Bahrain dictatorship jails another human rights activist


Ms Zainab Al-Khawaja detained for peacefully protesting

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

Bahrain: Human Rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja detained for peacefully protesting

17 December 2012

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) express grave concern over the ongoing judicial harassments against human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja.

On 9 Dec 2012, human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja was arrested after staging a one-person protest outside the intensive care unit at Salmaniya hospital, demanding visitation rights for an injured citizen. The security forces prevented his family from visiting him at the hospital. Al-Khawaja was held overnight and taken to the public prosecution office the next day. She was accused of “inciting hatred against the regime, through chanting political slogans” and has been given a 7 days detention order. Zainab Al-Khawaja has reportedly chanted “We are all the hero Aqeel” (the injured citizen). The family members of the injured man were allowed after the protest to visit him briefly. On 13 Dec 2012 before the end of her detention period, she was taken to the public prosecution where her detention period was extended for another 10 days, until 27 Dec 2012. Her lawyer said that his request for Al-Khawaja to be released on bail was rejected. He described her arrest as unfounded and has no justification whatsoever.

On 10 Dec 2012, the lower criminal court has sentenced Al-Khawaja to one month imprisonment in addition to a 100 Bahraini dinars fine in order to suspend the sentence, on charges of participating in an un-notified demonstration and entering restricted zone (Pearl Roundabout) on 12 Feb 2012. (See background here: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5048)

Although the area is guarded by security forces and members from the Bahraini army since 16 March 2011, there is no official declaration, neither issued nor published, that declares the area as a “restricted zone”.

The human rights defender has been arrested several times during this year and there are more than 13 simultaneous cases against her. She spent around 4 months collectively in prison and she is sentenced to another 4 months which are suspended pending an appeal while she continue to face new charges. This month only, in addition to the above mentioned case about entering the area of Pearl roundabout, Al-Khawaja stood for trial on the cases outlined below, which could be resulted in more prison sentences:

1. Insulting a public official while she was in detention before the Lower Criminal Court: Pleading on 12 December 2012, postponed to 6 Jan 2013.

2. Insulting a public official (Bahrain Defence Hospital): Acquitted, however, the office of the Public Prosecution appealed against acquittal. The case is solely based on witnesses of prosecution who had never showed up for the trial sessions although requested by the court. The next hearing will be held on the 26 Dec 2012.

3. Illegal gathering in AbuSaiba roundabout and inciting hatred against the regime: Verdict expected on 26 Dec 2012.

4. Disturbing traffic while protesting on the street (Bahrain Financial Harbour): Court postponed the case to 27 Dec 2012 for studying the case.

5. Illegal gathering and rioting (Al Aali Roundabout): she was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment and BD300 bail to suspend the sentence, pleading was on 11 Dec 2012, postponed to 5 Feb 2013 to summon the prosecution witnesses.

The GCHR and BCHR believes that charges against human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja are politically motivated, and that she is targeted merely for practicing her human rights work and the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and assembly.

The GCHR and the BCHR call on the US administration as well as other governments that have influence in Bahrain including the UK government, the EU and the leading human rights organizations to:

1- Call for the immediate release of human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

2- Increase the pressure on the Government of Bahrain to stop the on-going daily human rights violations as well as the escalated attacks against human rights defenders.

3- To put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

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11 thoughts on “Bahrain dictatorship jails another human rights activist

  1. Bahrain breaks up protests, arrests campaigner: activists

    Reuters – 2 hrs 48 mins ago

    DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahraini police fired stun grenades to break up dozens of protesters and arrested around 25 people including a prominent campaigner during anti-government rallies in the capital Manama on Monday, activists said.

    Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafda, a leading figure at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was detained for joining the opposition marches marking the death of two activists in the 1990s – his second arrest since November, another campaigner told Reuters.

    The island kingdom, the base of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been in turmoil since pro-democracy protests led by its Shi’ite Muslim majority erupted last year inspired by revolts across the region.

    Earlier this month, Bahrain’s opposition groups welcomed a call by the Crown Prince for dialogue. But meetings have not started and the unrest has continued.

    Dozens of protesters shouted anti-government slogans in the streets of Manama’s old market area then fled into alleyways pursued by police, witnesses said.

    Up to 100 men and women marched in another street but were also dispersed, they added. Police used at least two stun grenades to break up crowds, but there were no direct clashes with security forces, said people at the scene.

    The authorities have stepped up efforts to end the unrest in recent months and several activists have been arrested or jailed for organizing or taking part in unlicensed protests.

    Interior Minister Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah al-Khalifa announced a temporary ban on rallies and gatherings in November.

    The move, along with the revocation of the citizenship of 31 Bahrainis accused of fomenting violence, were criticized by Western countries and international rights groups.

    Muhafda was arrested during the marches, Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, told Reuters. Muhafda was detained last month on charges of illegally gathering and taking part in an unauthorized march.

    Another activist, Zainab al-Khawaja, was jailed for two months in October for tearing up a picture of King Hamad bin Isa. She is also facing charges of inciting hatred against the government.

    Bahrain’s ruling Al-Khalifa family, who are Sunni Muslims, used martial law and help from Gulf neighbors to put down last year’s uprising, but unrest has resumed.

    The opposition says little progress has been made towards its demands for reforms including a parliament with full powers to legislate and form governments. Many Shi’ites complain of political and economic marginalization, a charge the government denies. (Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

  2. Bahrain mission says late application reason for not granting visa to Dutch MEP

    17/12/2012 | 10:16 PM | Gulf News
    تصغير الخطتكبير الخط

    BRUSSELS, Dec 17 (KUNA) — The embassy of Bahrain in Brussels issued Monday evening a clarification for not granting a visa to a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake, to visit Bahrain with an EP delegation.
    “A delegation of Members of the European Parliament has been preparing to visit Bahrain this week with a program focused on human rights. I was scheduled to travel representing the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the third largest political group in the European Parliament,” said Schaake in a statement earlier.
    “With flights for the trip departing tomorrow, and without a visa granted, I am unable to travel.
    This morning I went to the Bahraini representation in Brussels myself, but learned that contrary to other MEPs travelling, for me no authorization had been granted,” she noted.

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