Bahraini activist arrested after govt calls for tough measures against protesters
31 July, 2013 – RT
A prominent Bahraini rights activist and blogger was arrested just days after the government warned of implementing tougher measures against anti-government protesters in the Gulf Kingdom.
A 26 year old blogger Mohamed Hassan was arrested early Wednesday, according to Yousef al-Muhafedha, acting president of the Bahrain Human Rights Center.
“Arrest of blogger Mohammad Hassan is yet another criminal act by Bahrain’s dynastic dictatorship. Impossible to reform dictatorship,” said London-based Bahraini political activist, journalist and member of the Bahrain Freedom Movement, Saeed Shehabi on his Twitter account.
This comes after Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa ordered the government on Monday to implement tough measures recommended by the parliament, against what the authorities are calling an increase in “terrorism” linked to protests, according to the state BNA news agency.
The measures include banning demonstrations in the capital Manama and stripping citizenship for those convicted of violence. The Sunni-led parliament also urged authorities to prosecute political groups that “incite and support acts of violence and terrorism”, as well as those that use social networks to “spread false information”, as cited by the Gulf news website.
The Shiite-led opposition described these measures as a “declaration of war on the people, as well as open threats and insults to beliefs”. However, opposition groups urged for protests “to remain peaceful.”
Meanwhile the security forces have warned of a strong response to rallies scheduled by the opposition groups for August 14.
These measures come against the background of two years of protests led by the kingdom’s majority Shiites against the minority Sunni-led government. The demonstrators have repeatedly called for a transfer to a democratic system of government, complaining of discrimination in jobs and government. In turn their loyalty is questioned by the ruling Al Khalifa family.
In April, the government introduced stricter penalties making it illegal to insult King Hamad or national symbols, charges that carry up to five-year jail sentences.
Rallies intensified during the Formula 1 race on April 21 in the Gulf Kingdom. Protestors said the event overshadowed the many alleged human rights abuses in Bahrain. Multiple reports of physical and psychological torture emerged during the grand prix, according to the Human Rights Watch.
Hassan worked as an assistant to various foreign journalists visiting Bahrain to cover the anti-regime rallies during the F1 event. In March he appeared on the Dan Rather Report, a weekly news television show hosted by former CBS news anchor, which covered the Bahraini protests.
According to the Bahrain Human Rights Center, when he was asked if it was safe for him to speak to the press he replied “I don’t care anymore. My friends have been in prison, some of them are still in prison, and some of them are in hiding and some of them are dead.”
Though the Bahraini government said it has taken steps to address the police brutality, a November 2011 report of an investigative commission stated that the authorities have been using excessive force, including torture, to extract confessions. Human rights activists say many abuses continue. …source
July 31, 2013 No Comments
US and its fascist friends in Saudia Arabia remain united in bid to snuff-out hopes of democracy in Bahrain
Bahrain brutal ally of US, Saudi Arabia: Activist
29 December, 2012 – PressTV
Saudi Arabia and the US are supporting the Al Khalifa regime to preserve their own interests, even if the cost is the lives and rights of the people of Bahrain, an activist says.
Bahrain is “home to the headquarters of the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which patrols regional shipping lanes, assists with missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and monitors Iran as tensions in the region mount,” activist Zainab al-Khawaja said in a letter published by The New York Times.
The activist wrote, “The struggle for freedom and democracy in Bahrain seems hopeless” because of Bahrain’s allies, including Saudi Arabia and the United States.
“The United States speaks about supporting human rights and democracy, but while the Saudis send troops to aid the Khalifa government, America is sending arms,” she added.
Al-Khawaja criticized the United States for its “obvious double standard” approach toward the human rights situation in the Middle East.
“This double standard is costing America its credibility across the region; and the message being understood is that if you are an ally of America, then you can get away with abusing human rights,” she added.
She said that the US support of the Al Khalifa regime has given the Bahraini government the belief of having international immunity despite committing widespread human rights violations.
“This is why the most prominent Bahraini human-rights defenders are languishing in prison,” Al khawaja said.
In conclusion the activist proposed that the US halt its arms sales to Bahrain and that nongovernmental organizations, United Nations human rights investigators and journalists to be allowed to enter the country and investigate abuses.
Since a popular uprising began in Bahrain in mid-February 2011, scores have been killed, many of them under torture while in custody, and thousands more have been detained. …source
December 30, 2012 No Comments
Bahrain: Implementing a State of Emergency (National Safety) without an Official Declaration
16 November, 2012 – Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rghts
In March 2011 after hundreds of thousands protested in the Lulu (Pearl) Roundabout (Manama), the King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa issued a “Royal Decree No. 18 of 2011″, and this Decree was a declaration of a State of National Safety, a “state of emergency in the country”, and this continued for three months where the Bahraini Authorities practiced dreadful violations of human rights (refer to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry – BICI – report which was established by the King to investigate the violations : http://www.bici.org.bh/BICIreportEN.pdf)
Photo: Pearl roundabout after entering the army and the suppression of demonstrators
Photo: King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
Articles of declaring the State of National Safety “emergency state”:
The declaration of the State of National Safety which was issued by an order from the King consists of 15 articles in which the responsibility of the police, army, and National Guard was specified in Article “5″, where they were given the following measures:
1. Evacuate or isolate certain areas to maintain security and public order.
2. Regulate and ban public gatherings if they are deemed to be a threat to public order or national safety.
3. Regulate traffic and movement; impose curfews and places limits on travel outside the Kingdom whenever this is for the benefit of the citizens.
4. Temporarily regulate access to certain areas whenever it is in the public interest.
5. Organize opening and closing times for shops and public places whenever required by the public interest.
6. Search persons and places when suspicions exist of a violation of the provisions of this Decree or the decision or orders issued by the authority responsible for its implementation.
7. If a foreigner is deemed a threat to public security and safety or citizen, they may be deported or prohibited from entering the Kingdom.
8. If evidence arises that an association, club, union or other legal person is undertaking activity that disturbs public order, or working in the interest of a foreign State, or spreading a spirit of disunity among the citizens to cause disorder or disobedience in the Kingdom, its activity may be suspended.
9. If it appears that some of the printed, audio or visual media or informational networks would prejudice national security or undermine the Constitution, social or economic order of the Kingdom, it may be seized and denied publication or broadcast.
10. Regulate means of transport by land, sea and air and use them temporarily, provided that the owners and users of these means of transport are fairly compensated.
11. Arrest and detain suspects and persons deemed threatening to the security of citizens.
12. Withdraw Bahraini citizenship from all those whose presence is deemed to be a risk to public order and security and expel them from the country or detain them at secure locations. …more
November 16, 2012 No Comments
Bahrain Crackdown Intensifies amid failed US Policy in Bahrain – Obama to Distance US from ‘blood stained friends’
September 11, 2012 No Comments
NGOs urged to comply with foreign funds rule in Bahrain
22 June, 2012 -By Habib Toumi
Bahrain’s social development minister has urged all local societies, organisations, clubs and foundations to comply with the law regulation obtaining funds from abroad or sending money overseas.
“The law clearly specifies that sending or receiving funds from abroad requires the approval of the ministry, and while societies in general have upheld the rules, others have failed to report the transactions,” Fatima Al Beloushi said.
“We urge all NGOs to cooperate positively with the ministry on the laws regulating across the border funds and to obtain the required clearance from the ministry before they send or receive foreign funds,” she said.
Al Beloushi did not name the NGOs that did not comply with the 1989 rule that bars financial transactions with foreign entities without the ministry’s approval, but said that the authorities have discovered cases of individual members receiving funds from abroad.
“The commitment of the adherents is not less significant than that of their societies, especially in the movement of suspicious funds across the borders,” she said.
Al Beloushi, the second woman minister to be given a portfolio in the government, said that the Bahraini authorities were tracking transfers as part of the policy to combat financing terrorism or facilitating money laundering. …more
June 25, 2012 No Comments
Clinton urges Bahrain to “tackle human rights” as Bahrain regime vows to intensify crackdown on democracy seekers
Clinton urges Bahrain to do more on human rights
(AFP) – 10 May, 2012
WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday urged Bahrain to take further steps to tackle human rights issues in talks here with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the pair discussed Manama’s efforts to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) into last year’s pro-democracy protests.
“Clinton noted the steps already taken to implement the recommendations, but expressed that much work remains to fully address ongoing human rights issues, including individual cases,” Nuland said in a statement.
“She encouraged the Bahraini government to champion a clear process — in both word and action — that leads to meaningful institutional and political reforms that take into account the interests and aspirations of all Bahrainis,” Nuland said.
King Hamad promised reforms after the independent commission probing Bahrain’s March 2011 crackdown on Shiite-led democracy protests reported in November that police had used “excessive force” and tortured detainees.
King Hamad commissioned the report to investigate allegations of government misconduct and human rights abuses against democracy activists and opposition figures.
Amnesty International says 60 people have been killed in Bahrain since the uprising began in mid-February 2011.
New York based Human Rights Watch said earlier this year that Bahrain’s “rulers have not fully carried out the key recommendations” of the inquiry into the “largely peaceful pro-democracy protests in February-March 2011.”
“Clinton affirmed the long-standing commitment of the United States to a strong partnership with both the people and the government of Bahrain,” Nuland added.
Bahrain is a key Gulf Arab ally as it serves as the headquarters for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet. …more
May 10, 2012 No Comments
Bahraini security forces launch overnight crackdown
17 February, 2012 – PressTV
Saudi-backed Bahraini security forces have launched a fierce overnight crackdown on anti-regime protesters across several regions of the country, Press TV reports.
Bahraini security forces broke up demonstrations with tear gas and stun grenades in Daih, Ma’ameer, Sitra, Sehla, and several other villages on Friday night.
Earlier in the day, large numbers of police used water cannons to try to disperse thousands of protesters who had staged a demonstration to mourn the death of a teenage protester in the village of Jidd Hafs, east of the capital Manama.
Activists say 19-year-old Hussain al-Baqhalai died of burn wounds sustained in an anti-regime demonstration which was held on Thursday.
Meanwhile, regime forces attacked a group of female protesters in the village of Qadam and raided several homes and detained opposition protesters in the village of Sanabis near Manama.
The Bahraini security forces have also increased their presence in and around Pearl Square, which is now known as Martyrs Square.
Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more arrested or fired from their jobs since the beginning of Bahrain’s popular uprising in February 2011. …source
February 17, 2012 No Comments
As Bahrain Security Forces intensify illegal attacks on homes and protesters, regime ups ante calling for tougher prison sentences for protesters
Bahrain eyes tougher laws calling for 15-year jail time for attacks on security forces
By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, January 30, 2:15 AM
MANAMA, Bahrain — Bahrain’s interior minister is calling for tougher laws that could bring up to 15 years in prison for an attack on security personnel or their families.
The proposal by Lt. Gen. Sheik Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa seeks to strengthen the government’s hand against escalating pro-reform protests by the kingdom’s Shiite majority.
The official Bahrain News Agency says the plan was sent to the country’s parliament Monday for review. The chamber is dominated by pro-government lawmakers.
Bahrain claims more than 40 riot police were injured last week in attacks that included the hurling of firebombs.
The Shiite-led uprising seeking greater rights began nearly a year ago. Authorities worry that unrest will increase before the Feb. 14 anniversary. …more
January 30, 2012 Comments Off on As Bahrain Security Forces intensify illegal attacks on homes and protesters, regime ups ante calling for tougher prison sentences for protesters
Brace for the worst in Bahrain
by Hussein Ibish, 24 January, 2012 – LebanonNow
The stage seems to be set for February and March to be the scene of a significant intensification of tensions in Bahrain. The period will mark the one-year anniversaries of the protest movement, the government crackdown, and the “Peninsula Shield” intervention by Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council forces. More importantly, recent developments have pushed almost entirely away from substantive moves toward national accommodation or reconciliation.
Since the failure of the “national dialogue” last summer, clashes between security forces and largely Shia protesters have regularly taken placed during emotional funerals following the deaths of individuals under suspicious circumstances.
The report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which found that security forces had engaged in the excessive use of force, appears to have done nothing to inhibit the use of tear gas and other suppressive measures. Indeed, this behavior seems to have intensified. At least eight protesters have been killed since the report was filed, mostly by tear gas inhalation, including reportedly a baby.
In their own defense, the authorities have pointed to changes in the leadership of the security services, the hiring of Western policing experts, and the investigation of a number of deaths in custody. They cite the impending trial of five security officers, none of them Bahraini, for the death of a blogger while being held by the police. And King Hamad has proposed some limited constitutional reforms that are supposed to enhance the power of the legislature.
None of this has impressed any major actors in the opposition. The main Shia opposition grouping, Al-Wefaq, has continued to boycott parliament and the by-elections intended to fill the seats opened by the mass resignation of its parliamentarians. There is still no vehicle for meaningful dialogue between the government and opposition forces. Hardliners on both sides appear to have been gaining ground over those interested in a meaningful compromise.
There are signs of a serious hardening of the position of important opposition voices and groups. Most significantly, on January 12, Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a figure with both national and international credibility, gave a speech that seemed to break new ground for the mainstream opposition. He stated bluntly, “Our problem is with the king of Bahrain.” Addressing the king directly, he said, “If you cannot get rid of the heavy weights of your regime and the crimes that your regime has committed, then it is the appropriate time now for you to leave.”
It is not clear if he was calling for abdication or the end of the monarchy. However, the statement brings calls for what amount to regime change, which had previously been restricted to smaller and more radical opposition groups such as Al-Haq, much closer to the rhetoric of the mainstream Bahraini opposition. It may or may not prove to be a milestone, but it certainly represented a significant intensification of demands. It is worth noting that Rajab was beaten, detained and hospitalized following a January 6 protest.
There also appears to be more activity and influence by the shadowy, underground opposition groups calling themselves the “February 14 Youth Coalition,” whose rhetoric emphasizes a not-clearly defined “Right of Self-Determination.” The increased activity of the “February 14” groups demonstrates a growing impatience at the street and popular levels with mainstream organizations like Al-Wefaq that now are perceived as too conciliatory by some activists.
Some pro-government hardliners have also been escalating their rhetoric and pushing for stronger confrontation. When a civilian court overturned the death sentences handed down against two protesters by a military tribunal, extremist elements associated with the pro-government National Unity Gathering called for their lynching and created mock gallows in which they hanged photographs of the men.
Not enough has been done to defuse tensions, and an obvious step the government has so far unwisely avoided is a broad-based amnesty for the hundreds of people arrested and charged in connection with protests, and in many cases the simple exercise of free expression. In particular, the government cannot hope to open a meaningful dialogue with an opposition, 21 of whose leaders were jailed in a mass trial last year that did not distinguish between moderate and extreme figures. Their harsh sentences were upheld on September 28.
The release of important figures such as Abdulhadi Abdulla Hubail Alkhawaja, the former president and co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and, above all, Ibrahim Sharif—the sole Sunni defendant in the mass trial, who is the leader of the social democratic reform group Al-Waad—would be an indispensible step away from confrontation. It is probably a sine qua non for real dialogue. Without such serious measures, the situation in Bahrain is set to deteriorate significantly in the coming months.
Hussein Ibish writes frequently about Middle Eastern affairs for numerous publications in the United States and the Arab world. He blogs at HERE
January 24, 2012 No Comments
UN Navi Pillay says, ‘The Bahraini authorities need to urgently take confidence-building measures including release of military tried prisoners’ – this against backdrop of days of new al Khalifa directed brutality against protesters
Pillay: Bahrain Government must take immediate confidence-building measures, release political prisoners
21 December, 2011 – UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights
GENEVA (21 December 2011) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday called on authorities in Bahrain to take immediate steps to address the “deepening mistrust” between the Government and civil society, including by promptly releasing those detained for taking part in peaceful demonstrations.
“The Bahraini authorities need to urgently take confidence-building measures including unconditionally releasing those who were convicted in military tribunals or are still awaiting trial for merely exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly,” Pillay said.
“Thousands of individuals have lost their jobs for participating in demonstrations, many students have had their education derailed – these serious violations of their economic and social rights must be immediately addressed. Those who have been unfairly dismissed should be reinstated to their original functions.”
Pillay also urged the Government to address the prevailing impunity at all levels, including for security forces responsible for excessive use of force on peaceful protestors and officers who perpetrated torture, sometimes with fatal consequences, in detention centres.
“We continue to receive reports of the repression of small protests in Bahrain and although some security officers have reportedly been arrested, we have yet to see any prosecution of security forces for civilian injuries and deaths,” she said. “Such impunity – at all levels – is a serious impediment to national reconciliation.”
At the invitation of the Bahraini Government, a senior-level delegation from the UN Human Rights office visited the country from 13 to 17 December and met with a number of high-level Government officials, including the Deputy Prime Minister and the Ministers of Justice, the Interior, Human Rights and Social Affairs, Labour, the Public Prosecutor and the President of the Consultative Assembly. The delegation also met a broad range of civil society members, including doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, trade union members, human rights defenders, opposition political parties, as well as victims of violations and their families. The UN Human Rights delegation also visited a number of detainees in the central Jaw prison in Manama.
“My team has come back with the message that there is a profound lack of trust in the Government, and this mistrust has deepened as a result of the violent crackdown on protestors, destruction of mosques, the lack of fair trials and the lack of progress in providing redress for violations,” Pillay said. …more
December 21, 2011 Comments Off on UN Navi Pillay says, ‘The Bahraini authorities need to urgently take confidence-building measures including release of military tried prisoners’ – this against backdrop of days of new al Khalifa directed brutality against protesters
Cleric: Bahrain crackdown failed to end protests
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) – The harsh crackdown on anti-government protests in Bahrain has failed to silence people’s demands for greater rights, a senior Shiite cleric in the Gulf kingdom said Friday as thousands of opposition supporters rallied on the outskirts of the capital.
The latest demonstration was staged by people who say they were unfairly fired from their jobs simply for being members of the island nation’s Shiite community, which led the months of protests. Thousands of Shiite professionals accused of having a role in the protests have been fired from their jobs.
Shiites make up a majority of Bahrain’s people, but they have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the country’s ruling Sunni dynasty and a lack of economic opportunities.
A police helicopter flew over the large demonstration, which was backed by Bahrain’s biggest opposition party, Al Wefaq. The crowd chanted slogans against Bahrain’s 200-year-old Sunni monarchy. Some protesters demanded their jobs back and others urged opposition leaders not to compromise with the monarchy.
“Our revolution will continue,” the protesters chanted. They warned the rulers: “If you don’t want to listen then you have to leave.”
Bahrain is a strategically important nation in the Persian Gulf and is the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.
The U.S. has appealed to its ally to listen to protesters’ demands for more political freedoms, but a government-led national dialogue produced no compromise with the Shiite opposition, which only had token representation at the talks.
Bahrain’s senior Shiite cleric, Sheik Isa Qassim, said the “politics of fear” and the Sunni rulers’ refusal to reform has strengthened the resolve of Shiites.
“Those who refuse to reform and continue to ignore the people’s demands for rights should know that the masses will not submit to despots,” the cleric said during Friday’s sermon in the opposition stronghold of Diraz, northwest of the capital, Manama.
More than 30 people have died since February when protests inspired by other Arab uprisings began in Bahrain.
Hundreds of activists have been detained and brought to trial on anti-state charges in a special security court.
Bahrain lifted emergency rule in June. Since then, government opponents have clashed with police almost every night.
Friday’s protest dispersed peacefully, although groups of opposition supporters marched to Manama’s Pearl Square, the heavily guarded former epicenter of Bahrain’s uprising.
September 9, 2011 No Comments
Bahraini security forces attack revolutionaries
shiapost | July 25, 2011
According to the Lebanese Al-Manar TV, the security forces attacked yesterday the revolutionary youths in Sanabes, Ma’amir, Akr and Nowiderat areas in which the demonstrators called for true reforms and stopping the ceremonial talks.
Based on the report, the security forces’ attacks were made in a bid to prevent the gathering of February 14 revolutionary youths coalition.
In this relation, opposition to the assaults against religious sites in Bahrain was the motive to hold a conference dubbed “Mosques for God” in Sanabes in which the participants chanted slogans for reforms and change.
The people of Bahrain started uprising on February 14 and since then they have been suppressed by the security forces with the cooperation of Saudi troops and so far hundreds of people have been killed, injured or detained but the whereabouts of hundreds of detainees have not yet been known.
July 25, 2011 No Comments
WikiLeaks: Saudi crackdown on Shiites has echoes in Bahrain
By Daniel Lippman | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — This year’s harsh crackdown on Shiite Muslims in Bahrain follows the playbook that Sunni Muslim-ruled Saudi Arabia used against Shiites in its own Eastern Province as recently as two years ago, secret State Department cables show.
Some of the officials named in the cables as responsible for the 2009 Eastern Province crackdown now are advising Bahrain’s leaders.
Among the topics the cables discuss are the arbitrary arrests of Shiite clerics and residents, the closing of Shiite mosques and the blocking of Shiites from an important religious site in the Muslim holy city of Medina.
The cables provide rare documentation of what human rights officials have long thought is a persistent campaign waged against Shiites in Saudi Arabia by their own government. Saudi Arabia strictly controls access by foreign journalists, and, the cables note, Saudi officials often take steps to discourage coverage of incidents by local news organizations.
The cables, most of them sent from the U.S. consulate in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, express concern that the Saudi actions are likely to fuel a sense of disaffection among Shiites, especially young people, and may make them feel less Saudi, a development that experts warn could fuel sympathy for Shiite-ruled Iran.
“Discriminatory measures such as the mosque closings . . . continue to be the modus operandi of elements of the (Saudi Arabian government) in their interactions with the Shia minority sect,” said one cable, dated Aug. 15, 2009.
Another cable, sent Sept. 16, 2009, said that “contacts” in the region were concerned that “the discrimination . . . is alienating the Shia community, particularly the youth, and is compromising their sense of Saudi ‘national identity.’ ”
The Saudi Embassy in Washington declined to comment. U.S. officials don’t respond to requests for comment about WikiLeaks cables.
In annual human rights reports, the State Department has expressed concern about anti-Shiite actions in Saudi Arabia but it’s unclear whether U.S. officials protest the actions in their private meetings with Saudi officials. ….more
June 23, 2011 No Comments
Bahrain’s brutal crackdown
19 Apr 2011
As Bahraini soldiers — aided by foreign troops — crush protests, youth activist Mohammed Al-Maskati, whose family have been detained, asks the international community to speak out
On 14 February 2011, the people of Bahrain took to the streets in peaceful and civilised protests in order to demand reforms that would guarantee their basic human rights and freedom. The government chose to suppress the people by force, using riot police and deploying the army.
Two months later, and the situation has escalated to a very dangerous and disturbing level. Currently, soldiers from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) are being utilised to restrain protesters demands by any means necessary disregarding any civil laws, or even basic human rights.
At the present there are more than 600 detainees including human right activists, political figures, doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers and even students. Thirty people have died, from direct bullet wounds, or sustained injuries. Four activists have died in police detention as a result of torture.
The majority of the detainees were arrested in the middle of the night. Armed and masked military units break down doors and enter houses with no warrants, no warnings. In most of these cases the contents of raided houses were damaged severely. …more
April 19, 2011 No Comments