has implemented the BICI proposals.
And what are the BICI proposals? These are recommendations included in a report issued by a commission headed by renowned Egyptian-born international criminal law professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni in November of 2011.
And why did Bassiouni issue this report? Because he was paid by Hamad Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain, to investigate the allegations of human rights abuses during the regime crackdown on democracy protesters from February 14, 2011, when the Arab Spring rebellion commenced in Bahrain, until Saudi Arabia sent in the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council’s (PGCC) so-called Peninsula Shield Forces on March 14, 2011 to “restore order”. Presumably what happened from the 14th of March, 2011 and afterwards could not be attributed to the King or his hangmen and, therefore, were off-limits to Bassiouni and his investigators, even though the killings, the torture, the arrests and jailings, the beatings and harassments continue to this day-i.e. 17 months after the civil conflict erupted-as do the near-daily protests by the pro-democracy citizenry which periodically march in the streets in the hundreds of thousands to demonstrate their resolve against the monarchy.
In essence, King Hamad was strongly urged by the US Department of State and others to whitewash the murders, tortures, beatings, arrests, jailings, beatings, harassment and other crimes of his regime by establishing a commission-the so-called Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI)- on June 29, 2011, headed by a distinguished jurist-i.e. Cherif Bassiouni-so as to indicate a degree of self-reflection and self-criticism in the hope that the world community would absolve him and his regime of any responsibility for maintaining an autocratic 229-year-old hereditary monarchy and allow the kingdom to return to business as usual.
And why did the US government pressure King Hamad to establish this commission and to issue this report? Because the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, and the US wants to maintain its basing rights on the island kingdom in order to protect its hegemonic position to assert its dominance and control over the Middle Eastern Arab regimes. The commission and the report would demonstrate, it was argued, the maturity of the Al-Khalifa regime and its ability to learn from its mistakes and reform its government.
When did Bassiouni issue this report? The date of the issuance of this infamous 500-page Bassiouni Report was Wednesday, November 23, 2011 when senior members of the Al-Khalifa family gathered in one of the King’s palaces, along with numerous reporters, to hear Bassiouni present a 45-minute verbal summary of his findings. Allegedly, the Report “took 9,000 testimonies, offered an extensive chronology of events, documented 46 deaths, 559 allegations of torture, and more than 4,000 cases of employees dismissed for participating in protests.” To his credit, Bassiouni rejected the regime’s completely unfounded claims that the pro-democracy protests were externally initiated by the country of Iran, and he also recommended a series of reforms designed to prevent human rights abuses from re-occurring. The Report, however, failed to place any blame on the leaders of the Al-Khalifa regime, assigning responsibility for instances of torture, excessive use of violence, and other human rights abuses to low-level functionaries.
[Read more →]
August 2, 2012 No Comments
Regime offers “blood money” to victims as it seeks to appease Public Relations demands of Western Benefactors
26 June, 2012 – Al Akhbar
A leading Bahraini rights group on Tuesday condemned the decision to pay the families killed by security forces as “insulting.”
Bahrain announced it would pay $2.6 million to 17 families over deaths last year during an uprising that the Gulf Arab state put down by force.
“Disbursement of compensation to the families of 17 deceased persons has begun in keeping with the implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI),” said a government statement citing a justice ministry official, adding this amounted to $153,000 per individual.
It gave no details on who the recipients were.
Yet Maryam Al-Khawaja, acting head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said the payouts were an “insult” to the dead.
“The Bahraini government has been not only refused to acknowledge the pain and suffering of the people who lost family during the protest movement because of the excessive use of force, but it has also targeted those families – either through arrests or desecrating the graves of those killed,” she said.
“The offering of monetary compensation seems a little disingenuous and there are many that feel its more of an insult than anything else,” she added.
The BICI, an investigative body head by international legal experts, said in November at least 35 people died during the crackdown on the unrest, which began in February 2011 after revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.
The dead were mainly protesters, but also included five security personnel and seven foreigners. The report said five people died due to torture.
Bahrain, host to the US Fifth Fleet, has been under pressure to implement the BICI recommendations of police, judicial, media and education reform. …more
June 26, 2012 No Comments
The BICI report has become a vehicle for misleading world opinion that events in Bahrain were in the past and that causalities and victims are an event in last year past, rather than a present reality. The skillful manipulation of facts by hired public relations firms and the deliberate misdirection away from the reality on the ground is deplorable. Internet sorts and information stacking has become a target for manipulation so that information that vilifies the opposition, misleads the public to the extent of oppression in Bahrain and promotes a “uprising of reform” rather than the “reality of revolution” facing the broken and corrupt al Khalifa regime and its fearful partners in the West.
The report below, from Bahrain Center for Human Rights helps to establish a reality of events as the relate to that which has occurred since the BICI report and the charade of reform it promotes. Phlipn.
Press Release Bahrain Centre for Human Rights on 26 March 2012
BCHR publishes today its new report Post BICI Report, presenting the main key findings from the ongoing effort to document human rights violations occurring in the state of Bahrain since the publication of the Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in November 2012. Our investigative report supports the rights of victims, no matter their political or religious background. It is unaffiliated with the Bahraini government or any foreign government and is firmly centered on domestic civil society advocacy of human rights.
This report is the second publication from the BCHR chronicling the events since February 14th 2011. The first, Bahrain: The Human Price of Freedom and Justice, was pivotal in addressing the widespread and systematic violations of human rights and international law.
You can find the report here or here if you are in a country where direct access to our website is not available.
This is a report by The Bahrain Center for Human Rights presenting the main key findings from the ongoing effort to document human rights violations occurring in the state of Bahrain since the publication of the Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry in November 2012. Our investigative report supports the rights of victims, no matter their political or religious background. It is unaffiliated with the Bahraini government or any foreign government and is firmly centered on domestic civil society advocacy of human rights.
This report is the second publication from the BCHR chronicling the events since February 14th 2011. The first, Bahrain: The Human Price of Freedom and Justice, was pivotal in addressing the widespread and systematic violations of human rights and international law. …more
Bahrain Center for Human Rights Report November 2011 HERE
March 26, 2012 No Comments
20 March, 2012 – Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa will today (Tuesday) receive the final report of the National Commission incharge of following-up the implementation of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry(BICI) recommendations.
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) issued this report to shed light on convicted in the courts of the National Safety (military courts).
“More than 100 demonstrators are still behind bars because of the harsh sentences in the courts of the National Safety (military tribunals)” Mohammed AL-Maskati, president of the BYSHR, said.
Report : Click Here
March 21, 2012 No Comments
by Alaa Shehabi – Jadaliyya – 7 December, 2011
On 23 November 2011, in one of the royal palaces in Bahrain, a lavish ceremony commenced with all the pomp of a great occasion. In the era of the so-called Arab Spring, this should have been an occasion to announce the handover of power to the people, akin to the Hong Kong handover ceremony in 1997. This, however, was a ceremony for the handover of a human rights report written by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), a government-appointed commission with the nominal mandate of investigating the government’s crimes—hardly a thing to celebrate. It must have been awkward because most of the perpetrators accussed of carrying out these crimes were sitting right there.
In Jaw Prison on the other side of the island, my husband Ghazi Farhan, imprisoned there for eight months, told me that prisoners scrambled to find the analogue channel of Bahrain TV to listen to the speech of Professor Cherif Bassiouni, the head of BICI, after guards had switched off the satellite system to stop them. The prisoners managed to watch half the speech before the guards discovered them and switched the TV off. “Bassiouni is talking about what happened to us! We have every right to listen to him,” the prisoners argued. The guards, fearing that a revolt was in the making, ordered them back to their cells. My husband called me that evening. “Did Bassiouni ask for us to be freed?” With a heavy heart, I told him “no.” “What kind of justice is this?” he asked. “These commissioners let us down,” I replied.
Not too far away, the body of Abdulnabi Kadhem lay on the doorstep of a house in the village of Aa’li, next to his car which had been rammed in the side by a security jeep. Such jeeps storm into villages on a daily basis. He was officially the forty-eighth person killed since 14 February when the uprising in Bahrain kicked off.
No one expected the king, the commissioners or any of the attendees to offer a minute’s silence or even to pay a tribute to the dead who were mentioned in the report. To the government, they were criminals and traitors. To the commissioners, they were statistics. To the majority of the Bahrainis who are fighting for change, they are martyrs who paid the price of freedom with their sacred blood. …more
December 9, 2011 No Comments
01/12/2011 – Bahrain Freedom Movement
Earlier this year, a pro-democracy uprising in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain was met with a severe government crackdown. At least 35 people were killed. Now, the country’s leadership is in the process of examining its reaction to those protests. Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab talks to Melissa Block about the government report that details systemic abuse by its authorities.
The kingdom of Bahrain may be taking some steps toward reform. Bahrain is the small island state in the Persian Gulf, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Earlier this year, Bahrain was swept up in protests as the Arab Spring uprising spread. At least 35 people were killed. And a new human rights report commissioned by the Bahraini government detailed systemic abuse of those who were detained.
Nabeel Rajab, a leading Bahraini human rights activist, was among those targeted by the government. Mr. Rajab is here in Washington this week to receive a Democracy Award from the Woodrow Wilson Center, and he joins me here in our studios. Welcome and congratulations.
NABEEL RAJAB: Thank you very much.
BLOCK: Why don’t you tell us your personal story of what happened in your encounters with the government forces during the uprising this spring?
RAJAB: Well, what happened to me is not different than what happened to hundreds and thousands of Bahraini people. Unfortunately, as you know, we have many people die. What has happened to me is much less than what happened to many people who lost their life fighting for freedom and social justice.
BLOCK: You did suffer some physical abuse yourself at the hands of Bahraini authorities.
RAJAB: Yeah, several time. The last was in last March when I was kidnapped from my house by 25 masked, armed men when they pull me from my bed and beat me in front of my children. And masked me, blindfold me, handcuff me, took me to unknown place, torture me for a couple of hours. Then they brought me back home. Thank God, I came back two hours later. Many people never came back.
BLOCK: I mentioned the human rights report released last week. It was commissioned by the Bahraini government, and it details over hundreds and hundreds of pages abuses during and after the protests. It was presented to the king at the palace. It doesn’t sound like a whitewash. Did it feel to you like a frank and full accounting of what happened?
RAJAB: Well, it’s not frank and full. It is report by the regime that has committed all those violation occurred in Bahrain since last September. So, you don’t expect the report to be as credible, as independent as human right group like Human Rights Watch or Amnesty or FIDH. But there are a lot of things in this report positive.
They talked about systematic torture, systematic violation. They talked about unfair trial were going on. They said about most of people in jail today because of expressing their freedom of expression. They talked about the thousand people who were fired from work, fired from their school and university. And they made it so clear this is illegal.
But we have not seen government taking this recommendation into consideration. People are still in jail. People are still being tortured. Excessive use of force going on against protestor (unintelligible) and those responsible for all those violation are still in their job committing the same crimes. So, we have not seen yet any positive step by government to implement those recommendations.
BLOCK: The Bahraini king has just appointed a new national commission on reform. It does include some opposition political parties and civil society groups. Do you think that signals a new approach by the kingdom, a genuine tilt toward the kind of democratic reform that you’re seeking?
RAJAB: Well, you have a long process to go, but there are couple of negative things we’re seeing. For example, appointing many people who were part of the problem in the same commission to implement those recommendations. I don’t think this will send a positive message to the people.
BLOCK: Even though it does include opposition political parties and members of civil society?
RAJAB: It’s like bringing cat and dog in the same cage. And you just want to watch them fighting than you want to achieve anything. Let’s see what is going to happen in the coming days. We’re looking forward to see the international community headed by United States taking a tougher position. You can’t continue having two different language towards two different revolution. In Libya and Syria, one language, and Bahrain and Saudi Arabia is different language.
People of Bahrain, people of Saudi Arabia, people of Kuwait, people of United Arab Emirates, they deserve to have democracy. So, we urge the United States government to treat all revolution in equal manner.
BLOCK: Mr. Rajab, it’s good to meet you. Thanks for coming by.
RAJAB: Thank you very much.
BLOCK: Nabeel Rajab is president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. In a statement to NPR, the State Department had this to say about Bahrain. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been frank, in public and in private, that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens and will not make legitimate calls for reform go away. The statement adds that the U.S. intends to hold the Bahraini government to its commitments and to encourage the opposition to respond constructively to secure lasting reform.
Tomorrow, we’re scheduled to talk with a representative of the government of Bahrain. …more
December 1, 2011 No Comments
November 23, 2011 No Comments
Bahrain: Critical report should spur human rights ‘turning point’
23 November 2011
Mass protests in Manama earlier this year called for wide-ranging reforms
Amnesty International today urged Bahrain’s government to usher in much-needed human rights reforms after a comprehensive independent report by international experts criticized the use of torture and “excessive force” during protests earlier this year.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, released today amid fresh protests in Manama, was deeply critical of the authorities’ handling of demonstrations in February and March and other abuses in the following months.
It covered hundreds of cases of abuse and included strong recommendations for protecting human rights and delivering justice and reparations to victims.
“We hope Bahrain’s government will view this landmark report as a turning point in how it responds to human rights violations, and will use its recommendations to lay the foundations for far-reaching reform,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Acting Middle East and North Africa Director.
“The pattern of abuse documented by the BICI – including mass arrests of peaceful demonstrators, widespread torture in detention and dozens of flawed military trials of activists and professionals – must be relegated to the past and Bahraini authorities must fully establish the rule of law and deliver justice to the victims.”
Established by a royal decree on 29 June, the BICI gathered around 9,000 testimonies and interviewed some 5,000 people about abuses during and after pro-reform protests in February and March.
Hundreds of cases were covered, including beatings of protesters by security forces, mass arbitrary arrests of mainly Shi’a opposition activists and widespread torture, with five deaths resulting from torture in custody. In all, at least 35 people have died in connection with the protests, including five security personnel.
The report urged the Bahraini government to immediately establish an independent body made up of representatives of civil society, the opposition and the government; to oversee the implementation of the BICI’s recommendations; to usher in legislative reforms to ensure laws are in line with international human rights standards; and to bring to account those responsible for abuses.
Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa responded to the report by vowing not to repeat the events following the protests in February and March.
In a statement on Monday, Bahrain’s cabinet admitted that security forces had been responsible for “instances of excessive force and mistreatment of detainees”.
It announced new initiatives, including the criminalization of torture – bringing Bahrain’s penal code in line with international standards – and the establishment of an independent national human rights body.
The government also said that it was prosecuting 20 cases against security officers, without giving any further details, and would set up a special fund to compensate victims of the clashes between security forces and protesters.
“The King’s appointment of the BICI was a landmark development, as the commission’s findings and recommendations testify,” said Philip Luther.
“The true test now will be the speed, extent and seriousness with which the government follows through on the BICI’s recommendations.
“In particular, the government must now deliver justice, ensure national laws are adequate to protect rights and work with civil society and opposition leaders to establish a truly independent and effective national body to monitor human rights according to a clear timetable.”
A coalition of Bahraini civil society organizations published their own highly critical report on the protest aftermath yesterday.
The civil society report also called on Bahrain’s international supporters to do more to promote human rights in the Gulf nation. …source
November 23, 2011 No Comments
By David Kenner – November 23, 2011 – Foreign Policy
Rarely has a human rights report been accompanied by as much hoopla as the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s (BICI) investigation. The report, which examines the government’s crackdown during domestic unrest in February and March, was published on Nov. 23. Its release was accompanied by a televised speech by the BICI’s head, Cherif Bassiouni, accusing King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa’s security forces of operating with a sense of impunity, and using torture and excessive force to quell the protests.
The 501-page tome (warning: large .pdf file ahead) is a tough read. It neglects to name the officials responsible for human rights violations, and often falls back on a “he said-she said” account of events that leaves readers none the wiser about what took place. But there are a few sections of the report that shed new light on the abortive revolution that occurred on the island kingdom in February and March.
The first protester’s death: The first casualty in Bahrain’s crackdown occurred on Feb. 14, when police killed Ali Abdulhadi Almeshaima in the village of Daih. As the report makes clear, Almeshaima’s death galvanized the protest movement, as demonstrators took to the street for his funeral and to express outrage over the killing. The government’s story is that Almeshaima was participating in a demonstration and was killed after the protesters attacked a nearby police unit, while his family claims that he was shot by a police unit in cold blood, “for no apparent reason.”
On page 224, the commission comes down on the side of Almeshaima’s family:
“The death of Mr Almeshaima can be attributed to the use of excessive force by police officers. At the time of the shooting, there were no reports of any disturbances in the Daih area. Furthermore, the fact that Mr Almeshaima was shot in the back at close range indicates that there was no justification for the use of lethal force.”
The death toll: The casualties from Bahrain’s uprising is a matter of some dispute — the Bahrain Center for Human Rights has listed 46 people that it says were killed by excessive force from the country’s security forces. The BICI, however, finds that 35 people will killed during the revolt.
On page 214, it breaks down its death toll: 13 civilians were reportedly killed by security forces, five people died from torture, eight civilians died from unattributed causes, four expatriate workers were killed by both civilians and security forces, and five policy and army officers died during the unrest.
Fake blood: One of the narratives pushed by pro-government supporters is that protesters smeared fake blood over themselves to exaggerate, for media consumption, the brutality of the security forces’ crackdown. Among the government’s charges against 20 imprisoned medical workers, which it accuses of colluding with the protesters, is that they provided demonstrators with donor blood for just this purpose, and also gave atropine to some individuals to imitate nerve gas injuries — again for media consumption.
The BICI report, on page 74 and 75, appears to confirm the rumors that protesters used fake blood in at least one Feb. 18 protest:
“The protesters approached the BDF barricade at approximately 17:00 and demanded access to the roundabout. According to subsequent BDF investigations, the protesters began to verbally abuse the military personnel deployed in the area and to shout anti-government slogans. Reports also indicated that certain individuals among the demonstrators smeared their bodies with red liquid to feign injuries that could be recorded and subsequently aired on the internet and on satellite news channels.”
Torture: The most explosive segment of the report relates to the torture and death of protesters at the hands of Bahrain’s security forces. Strangely, in the case of two of the five protesters who died in police custody from torture, officers tried to cover up their crimes on multiple occasions by listing the cause of death as related to sickle cell anemia.
On pages 238 and 239, the report recounts a witness’s statement about the events that led to the death of Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Asheri on April 9:
“The witness stated that all the detainees in the same cell were blindfolded and handcuffed, and forced to lie on their stomachs. On one of the mornings, the deceased began to experience hallucinations or confusion, whereby he began banging on the door shouting his name. The prison guards shouted at him to be quiet and when he did not comply, they entered his cell. The witness heard the deceased being beaten and he heard him scream after each beating. The witness then heard a shuffling noise after which the deceased‘s shouts became muffled. The witness then heard a Pakistani say in Urdu, ‘He is dead.’” …source
November 23, 2011 No Comments
All the making of a Grand Sham as Bassiouni and crew collect their blood money. On first pass there is nothing in the 501 page document that seems it will facilitate any “real reform” or any other kind of remediation. There will surely be some money to go around to any takers who have been “unjustly” injured or otherwise offended, possibly a pardon or two for some of the detainees. A familiar phase for countries headed for a revolution.
See the Bassioni Report HERE
See King Hamad’s response HERE
November 23, 2011 No Comments
King Hamad, “All those who called for the downfall of the regime will have a wall fall on their heads. Bahrain is a small island – there is no escape.”
Bahrain’s Independent Commission of Inquiry: A Path to Justice or Political Shield
by Alaa Shehabi – Jadaliyya – 22 November, 2011 – BCHR
Tomorrow, 23 November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), comprised of an international panel of law experts, is due to submit its report following a four-month investigation of the violence that broke out since the February 14 Uprising in Bahrain. Aside from questions of partiality raised by ongoing statements made by its Chairperson, Professor Bassiouni, the more serious question centers on the political purpose that this report will serve. Will it offer justice for victims of the most brutal crackdown in Bahrain’s history? Or will it whitewash the findings by avoiding high-level accountability and offering a political shield for the regime against its critics?
The February 14 Uprising and the Saudi Crackdown
“All those who called for the downfall of the regime [isqat al-nizam] will have a wall fall on their heads. Bahrain is a small island – there is no escape.”
These were the ominous words of the son of the King of Bahrain, uttered on state television in his newly appointed role as Head of the Royal Guard in March 2011. It was a stark warning: no one who participated in Bahrain’s revolt would be spared the regime’s wrath. Many, like myself, felt like a ton of bricks had fallen on our heads. There really was no escape. My own husband, Ghazi Farhan, an apolitical businessman who did not participate in the protest movement, was ambushed in his office parking lot on 12 April by masked armed men and held incommunicado for fifty days before being dragged to a military tribunal and sentenced to three years of imprisonment. He was the liberal and consumer-orientated face of the young generation of Bahrainis who cared little for politics. But that is no longer the case. Much of this has changed. Not just in him, but in many of the youth who have witnessed or experienced such repression.
Ghazi is one of the hundreds of forgotten prisoners languishing in an overcrowded jail that was emptied of common criminals over Ramadan in late Summer 2011 to make room for more prisoners of conscience. In October alone, 208 people were sentenced to a combined total of 2500 years in prison through military tribunals. Since February 2011, forty-three people have been killed, almost 1500 arrested and tortured, and nearly 3000 fired from their jobs. Hundreds of Bahrainis have gone into exile.
The mass persecution of thousands of activists and their families began as punishment for daring to participate in mass protests in which people demanded the end of absolute rule. Those protests brought the regime to the brink of collapse. Some demanded a constitutional monarchy. Others wanted an end to the monarchy altogether. One by one, masked men raided the homes of youths, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and engineers. People were blindfolded and whisked off to undisclosed locations with little or no information given to their distressed families. Fuelled by a public campaign of naming and shaming on state television, thousands were dismissed from their jobs, labeled as “traitors,” and denied the ability to question the accusations made against them. Bahrain’s prisons, infamous for the torture that took place in them during the 1990s, were once again transformed into terror chambers. During his first four days of interrogation at the Riffa West police station, my husband was sleep deprived, whipped on the back and feet, and verbally abused. Four men, including a renowned book publisher, Karim Fakhrawi emerged with battered bodies after a few days of their arrest. The government’s forensic doctors attributed the bruises and marks to “sickle cell anemia” or “kidney failure.” “We will kill you like we killed Karim Fakhrawi, if you do not confess,” my husband was told by his interrogator.
Choosing the route of brutal repression, backed by neighboring Saudi Arabia’s military intervention, may have secured the regime its survival for the time being. Yet the human cost will prove too heavy for such a small island to bear. The regime and its state institutions has been implicated in serious and systematic crimes, which blatantly flouted internationally recognized principles and laws. A regime that has so keenly nurtured its international image as “business-friendly” and rarely made headlines over the last decade—except to announce its role as host of the prestigious Formula One races—now finds itself being referred to as “tyrannical” on the front pages of Western newspapers.
In the aftermath of the crackdown, the government needed a major damage control strategy. One that would allow it to regain some kind of legitimacy in the eyes of the international community, if not amongst its own people. So a regime accused of grave violations of human rights—ones that could very well amount to crimes against humanity—has initiated an investigation to be supervised by panel of renowned international law experts. On 20 July, the commission, comprised of five members headed by Professor Bassiouni, commenced its work. …more
November 23, 2011 No Comments
November 23, 2011 No Comments
November 22, 2011 No Comments
It would be huge if you find the courage and conviction to organize a study group and discuss the document. Iinvite your Congressional Representatives or someone from their office, they will likely attend your meeting and gladly. Show the Bahrain Videos listed in the sidebar on, The Crooked Bough or find other videos that are meaningful to you. It is probably no accident the BICI report is being released so it will be eclipsed by the renewed demonstration in Egypt's ongoing Revolution. Bahrain's future hangs in the balance and all you do to Break the Silence regarding Bahrain, helps advance the cause for Human Rights and Democracy. ]
Bahrain: Human Price of Freedom and Justice
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS)
Manama, London – 22nd November 2011
As Bahrain awaits the outcome of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report, Bahraini human rights groups have released their own report documenting the brutal crushing of the Arab Spring protests in Bahrain.
This report documents the violations in Bahrain since February 14th, although crucial to note that due to lack of funding and manpower it was difficult to document all the cases that have occurred. This 87 page report gives background to the situation, then identifies and document all the types of violations that took place, with the aim of putting out recommendations to the Bahraini government, as well as the EU, US, UN OHCHR and the ICC. These recommendations are crucial to start a process of reconciliation and to stop the ongoing violence, including loss of civilian lives, taking place.
(For the entire report, kindly find PDF document attached HERE)
This Joint Report represents a concerted effort on the part of every human rights organization operating in Bahrain, various opposition parties, and those citizens in which this report gives a voice. The collection of personal testimonies, governmental orders and documentation, and video and hardcopy evidence, amongst others, has been an ongoing project since before the February 2011 protests erupted. Nevertheless, while the work of this Joint Report is representative of almost a yearlong research study, much more needs to be done, largely because the conflict continues to rage and violations of international human rights law are reported everyday.
The evidence contained in this report is accurate considering the reliability of the sources used and the length of time spent in collecting and addressing various data. It is therefore the opinion of this joint report that the violations of international human rights law that are addressed herein are credible and sufficient in quality and quantity to illicit immediate action by the international community and the government of Bahrain. Prior to and after the February 2011 protests, the international media has produced several reports pertaining to the events. Moreover, videos and still pictures have been given to members of the Bahrain human rights community by various individuals fearful of coming forward to the Government supported BICI Report. This video and photographic evidence has been surmised in relation to their validity and proven credible.
The current state of affairs must be appraised in regard to the regime’s reign since the 18th century, and specifically, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa succession in 1999, as noted in Section II. (Background). The 2002 Constitution reinforced the absolute powers of the king, and diminished the powers of the appointed legislature. This Constitutional Crisis also negated the actions of the National Action Charter, enabling the King to increase the number of security agencies, with the creation of the National Security Agency, to control the judiciary, and to enforce a process of naturalization. The NSA is known to be behind numerous human rights violations and largely uses non-Bahraini mercenaries. In 2010, BCHR reported that “the NSA has become a security institute that is completely independent of the Public Security and Defense; however, it benefits from double jurisdictions that combine the domains of the Public Security Forces and the Judicial Authority.”# This is a development which has severely negative effects in the observance of justice and further encourages impunity for torturers. These political maneuvers by the King provided the framework for the February 2011 protests, but more importantly, not only allowed the government to perpetrate human rights abuses but suffer the consequences of them as well under national and international law.
[Read more →]
November 22, 2011 No Comments
21 November, 2011 – POMED
In anticipation of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s (BICI) report on November 23, a bipartisan group of individuals and leading human rights organizations working on U.S. foreign policy and Middle East affairs senta letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to express its concern regarding ongoing developments in Bahrain. The letter reads, “We are hopeful the BICI report will thoroughly document human rights violations committed in Bahrain that have been independently verified by international human rights organizations [...] Furthermore, we hope the implementation of reform and accountability mechanisms for human rights violations will lead to a process of substantive political reform that is responsive to the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Bahraini people.”
The group also enumerates suggestions for U.S. action, including urging the Government of Bahrain to “unconditionally release political prisoners and end torture, arbitrary detention, and incommunicado detention; protect Shi’a places of worship and religious buildings, rebuild destroyed mosques, and end systematic discrimination in political representation, government recruitment, employment, and naturalization policies; investigate and hold accountable all individuals who authorized, condoned, or committed human rights abuses, including the use of violence or torture against peaceful protesters and detainees.”
For the full text of the statement, and signatory’s continue reading HERE.
November 22, 2011 No Comments
النسخة العربية من التقرير – Bahrain Mirror
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Bahrain Mirror observed that the Royal Commission for Inquiry had committed five fatal breaches of the standards of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Bahrain Mirror monitored those violations through the preliminary assessment of the establishment and the works and practices of the Commission. It sought the help of the Human Rights organizations and prominent Human Rights figures. The breaches included the following:
-The Commission was established by an individual will not by the principle of national consultation
-The mistakes in selecting the members of the Commission
-Marginalization of the role of the national non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
-Circumventing the role of the United Nations and other international actors
-The mistakes in the practice, professionalism and neutrality
1. The Commission was established by an individual will not by the principle of national choice
The publication of the Truth Commissions issued by Office of The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights states that the national choice is one of the core principles to establish a Truth Commission and it stresses that “..the decision to have a commission must always be taken by nationals. This decision should be based on a broad consultative process to seek especially the views of victims and survivors, and make clear the functions, strengths and limitations of truth commissions” [Page 5], and under the section of “Consultation” in establishing a Truth of Commission the publication says: “The consultation should explicitly include victim communities and civil society organizations, and should allow for a period of significant input into the fundamental mandate of the commission, as well as feedback on specific draft terms of reference as they are developed” …more
November 14, 2011 No Comments
Bassiouni Report started as political tool for al Khalifa regime delayed, under goes rewrite to leverage arms sales from the West
By Barbara Surk – Associated Press – October 20, 2011
MANAMA, Bahrain—An international commission investigating months of protests and crackdowns in Bahrain on Thursday delayed its final report on the unrest in the Gulf kingdom, saying it needs more time to review thousands of personal accounts and official documents.
The report by The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which has been probing alleged abuses during the Shiite-led protests against the country’s Sunni rulers, was due Oct. 23. A statement by the five-member panel said the highly anticipated report has now been delayed until Nov. 23.
At least 35 people have been killed since February, when Bahrain’s Shiite majority started protests for greater rights in the tiny, but strategically important Gulf nation that is the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.
The United States said earlier this week it will await the commission’s report before deciding on a $53 million arms sales to the violence-wrecked Bahrain, the Gulf country hardest hit by anti-government protests inspired by other Arab uprisings.
The delay of the final report will “ensure that every testimony, complaint, and item of evidence is considered and examined,” the Commission said in a statement posted on its website Thursday. It also said more time is needed “to prepare a final report that establishes the facts about what occurred in Bahrain during February and March 2011.”
The Commission is headed by Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian-born professor of international criminal law and a former member of U.N. human rights panels. It was set up in July with the consent of Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy.
Over the past months, the panel received more than 8,000 complaints, testimonies and documents. Its members have interviewed more than 5,000 witnesses and alleged victims of the unrest, including detainees, police personnel, doctors and journalists.
The panel also said it is still awaiting responses from various ministries and government agencies, and that its interviews aim to establish “whether these governmental institutions and their agents upheld the rule of law and respected international human rights law” during months of protests and crackdowns on dissent.
Bahrain imposed martial law in March and invited 1,500 troops from neighboring Gulf states to help quell dissent. Hundreds of protesters, activists, opposition leaders and Shiite professionals such as lawyers and doctors have been detained and hundreds of suspected opposition supporters have been purged from their jobs.
Dozens have been convicted of anti-state crimes in a special security court over the past months and sentenced to prison terms. Three protesters have been sentenced to death and eight prominent opposition figures got life in prison after they were convicted of trying to overthrow the Al Khalifa dynasty that has ruled Bahrain for more than 200 years.
Several doctors and nurses who had treated injured protesters were also convicted of anti-state crimes in the special tribunal that includes military persecutors and judges. Twenty medics were last month sentenced to prison terms, ranging from 5 to 15 years. …source
October 23, 2011 No Comments