13 thoughts on “Bahraini royals live in palaces, poor people amidst sewage

  1. Bahrain Should Investigate Fatal Shooting By Police, Says HRW

    January 29, 2014

    Bahraini authorities should urgently open an independent and impartial investigation into a January 8, 2014 incident in which police officers shot and fatally wounded one man and seriously injured a 17-year-old boy, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday. Authorities should make the results public and explain why they did not inform the victims’ families of their injuries or their whereabouts for more than two weeks.

    According to a death certificate issued by the Bahrain Defense Force military hospital, Fadhel Abbas Muslim Marhoon, 19, died from a “traumatic cerebral oedema” on January 8. Photos of his body show what appears to be a gunshot wound in the back of the head, but the location of the entry wound appears to contradict a January 26 Interior Ministry statement saying that Marhoon was driving an “oncoming car” at police officers in the town of Markh and that the police fired at the car in self-defense.

    “If Bahraini security forces want to fix the reputation they have for covering up abuses, they should promptly investigate the conduct of the officers who fired the fatal shots at Fadhel Marhoon and seriously wounded a 17-year-old boy,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “The Interior Ministry needs to explain why it didn’t say a word to the victims’ frantic families about their missing sons for more than two weeks.”

    Authorities did not alert Marhoon’s family or inform them of his whereabouts until they announced his death on January 25. Nor did the authorities notify the family of Sadeq al-Asafoor, 17, whom the police shot, seriously injured, and detained in the same incident, until January 23, when they transferred him out of a military hospital to a clinic at the Interior Ministry headquarters.

    A third person involved in the incident, Ali Abd al-Amir Khamis, was not injured. On January 29, a court charged him with planting explosives that injured police officers. A lawyer engaged by his family told Human Rights Watch that authorities have prevented him from seeing his client. Family members who visited al-Amir in prison on January 29 told Human Rights Watch that after the incident he spent 20 days in detention at the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) headquarters, where he says he was tortured.

    The Interior Ministry statement says that the shooting of Marhoon and al-Asafoor was linked to a highly publicized incident in which the government alleges that unnamed people attempted to smuggle weapons and explosives into Bahrain by boat. The statement says of the shooting:

    There were two suspects in the building when police arrived. While the two were trying to flee in their car, the driver, Fadhel Abbas, attempted to run over the policemen despite being repeatedly warned, both verbally and by warning shots. Finally, police were compelled to use their weapons to defend themselves and stop the oncoming car.

    A member of al-Asafoor’s family told Human Rights Watch that he went to visit a friend in the village of Markh at around 9 p.m. on January 8. What happened leading up to the shooting is not clear. The family member who visited al-Amir in Jau prison on the morning of January 29 told Human Rights Watch that al-Amir claims that he and his two friends were caught in a police trap.

    The police shot al-Asafoor when he left the car, apparently to collect something, based on the relative’s account from al-Amir. Al-Amir and Marhoon fled the scene in a car under fire from police, but returned later to look for al-Asafoor. A police jeep then rammed their car, forcing it to stop, and the police fired multiple shots into the vehicle, killing Marhoon.

    This account of events as well as the photos of Marhoon’s fatal wound call into question the Interior Ministry’s narrative. The photos Human Rights Watch examined appear to show a bullet wound 1 centimeter in diameter in the back of Marhoon’s head. No bullet wound is visible on the front of his head. The death certificate states that the cause of death, at 11:30 p.m. on January 25, was an “intracranial injury” that caused a “traumatic cerebral oedema” but it makes no reference to a gunshot.

    Family members visited al-Asafoor on January 24 in the al-Qala’a clinic at Interior Ministry headquarters. They told Human Rights Watch they saw what appeared to be gunshot injuries on his lower torso. They later told Human Rights Watch that plainclothes officials at the clinic warned the family not to discuss the incident that led to his injuries or they would prevent them from making further visits. They added that security officials supervised their visit and did not permit them to meet with medical personnel responsible for treating their son.

    Had Marhoon been driving an oncoming car toward police officers, it would seem likely that any shots they fired in self-defense would have struck him in the front of his head, not the back.

    “The families’ accounts of the incident, if true, indicate that Marhoon’s death may have constituted an extrajudicial execution,” Stork said. “Police may have had legitimate reasons for wanting to apprehend these three men, but it does not appear that they had any legitimate cause to shoot them.”

    The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, appointed to investigate official conduct during antigovernment protests in 2011, concluded that: “police units used force against civilians in a manner that was both unnecessary and disproportionate. This was due, at least partially, to inadequate training of field units [and] ineffectual command and control systems…”

    As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Bahrain is required to protect and respect the right to life. It should abide by the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, which state that lethal force may only be used when strictly unavoidable, to protect life, and must be exercised with restraint and proportionality. The principles require governments to “ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offense under their law.”

    A family member told Human Rights Watch that the authorities consistently refused to acknowledge they were holding Marhoon or al-Asafoor, or inform either of the families of their relatives’ whereabouts or well-being. In the days following the incident, the family member said, al-Asafoor’s family went to Salmaniya medical center, the Bahrain Defense Force military hospital, and the Office of the Public Prosecutor to ask if al-Asafoor was injured or in custody. All denied holding him or any knowledge of his whereabouts.

    On January 12, a staff member at the military hospital told the family that al-Asafoor was in custody at the hospital and stable, but the following day staff there again denied he was in the hospital.

    International law classifies authorities’ refusal to acknowledge the fact they are detaining persons, or their whereabouts, as enforced disappearance. The authorities should explain why they failed to inform the family of a grievously injured child of his whereabouts and life-threatening injuries, even though the family was actively searching for him.

    Al-Amir made a brief phone call to his family in the week after the shooting. The family contacted a Bahraini lawyer, who filed a written application to represent al-Amir and submitted it to the public prosecutor on January 13. The public prosecutor informed him that he would be unable to speak to his client until after an initial trial hearing on January 29, where he is to face charges of attacking a police officer, the lawyer told Human Rights Watch.

    Neither Bahrain’s Criminal Procedure Law, nor its 2006 counterterrorism law, make provision for refusing access to a lawyer in such a way. This would be a violation of fair trial rights guaranteed by Bahrain’s constitution as well as international human rights law.

    http://www.albanytribune.com/29012014-bahrain-investigate-fatal-shooting-police-says-hrw/

  2. Sacked workers protest in Bahrain

    Manama, 5 hours, 8 minutes ago

    Around 200 people protested in front of Bahrain’s Labour Ministry yesterday demanding the reinstatement of workers dismissed following unrest in 2011.

    It was the 24th demonstration calling for jobs for those still out of work, according to the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) which organised the gathering, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

    Participants – who included dismissed workers, their families, friends and children – chanted slogans and held up pieces of bread to highlight their situation.

    “All we want is a source of income so we can have a piece of bread,” they chanted in Arabic.

    They also wore T-shirts saying “still dismissed” and held up banners of companies where they used to work.

    Children could be seen holding up signs in Arabic that said: “Reinstate my father so he can work and we can live.”

    Around 4,600 people were dismissed in 2011 after they allegedly failed to show up for work so they could take part in anti-government demonstrations, were arrested on suspicion of criminal activities or took part in strikes called by trade unionists sympathetic to the Bahraini opposition movement.

    Reinstated

    Some claim they were sacked for no reason.

    GFBTU assistant secretary-general Mohammad Mahdi said it was time those still unemployed were found work.

    “These people have been in financial trouble since then (2011) and are struggling to survive,” he said.

    “They are not asking for handouts – they just want to be able to work again.”

    http://www.tradearabia.com/news/EDU_250972.html

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  6. Work halted on Bahrain housing project

    Manama, 8 hours, 38 minutes ago

    Bahrain’s Housing Minister Bassem Al Hamer has been summoned to a council meeting amid claims a $450 million project fails to provide affordable homes.

    The Northern Municipal Council has ordered work on the Naseej Properties development in the Northern Town be stopped until the dispute is resolved, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

    The company was due to provide 1,618 low-cost housing units and another 367 mid-range units as part of a deal signed in December.

    It was due to be split into three categories, one for buyers on government waiting lists whose wages are more than BD800 ($2,094), the second for people whose wages do not exceed BD2,000 and the rest open to everyone, including expatriates.

    But councillors say properties are not being sold to families on low incomes.

    Council vice-chairman Sayed Ahmed Al Alawi also alleged plots of land in the Northern Town were being sold and distributed without the council’s knowledge.

    “We have called ministry officials several times, but they never showed up and it is time the minister be summoned to tell us what’s going on,” he said.

    “Just recently, Naseej has started promoting 300 homes in the Northern Town in Bahrain’s malls, and despite being called ‘social’ or ‘affordable’ they don’t serve the purpose behind having the Northern Town established in the first place.

    “We are not against privatisation of projects, but they have to be directed to poor families on waiting lists.”

    The councillor said the foundation stone for the project was laid by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, in 2002 but work did not begin until a decade later.

    “There are 18,276 families waiting for homes in the Northern Governorate from around 60,000 across Bahrain and with news that the rich will be getting homes their misery will continue,” said Al Alawi.

    No one from the Housing Ministry or Naseej Properties could be reached for comment.

    http://www.tradearabia.com/news/CONS_251291.html

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  8. Home repairs SOS for 4,000 families

    By MOHAMMED AL A’ALI, Posted on » Friday, February 07, 2014

    COUNCILLORS from every area of Bahrain yesterday signed a petition requesting urgent help for more than 4,000 families who cannot afford to renovate their dilapidated homes.

    Members of the country’s five municipal councils agreed to submit it to His Majesty King Hamad after taking part in the first joint meeting in their history.

    They fear the homes of 4,172 families could collapse at any moment and want King Hamad’s Scheme for Dilapidated Homes reintroduced.

    These include 1,442 in the Northern Governorate, 997 in the Central Governorate, 834 in the Capital Governorate, 759 in the Muharraq Governorate and 140 in the Southern Governorate.

    Needy families were previously given grants from the Royal Charity Organisation to fund refurbishment work, but it was turned into a loan-based system in 2011.

    Parliament is due to vote on a proposal that councillors submitted to it two years ago to allocate BD60 million a year to have 2,000 homes rebuilt.

    Central Municipal Council chairman Abdulrazzak Al Hattab said it had taken MPs two years to react to the issue.

    “If parliament approves the proposal, it will further support our moves to have the scheme reinstated,” he said.

    “Now we are more focused on our campaign as councillors to have it brought back to life before people’s dilapidated homes turn into their graves.”

    Muharraq Municipal Council chairman Adbulnasser Al Mahmeed said he and his colleagues were worried about the lives of people residing in rundown homes.

    “We are here speaking about elderly women, pensioners and low earners who are ineligible for Housing Ministry services, which means that the scheme has not seen any home rebuilt under its new loan format,” he said.

    Manama Municipal Council chairman Majeed Millad Al Jazeeri said it was not important under what ministry or government organisation the scheme was placed under as long as the issue was tackled.

    “Whether the government will rebuild the 4,000 homes in one year or five, we just want the stalled list to be cleared,” he said.

    Northern Municipal Council chairman Ali Al Jabal said the number of dilapidated homes was likely to increase in the coming few months.

    “There are homes that could have been repaired, but due to bureaucratic procedures, have seen their conditions worsen and around 500 across Bahrain could be added in the next months to the list,” he said.

    Twenty-six of Bahrain’s 40 councillors attended yesterday’s meeting, held at the Muharraq Municipality headquarters in Busaiteen for the first time in 12 years. Four chairmen out of five chaired the meeting and the fifth chairman was absent because he had to travel abroad with his mother for an emergency operation. mohammed@gdn.com.bh

    http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=370109

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