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Bahrain Court of Injustice Refuse Release of Nabeel Rajab – Imprisoned for Insults, Peaceful Protest

rajabprisoner

Bahrain court rejects jailed activist’s plea for release
by Rania El Gamal – The Star Online – 3 December, 2013

DUBAI (Reuters) – A Bahraini court has rejected a request by a prominent human rights advocate that he be freed after serving three-quarters of a prison term for taking part in unlicensed protests.

Bahrain, where the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family rules over a majority Shi’ite population, has been in political turmoil since Shi’ite-led pro-democracy protests erupted in 2011.

The island kingdom is a base for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which patrols oil shipping lanes in the Gulf region.

Lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi said rights campaigner Nabeel Rajab, sentenced last year to two years in prison for cases related to organising and participating in protests, had a legal right to early release after spending a year and half in jail.

“But the court rejected the request to release him without giving any reasons,” Jishi told Reuters by telephone from Manama after Monday’s ruling, which several foreign diplomats attended.

The government’s Information Affairs Authority confirmed the court had deemed Rajab “not eligible” for early release.

“Rajab has continuously called upon the citizens to defy the laws of public gathering which resulted in violence,” the IAA said in a statement emailed to Reuters on Tuesday.

It said many security personnel had been wounded by people throwing petrol bombs and steel rods as a result.

“Rajab’s speeches included encouraging youths to confront the authorities,” the IAA said. “Incitement of any sort is a violation of the constitution and laws of Bahrain that are in line with international standards.”

Rajab shot to prominence in 2011 when he campaigned against a crackdown on protesters. With 217,000 followers on Twitter he is one of the Arab world’s best-known online activists.

A hero to protesters but a villain to those Bahrainis who fear they will bring Shi’ite Islamists to power, Rajab is the founder of the non-governmental Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.

An organiser of many protests against the powers of the Al Khalifa dynasty, he was sentenced to three months in jail last year in a separate case over a tweet criticising the veteran prime minister, the king’s uncle. The ruling was overturned, but only after Rajab had already served his sentence.

London-based Amnesty International and U.S.-based Human Rights First have called for him to be freed.

“It’s depressing but no big surprise that Nabeel Rajab was not released,” said Brian Dooley, of Human Rights First.

“Recent weeks have seen an increased targeting of human rights defenders by the authorities and freeing him would have gone against that trend.”

Bahrain, which effectively bans protests and gatherings not licensed by the government, has been caught up in a struggle for influence between Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain quelled the 2011 revolt with help from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-ruled Gulf states, but protests and small-scale clashes persist and bomb attacks have multiplied since mid-2012.

Talks between the government and opposition have failed to end the political standoff. Many Shi’ites complain of political and economic discrimination, a charge the authorities deny. …source

December 3, 2013   No Comments

Red Cross informed on situation regarding Bahrain Political Prisoner, Sheikh Al Mahfoodh

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Al Wefaq writes to the Red Cross on the situation of Sheikh Al Mahfoodh and other prisoners
3 December, 2013 – SHAFAQNA

SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Al Wefaq National Islamic Society demands the authorities to immediately reveal information on the situation of the detainees in Juw prison. The authorities must also reveal information on the condition of Secretary General of Amal Islamic Action Society Sheikh Muhammad Ali Al Mahfoodh, who is detained for reasons related to freedom of opinion.

The Authority is fully responsible for the safety of the prisoners.

Al Wefaq notes that the families of the prisoners are extremely worried because they had not being receiving any phone calls from them lately. In fact, some families have not received any information concerning the conditions of their jailed relatives since last Wednesday.

Al Wefaq has wrote to the Red Cross about the situation of the prisoners in building no.1 in Juw prison. The violations perpetrated against the prisoners in Juw prison reveal the reality behind the Authority’s claims on its implementation of the BICI recommendations. International parties and organisations have also issued reports urging for the implementation of the BICI recommendations which have not yet been implemented.

…source

December 3, 2013   No Comments

In Bahrain, “lives cheaper than car tires”

Leading activist: Bahraini lives “cheaper than car tires”
21 October, 2013 – Al Akhbar

nojail

An appellate court on Monday reduced to three years the prison sentence of a police officer convicted of killing the first martyr of Bahrain’s 2011 anti-government uprising, as three activists were handed five-year jail terms for burning tires at an “illegal gathering,” judicial sources and a human rights group said.

A Bahraini court originally sentenced the unnamed police officer in January to seven years in jail for fatally shooting 21-year-old Ali Musheime in the back on February 14, 2011 in the village of al-Daih during a “day of rage” rally which ignited a massive, pro-democracy rebellion against the Gulf island’s western-backed ruling family.

A second youth was killed the following day when police opened fire on Musheime’s funeral procession. Amnesty International said that “clear evidence” was present of “police brutality and excessive force” in those killings.

At least 87 more would be killed in the ensuing crackdown on dissidents, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).

The appellate court decided to reduce the policeman’s sentence after three fellow officers who witnessed Musheime’s killing claimed their colleague acted in “self-defense,” lawyers said.

The ruling comes as members of BCHR reported over Twitter that a separate court on Monday sentenced three protesters each to five years in prison for burning tires and taking part in an “illegal gathering.”

“Human lives in Bahrain [are] cheaper than car tires,” Maryam al-Khawaja, BCHR’s acting director, wrote on Twitter. …more

October 22, 2013   No Comments

Bahrain Prisoners of Conscience denied Medial Care after Passing Grade on Prison Conditons

OPPOSITION LEADER DENIED MEDICAL TREATMENT
10 October, 2013 – Amnesty International

Dr ‘Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, one of the 13 jailed prominent Bahraini opposition activists, has been denied medical treatment. He is a prisoner of conscience.

An academic and spokesperson of the al-Haq Movement, Dr ‘Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, aged 51, is serving a life sentence in Jaw Prison, which is around 30km south of the capital, Manama. Since March 2013 at least nine appointments with the cardiology, ophthalmology and dermatology departments at the Bahrain Defence Military Hospital and 11 appointments at the prison clinic have been postponed because he refuses to wear the prison uniform.

According to his family, Dr ‘Abdel-Jalil al-Singace suffers, amongst other ailments, from sinus inflammation and a perforated eardrum for which he needs surgery.

Between March and mid-July all 13 activists had been denied family visits for refusing to wear the prison uniform, saying it is only worn by criminals and to wear the uniform would be to admit criminality: Every time family members went to the prison they were told they could not visit because the prisoners were “refusing prison instructions”. In mid-July 11 of the 13 started to wear prison uniform, as a result of family pressure, and therefore have been able to receive visitors. Only Dr ‘Abdel-Jalil al-Singace and Hassan Mshaima’ still refuse to wear it.

The High Criminal Court of Appeal in Manama issued its verdict on 4 September 2012, upholding the 13 defendants’ sentences of between five years and life in prison on charges including “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution”. The Court of Cassation upheld the sentences on 7 January 2013. See Additional Information for a list of all 13 prisoners’ names. …more

October 15, 2013   No Comments

Nabih Saleh Protests for Leaders of Dignity

January 16, 2013   No Comments

Protest for Bahrain’s Leaders of Dignity

January 16, 2013   No Comments

Bahrain Prisoners of Conscience Coalition – threats, abuse and intimidation

Bahrain Prisoners of Conscience Coalition under threats and intimidation
EA World View – 29 November, 2012

Bahrain. On Tuesday, political prisoners in Bahrain released a statement announcing the formation of a the Prisoners of Conscience Coalition, a new movement to demand rights from behind bars. The statement was shared online by leading activist Zainab AlKhawaja.

Alkhawaja alleges today that, shortly after the statement’s release, authorities reacted with hostility towards the prisoners:

angry arabiya @angryarabiya Less than 15 mins after the statement was released police attacked bldg 3, ransacking cells beating some prisoners #bahrain #HeroesinChains 29 Nov 12 [twitter]

angry arabiya @angryarabiya The prisoners stood strong, hand in hand, chanting, their voices could be heard outside the prison walls #bahrain #HeroesinChains 29 Nov 12 [twitter]

According to Zainab, this morning “an officer from public prosecution met with the prisoners”, asking for their demands. However, when the officer left, Zainab claims that “riot police surrounded the building, preparing to attack”. Some prisoners in building 3, where inmates were reportedly threatened two days ago, have allegedly been taken to solitary confinement. Families of prisoners in the building have also not had any contact with them. …source

November 29, 2012   No Comments

Prisoners of Conscience Coalition Bahrain

…source

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November 27, 2012   No Comments

Kingdom of Impunity leaves scores dead, hundreds wounded and maimed, thousands of Political Prisoners

The BCHR Holds the King Responsible for the Spread of the Culture of Impunity which Has Claimed the Lives of Tens of Victims
31 October, 2012 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights reached compelling and extremely worrying facts, after having prepared a deep report (study) by both the Monitoring and Research Committees in the Center, looking into the cases of impunity and lack of accountability to members of the ruling family and officials in the security forces and the army who were involved in gross violations of human rights, that violate both local and international law, by committing crimes of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary executions, deprivation of life, brutal torture, mock trials and the use of excessive force. This is after the Authority in Bahrain backed with forces from the Gulf states (Peninsula Shield) – mostly from Saudi Arabia – crushed the vast national uprising that was affected by the Arab Spring and that calls for freedom and democracy in February and March 2011 and thereafter until the writing of this report.

The results of the study, which comes a year after the release of the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry [1], show that the policy of impunity is still entrenched in the doctrine of the Authority and its security institutions as a basic prevalent culture. This culture which is humanly and internationally condemned constitutes an instrument of repression and paves the way for the fall of more victims of the official excessive violence that is still practiced by the Authority in Bahrain as the only option for dealing with the peaceful demonstrators. This policy is one of the main obstacles behind limiting violations and one of the most important indicators of not implementing the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which clearly recommended investigating the violations and holding the offenders accountable based on the level of responsibility, and it also documented cases of murder, torture and excessive use of force.

What increases the concern of the BCHR is that this systematic policy of impunity and of providing immunity to criminals and enabling them to continue with their duties and their security positions without accountability has led to more deaths among peaceful demonstrators. In August / September 2012, two young men were killed; Hussam Mohammed Jassim Al-Haddad (16 years) [2], and Ali Hassan Neamah (17 years) [3]; who were shot dead by the security forces, and which is the same way by which they killed a number of protesters in February, March 2011 and the months that followed. Instead of undertaking serious investigations in these two incidents, the Bahraini Public Prosecution quickly acquitted the policemen accused of killing Al-Haddad and Neamah, and reserved the cases, justifying that with the self-defense position they were put in which forced the policemen to use bullets and violence that leads to killing as stated by the Public Prosecution about reserving the two cases [4]. …more

November 1, 2012   No Comments

Iran Claims Moral High US Should have Claimed Long Ago – Iran to host Confrence on Bahrain Prisoner Abuse

Iran to host intl. conferences on human rights violations in Bahraini prisons
07 September, 2012 – Theran Times

TEHRAN – International conferences on human rights violations in prisons run by the Bahraini government will be held in five Iranian cities from October 4 to 6, the International Union of Unified Ummah reported on Thursday.

According to Ali Reza Komeili, who is one of the organizers of the events, a number of Bahraini opposition groups and European human rights activists are scheduled to attend the conferences.

“The crimes that are being committed in Bahrain are only occurring due to the support of the United States and Saudi Arabia for the Al Khalifa (royal family). Otherwise, the Bahraini people would have already brought their revolution to fruition. They (the U.S. and Saudi Arabia) are aware that any form of democracy in Bahrain, be it a constitutional monarchy or a true democracy, would lead to the majority gaining power, and that runs contrary to their geostrategic interests in the region,” Komeili stated. …source

September 7, 2012   No Comments

UN ‘High’ Commissioner Pillay, ‘Deep Regrets’ DO NOT Open Prison Doors

Harsh sentences for Bahraini activists ‘deeply regrettable’ – UN human rights chief
UN News Center – 6 September , 2012

6 September 2012 – The United Nations human rights chief today described the a Bahraini appeals court’s decision to uphold convictions and sentences of 20 human rights activists and political opponents as “deeply regrettable.”

“Criticizing the Government and calling for reforms are not crimes,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said in a news release. “The Government must engage in an open, genuine and meaningful dialogue with the opposition, across the political spectrum. This is the only constructive way to defuse an increasingly tense situation.”

Since February, there have been clashes in Bahrain between security forces and demonstrators, a year after widespread civil protests first emerged in the Gulf country.

According to a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the individuals whose sentences were upheld Tuesday were initially convicted last year by Bahrain’s Court of National Safety, essentially a military court, on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the Government, amongst other changes. Some were also charged with espionage.

After the convictions were upheld by the National Safety Appeals Court, the Government announced that all the cases would be transferred to civilian courts. The appeals proceedings took place this year.

“I had welcomed the Bahraini Government’s decision to transfer these cases to civilian courts, as military trials of civilians raise serious problems as far as the equitable, impartial and independent administration of justice is concerned,” Ms. Pillay said.

“But now, given the gravity of the charges, the scant evidence available beyond confessions, the serious allegations of torture and the irregularities in the trial processes, it is extremely disappointing that the convictions and sentences have been upheld in appeals proceedings that often took place behind closed doors,” she added. …more

September 6, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain Politcal Prisoners and State Hostages Protest Restrictions

Bahrain: Detained leading activists and opposition figures protest increased restrictions in prison

Bahrain Center for Human Rights
23rd August, 2012

BCHR has learned that the detained 13 leading activists and opposition figures have submitted a letter to the prison authorities informing them that they will start a series of protest actions including a hunger strike if the increased restrictions in prison are not removed by Thursday.

“Today we submitted a letter to prison authorities that we will start a series of actions to protest against the violations and new restrictions, including on calls to families and lawyers, prevention from daily newspapers as well as prevention from daily exercise in the open air. The protest will include a hungerstrike.”

Further to the earlier report by Bahrain center of Human rights regarding an increased level of restrictions applied on the detained leading activists and opposition figures at Bahrain central prison (Jaw), new information has been received that these restrictions are not limited to the monitoring, interrupting and cutting phone calls of the detained activists to their families, but also includes prevention from access to newspapers and prevention from the daily exercise in the open air.

Mrs Fareeda Ghulam, the wife of detained leading activist, Ebrahim Sharif had reported earlier that an officer had interrupted a call between her and her husband, then the call was cut while she was describing the situation in Bahrain after the killing of 16 years old child Hussam AlHaddad by the security forces.

These increased restrictions come in time as the activists wait for a final verdict from the higher court of appeal which has postponed issuing the ruling from 14 August 2012 to 4 Sep 2012 for no obvious reason. It also synchronize with the increased level of security attacks on protesters as a 16 years old has been shot dead by police on 17 August 2012 and the leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.

The Bahrain Centre for human rights urges for the release and full exoneration of the prisoners who were arrested and sentenced in unfair military trials for practicing their legitimate right of expression and assembly.

The 13 opposition activists are as follows:

1-Abdulwahab Hussain ( life sentence imprisonment)
2-Ebrahim Sharif ( 5 Years imprisonment)
3-Hassan Mushaima( life sentence imprisonment)
4-Abdulhadi Al Khawaja ( life sentence imprisonment)
5-Abduljalil Al Singace.( life sentence imprisonment)
6-Mohammed Habib Al Miqdad ( life sentence imprisonment)
7-Saeed Mirza AlNouri ( life sentence imprisonment)
8- Abduljalil Al Miqdad ( life sentence imprisonment)
09-Abdullah Isa Al Mahroos.( 5 years imprisonment)
10-Salah Hubail Al Khawaj.( 5 years imprisonment)
11-Mohammed Hassan Jawad.( 15 years imprisonment)
12-Mohammed Ali Ismael. ( 15 years imprisonment))
13-Abdul Hadi AlMukhodher ( 15 years imprisonment)

More information: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5384

August 22, 2012   No Comments

U.S. State Department with-holds ‘calls’ for Freedom of detained but Expedites Arms Sales

Nabeel Rajab: Why Did the U.S. State Department Drag Its Feet?
By Sanjeev Bery – 21 August, 2012 – Amnesty International

On August 16th, Bahraini political activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to three years in jail for his peaceful role in protests critical of Bahrain’s monarchy. He had already been in prison since July 9th, when he was convicted of libel after sending a tweet that criticized Bahrain’s Prime Minister.

But despite all of this, the US State Department did not publicly call on its military ally to release Nabeel Rajab until after his three year sentence had already been handed down.

Why did the US State Department wait so long to come to Nabeel Rajab’s defense?

There were plenty of missed opportunities along the way. One such moment was on August 1st, when Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner testified (see pg 16) at a congressional hearing focused on Bahrain. In his written testimony (pg 4), Assistant Secretary Posner called on the Government of Bahrain to “drop charges against all persons accused of offenses involving political expression and freedom of assembly.”

But in response to a question from Congressman Jim McGovern regarding Nabeel Rajab, Assistant Secretary Posner was more opaque. He stated that Rajab’s case was “a bit more complicated on its facts,” that “there needs to be a due process of law,” and that “the case needs to be heard expeditiously.”

The US State Department should have been unequivocal. Assistant Secretary Posner should have stated that Rajab should not be facing charges for protesting the government or sitting in prison for sending a a tweet.

Indeed, Nabeel Rajab is an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. As stated in our latest Urgent Action:

Despite the [Bahraini] authorities’ claims to the contrary, abuses continue to be committed against those who oppose the Al Khalifa family’s rule. The government is refusing to release scores of prisoners who are incarcerated because they called for meaningful political reforms, and is failing to address the Shi’a majority’s deeply seated sense of discrimination and political marginalization, which has exacerbated sectarian divisions in the country. Nabeel Rajab’s latest conviction and sentence starkly contradict the facade of reform showcased by the Bahraini authorities.

Assistant Secretary Posner’s comments obscured Rajab’s situation in other ways as well. In response to a question by Congressman Keith Ellison, Mr. Posner described Rajab as in “detention” and that “the case has been, as I said, adjourned until September.” This was, of course, factually incorrect. Rajab had already been convicted and imprisoned – not just detained – after tweeting criticism of the Prime Minister.

Fortunately, Members of Congress did not limit themselves in the way that State Department officials have. In the days before Rajab’s three year prison sentence was given, 19 Members of Congress publicly called on the King of Bahrain to release Rajab. The effort was led by the above mentioned Rep. Keith Ellison, with the support of Rep. Jim McGovern and others. …more

August 21, 2012   No Comments

Remembering AlMahfoodh – Free all of Bahrain’s Political Prisoners, Prisoners of Conscience and Hostages – Never Forgotten

August 14, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain returning ambassador to Tehran while Regime Continues to hold Political Prisoners

Bahrain returns ambassador to Tehran
13 August, 2012 – Tehran Times

Bahrain said Sunday it reinstated its ambassador in Iran, more than a year after recalling the envoy over Tehran’s strong condemnation of Manama’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

“The ambassador of the kingdom to the Islamic Republic of Iran has returned to his work in Tehran,” announced Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa on his Twitter page, AFP reported.

Manama recalled its ambassador from Iran on March 15 last year.

Tehran retaliated by recalling its envoy from Manama.

Iranian officials had severely criticized the violent crackdown in Bahrain, and the dispatch of Saudi troops there to help confront pro-democracy protests.

Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-government protesters have been staging regular demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.

On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on the peaceful protesters.

According to Amnesty International, scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested in the crackdown.

Physicians for Human Rights says doctors and nurses have been detained, tortured, or disappeared because they have “evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces, and riot police” in the crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Human rights groups and the families of protesters arrested during the crackdown say that most detainees have been physically and mentally abused and that the whereabouts of many of them remain unknown. …source

August 13, 2012   No Comments

Verdict Expected for 57 Opposition Activists and Pro-democracy in Bahrain

Bahrain: Verdict Expected for 57 Opposition Activists and Pro-democracy Demonstrators
8 August, 2012 – Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights expresses its deep concern regarding the verdicts are expected in 12-14 August of Court of Appeal against the prominent activists, political leaders and pro-democracy demonstrators.

The Court of Appeal will issue its final ruling against the 57 convicted among them Mr. Nabeel Rajab (director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, and president of the Bahrain Center for Human rights) …source

August 8, 2012   No Comments

Hamad Free The Prisoners of Conscience

Bahrain Urged to Free Prisoners of Conscience
23 July, 2012 – POMED

Amnesty International has urged the Bahraini government to free all prisoners of conscience following the crackdown of security forces on peaceful protests last Friday. Thousands of protesters continued to clash with police throughout the weekend in reaction to government plans to limit political marches. On July 24th, a court will consider the appeal of prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab against his three-month prison sentence on charges related to a post he made on Twitter. Hassiba Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Programme Director, condemned Rajab’s conviction and that of several Bahraini doctors, saying, “The charade of justice has gone on too long in Bahrain” and added, “All convictions against them should be quashed.”

Bahrain Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid al-Khawaja met with several Congressmen and senior government officials in Washington, D.C. over the weekend. Al-Khawaja discussed the “implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain International Commission for Inquiry” with CIA Director David Petraeus and Senator John McCain (R – AZ). The interior minister also claimed that Bahrain was “on the path to democratic reform.” Additionally, Bahraini police announced the arrest of a “terrorism” suspect, accused of possession and production of “explosives for terrorist aims.” …more

July 23, 2012   No Comments

Hamad your shamelss detentions must cease and the political prisoners must be released!

Bahraini protesters demand release of prisoners
23 July, 2012 – PressTV

Bahraini anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in the northeastern island of Sitra and the western village of Karzakan to demand the release of prisoners.

The demonstrators on Sunday also called for the downfall of the Al Khalifa regime.

In Sitra, the Saudi-backed regime forces used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.

Similar demonstrations were also held in Manama on Sunday.

Anti-regime protests in Bahrain continue despite the heavy-handed crackdown by the regime forces.

Bahraini demonstrators hold King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa responsible for the killing of the protesters during the uprising that began in February 2011. ….source

July 23, 2012   No Comments

In Bahrain, life in prison just for protesting

Commentary: Among the ridiculous crimes in the US ally: doctors jailed for chanting slogans, a nurse convicted for stepping on the prime minister’s photo.

In Bahrain, life in prison just for protesting
Joshua Colangelo-Bryan – 31 May, 2012 – Global Post

NEW YORK — “Of course we have free speech in Bahrain,” the official told me. “But you cannot ask to change the government — that’s a crime.” While it was striking to hear a government representative speak so candidly, it wasn’t exactly news.

Having extensively researched criminal trials in Bahrain, the island nation off Saudi Arabia’s coast, I knew this perverse understanding of “free speech” has been the basis for hundreds of prosecutions against peaceful protesters and activists, often leading to lengthy prison sentences.

On May 16, authorities initiated the latest such prosecution, opening the trial of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights defender, on charges of “offending an official body.” The relevant offense, according to the government, was caused when Rajab criticized authorities via Twitter for not prosecuting attacks by armed groups against civilians.

Such charges, which once would have perhaps seemed satirical, are by now just commonplace. Indeed, over a year ago, amid massive pro-democracy demonstrations, Bahrain’s king established special military courts, called National Safety Courts. These courts convicted hundreds of people for engaging in peaceful protest and assembly activities that are protected by international law and Bahrain’s constitution — or would be if courts actually applied the constitution.

For example, in a high-profile case against 21 activists and opposition figures, the military court sentenced eight defendants to life terms, 10 others to 15-year terms, and three to shorter terms. What manner of conduct led to these severe punishments?

According to the verdict, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a human rights advocate and protest leader, had “advocated the overthrow of the regime” by protesting in favor of a republic, as well as “a willingness to sacrifice, disobedience, a general strike, and marches.” Prosecuters also charged that he had “insulted the army” and “impugned the integrity of the judiciary.” …source

June 1, 2012   No Comments

ANHRI calls on the release of all Bahrain’s Political Prisoners

Bahrain: Following release of Rajab, ANHRI calls on the release of all prisoners of conscience
Cairo – 28 May, 2012

ANHRI welcomes the Bahraini Lower Criminal Court’s ruling releasing Nabeel Rajab, prominent human rights activist and head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Rajab, banned from travelling on court’s ruling, was released on bail of 300 dinars (approx. $796), awaiting his trial June 17.

The Bahraini authorities have accused Rajab of “gathering” and “calling for an unlicensed march in Manama”. The Court postponed the trial to June 17, as it is deliberating another case against Rajab in which he is accused of “declining to leave the gathering location following a dispersal order” and “calling for unlawful marches”.

The same court had decided earlier this month to release him on bail of 300 dinars and banned him from traveling on a third case in which he is accused of “insulting statutory body in public on Twitter”.
The Bahraini authorities have arrested Rajab upon arrival at the Manama airport from Beirut in early May, and accused him of all the charges listed above on the grounds of his human rights contribution home and abroad, and his constant criticism of the ongoing repression in Bahrain.

Rajab and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights have been subject to harassment because of their human rights work and use of the Internet to express opinions and expose the human rights violations of the Bahraini. He had been harassed several times before for the same reason.

As ANHRI welcomes Rajab’s release, it reiterates its call on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release all political detainees, if they are serious and sincere abot their reformist vows. Political prisoners in Bahrain are estimated to be 700 thus far, including the senior Bahraini activist Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja, who is still in detention amid serious concerns for his life. Al-Khawaja went on a hunger strike in prison since February 8, protesting against the life imprisonment sentence handed to him because of his peaceful exercise of freedom of expression. His life is endangered that the authorities have refused the calls of civil society and human rights organizations to release him. …source

May 29, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain: Imprisoned Activists Zainnab Alkhawaja and Masooma Alsayyed moved to Hospital

Bahrain: Jailed Blogger and Human Rights Activist Taken to Hospital
23 May,2012 – Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) has learnt from family members that both human rights Activist Ms.Zaynab Alkhawaja as well as pro-democracy activist Ms.Masooma Alsayyed were transferred Monday (21 May) to the Bahrain Defense Force Hospital after a drop in their blood sugar. The BYSHR was informed that the activist refused to be treated in the military hospital and were consequently transferred to the Ministry of Interior Clinic for IV.

Ms. Zaynab Alkhawaja was once again transferred to the clinic yesterday (22 May) after another drop in her blood sugar. Alkhawaja is on her third day of hungerstrike protesting the detention of pro-democracy activist Ms. Masooma Alsayyed who is also on hungerstrike demanding freedom. Ms. Alsayyed has at least three cases filed against her for protesting.

In another development Ms. Alkhawaja was fined yesterday in court for allegedly insulting a police officer but remains in detention as she has other cases filed against her, one at least which also includes a detention order. The BYSHR has also been informed that Ms.Alkhawaja has also been given summons for two additional cases other than the one she was acquitted for, one she was fined 200BD for and the two pending sentence. …more

May 23, 2012   No Comments

Support the future of Bahrain F1 – Don’t Come in 2012

April 12, 2012   No Comments

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and the unjust detention of Bahrain’s Political Prisoners

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and Bahrain’s Political Prisoners
Tahiyya Lulu = 11 APril, 2012 – Jadaliyya

There are currently an estimated six hundred political prisoners in Bahrain, as a result of the regime’s ruthless retaliation against a popular uprising that started in February 2011. 397 citizens are thought to be currently serving sentences delivered by military and civilian courts that fall far short of international standards for fair trials.

On Saturday, 7 April 2012, one of these prisoners was transferred to a prison clinic after allegedly losing twenty-five percent of his body weight as the result of a hunger strike begun on 8 February 2012. Fifty-one-year-old human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has reportedly said: “My hunger strike is a part of my human rights defense inside jail. It’s very important to focus on all detainees as I’m just a part of them. I will continue with my hunger strike until I reach my demands despite the consequences. I’m aware that freedom is expensive and we must sacrifice to gain it.”

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), paid for by the government itself and led by Professor Emeritus at De Paul University M. Cherif Bassiouni, found wide-ranging and grave violations of prisoners’ human rights committed by government personnel. These include, but are not limited to, civilian deaths attributed to security forces, arbitrary detention, destruction and theft of property on arrest, prisoner injuries consistent with torture, and a deliberate practice of mistreatment by state agents. What is also notable about the BICI is that it does not call for the release of political prisoners.

Al-Khawaja, a pioneer of human rights work in Bahrain, is serving a life sentence alongside other notable dissidents for “plotting to overthrow the government.” A founding member of the prolific Bahrain Center for Human Rights, al-Khawaja worked most recently as a regional representative for Ireland-based Frontline Defenders and previously as a consultant for Amnesty International.

According to his daughter Zainab al-Khawaja, masked security personnel arrested her father on 8 April 2011 after attacking him and dragging his unconscious body out of her home. As described in the BICI report Case no. 8, Al Khawaja suffered physical abuse and sexual assault in prison, as well as threats of execution and harm to members of his family. He was due to be tried in a civilian court on 2 April, but reports now suggest that the trial has been postponed to 23 April.

As an individual case, al-Khawaja’s hunger strike has led to a resurgence of international media attention in Bahrain at a crucial time: the government is trying desperately to shift focus toward the upcoming Formula 1 Grand Prix in a bid to salvage its reputation. The media spotlight comes partly as a result of al-Khawaja’s public persona as a longtime and high-profile human rights defender, but also due to concerted campaigns on social media networks and an upsurge in street action. Protesters dispersed violently by state security forces last weekend chanted for his release. The majority of media coverage, however, lacks perspective, presenting the issue as one man on a hunger strike without due recognition of the background which led him to take this action. …more

April 11, 2012   No Comments

Major Opposition: Free political prisoners before talks are even possible

Bahrain opposition bloc: Free political prisoners before possible talks
By Associated Press – 19 March, 2012- Washington Post

MANAMA, Bahrain — Bahrain’s main opposition groups say authorities must free all political prisoners before possible talks on ending the 13-month uprising in the Gulf kingdom.

Monday’s statement appears to show some willingness to open dialogue with Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy, which has faced near-nonstop protests by majority Shiites seeking a greater political voice.

But the declaration set strict conditions, including release of activists jailed on anti-state offenses and reinstatement of all Shiites purged from jobs.

Bahrain’s leaders have taken strides to restore dismissed workers and made other concessions, but not enough to satisfy protesters.

More than 45 people have died in Bahrain’s unrest since February 2011.
…more

March 19, 2012   No Comments

Campaign: FREE, Human Rights Defenders in Bahrain

Campaign: FREE, Human Rights Defenders in Bahrain
23 February, 2012 – Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

Mr.Abdulhadi Alkhawaja: is the former MENA Coordinator for frontline Defenders, the Previous President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the sitting President of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. He is known as one of most prominent human rights defenders in the regions and a trainer of human right activists. Last April, Mr.Alkhawaja was arrested for his role in the pro-democracy protests and sentenced to life in prison. The activist was subjected to severe torture that was documented by the BICI (Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry). Mr.Alkhawaja began the hungerstrike on Wednesday the 8th of February, and demanded “Freedom or death” as a condition for ending his hungerstrike. He has been taken to hospital more than once in the past days.

Mr.Naji Fateel: is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and blogger who has been active in reporting human rights violations in Bahrain.He used his account on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/najialifateel) for dissemination of human rights information. He was previously detained between Dec 2007 and April 2009, and has been reportedly tortured. His house was stormed in search for him several times last year following the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. He was suffering from damage to his spine and was supposed to travel abroad to get medical treatment.

Mr.Hasan Al-Jaber:
is a prominent human rights blogger who is regarded as a reliable source for Bahrain news. He used his account on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/HasanAljaber) for dissemination of human rights information. He used to report from protests, posting first-hand testimonies of human rights violations to the media and also contributed to support non-violence strategies in cooperation with the BYSHR. …more

February 26, 2012   No Comments