…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
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King Hamad ignores and frustrates calls by Human Rights community to accept appeals and overturn bogus prosecutions, creates indefinite detention scenario

Appeals Postponed, Defenders Harassed as Bahrain Crackdown Continues
Human Rights First – 3 January, 2012

Washington, DC – Human rights defenders, medics, students and others targeted by the Bahraini government in its crackdown on pro-democracy efforts continue to face detention and harassment despite growing calls for their release. On Dec. 21, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for the unconditional release of all Bahraini detainees imprisoned after a military trial. Human Rights First notes that the Bahraini government has failed to comply with that request and, in fact, is taking steps to delay the appeals of those accused.

“Yesterday, a group of students from the University of Bahrain who were sentenced to 15 years each by the military court had their appeal hearing postponed until March. Five of them remain in Bahrain’s Jaw Prison,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “Their case and others like it make clear that Bahrain’s leaders are ignoring key calls for reform issued by Commissioner Pillay and even the Kingdon’s own Bassiouni Commission.”

In addition to the students, the Bahrain regime continues to contest the appeals of others sentenced by the military court, including 20 medics who appear to have been prosecuted for treating injured protestors and telling the media about the nature and extent of injuries.

Dr. Nada Dhaif is one of the medics sentenced to 15 years after an unfair trial in military court. Though she is out of detention while she awaits her next court hearing on January 9, Dr. Dhaif was summoned by the police for a four-hour interrogation on December 25. During that interrogation, she was warned to keep a low profile, an apparent government response to her decision to speak with the media and human rights organizations about how she and others were tortured in detention.

Dr. Dhaif told Dooley, “I am being targeted for telling the world the continuing truth about Bahrain. Members of my family are also being harassed by the regime. I have only ever advocated peaceful reform but am being threatened for my human rights advocacy. …more

January 3, 2012   No Comments

Mr. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the moral high road in Bahrain demands tangible actions against the al Khalifa Regime not more hollow words

Bahrain: UN voices concern at sentences given to medical staff, activist

Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
30 September 2011 –

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations human rights office today voiced concern at the harsh sentences handed down this week by a court in Bahrain to medical professionals, teachers and others as a result of pro-democracy protests earlier this year.

The sentences range from three years’ imprisonment to the death penalty, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told a news conference in Geneva. The Court of National Safety, effectively a military court, also upheld the sentences of 21 others.

“For such harsh sentences to be handed down to civilians in a military court with serious due process irregularities raises severe concerns,” said Mr. Colville, who noted that the court is headed by three judges, all of whom are appointed by the chief of the Bahrain Defence Force, and cases are prosecuted by military public prosecutors.

Mr. Ban voiced concerns about due process irregularities in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

“The Secretary-General calls for the release of all political detainees and reiterates his appeal to the Bahraini authorities at the highest level to ensure the application of due process and respect for international human rights norms,” the statement said. “This will contribute to conditions for national dialogue, reconciliation and reform as sought by all the Bahraini people.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) also spoke out today, with a spokesperson stressing that health-care workers must be able to carry out their duty to treat injured people, regardless of their political affiliation, and even in times of conflict.

Fadéla Chaib told reporters that health-care workers should never be punished for doing what is morally and ethically required, and that medical facilities must also be protected.

OHCHR understood that defendants have had limited access to lawyers and that lawyers had insufficient time to properly prepare the defence of their clients in most cases. Also, the court has not been investigating torture allegations and does not permit recording of the proceedings, all of which caused serious concern.

“We call on the Government to ensure that every detained person is charged with a recognizable criminal offence and has enough time to prepare a defence case,” said Mr. Colville.

The Government, which has been has engaged in a violent crackdown against protesters calling for greater democracy, has announced that all cases will be referred to civilian courts in October.

While OHCHR welcomes this announcement, it said that it is unclear how appeals by those who have been convicted in military courts will be handled in the civilian courts.

The Office has spoken out repeatedly in recent months over harsh sentences issued by the court against protesters with charges ranging from participating in an illegal gathering, or expressing hatred of the Government, to actual crimes such as murder and destruction of property. …source

October 3, 2011   No Comments

Bahraini “Sham” Trials Condemned

Bahraini “Sham” Trials Condemned

For Immediate Release: September 8, 2011
Human Rights First

Washington, DC – The military trial of 20 doctors and other medics who treated injured protestors during pro-democracy protests resumed this week, further undermining Bahrain’s claim to respect human rights. The remaining doctors who had been in detention – some for many months – were released, but the charges against them still remain. Some are in extremely poor health after 9 days on hunger strike and are need of immediate medical treatment. Despite assurances that these cases would be tried in civilian courts, the cases are slated to proceed in military court and verdicts are anticipated by Sept. 29.

“Trying civilians in military courts that offer inadequate legal protections is a sham process,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “It exposes the Bahraini Government’s real intentions to crack down on peaceful activists. The United States Government should publicly condemn these trials and make clear that Bahrain’s decision to prosecute people for peacefully expressing their views will have consequences for the relationship between the United States and Bahrain.”

The Bahraini authorities announced on June 26 that they were transferring all cases from military courts to civilian courts. On August 18, government authorities made an about-face and announced that the doctors would be tried in a military court. Bahrain’s military court does not meet international standards for a fair trial.

Among those on trial is Roula Al-Saffar, the head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, who spent four months in detention before her release last year. She studied at Widener University in Pennsylvania and at the University of North Texas. She also worked for many years as a nurse at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

“In July, I spoke to several of the medics who have been detained, including Roula and others on trial today, “ said Dooley. “I heard credible, detailed and consistent stories from them of torture in detention. The United States should not be aligned with a regime that perpetuates such abuses.” …source

September 25, 2011   No Comments

Fair trials impossible in Bahrain’s military court

Bahrain: New Evidence of Framed-up Death Sentences Against Pro-Democracy Activists
Ministry of Interior Whistle-blower Suggests Murder Trial Used For Political Dirty Tricks

by Finian Cunningham – Global Research, September 23, 2011

New evidence has emerged that the Bahraini regime’s case against two pro-democracy activists sentenced to death for killing a pair of police officers is seriously flawed. In the latest twist of the controversial murder trial, an employee of Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior has now spoken out to clear the names of the men awaiting execution.

The alleged killing of the two policemen occurred during the crackdown against pro-democracy protests in the US-backed Persian Gulf kingdom earlier this year. The event was seen as a tipping point that paved the way for an escalation in repression against civilians by Bahraini and Saudi forces, resulting in dozens of deaths and mass detentions.

Five other Bahraini men were sentenced to life imprisonment for their participation in the alleged murder of the police officers in which the state prosecution claimed that pro-democracy activists deliberately drove vehicles over the victims as they lay prostrate on open ground.

The gruesome deaths were apparently captured on amateur video and are alleged to have occurred on 16 March, the same day that Saudi-led troops began their violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the Bahraini capital, Manama. The video was subsequently aired on government-controlled Bahrain TV and caused widespread revulsion among the public [1].

The two men sentenced to death – 19-year-old Ali Al Singace and 24-year-old Abdulaziz Husain – are to be executed by firing squad if their appeals are rejected next month.

Human rights activists and the families of the sentenced men say that they were set up by the Bahraini regime. They point out that the accused men were not associated with each other before or at the time of the alleged crime and that they come from different villages across Bahrain. The only thing that links the men is that they were active in political demonstrations in their respective villages. Campaigners for the men say that the trial was driven by political motives: to intimidate pro-democracy activists; to smear the mainly Shia-led uprising; and to justify the calling of a state of emergency by the unelected Sunni regime and subsequent violent crushing of protests.
[Read more →]

September 25, 2011   No Comments

Bahraini “Sham” Trials Condemned

Bahraini “Sham” Trials Condemned
For Immediate Release: September 8, 2011

Washington, DC – The military trial of 20 doctors and other medics who treated injured protestors during pro-democracy protests resumed this week, further undermining Bahrain’s claim to respect human rights. The remaining doctors who had been in detention – some for many months – were released, but the charges against them still remain. Some are in extremely poor health after 9 days on hunger strike and are need of immediate medical treatment. Despite assurances that these cases would be tried in civilian courts, the cases are slated to proceed in military court and verdicts are anticipated by Sept. 29.

“Trying civilians in military courts that offer inadequate legal protections is a sham process,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “It exposes the Bahraini Government’s real intentions to crack down on peaceful activists. The United States Government should publicly condemn these trials and make clear that Bahrain’s decision to prosecute people for peacefully expressing their views will have consequences for the relationship between the United States and Bahrain.”

The Bahraini authorities announced on June 26 that they were transferring all cases from military courts to civilian courts. On August 18, government authorities made an about-face and announced that the doctors would be tried in a military court. Bahrain’s military court does not meet international standards for a fair trial.

Among those on trial is Roula Al-Saffar, the head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, who spent four months in detention before her release last year. She studied at Widener University in Pennsylvania and at the University of North Texas. She also worked for many years as a nurse at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

“In July, I spoke to several of the medics who have been detained, including Roula and others on trial today, “ said Dooley. “I heard credible, detailed and consistent stories from them of torture in detention. The United States should not be aligned with a regime that perpetuates such abuses.” …source

September 8, 2011   No Comments

Conviction appeals of 21 prominent Bahrain activists and al Kahlifa opposition leadership postponed until 28th of September

from twitter – Sept 6, 2001 – Appeal of 21 prominent #bahrain figures postponed until 28th of September

Bahrain court hears appeals on protest sentences
msnbc.com

AP – MANAMA, Bahrain — A Bahrain security court on Tuesday heard appeals on behalf two prominent opposition figures who are on hunger strike and 19 other activists sentenced in the crackdown on anti-government protests, rights activists said.

Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said the hearing took place before the special security court with military prosecutors and civilian and military judges set up after the Gulf kingdom’s Sunni rulers imposed martial law to deal with a wave of Shiite-led protests for greater rights.

Of the 21 activists, the court in June sentenced eight prominent opposition figures to life imprisonment while 13 others received shorter prison terms. Seven activists were sentenced in absentia.

The sentences were among the most severe punishments against the demonstrations for greater rights by the Gulf kingdom’s Shiite majority. Anti-government protests in the tiny, Sunni-ruled island nation started in February, inspired by other Arab uprisings.

Jalila al-Sayed, a Bahraini lawyer for one of the defendants said the court adjourned until Sept. 28. She did not elaborate on the proceedings further except saying that 14 defendants attended Tuesday’s hearing.

Among the eight defendants who received life sentences are Bahrain’s Shiite leaders Hassan Mushaima and Abdul Jalil al-Singace.

The two are said to have joined a hunger strike last week in support of jailed doctors who treated injured protesters and who face charges of trying to overthrow Bahrain’s 200-year-old monarchy.

Shiites account for 70 percent of Bahrain’s population of some 525,000, but claim they face systematic discrimination such as being barred from top government and political posts.

More than 30 people died during months of demonstrations and harsh crackdowns in Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Dozens of protesters, human rights activists and Shiite professional like doctors and lawyers have been tried in the special tribunal. Two protesters were sentenced to death.

Bahrain lifted emergency rule in June. The king Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa ordered all protest-related cases moved to civilian courts. In August, the monarch issued another decree that reversed the decision. It was not clear how many defendants will remain with the security court.

Bahrain’s use of the security court has been strongly criticized by rights groups. Souhayr Belhassen, the president of the International Federation for Human Rights said the reversal to the special court is a “great concern” for the Paris-based group.

“Trying civilians before a military and special courts doesn’t comply with international standards,” Belhassen said in a statement Tuesday. …source

September 6, 2011   No Comments

Bahrain’s Military Trial of Doctors a Travesty

Bahrain’s Military Trial of Doctors a Travesty
August 28, 2011- Human Rights First

Washington, DC — Today’s trial of doctors and other medics in Bahrain’s military court exposes that the country’s judicial process is a farce, Human Rights First said. The authorities reintroduced the military courts last week after having said they would abolish them and in today’s proceedings adjourned the health professionals’ case until September 7. It will resume again in the military court on that day.

“To hear the cases of civilians in a military court that falls far short of international standards of justice is totally illegitimate,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “When the Bahraini authorities announced on June 26 that they were transferring all cases from military courts to civilian courts they lied to the defendants, to their families and to the world.”

The return to military trials undermines the Bahrain Government’s claim to take human rights violations seriously. The King of Bahrain appointed a commission, headed by Cherif Bassiouni, to investigate abuses. But the reversion to military courts exposes the monarchy’s real intentions to continue its crackdown on peaceful activists. The United States Government should publicly condemn these trials as shams and ask the Bahraini government to drop charges against those prosecuted for the peaceful expression of their opinions.

More than a dozen doctors and other medical professionals appeared before the military court today, including Roula Al-Saffar, the head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, who spent over four months in custody. She studied at Widener University in Pennsylvania and at the University of North Texas, and worked for many years as a nurse at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

“I met some of those on trial today when I was in Bahrain last month, “ said Dooley. “They told me credible and consistent stories of having been tortured in detention. The U.S. government should make clear that continuing with discredited military courts to try pro-democracy activists will have consequences for the relationship between the United States and Bahrain.” …source

August 29, 2011   No Comments

Bahrain: Medical staff trial- The case has been adjourned till 7 September, 2011

Bahrain: Medical staff trial- The case has been adjourned till 7 September, 2011
August 28th, 2011 – BYSHR

Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) is deeply concerned about the trial of the Medical staff before a military court.

The BYSHR lawyer said that:” The lawyers were presented Statement on the unconstitutionality of Decree no “28″ 2011 (Trial of civilians before a Military courts) and the judge refused a request to release them”

The case has been adjourned till 7 September, 2011 for defense witnesses. …source

Attached : The list of Medical Staff undergoing trial (click Here)

August 28, 2011   No Comments

Out-of-touch Secretary General Ban Ki-mon urges al Khalifa to allow appeals and due process, following trials the UN and US should never have tolerated

UN chief urges Bahrain to allow appeals of harsh sentences of activists
By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, June 23, 4:27 PM

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging the government of Bahrain to allow political activists involved in the Arab Spring opposition movement to appeal their harsh sentences.

A Bahrain court on Wednesday handed down eight life sentences and other harsh penalties to 21 people in an attempt to cripple protests against the regime.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Thursday that Ban also urged government authorities to act “in strict accordance with their international human rights obligations” and ensure the convicts rights to due process and a fair trial.

The U.N. chief stressed that a national dialogue announced by the king should fulfill the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis, Nesirky said. …more

June 23, 2011   No Comments

Swedish activist gets life sentence in Bahrain

Swedish activist gets life sentence in Bahrain
Published: 22 Jun 11 12:12 CET

A Swedish citizen and democracy activist was sentenced to life imprisonment in Bahrain on Wednesday after being convicted of “terrorist activity”, according to the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR).

The life sentence for Mohammed Habib al-Muqdad comes on top of a 20-year sentence he received in May for allegedly kidnapping a police officer.

According to Wednesday’s ruling, al-Muqdad was guilty of “terrorist activity” with the intention to overthrow the regime.

“Since he was last released from prison he has been fighting for democracy in Bahrain,” Mohammed Al-Maskati, chairman of BYSHR told The Local.

Al-Muqdad was previously incarcerated for what the regime sees as “oppositional activity” after being arrested in August 2010 when he was held isolated without being able to contact his family or lawyer.

Al-Muqdad, who has dual-citizenship, was then brought in again and convicted in May together with eight others to 20 years in prison after allegedly kidnapping a police officer.

He is in his fifties and is a Muslim scholar from central Sweden, who lived in the country for many years, only returning to Bahrain in the 2000s after there had been some reforms in the country.

Swedish authorities tried to get to see him in conjunction with his last sentence but have met with difficulty as Bahraini law does not recognize dual citizenship. …more

June 22, 2011   No Comments

BAHRAIN: Heavy sentences for human rights and dissenting activities

BAHRAIN: Heavy sentences for human rights and dissenting activities
22 June 2011

On June 22, 2011, the National Security Court of Bahrain has sentenced to life imprisonment 8 of the 21 human rights defenders and political activists whom have been brought to trial under charges linked to supposed “terrorist activities”. The 13 others were sentenced to two to fifteen years’ imprisonment.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) express their utmost concern regarding this decision, as they consider that the charges are politically motivated and the right to a fair trial has been disregarded. Accordingly, FIDH and OMCT call for the immediate and unconditional release of those detained.

The 21 defendants have been brought to trial and charged with ”organising and managing a terrorist organisation”, “attempt to overthrow the government by force and in liaison with a terrorist organisation working for a foreign country,” and the “collection of money for a terrorist group”. FIDH and OMCT have considered since the beginning of the trial that the proceedings against them actually aim at sanctioning their involvement in the peaceful protests demanding democracy, the respect for human rights and/or political changes in the country(1).

Out of the 21 individuals sentenced, seven persons have been tried in absentia. Among the 14 who are under detention, several reported that they had been kept in solitary confinement and subject to continuous torture. Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former Director of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR)(3), who has been sentenced to life imprisonment, has regularly declared that he has been subjected to torture and other threats and bore at several occasion visible signs of torture. Moreover, the trial was not held in public. On May 12, 2011, at the second hearing, international observers were prevented to access the Court. Since then, international observers – even journalists covering the events – have been quasi systematically banned from entering the country.

“The judiciary in Bahrain has failed to guarantee the most basics of fair trial. We fear that the Special Appeal Court, if referred to, will not be able to restore the confidence of the Bahraini people through achieving an independent justice” said Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH. …more

June 22, 2011   No Comments

UK Foreign Office Minister concerned about sentencing in Bahrain

Foreign Office Minister concerned about sentencing in Bahrain
22 June 2011

“It is deeply worrying that civilians are being tried before tribunals chaired by a military judge, with reports of abuse in detention, lack of access to legal counsel and coerced confessions.”
Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt MP

Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt said:

“I am extremely concerned by the process surrounding today’s sentencing of 21 opposition members and the nature of many of the charges. One of those found guilty is Ibrahim Sharif, a prominent moderate politician who has been a constructive participant in Bahraini politics and represents a registered political party. He was sentenced to five years. It is deeply worrying that civilians are being tried before tribunals chaired by a military judge, with reports of abuse in detention, lack of access to legal counsel and coerced confessions.

The Bahraini Government has committed to a National Dialogue on 1st July, which must be supported with concrete actions to address the long-term challenges facing Bahrain. We will also expect any appeals process to thoroughly and transparently address the substantial concerns that have been raised in these tribunals.” …source

June 22, 2011   No Comments

Torture and Trials, “When he was recovering from the operation they tortured him again,”

CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, Human Rights First,
C: 202-279-0005, W: 202-265-3000 | Jessica@rabinowitz-dorf.com
“When he was recovering from the operation they tortured him again,” Torture and Unfair Trial of Protesters in Bahrain
For Immediate Release: May 12, 2011

Manama, Bahrain— Human Rights First is gravely concerned at today’s unfair trial in Bahrain of 21 suspects involved in recent protests calling for greater respect for human rights and democracy in the island kingdom.

Human Rights First was refused entry at the courtroom door this morning despite assurances from the Bahraini authorities that human rights organizations and other observers would be admitted. “Relatives of the defendants who were permitted access told us they looked in bad physical and mental shape,” said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First. “Several were limping and others have suffered drastic weight loss. They have not had adequate time to consult their lawyers, and there are credible reports of their torture in custody.”

The 21 suspects before the Lower National Safety Court today include prominent human rights defenders and opposition leaders. They have been charged with various national security crimes, including “insulting the army,” “organizing and managing a terrorist group for the overthrow and the change of the country’s constitution and the royal rule,” and “seeking and correspond[ing] with a terrorist organization abroad working for a foreign country to conduct heinous acts.” Some of these charges carry the death penalty.

“The hearing today was conducted in a heavily militarized atmosphere,” said Dooley. “The court buildings were full of armed soldiers, some wearing black masks.” Leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al Khawaja is among those charged. His wife and daughter Zeinab were allowed a 10-minute meeting with him on Sunday. Zeinab told Human Rights First that his face had been badly damaged with multiple fractures while in the custody of security forces. He had undergone a four-hour operation in the military hospital. “But when he was supposed to be recovering from the operation they tortured him again,” she said. …more

May 12, 2011   No Comments