March 14, 2013 No Comments
February 27, 2013 No Comments
February 20, 2013 No Comments
Squelching the Voice for the Voiceless – The cowardly brutality of a Monarch without a moral compass
14 February, 2013 – Shafaqna
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Bahrain is a small country, often forgotten unless the Fifth Fleet of the US Navy, which it hosts, is in the news. A country where people continue to fight for democracy despite the high, sometimes deadly, price of speaking out. A country which, for the past two years, has been living to the beat of police crack-downs, arbitrary detentions and tear gas shootings.
I visited Bahrain twice since February 14, 2011, when the Arab Spring protests began. I first went, in April 2012, to meet my friend and colleague Nabeel Rajab, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Deputy Secretary General and President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, as well as other human rights defenders, victims of state violence, and government officials.
Rajab, one of Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defenders, was able to provide me with direct accounts of what had been happening in his country over the previous year. For years, he has been fighting to document and expose the abuses of the Bahraini authorities to the rest of the world, particularly the monarchy’s most influential ally, the United States.
My second trip, a couple of months later, was a difficult one as I returned to observe Rajab’s appeal in September. He had been arrested and convicted for supporting and participating in “illegal gatherings” – the regime’s euphemism for freedom of association. He was denied bail at the hearing I attended, and in December 2012, an appeals court sentenced him to two years in prison for participating in peaceful demonstrations and using his Twitter account to call on others to join. During his detention, Rajab was isolated from other prisoners of conscience and housed in a separate unit.
Rajab’s case is the norm rather than the exception for human rights defenders working in Bahrain.
Languishing in prison
Like Rajab, scores of Bahrainis are languishing in prison simply for having marched in the street to call for economic, social and political reforms. Human rights defenders have become a major target of the regime, with one leading human rights defender after another being arrested for documenting the ongoing abuses. It seems that in today’s Bahrain, the surest way to prison is human rights work.
In July 2011, after mounting pressure from the international community, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa empowered a group of international experts to investigate the events of 2011. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) published its report in November 2011, clearly identifying the regime’s repressive practices: arbitrary arrests, torture, harassment, lack of access to independent courts respecting fundamental fair trial principles, unfair dismissals, and the list goes on.
Since the publication of this report, the disproportionate use of force by security forces has already resulted in the death of 24 individuals, mainly during protests and due to the excessive use of tear gas or rubber bullets.
Impunity remains the backdrop for these state-sponsored human rights violations. As of now, very few sentences have been rendered by courts for security officers accused of severe human rights violations and those convicted are low-ranking officers. Moreover, torture accusations by those unlawfully detained continue to be dismissed by the judicial system. …more
February 14, 2013 No Comments
24 December, 2012
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern over the escalated use of excessive force by the authorities in Bahrain against peaceful protesters. The BCHR regularly documents a large number of injuries caused by shotgun pellets, tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and sound grenades. Despite the seriousness of these injuries, victims are most often treated in private homes out of fear of being arrested from the militarized hospitals. The following description of injuries was prepared in collaboration with doctors in Bahrain in order to present the most thorough and accurate description of these human rights violations as possible.
On the 17th of December, 2012, a peaceful, pro-democracy protest was held in Manama which was violently attacked by security forces and resulted in many severe injuries being reported that day (bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5572). Among the injured was a young woman who was peacefuly protesting when she was hit by a direct shot to her foot with a 1kg tear gas canister. As a result, she sustained a 3-bone fracture in the foot that required immediate treatment. Fearing arrest she was treated and operated on in an undisclosed location. In regard to full recovery, the prognosis is poor and it is expected that she will suffer from long-term pain and deformity.
On the same day, a young man was directly shot at with a tear gas canister in his forearm which resulted in an open fracture in his forearm and a shattered bone. He too sought medical care and was operated on in secret out of fear of arrest. However, his recovery depends on the quality of care and follow-up treatment which is only available in the Salmaniya Medical Complex which is currently under military control.
This photo is of a protester who was shot by the security forces with shotgun pellets and is currently suffering from a very large number of pellets currently lodged in his body. Due to the severity of his injury and pain he is trying to seek medical help from multiple sources as the main hospital in Bahrain is under military control and he can expect to be arrested from this hospital.
Several teenagers were shot in the face with shotguns and are at risk of blindness in one or both eyes. One of those protesters is currently in very poor condition with the possibility of losing sight in both eyes; he is seeking private medical care. Also, three more protesters are suffering from eye injuries, they are in critical condition and the possibility of losing sight in is high. It is still unclear whether their condition will improve at the moment. …more
January 8, 2013 No Comments
Bahrain Regime should to stop its violence; Free Political Prisoners, Remove Police from Villages, Stop Attacks and Allow Peaceful Protests, Stop use of Chemical Gas and Birdshot
Bahrain: Shiite clerics must ‘prohibit’ violence
By REEM KHALIFA – 7 December, 2012 – AP
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain’s Shiite religious leaders must more forcefully denounce violence as a key step to ease the kingdom’s 22-month uprising, the country’s crown prince said Friday at the opening of an international security conference.
The appeal by Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa underscores the view of Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy that Shiite clerics should be held partly responsible for rising violence in the strategic Gulf nation. It also suggests authorities could increase pressure on top Shiite clergymen, whom he referred to as ‘ayatollahs’ — a term more often associated with senior religious figures in rival Iran.
“I call on all those who disagree with the government, including the ayatollahs, to condemn violence on the street unequivocally . And more, to prohibit violence,” the crown prince told policymakers and political figures gathered for the annual two-day conference known as the Manama Dialogue. “Responsible leadership is called for and I believe dialogue is the only way forward,” he added.
More than 55 people have died in the unrest since February 2011, when Bahrain’s majority Shiites escalated a long-simmering drive for a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled country.
The monarchy has offered some concessions, including giving the elected parliament expanded powers. But it falls far short of Shiite demands to loosen the Sunni rulers’ controls over key government appointments and policies.
Shiite religious leaders, including the most senior cleric Sheik Isa Qassim, have never publicly endorsed violence, but have encouraged peaceful anti-government protests to challenge authorities. Breakaway groups during demonstrations often clash with riot police.
The conference includes high-level envoys from Bahrain’s Western allies, which have so far stood behind the kingdom’s leadership but are increasingly troubled by rising violence and continued crackdowns on the opposition. The U.S. delegation is led by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and includes Arizona Sen. John McCain.
The crown prince thanked a host of nations for assistance during the crisis, but noticeably did not refer to the U.S. in his remarks — an omission that underlined the two countries’ increasingly strained ties. He criticized nations that “selectively” criticize Bahrain’s leadership, without citing specific countries. …more
January 8, 2013 No Comments
Look to the West – wonder where the al Khalfia’s get the ideas for repression – Canada Passess Law to Criminalize Protest
British Columbia Civil Liberties Association BCCLA
Statement on Reintroduction of Anti-Terrorism Provisions
Nov. 29, 2012
Individuals subject to these provisions do not necessarily have to be suspected of committing any crime. It is enough that they are alleged to have information relating to a terrorism offence, or that they are alleged to be associated with another individual suspected of committing (or about to commit) a terrorism offence, or that they are otherwise suspected of potential future involvement with a terrorism offence. Furthermore, the scope of Bill S-7 extends beyond Canada’s borders, and could potentially result in a reliance on foreign intelligence. Without the ability to challenge evidence, there is no guarantee that the evidence is accurate, or was not obtained from a third country or source that conducts or condones torture as a method to elicit information. [It should be noted that the Canadian government has already given the green light to law enforcement agencies to accept information that may have been derived through torture, in violation of international agreements and standards].
In all such cases, individuals may find themselves caught up in these detention and interrogation provisions without any effective legal recourse.
Under these provisions, individuals could be forced to testify in a court of law, arrested, detained or made subject to bail conditions – all without charges being laid. Individuals have no right to know, and no opportunity to challenge, the basis on which they are being subjected to preventive arrest or required to attend investigate hearings.
While the proposed investigative hearings give the appearance of respecting due process, such as requiring judicial authorization, use and derivative use immunity, and the right to counsel, they still do not comply with the spirit of due process and the right against self-incrimination. …more
November 30, 2012 No Comments
26 November, 2012 – Gulf Daily News
When Amnesty International describes a “worsening situation” in Bahrain in its latest report, most Bahrainis will wonder what it is talking about.
With celebrations of the Muslim New Year and the Shi’ite holy month of Muharram and Ashoora over the past couple of weeks, Bahrain has enjoyed some of the calmest days since trouble broke out in February 2011.
The streets have been mostly free of protests, Gulf tourists flooded in to enjoy Bahraini hospitality and many hard-pressed small businesses turned a decent profit for the first time in months.
Arguably, it is all a question of perspective. Sitting thousands of miles away in Geneva, ticking boxes on a clipboard, perhaps it’s not all that obvious how most Bahrainis are feeling about developments in their country.
And Amnesty’s concerns about the temporary halt to licensing protests and withdrawal of citizenship of certain people deserve serious consideration.
However, its report dangerously mixes together two separate issues – implementation of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report it wrongly asserts has been shelved and measures to restore life to normal and use the judicial process against those who broke the law.
Let’s first look at the government’s record in implementing BICI recommendations, which Amnesty dismisses so cynically:
Abuses: About 17 police officers, including high-ranking ones, faced trial over torture or violence charges. Those found guilty face prison. A further 30 security personnel face charges and the new Special Investigation Unit is probing about 122 cases.
Unfair dismissal: About 98 per cent of protesters dismissed from jobs have been reinstated.
Compensation: About $6 million has been disbursed to 36 families of those who died and in 116 cases of injury.
Torture: The Penal Code has been amended to ensure the definition of torture is clear and rigorous and loopholes don’t allow violators to escape justice.
Retraining and reforming the security sector: Thousands of policemen have received human rights training and a robust new code of conduct has been put in place.
Retraining judges: Extensive training based on global standards has been provided to judges.
Reconciliation: Initiatives include $500,000 for non-governmental organisations for reconciliation programmes and legislation against inciting hatred, racism and religious intolerance.
Places of worship: Around 30 sites damaged are being rebuilt. In the remaining cases, issues related to planning status and title deeds are being resolved.
Freedom of expression: A new legislation protects journalists and stipulates civilians can’t be penalised for expressing their views. The Public Prosecution dropped all charges that overlapped with freedom of opinion in 334 cases.
Constitutional reform: A new legislation empowers MPs to interrogate and sack ministers and strike down government policies.
The government says it has implemented more than 140 of 176 BICI recommendations. Many awaiting full implementation require cultural change and will take time.
What Amnesty calls spiralling repression broadly refers to measures to restore calm and stability.
To the degree which they have succeeded, these measures have been popular amongst the majority of Bahrainis who want to get on with their lives after two years of disturbances, rioting and political and economic paralysis.
Amnesty is wrong in sweepingly paint anyone detained as a human rights defender. It refuses to consider the charges these people face, including inciting violence, organising illegal demonstrations and seeking to forcibly overthrow the government.
Several of the most notorious people publicly put their names to a plan to violently instal an Islamic republic.
Admittedly, Twitter-related charges against Nabeel Rajab were ridiculous, and thankfully, rejected by the courts. Likewise, due judicial process should be allowed to take its course to decide the innocence or guilt of others.
Amnesty cites case studies in its extensive report and makes recommendations, some of which deserve consideration by authorities.
‘Citizens for Bahrain’ agrees with it that the government here, like all governments, needs to continuously scrutinise and improve its human rights record and address shortcomings.
It shares Amnesty’s concerns over measures in recent months, such as the withdrawal of citizenship of 31 people. Any such step should only be considered if it is demonstrably in the public interest and taken against people proved to be a danger to the public.
By failing to produce evidence to justify such measures, the government only weakens its ability to argue that they are appropriate, proportionate and necessary.
Where we disagree with Amnesty is it is discussing BICI recommendations as if they exclusively relate to the handful of issues it is campaigning noisily.
By concentrating on the temporary protest ban and prisoners of conscience and giving an unfairly negative spin to ongoing trials of police officers accused of abuses, Amnesty presents an unfairly skewed picture of the situation.
Key BICI recommendations tackled the issues of unfair dismissals of protesters, destruction of holy sites, compensation and reforming the security and judiciary sectors.
Amnesty was rightly vocal about these issues 12 months ago. However, now they have been resolved.
Reforms are being conveniently ignored because they don’t fit the picture Amnesty wants to portray – of a nasty regime brutally repressing its citizens.
In fact, we citizens are reaping the benefits of these reforms and the much-maligned measures to restore order. We’ve never felt less repressed!
Human rights shortcomings here are infinitely less sensational and scandalous than catastrophic abuses in Syria, Myanmar and Iran.
While Amnesty understandably wants to keep Bahrain in the forefront of public attention, not necessarily a bad thing, it is wrong to grossly miscontextualise the situation to achieve the goal.
November 26, 2012 No Comments
19 November, 2012 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) express their grave concern for the measures taken by the Bahraini Ministry of Interior against a group of Shiia clerics and a group of those responsible for Shiia religious places, after summoning and threatening them.
On the 12th of November, 2012, the Bahraini Minister of Interior met with the head of Shiia religious venues – called “Matam” in Arabic – where he issued a warning against addressing political issues that are related to local affairs during the month of Muharram. During this month, Muslims, and especially Shiia, hold events to mourn the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandchildren – and the Minister warned the clerics against addressing any political issues in Bahrain. (Refer to the Ministry of Interior statement: http://www.bna.bh/portal/en/news/532957?date=2012-11-13)
On the 17th of November, 2012, the Bahraini authorities arrested the cleric Mr. Kamel Al-Hashimi, and the prosecutor ordered a seven-day imprisonment pending further investigation. The cleric Mr. Ahmed Al-Majed was also arrested because of speeches he gave in this religious place, Matam, after he addressed the political situation in Bahrain.
On 18th of November, 2012, the Bahraini Authorities summoned the clerics Mr. Elias Al-Marzooqi, Mr. Hasan Al-Aali, Mr. Mahmood Taheri, Mr. Jaffar Saegh, Mr. Kadhim Darwish, Mr. Hussein AlAmiri, the Islamic singer Mahdi Sahwan, the Islamic singer Abdul-ameer Al-Biladi, the Islamic singer Abather Al-Halwaji, the Islamic singer Hussein Ahmed, the Islamic singer Sayed Alawi Alalawi and others for interrogation.
The Bahraini Authorities also summoned those responsible for the Shiia religious places – Matam – in the following villages: Bani Jamra, Aali, Saar, Bilad-al-qadeem – Karzakan – Sanabis – Isa Town and others, and they warned the clerics against addressing the current state of political affairs of Bahrain.
The Security Forces removed religious signs and banners belonging to the Shiia sect from roads and buildings (especially religious places). The Security Forces also warned people not to re-install these signs and banners in more than 8 villages.
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) believe that the Bahraini authorities, through these measures against the Shiia sect, intend to restrict the freedom of belief and to create a sectarian conflict between Shiia and Sunni muslims in order to distract the public debate away from the issues of corruption, racial discrimination and human rights violations that sparked the public public protests on the 14th of February 2011.
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) call for the following actions:
1. Stop targeting freedom of belief and allow all sects in Bahrain to express their opinion.
2. The Bahraini Authorities must stop the frequent attempts of creating a sectarian conflict in order to confine the public protests.
3. Bring forth those responsible for targeting freedom of belief to justice. …source
November 21, 2012 No Comments
Mark C. Toner
Daily Press Briefing
October 31, 2012
1:34 p.m. EDT
MR. TONER: Good afternoon. Happy Halloween. I’d like to say the reason we’re late is because I was getting into my elaborate costume, but clearly, unless you count a middle-aged bureaucrat a costume –
QUESTION: I thought it was a little Dr. Evil. (Laughter.)
MR. TONER: In any case, welcome to the State Department. And it’s good to see you all. I hope everyone made it through the storm more or less intact and that your homes and your families are safe. Certainly it was a suspenseful couple of days, but welcome back.
Just at the top, I do want to note that the United States is deeply concerned by the Bahraini Government’s decision to ban all public gatherings. Freedoms of assembly, association, and expression are universal human rights. We urge the Government of Bahrain to uphold its international commitments and ensure that its citizens are able to exercise – are able to assemble peacefully and to express their views without fear of arrest or detention. We urge the Government of Bahrain to work with responsible protest leaders to find a way for peaceful and orderly demonstrations to take place. The decision to curb these rights is contrary to Bahrain’s professed commitment to reform, and it will not help advance the national reconciliation nor build trust among all parties.
We also urge the opposition to refrain from provocations and violence. Violence undermines efforts to reduce tensions, rebuild trust, and pursue meaningful reconciliation in Bahrain. Recent violent attacks, including fatal attacks, on security force personnel are a deeply troubling development. So we urge the Government of Bahrain to take steps to build confidence across Bahraini society and to begin a meaningful national dialogue with the political opposition.
With that, I’ll take your questions.
QUESTION: Just on that –
MR. TONER: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: — before we move onto Syria. This has been made – this position, your views have been made clear to the Government of Bahrain directly? Is that correct?
MR. TONER: Matt, I’m not sure at what level we’ve communicated these to the Government of Bahrain.
QUESTION: They’re not just hearing this from you right now?
MR. TONER: They’re not just hearing this from me, no. But I’m not sure at what level – I’m not sure whether through our –
QUESTION: Well, was it there, here?
MR. TONER: — embassy or bilaterally. I’ll have to check on that.
November 1, 2012 No Comments
On the morning of July 25th, 2012, my life was turned upside down in a matter of hours. FBI agents from around Washington and Oregon and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents from Washington busted down the front door of my house with a battering ram, handcuffed my house mates and me at gunpoint, and held us hostage in our backyard while they read us a search warrant and ransacked our home. They said it was in connection to May Day vandalism that occurred in Seattle, Washington earlier this year.
However, we suspected that this was not really about broken windows. As if they had taken pointers from Orwell’s 1984, they took books, artwork and other various literature as “evidence” as well as many other personal belongings even though they seemed to know that nobody there was even in Seattle on May Day. …more
An Appeal for Support for Leah-Lynne Plante and others
by Doug Brown – 13 October, 2012
As you may have heard by now, Leah-Lynne Plante was taken into custody following a contempt of court hearing on the morning of Wednesday, October 10th. She is the third person in the Pacific Northwest to be put in federal prison for refusing to testify before a grand jury. She may stay in prison until the end of the grand jury investigation which is scheduled to last until March 2014.
There are now 3 grand jury resisters sitting in federal prison. They all still need your support to keep up their strength and determination as they wait until they are released. We are asking for folks to support them in several ways:
1) Write Leah, Matt, and Kteeo in prison or sent them books. Visit and Support for Resisters HERE to find out details on their address and guidelines on writing and sending books.
2) Have a solidarity action in your community. This could be a letter writing night, a film showing, a march, or a fundraiser. If you need some ideas or support to make something happen, email us.
4) Stay updated and spread the word. Visit CAPR’s website: HERE , The grand jury resisters blogs and personal websites: HERE and HERE . Tell your friends, co-workers, and families about what is happening in the Pacific Northwest and encourage them to support the grand jury resisters.
Thank you for your continued support. It means a lot to Leah, Matt, and Kteeo and to those of us waiting for them to come home.
October 15, 2012 No Comments
Local Editor – 26 Septemebr, 2012 – Moqawama.org
A Bahraini court on Wednesday sent the activist Zainab al-Khawaja to two months in jail under the pretext of finding her guilty of destroying property belonging to the Interior Ministry, a judicial source said.
Zainab, daughter of prominent jailed opposition activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja who is serving a life sentence after he was convicted, had been released in May after serving a one month jail term for allegedly attacking a policewoman at a demonstration.
She had also paid a 200 dinars ($530) fine for having insulted a police officer.
Zainab is also facing two other cases – obstructing traffic on a main road as well as taking part in a gathering and inciting hatred against the regime – for which she will be tried in November, the judicial source told AFP.
Al-Khawaja has been active in holding anti-government protests.
Meanwhile, the Bahraini regime series of attacking peaceful protests continue.
According to al-Wefaq opposition group, the security forces raided more than 8 houses, and vandalized private belongings.
“The number of vandalized cars by the forces totaled to 22,” the party said in its statement.
It further noted that “five citizens were arrested extra judicially amid the crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protests that took place in several areas around the country.”
In parallel, the forces used birdshot (internationally prohibited shotgun) against protesters, alongside the heavy use of toxic tear.
Al-Wefaq has documented a large number of asphyxiation cases due to the repeated attacks in densely populated areas.
A number of injuries caused by the direct targeting with tear gas canisters have also been documented.
However, despite the ongoing suppression of freedoms, the demonstrations went on in many areas across the country.
People demonstrated in solidarity with the prisoners of conscience and their families, and demanded that they be released immediately. …source
September 27, 2012 No Comments
19 September, 2012 – FIDH
On the eve of the UN Human Rights Council 21st session where the Bahraini government is expected to respond to the recommendations of the Council made on the 21st of May 2012, FIDH releases its report entitled “Silencing Dissent: A Policy of Systematic Repression”.
The report is the result of an investigation on the situation of human rights in Bahrain, a year and a half after the government’s violent response to the protest movement that started on 14 February 2011. It focuses in particular on the gap between the recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI)  and their implementation by the government of Bahrain. Nearly a year after the release of the BICI report, one cannot but notice the reluctances of the government to definitely end with human rights violations. Despite the King’s promises, the reforms remain widely insufficient.
FIDH’s report takes into account both official declarations and actions, and accounts from the local civil society, notably reports of FIDH’s two member organizations in Bahrain, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS). Many of the accounts received were substantiated on the occasion of a field mission to Bahrain, which was conducted between April 1 to 5, 2012  . The mission met with victims of human rights violations, human rights defenders, civil society organizations, lawyers, medical workers, teachers, university students, families of individuals killed and injured, journalists, political opposition members, the Minister of Justice, the Public Prosecutor, the Deputy Minister of Human Rights and Social Development, and the ambassadors of the United States and France to Bahrain as well as representatives of the United Kingdom. The mission also observed three court hearings for the cases of the twenty medical workers, the Bahraini Teachers Association (BTA) and the case of Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and twenty other human rights defenders and political opponents.
“While certain efforts have been made by Bahraini authorities to address many of the BICI recommendations, the report concludes that the government continues to deny a majority of Bahraini’s fundamental rights on a daily basis and uses governmental structures to attack or control the population rather than protect it, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and fear among the population.” declared Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. As an example, since 14 February 2011, 80 people have been killed; 34 of them have died after the release of the BICI report on 23 November 2011.
“As the government of Bahrain will attempt to convey to the Council its actions for democratic reforms tomorrow, we must remind the international community that human rights defenders such as Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, remain in prison today solely for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and assembly” said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH president.
Nabeel Rajab, FIDH Deputy Secretary-General, president of BCHR and former president of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, is currently imprisoned after he was sentenced to three years imprisonment on August 16th for his participation in peaceful protests .
“We call on the international community to support the establishment of an international monitoring mechanism to be set-up, through a resolution of the UN Human Rights Council, to monitor the implementation of the BICI recommendations and the overall resolution of the human rights crisis in Bahrain” added Belhassen.
Furthermore, FIDH calls upon the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally put an end to the ongoing repression against human rights defenders and for the immediate and unconditional release of all those imprisoned for exercising their fundamental rights. …source
September 21, 2012 No Comments
11 September, 2012 – Hardons Blog
British and American military and security advisors are overseeing training to Bahraini forces involved in the crackdown on revolutionaries, a leader of Bahrain’s Amal Movement says.
Hisham al-Sabbagh told Al-Alam news network that the al-Khalifa regime in Bahrain is also receiving military hardware including tanks from a number of western countries and some members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council.
Al-Sabbagh’s comments come only weeks after Bahraini ruler Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to step up cooperation during Hamad’s visit to London in late August.
Hamad did point to security cooperation between the two sides after the meeting but disguised it as an attempt to “improve security and combat the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”
Cameron and Hamad also ironically called for cooperation to boost human rights and democracy while Bahraini forces continue to crush anti-regime protests.
The British government has been repeatedly blasted by human rights, anti-war and anti-arms trade activists for arming repressive regimes including Bahrain despite clear evidence of bloody suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations there.
Over the past months the British MPs have also joined the critics.
The MPs said in their 2012 Scrutiny of Arms Exports that the government’s arms exports decisions have been clearly flawed as known repressive regimes such as Bahrain were armed regardless.
The MPs also said the government paradoxically considers some of the countries on its own list of human right abusers as “priority markets” for arms sales. …source
September 11, 2012 No Comments
Bahrain Repression, Birdshot, Demands for Prisoner Freedom and a Resistence that will not be Quieted
September 10, 2012 No Comments
6 September, 2012 ⋅ by Mauro Teodori – IPS
This week’s decision by the Bahraini court of appeals to uphold the prison terms against Bahraini opposition activists is a travesty of justice and an indication that Bahraini repression continues unabated.
Bahraini officials, when confronted with angry world reaction to the court’s decision, cynically hid behind the claim they would not interfere in the proceedings of their “independent judiciary”.
Despite the threat to U.S. national interests and the security of U.S. citizens in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Gulf, Washington remains oblivious to the ruling family’s violent crackdown against peaceful protesters in the name of fighting “foreign elements”. Pro-democracy Bahrainis are wondering what we are waiting for.
Because of our muted reaction to what’s happening in Bahrain, the ruling family and their Saudi benefactors have not taken seriously Western support for democratic transitions in the Middle East.
The United States and Britain maintain deep economic and security relations with these states but also enjoy strong leverage, including the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, which they must revisit in the face of continued egregious violations of basic human rights by some of these regimes. Bahraini civil rights organisations and activists are expecting the United States to use its leverage to end regime repression.
Despite their pro-Western stance, there is nothing exceptional about the autocratic Gulf Arab regimes. And they should no longer be given a pass on the importance of democratic reform.
Staying in power will require Bahrain’s Al Khalifas and other Gulf tribal family rulers to do more than push a vicious sectarian policy and employ slick public relations firms. Their cynical and deadly game might buy them some time, but, in the end, they will not be able to escape their peoples’ wrath.
In the absence of genuine reforms in the next three years, the Gulf’s autocratic regimes will be swept aside by their peoples. The “people power” that emerged from the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and now Syria, cannot be kept out of these tribal states. In reality, they all have been touched by peoples’ demands for dignity and justice.
While Iran might be exploiting the protest movement to discredit these regimes, the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain goes back to the 1960s and 1970s – way before the Islamic Republic came on the scene.
Even more troubling for U.S. national security are the continued efforts by Al Khalifa to whip up anti-American attitudes among Bahrain’s more rabidly anti-Shia and xenophobic Sunnis. Bahrain and some of their Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) allies perceive the growing rapprochement between the U.S. and the new Islamic democrats, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia, as a sign of tacit opposition to Gulf autocrats. …more
September 7, 2012 No Comments
4 September, 2012 – Finian Cunningham – PressTV
In each of these seemingly disparate conflicts, the seeds of violence were sown by one system – British colonialism and its malevolent engineering of sectarianism. It is an indictment of British rulers that decades on, and sometimes centuries on, people’s lives are still being blighted by the legacy of Britain’s predatory, criminal history.”
It’s been a busy news week for British colonialism, or more accurately, the violent legacy of British colonialism. A rash of ongoing or renewed conflicts across the globe speaks of the detriment that the once-powerful British bequeathed and for which people of today have to contend with through injustice and in some cases immense human suffering.
In Northern Ireland, Belfast city has seen resurgent riots between pro-British Protestant youths and Irish nationalist Catholics, with extensive injuries, property damage and a painful reminder of sectarian bloodletting in recent years.
Over in the South Atlantic, Argentines and their government are up in arms over the London government’s proposal to hold a referendum on the future status of the Malvinas Islands, the British colony off Argentina otherwise known as the Falklands.
In the Middle East, Israel has committed yet more crimes against the besieged Palestinian people when fighter jets bombed the coastal Gaza strip, adding to the daily abject misery and terror of inhabitants.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, the people of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia continue their street agitations for democratic freedom from despotic monarchial rulers. In Bahrain, the calls for democracy were given added impetus when a court upheld the sentences against 20 political leaders, some of whom have been imprisoned for life.
Further East on the atlas, in the military junta of Myanmar, formerly known as British Burma, the persecution of thousands of Rohingya Muslims continues unabated, with hundreds killed at the hands of Buddhist gangs after being burned out of their shanty homes.
In each of these seemingly disparate conflicts, the seeds of violence were sown by one system – British colonialism and its malevolent engineering of sectarianism. It is an indictment of British rulers that decades on, and sometimes centuries on, people’s lives are still being blighted by the legacy of Britain’s predatory, criminal history.
In Northern Ireland, a peace settlement was reached after nearly 30 years of an anti-imperialist war between the guerrilla Irish Republican Army and the British forces. More than 3,000 people were killed during that conflict, which British government counter-insurgency policy succeeded in distorting into a sectarian bloodbath between pro-British Protestant loyalists and the mainly Catholic Irish nationalist population. The origins of that conflict lay in the gerrymandering of Ireland by the British colonial rulers when they partitioned the island in 1920-21 – against international and democratic norms – into a pro-British northern statelet and a nominally independent southern state. …more
September 5, 2012 No Comments
Made for Show ‘torture arrests’ absurd – prosecution complicit in regimes bloody efforts to repress calls for democratic rule
6 August, 2012 – Al Akhbar
A leading Bahraini human rights group rejected on Monday an announcement by the country’s chief prosecutor that 15 police officers would be charged with torturing doctors.
Nawaf Hamza, chief investigator in the public prosecutor’s office, said in a statement he was officially making known that members of the forces of law and order would face torture charges for their role in a crackdown on pro-democracy protests last year.
He said the charges were being brought following an inquiry launched on the basis of a complaint by doctors at Salmaniya hospital, the main medical facility in the capital Manama.
“This procedure confirms the intention of the Bahrain government to bring to account all those found guilty of human rights violations and to recompense the victims,” Hamza said.
The complainants, also numbering 15, had said they were badly treated during their detention. Some of them underwent medical examination during the inquiry.
But Said Yousif, deputy head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, accused the public prosecution of being complicit in the suppression of the protests.
“The public prosecution are part of the torture, we have testimony of detainees who have been tortured inside their building,” he said.
“We also have testimonies of people who have told the public prosecution they have been tortured and they have been ignored. We don’t believe it is an independent institution, it is part of the problem.”
Yousif added that a number of ministers had been accused of being complicit in the torture but had not been investigated.
“Senior members of the ruling elite were involved in torture but they are only charging the low-level officers,” he said.
Bahrain came under strong criticism from international human rights organizations over its crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising which began in February 2011.
Saudi Arabia sent troops in March 2011 to help Bahraini authorities crush the protests.
An international panel commissioned by King Hamad to probe the government’s clampdown found out that excessive force and torture had been routinely used against protesters and detainees, leading to the deaths of a number of protesters. …more
August 6, 2012 No Comments
26 June, 2012 – by Français Partager
Reporters Without Borders welcomes yesterday’s joint declaration by four international experts calling on governments to treat “crimes against freedom of expression” as a special category under criminal law and thereby provide journalists and other news providers with better protection.
The joint call was issued by the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe representative on freedom of the media, the Organization of American States special rapporteur on freedom of expression and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights special rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information.
It came just five days after both Frank La Rue, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, and Christoph Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, issued separate reports calling for greater efforts to protect journalists.
“These four experts have issued their joint call for crimes against freedom of expression to be assigned a special status under criminal law, with specific penalties, because they recognize the role that freedom of information plays in society, whether the information providers are professional journalists, citizen journalists or netizens,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“This joint declaration also testifies to the concern these experts feel for the safety of news providers and their awareness of the urgency of the situation. It stresses that governments have an obligation to investigate these crimes, to protect the victims and ensure that they have access to justice.”
Reporters Without Borders hopes that the joint declaration and the two reports will encourage state and non-state actors to adopt concrete measures to protect journalists and to combat impunity for those responsible for acts of violence against them.
“These experts have paved the way,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Now it is up to governments to implement their recommendations and give them binding force as soon as possible.”
A total of 29 professional journalists and at least 12 citizen journalists have been killed since the start of 2012 because of their commitment to providing news and information. Dozens of journalists have also been forced to flee abroad to escape harassment, violence, threats of arbitrary arrest or death. A total of 80 journalists fled into exile in 2011. …source
June 26, 2012 No Comments
11 April, 2012 – Marc Owen Jones – marcowenjones.wordpress.com
In what was apparently a display of solidarity with Bahrain’s security forces, hundreds of pro-regime Sunnis ended up at Alba roundabout to protest against what the Ministry of Interior described as a ‘terrorist blast’ in the village of Al-Eker. The explosion, which injured 7 policeman, has already resulted in the arrest of 4 people following a dawn raid on the village. Al-Wefaq reported that the sister of one of those arrested had her shoulder broken when security forces attacked the family during the raid.
Such reports of heavy-handed policing are of course commonplace in Bahrain, but to what extent are they selective, and to what extent are the security forces just an instrument used to prop up ‘Sunni hegemony’ in Bahrain (Strobl, 2011). Although the answer to that question is self evident for many, the events of last night and the past week provide a very good snapshot of how the police in Bahrain operate, for they illustrate how the MOI deal with crime when it is carried out by those who support the regime.
Firstly, despite the presence of hundreds of pro-regime supporters at a roundabout, the security forces seemed reluctant to commit the same excessive force they employ when dealing with anti-government protests. The video shows civilians overturning and smashing up the car of a man who reportedly honked ‘down with Hamad’. It is sometime before the security forces intervene, despite the considerable amount of time it would have taken to damage the car. This photo even shows a man standing on the upturned vehicle.
A number of people then proceeded to attack 24 Hour Supermarket, a property owned by Jawads Group, a company frequently targeted by some pro-regime elements after they were accused of giving out free food to those at the Pearl Roundabout. Indeed, this report from the 2nd April 2012 states that Jawads owned properties had suffered 54 attacks on their premises since March last year. Some of the attackers even appeared to have firearms. …more
April 11, 2012 No Comments
1 April, 2012 – Ahlul Bayt News Agency
(ABNA) – Bahrainis want democratic change, sectarian Shia discrimination ended, equitable distribution of state wealth, political prisoners released, and terrorizing stopped. They also want popularly elected leaders replacing Al-Khalifa rule. It’s despotic, ruthless and intolerable.
For months, many thousands braved security force attacks with tear gas, beatings, rubber bullets, live fire, arrests, torture, and disappearances.
Last March, Saudi troops entered Bahrain guns blazing. They remain, terrorizing Bahraini men, women, children, doctors, journalists, human rights activists, and foreign observers. So do state police.
No matter. King Hamad’s a close US ally. Bahrain’s the home of America’s Fifth Fleet. Generous aid’s provided. So are weapons, including armored vehicles, bunker buster missiles, wire-guided ones, others to attack protesters, and more.
On March 26, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) published a report titled, “A BCHR Report on Human Rights Violations since the BICI Recommendations.”
BICI refers to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. It published its findings last November 23, followed by a final December revision.
Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja is a former Front Line Protection Coordinator and former BCHR President. Last April, Bahraini police arrested and beat him unconscious. He’s currently hunger striking for justice. Earlier, he twice did for nine days. His current one began on February 8. As of March 31, he refused food for 53 days. He demands freedom or death.
His life’s seriously at risk. He’s been unjustly imprisoned and severely tortured. Last June, he was sentenced to life in prison. At issue is his courageous human rights work. Without help, he’ll die. Washington and rogue NATO partners ignore him. So do Arab League despots and major media scoundrels.
BCHR’s report discussed months of state terror. It categorized them under separate headings. They include:
Over 60 deaths are known. No murder charges followed. A few police “show trials” involved “accidental deaths or beatings” causing death. Bahrain’s government denies responsibility.
No independent access to examine forensic evidence was granted. Doctors who wrote false causes weren’t held accountable. Families of those killed are targeted. Homes are raided. Arrests follow. Property is destroyed. Bahrainis continue to be terrorized. …more
April 6, 2012 No Comments
February 7, 2012 – By Trevor Timm – EFF
On Wednesday, EFF will give recommendations to the European Parliament for how to combat one of the most troubling problems facing democracy activists around the world: the fact that European and American companies are providing key surveillance technology to authoritarian governments that is then being used to aid repression.
Recent reports by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News have exposed the shadowy but growing industry that sells electronic spy gear to governments known for violating human rights. The technology’s reach is very broad: governments can listen in on cell phone calls, use voice recognition to scan mobile networks, read emails and text messages, censor web pages, track one’s every movement using GPS, and can even change email contents while en route to a recipient. Some tools are installed using the same type of malicious malware and spyware used by online criminals to steal credit card and banking information. They can secretly turn on webcams built into personal laptops and microphones in unused cell phones. And all of this information is filtered and organized on such a massive scale that it can be used to spy on every person in an entire country.
Ordinary citizens, journalists, human rights campaigners and democracy advocates have all been targeted, eviscerating privacy rights and chilling free speech. Ample evidence suggests information acquired through this spy gear appears has played a role in the harassment, threats, and even torture of journalists, human rights campaigners, and democracy activists. Yet dozens of companies from the U.S. and E.U continue to sell this technology, including to authoritarian regimes. The market for surveillance equipment has grown to a staggering $5 billion a year.
Dutch member of the EU Parliament Marietje Schaake has been trying to spearhead an effort to curb sales of this type of technology to repressive regimes. In September, the EU parliament passed a resolution proposed by Ms. Schaake which called on European countries to regulate sales of this dangerous surveillance tools if they can be used in human rights violations. She has also asked the European Commission to investigate sales by these companies to the governments of Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia and Egypt. On Wednesday, EFF will be testifying at a workshop for Committee of International Trade and Committee on Foreign Affairs, co-chaired by Ms. Schaake. Here is part of what we will say:
First, transparency is key. The mass surveillance industry as a whole has been notoriously secretive and that has, in turn, allowed it to proliferate without meaningful safeguards. But we know that just having this information in the public eye can, by itself, force change. Companies have pulled out of countries and created official human rights policies thanks to news reports. The world program director of I.S.S. Tatiana Lucas even complained that shining a spotlight on these practices “makes U.S. manufacturers gun shy about developing, and eventually exporting, anything that can remotely be used to support government surveillance.” We want to turn up the heat on these companies even more to be accountable for selling to authoritarian regimes. …more
February 7, 2012 No Comments
As State escalates violence, murders and torture against oppostion, King Hamad blocks Human Rights Observers from entry into Country
27 January, 2012 – by Sara Yasin – XIndex
When Index on Censorship visited Bahrain on a fact finding mission late last year, officials repeatedly pledged to maintain a transparent relationship with the international community. Now that undertaking seems just another broken promise. Three international rights organisations have been denied entry this year.
The fact-finding mission investigated the state of free expression in Bahrain. We detailed our findings in a report released this week. In meetings with officials from the Ministry of Human Rights, the mission was promised that as long as the correct procedures were followed, we (and other organisations) would be allowed to enter Bahrain.
Earlier this month Bahrain refused to grant the visas to staff from Physicians for Human Rights and Human Rights First, asking that they delay until March. Despite having visas and a scheduled meeting with the US Embassy, a delegation from Freedom House was barred from entering the country on 19 January, only days before they planned to travel. Authorities asked that the organisation delay their trip until the end of February.
“I was very disappointed that I was unable to go”, Freedom House’s Courtney Radsch told Index. According to Freedom House, the mission’s was not related to political unrest in the county but part of a programme monitoring the empowerment of rural women started in 2010. Radsch said that the decision showed the “complete hypocrisy” of officials. In a blog post, Radsch quoted King Hamad assuring the international community that they would have any open door, saying ”any government which has a sincere desire for reform and progress understands the benefit of objective and constructive criticism.”
A violent crackdown on daily protests continues, and despite the BICI committee’s recommendation that prisoners be released or employees be reinstated, many Bahrainis have been unable to resume their daily lives. Even the chair of the BICI commission, Cherif Bassiouni, who previously commended the King for commissioning the report, said that critics would be justified in calling Bahrain’s sluggish implementation of their recommendations a “whitewash“.
Meanwhile, members of the opposition are growing restless, and this week things took a bloody turn. Violence escalated between protesters and security forces Wednesday, as some younger opposition members attacked police officers. Wednesday’s violence reportedly resulted in four deaths, including that of Mohamed Yacqoub, 18. While human rights activists Index spoke to were insistent on peaceful protest methods, they warned of things taking a more violent turn if brutality against peaceful protesters were to continue after the release of the BICI report. …source
January 27, 2012 Comments Off
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January 23, 2012 No Comments
Top Western appointments allegedly aimed at improving human rights…
Global Research, January 2, 2012 – by Finian Cunningham
Two former police chiefs from the US and Britain have brought discernible Western “expertise” to the Bahraini force only weeks following their appointments – a surge in repression and state terrorism.
Former Miami police chief John Timoney and his British counterpart, John Yates, formerly commander at London’s Scotland Yard, were assigned last month by Bahrain’s royal rulers to “oversee reform” of the Persian Gulf kingdom’s security forces. Officially, the appointment of the American and Briton was to bring Western professional policing to the Bahraini force and specifically to upgrade the human rights record of Bahrain’s ministry of interior and National Security Agency.
The assignments were announced by King Hamad Al Khalifa following a report by an international commission of inquiry into widespread human rights violations in the US-backed oil kingdom since pro-democracy protests erupted there last February.
As reported earlier by Global Research, the inquiry report and the subsequent appointment of the US and British police chiefs appeared to be a public relations exercise to burnish the tarnished image of this key Persian Gulf ally of Washington and London .
However, only weeks into their jobs, the Western commanders appear to have been given a remit that goes well beyond public relations, namely, to sharpen the repression against the pro-democracy movement.
Human rights activists and several political sources say that state forces have dramatically stepped up violence towards protesters and targeting of the Shia community generally. The diminutive island state of less than 600,000 nationals is comprised mainly of Shia muslims (70 per cent) who are ruled over by a Sunni elite installed by Britain when the kingdom gained nominal independence in 1971. American and British government support for the unelected Al Khalifa monarchy is viewed by the majority of Bahrainis as being at odds with their claims for democratic rights.
Over the past year, Bahraini state forces have killed some 50 people; thousands have been maimed, wounded and detained, many of the latter tortured. Proportionate to its population, such state violence is comparable to what Washington and London have loudly denounced the Libyan and Syrian regimes for – indeed mounting a military invasion of the former and threatening to do so in the latter – under the guise of “protecting human rights”. By contrast, there is hardly a word of denunciation from Washington or London towards the Bahraini regime, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
“The violence is worse than ever,” said one Bahraini pro-democracy activist. “The state security forces are operating with new tactics and this change coincides with the arrival of the American and British police chiefs. But this is no coincidence. We believe that the Bahraini police are using more repression and terror under the orders of these police chiefs.”
Since the appointment of the American and British commanders, at least five more civilians have been killed at the hands of police, including a 15-year-old boy Sayed Hashim who was shot in the face with a teargas canister on New Year’s Eve, and a 27-year-old woman who was bludgeoned with an iron bar. …more
January 3, 2012 No Comments