Bahrain dictatorship persecutes photographers for photography


This video is called Maryam Al-Khawaja on the Struggle for Human Rights in Bahrain.

From Human Rights Watch:

Bahrain: Award-Winning Photographers Targeted

‘This Will Teach You Not to Take Photos’

June 21, 2014

(Beirut) – Authorities in Bahrain are arbitrarily detaining photographers who have covered protests and convicting them in unfair trials. Four award-winning Bahraini photographers are either in jail or facing criminal charges in what appears to be part of a policy that violates photographers’ right to freedom of expression.

On June 22, 2014, Hussain Hubail, who won a 2013 award for his photographs of anti-government protests, will appeal a five-year sentence for taking part in an “illegal gathering” and inciting hatred of the government. On June 25, Ahmed Humaidan, who also took award-winning photos of protests and recently won the 2014 John Aubochon Press Freedom Award, will appeal a 10-year sentence for allegedly attacking a police station. Family members told Human Rights Watch that both were mistreated in pre-trial detention.

“The images that Ahmed Humaidan and Hussain Hubail captured portray a reality that the Bahraini government would prefer that the world – and other Bahrainis – not see,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Throwing photographers in jail isn’t going to keep either the protests or the accounts of what happens in Bahrain out of the world’s sight.”

Authorities have targeted two other award-winning photographers in the last year, and two videographers are also in detention. Other photographers have told Human Rights Watch that security forces targeted them because of their profession and then subjected them to serious mistreatment in custody. The appeal courts should ensure that any allegations that the photographers were tortured in detention are properly investigated and throw out evidence secured by torture, Human Rights Watch said.

Ahmed al-Fardan, a photojournalist whose photograph of protests in Bahrain won first prize in Freedom House’s “Images of Repression and Freedom” competition in April 2013, faces charges of participating in an “illegal gathering” on December 16, 2013, at which 60 people allegedly attacked police vehicles.

Security forces arrested him in the early hours of December 26. “The first question they asked me was, ‘Where is your camera?’” he told Human Rights Watch. He said that police in civilian clothes confiscated two cameras, hard drives, and flash drives from his room. The police took him to Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) headquarters, where police blindfolded and handcuffed him in a cell known as “the freezer,” because it was kept so cold, he said. CID officers and a public prosecutor asked him about his photography awards during interrogations. His first trial session is scheduled for September 14, 2104.

Plain-clothes officers arrested Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi, another award-winning photographer, and his brother Mohamed at 5 a.m. on February 10. They did not present a warrant. Their father, who visits his sons every week, told Human Rights Watch that the two did not make contact with the family for six days. He said that Sayed told him then that interrogators humiliated and beat him and that he signed a confession to avoid further physical and psychological punishment.

Al-Mousawi’s father said that police questioned his son about his work as a photographer. Sayed al-Mousawi began by taking pictures of wildlife, but started taking pictures of protests after the anti-government uprising of February 2011. On May 29, 2014, a judge authorized his detention for a further 45 days, although he has yet to be formally charged.

Another professional photographer who requested anonymity told Human Rights Watch that police arrested him and three other men in the aftermath of a funeral in the town of Jidhafs on January 21, 2012, at which he had been taking photos. He said that police took them to an empty building and beat them with sticks and pipes. He claims that his beating was especially severe because he had been seen taking photos of the funeral. “This will teach you not to take photos,” he said one officer told him.

Videographers Jaffar Marhoon and Qassim Aldeen have also been in detention, since December 26, 2013, and August 2, 2013, respectively. It is not clear what charges Marhoon is facing, although his family told a local source that they believe it to be illegal gathering. Aldeen was sentenced to six months in prison in December on a charge of illegal gathering and to three months in January 2014 on another similar charge.

The former head of the photography department of Al Watan newspaper, Abdullah Hassan, told Human Rights Watch that authorities have been targeting photographers because “photographers have played a leading role in challenging the authorities’ version of events” during and since the anti-government protests of 2011. Hassan said he was fired by the pro-government daily in April 2011, along with three other photojournalists, none of whom have been reinstated.

In May 2011, officers at Riffa police station detained Hassan for six days, during which time he was beaten with a hose and interrogated about his work as a photographer. “Why do you take pictures? Where do you publish them?” an officer who identified himself as “high-ranking” asked Hassan, then told him, “you will never find another job.” Police held him for six days without charge, then released him.

On November 3, 2013, Hassan was hired by Al Ayam newspaper but fired four days later. He was told by the newspaper that the firing was on “orders from above.” He said he has not worked as a photographer since. “I still take photos, but not of demonstrations,” he told Human Rights Watch.

A local journalist, who requested anonymity, said that security forces have detained at least 25 photographers or cameramen since 2011, including the five currently in detention and Ahmed Fardan.

Humaidan’s father told Human Rights Watch that plain-clothes police officers arrested his son as he went into a movie theater on December 29, 2012. Humaidan’s lawyer, Fadel al-Sawad, told Human Rights Watch that he did not see his client until January 14, 2013, two weeks later. At Humaidan’s trial, prosecutors offered no proof linking his client to an attack on Sitra police station and refused to divulge in court the source of their information that Humaidan was involved, the lawyer said. On March 26, 2013, Humaidan was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the alleged attack.

Plain-clothes officers arrested Hubail on July 31, 2013, as he was preparing to board a flight to Dubai. His mother told Human Rights Watch that her son had told her that in the days following his arrest, officers at the CID headquarters blindfolded and handcuffed him behind his back and left him exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time. He told her he signed a confession under duress. On April 28, 2014, he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges that included using social media networks to “incite hatred of the regime,” calling on people to ignore the law, and calling for illegal demonstrations.

The 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry documented that authorities arrested and interrogated an unspecified number of media personnel during the events of February and March 2011, and that two journalists died in police or National Security Agency custody. In April 2012, Ahmed Ismail, a videographer, was fatally shot while filming protests in the town of Salmabad. Later that month, authorities deported a Channel 4 film crew, and in April 2013, they deported another film crew from ITV.

Article 32 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights protects the right to freedom of expression. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain has ratified, also protects this right and indicates that the scope of protection covers photography: “[E]veryone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

One of Bahrain’s most famous human rights activists, Nabeel Rajab, has been freed after two years in prison. He says he is willing to pay the price for freedom in the country: here.

On 13 June, 11 members of Congress – led by Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (D-GA) and John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) – sent a letter to Secretaries Hagel and Kerry encouraging them to play a stronger role in addressing the political upheaval in Bahrain: here.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses concern over the recent escalation of the suppression of the citizens’ freedoms and public authority as a result of several decisions of the House of Representative’s house, including the cancellation of the elected municipal council of the Capital Manama: here.

Bahraini arrested for tweeting, with help of British spyware


This video from Britain is called Bahraini Activist Hails Ruling on HMRC Over Spyware Export.

From Bahrain Watch:

Two years before airport arrest, @Takrooz was favorite target of #Bahrain Cyber Crime Unit

Posted June 19, 2014 by & filed under Spy Watch

On Wednesday, news broke that prolific anti-government Tweep @Takrooz was arrested by authorities upon his return to Bahrain.  His Twitter account, with nearly 18,000 followers and 100,000 tweets, became unavailable after his arrest. Police charged @Takrooz with “inciting hatred against the regime” for his social media activity.  He was beloved by many for his cowboy persona and salty humor.

takroozFor several years, @Takrooz represented himself online with this picture of the Marlboro Man.

Last year, Bahrain Watch revealed that dissidents who apparently clicked on links sent by Bahrain’s Cyber Crime Unit were sentenced to jail for “insulting the King.”  @Takrooz was a favorite target of the Cyber Crime Unit; the Unit sent him at least 24 malicious links that were publicly visible.  We suspect that the Unit sent him further malicious links through private messages.

Most of the links that the Cyber Crime Unit sent to @Takrooz were so-called “IP Spy” links, designed to identify the IP address of a user who clicks on the link.  However, one link was to a file created by the Unit, called “DownAlkhalifa.docx.”  The file is hosted on MediaFire, but cannot be downloaded anymore as it is set to “private.”  Bahrain Watch previously exposed how Bahrain’s government uses such documents to hack activists’ computers, with the aid of a British/German company, now known as FinFisher GmbH.

downalkhalifaA picture of the suspicious file sent to @Takrooz using MediaFire

We have compiled twenty of the tweets that Cyber Crime Unit accounts sent to @Takrooz below.  Warning: the links in the Tweets are IP spy links!  Please do not open them from inside Bahrain, unless you are using a VPN or TOR Browser.

Bahrain torture, day after day


This video is called CNN – Bahrain security forces torture doctors, medics and patients.

From ANSA news agency in Italy:

Bahrain: ‘detainees tortured daily’, study says

Country has the highest percentage of inmates across Mideast

11 June, 13:43

ROME, JUNE 11 – The ordeal of prisoners in Bahrain, the country with the highest percentage of detainees across the entire Middle East, often starts with a police raid in a home or a checkpoint operation which turns into a real abduction, a report published on Wednesday said. The person taken away simply disappears – sometimes for 24 hours or for months, according to the study published by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). Those arrested reportedly find themselves ”locked inside a nightmare”.

In the three years since the beginning of the protest movement in favour of democracy which started in February 2011, the report said, Bahrain‘s prison population has increased exponentially. BCHR reportedly documented thousands of arbitrary detentions, most of which followed forced disappearances, and a long list of human rights violations, including torture.

The list of physical and psychological abuses is long and includes brutal beatings, electrical shock, isolation, sleep deprivation, cold air and exposure to sunlight, sexual harassment, fake drownings, humiliation and no medical treatments. ”Authorities seek the censorship of news by all possible means”, the report also noted, explaining, for example, that lawyers denouncing signs of torture on the bodies of their clients are arrested.

However, testimony provided by hundreds of former inmates and the families of dead prisoners trace a dramatic and inhumane profile of what is going on inside Bahrain’s prisons.

There are four detention centres: the worse, according to those interviewed, is the Central investigative direction (CID).

The Isa Town Women Prison has for the most part a population of female detainees who are foreign workers and don’t speak Arabic nor English and in many cases ignore the reason why they are being detained.

In general, women represent 18.5% of the total prison population.

But the saddest chapter, according to the report jointly drafted by BCHR and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, is the fate of detained minors. Bahrain’s authorities are reportedly keeping minors in unhealthy conditions together with adults, the study said.

Since January, 70 cases of detained children aged 11 or older have been documented. Some of them have been jailed on terrorism charges, the report said.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights publish today a report detailing prison conditions in Bahrain. This report brings the voices of current and former detainees directly to the UN Human Rights Council through first person accounts, and images that have been smuggled out of these prisons. The report will be officially presented today at 5:00 pm CET during the HRC26 side event in Geneva: Bahrain: Empty Promises, Crowded Prisons. A link to the side session can be found below: here.

Bahraini investigations into two recent deaths, including a May 22, 2014 incident in which security forces shot and fatally wounded a 14-year-old boy, should be swift, thorough, and impartial. Authorities should prosecute in good faith anyone found responsible for unlawful use of force in that incident as well as the incident on February 23 that left a 28 year old with injuries that led to his death on April 18. His body remains in the mortuary because his family is refusing to sign a death certificate that makes no mention of the gunshot wounds to the head that doctors told them killed him: here.

Bahraini political prisoners in danger


This video says about itself:

Bahrain: Protest in support of political prisoners, Al Qurayah

[on 1 October 2013]

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

6 June, 2014

Bahrain: Urgent Appeal: Redha AlGhasra at Risk

The BCHR is alarmed by the news relayed by Redha AlGhasra’s family that he is held in cell with an inmate who has Pulmonary Tuberculosis, which is highly infectious. This comes after AlGhasra has already been subjected to different types of harassment, ill-treatment and reported torture.

The family of Redha AlGhasra informed the BCHR that AlGhasra called yesterday, Thursday 05 June 2014, and informed them that an inmate who suffers from Pulmonary Tuberculosis has been placed with him in the cell. Since his arrest, Redha has been in been placed in solitary confinement in a medical isolation ward where he is constantly guarded by Special Forces commandos. He told his family during the visit on 25 May 2014 that he has not been allowed to shave, shower, or obtain personal hygene products since being detained, despite an order from Officer Jassim Al-Mulla on 12 May 2014 that he be allowed to.

The BCHR Medical Consultant said:

“Tuberculosis (TB) is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria is released into the air when the person infected with the disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. People in the vicinity may breathe in this bacteria and get infected. TB in correctional facilities is a public health concern. For example, approximately 4-6% of TB cases reported in the United States occur among people incarcerated at the time of the diagnosis. The incarcerated population contains a high proportion of people at greater risk for TB than the overall population. Without treatment, TB can be fatal. Untreated active disease typically affects lungs, but can spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.”

The BCHR is especially concerned that should Redha AlGhasra be infected with TB, give the systematic denial of access to adequate medical treatment, the infection may be fatal.

Previous BCHR statement on Redha AlGhasra:

–Update 26/05/2014–

Yesterday, 25 May 2014, Redha Al-Ghasra’s family was able to visit Redha in prison for the second time since his arrest on 23 April 2014. Redha’s family reported that they noticed several marks of torture on Redha’s body. They stated that they could see bruising, scratches, and lacerations on his chest that appeared to have not been treated. Redha also reported that he had severe pain in his ear as a result of torture.

Redha was brought to the family visit twenty minutes late. His hands and ankles were shackled and attached together, which did not allow him enough mobility to hold the phone without crouching. The family was not allowed any privacy: Redha and his family were both surrounded by four police officers and because they were separated by a thick glass barrier, they had to conduct their conversation through a phone. The family’s conversation was also broadcasted through speakers in the room.

Since his arrest, Redha has been in been placed in solitary confinement in a medical isolation ward where he is constantly guarded by Special Forces commandos. He told his family that he has not been allowed to shave, shower, or obtain personal hygene products since being detained, despite an order from Officer Jassim Al-Mulla on 12 May 2014 that he be allowed to.

Redha’s sister stated that she had phoned the prison for three consecutive days prior to the family’s first visit, but a police officer reportedly told her that Redha refused to speak to them. During the family’s first visit on 15 May 2014, Redha reported that he had not been permitted to call or have visits.

The family also reported that they deposited money for use at the prison store into Redha’s account on 15 May 2014; however, yesterday the family was informed that the transfer was not completed.

—-

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses grave concern in regards to the health and well-being of Hassan Sabah Al-Banaa, Redha Al-Ghasra, and seven others (listed below) arrested by the Bahraini government on Wednesday, 23 April 2014. Al-Ghasra’s family informed the BCHR that they received a seconds long phone call in which Al-Ghasra was only able to say hello and that he was fine before the line was cut; a member of family reported that Al-Ghasra’s voice sounded very weak. The BCHR has documented a pattern of these types of telephone calls as a common practice during episodes in which the detainees report that they are subjected to torture.

The family protested outside the Criminal Investigations Department on the day of his arrest. Officers outside the building threatened the family, stating that if any pictures of their protest in front of the CID is broadcast, Al-Ghasra will not be allowed to contact them. The photo below, of Al-Ghasra’s mother, is included at the specific request of the family.

Al-Ghasra’s mother

Al-Banaa and Al-Ghasra reportedly escaped from Jaw Central Prison at three o’clock in the morning on Tuesday, 22 April. While serving his prison sentence, Al-Ghasra was reportedly denied rights allocated to other prisoners. He had his hands and feet chained, and was not allowed access to books nor able to purchase supplies from the prison store. During his entire imprisonment period, Al-Ghasra was either in solitary confinement or in a locked cell with two criminal prisoners in a three meter by two and a half meter cell, and not allowed to go outdoors or interact with other political prisoners.

Given the previously documented force used against Al-Ghasra, and the pattern of arrests and subsequent systematic torture documented by the BCHR, the BCHR believes he is at serious risk for ill-treatment and torture. Prior to his 22 May 2013 arrest, Al- Ghasra was arrested twice, once in May 2011 and again in April 2012. During his last arrest, Al-Ghasra refused to speak of the worst torture he endured. However, he did give details including how everyday during his reported torture, all the officers present would spit into his mouth. He was also subjected to beatings on his face that resulted in several broken teeth as well as beating with sandals on his face that resulted in swelling that lasted for approximately two months. The severe swelling was witnessed by his family during their first visit to Al-Ghasra. Al-Ghasra told sources who spoke to the BCHR that during the torture he was subjected to he would reach points during which he “would wish for death.” Even when the torture stopped, he was in continuous pain. From the date of his arrest to the date of his escape, he was not allowed access to any kind of medical treatment.

The Al-Ghasra family has been repeatedly targeted by the authorities. Their home has been subjected to at least 70 house raids in a two-year period [1]. Two of Al-Ghasra’s brothers, Sadiq and Hassan, both under the age of 21, are currently in juvenile prison, and two of his other brothers are exiled and unable to return to Bahrain.

In a video capturing sound reportedly made during his May 2013 arrest, Al-Ghasra can clearly be heard screaming from severe beating. In December 2012, the government’s targeting took a reportedly more serious turn when Al-Ghasra was fired upon by the security forces at close range with shotgun pellets. Both he and his friend, Aqeel Abdulmohsen, were targeted with a gunshot from a close distance that led to his injury in the shoulder, while Aqeel’s face was dramatically injured [2].

Warning: Graphic Content

Link to the photo of Abdulmosheen’s injury.

Bahraini officials also arrested Sayed Mohammed Sayed Mohammed, Ahmed Saeed Ali Zahair, Hassan Ali Hussain, Hussain Jassim Ali Jassim, Sayeed Alawi Sayeed Taleb, Ahmed Maatouq Ebrahim Aliand Jaffar Ali Mattouq, who is blind; all of these individuals were previously wanted by the Bahraini government. Following his arrest, Al-Ghasra’s father and brother were called in for interrogation by in relation to his whereabouts, their lawyer announced hours later their release.

The BCHR believes that due to unsatisfactory prison conditions, previously documented cases of torture and excessive use of force, and psychological intimidation, the lives of Al-Ghasra, Al-Banaa, and the seven other arrestees’ lives are potentially at great risk.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United Kingdom, the United States, and all other close allies of the Bahraini government to pressure the authorities in Bahrain to:

  • Immediately release Al-Ghasra, A-Banaa, and all other prisoners who are held on politically motivated charges due to the ongoing popular protests for freedom and democracy;
  • End the practice of torture and excessive use of force and uphold Article Five as a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  • Adhere to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and end the practice of denying prisoners fair treatment.
  • Not place inmates with highly infectuous diseases in the same cells with other prisoners.

The BCHR holds the Bahraini authorities responsible for the life and well-being of Redha Abdullah Isa Al-Ghasra, Hassan Sabah Al-Banaa, Sayed Mohammed Sayed Mohammed Ahmed Saee Ali Zahair, Hassan Ali Hussain, Hussain Jassim Ali Jassim, Sayeed Alawi Sayeed Taleb, Ahmed Maatouq Ebrahim Ali, and Jaffar Ali Mattouq.

[1] http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/6146

[2]http://manamavoice.com/index.php?plugin=news&act=news_read&id=11436, http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/5551

Britain’s Still Making Excuses for Bahrain: here.

UK-Bahrain Relationship Scrutinized Amid Reports of Human Rights Abuses: here.

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Fifteen years in Bahraini jail for blogging


This video from Bahrain says about itself:

No F1 in Bahrain

7 April 2012

DON’T DRIVE ON OUR BLOOD

85 deaths by security forces since February 2011, in which:

37 suffocation from tear gas
20 shot dead
17 tortured to death (in or out of police station)
10 by birdshot
4 ran over
2 stabbed

At least 7 reported deaths by torture in the prison since 14 Feb 2011, 3 of them after the BICI report.

Total number of people arrested since February 2011: est. 4000

Total number of current detainees est. 600

Total number of sentenced detainees 397 with sentence ranging from 6 to life. One of them on death row.

266 been arrested in 2012, which are all still detained.

2 human rights defenders still imprisoned:

Abdulhadi Alkhwaja (More than 60 days on hunger strike)
Naji Fateel

On average around 15 villages are daily tear gassed as collective punishment

Bahraini security forces continue to engage in the systematic torture of demonstrators in detention centers (formal and informal)

Latest death under torture was Mohamed Ibrahim Yaqoub, who died hours after his arrest on January 27 2012, He was beaten by 15-20 police officers, as reported by eyewitnesses, in the stomach and chest.

Children have been frequently been the target of security force reprisals

Estimated kidnaps are 250 cases

As of March 2012 1776 still remain dismissed

6 students still detained and sentenced by military court to 15 years.

From the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders:

Bahrain: Sentencing in appeal of Mr. Naji Fateel

New information

BHR 001 / 0614 / OBS 049

Sentencing / Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment / Impunity of acts of torture

Bahrain

June 5, 2014

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights about the sentencing in appeal of Mr. Naji Fateel, co-founder of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and blogger, who monitored human rights violations committed during Bahrain’s uprising.

According to the information received, on May 29, 2014, the Court of Appeal headed by Judge Isa Al-Kaabi upheld a 15-year imprisonment sentence against Mr. Naji Fateel on charges of “establishing […] a group for the purpose of […] disabling the Constitution” under Article 6 of Law No. 58 of 2006 on Terrorism[1]. The charges relate to the alleged terrorist group known as the “February 14 Youth Coalition”, which organised demonstrations and protests during Bahrain’s uprising.

No evidence against Mr. Fateel was provided during the trial. The sentence was solely based on coerced confessions made under torture and without thoroughly and impartially investigating the allegations of torture which the defender was subjected to during his detention (see background information). During a hearing, Mr. Naji Fateel removed his shirt and showed the torture marks on his back; however, it was totally ignored by the court.

Mr. Naji Fateel will appeal the decision to the Court of Cassation. His lawyer also filed a complaint before the Supreme Judicial Council arguing that the trial proceedings fell short of the minimum standards of fair trial. Mr. Naji Fateel is currently detained [in] the Central Prison “Jaw” where reports continue to emerge of overcrowded cells and dire conditions.

The Observatory recalls that other BYSHR members are also subjected to ongoing judicial harassment, including Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati, BYSHR President[2].

The Observatory condems the sentencing and arbitrary detention of Mr. Naji Fateel, which merely aim at curtailing his human rights activities, and calls upon the Bahraini authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally. The Observatory also notes that several human rights defenders remain in arbitrary detention or are subject to judicial harassment in the country.

Background information[3]:

On May 2, 2013, Mr. Naji Fateel was arrested at dawn without warrant by security men in civilian clothes at his home in the village of Bani-Jamra and held incommunicado for three days, during which time it is reported that he was severely tortured. He was allegedly subjected to severe torture at the Criminal Investigation Directorate. Reports allege that he was subjected to electrical shocks to his genitals, left foot and back in addition to simulated drowning, severe beatings, threats to publish his wife’s photographs (taken from a camera confiscated by the security forces when his house was raided), insults, hanging by his hands from the ceiling, sexual harassment and threats of rape, standing for hours, and sleep deprivation. He was taken to the Ministry of Interior hospital twice for treatment due to the torture. Mr. Naji Fateel was detained in Dry Dock Detention Centre.

On May 22, 2013, Mr. Naji Fateel was sentenced by the Manama Criminal Court to six months of imprisonment on charges of “attending illegal gatherings” in relation to a gathering organised on January 24, 2012 in Bani-Jamra in which he did not participate. He was charged in another case with the establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the Constitution under Article 6 of the controversial Terrorism Act.

On September 29, 2013, Mr. Naji Fateel was sentenced by the Fourth Criminal Court to 15 years in prison for “the establishment of a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution” under Article 6 of the Terrorism Act. Mr. Naji Fateel was then moved to the Central Prison “Jaw”.

On November 18, 2013, when the appeal trial against Mr. Naji Fateel started, the authorities of Bahrain denied entry to a lawyer who was mandated by a coalition of NGOs, including the Observatory, to observe the appeal trial.

In February 2014, one of the lawyers in the case said that 90% of their questions to the prosecution witnesses were rejected by the judge, and a policeman forcefully silenced a lawyer during his pleadings. Another lawyer was thrown out of the court room although he represented five of the defendants in the case.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Bahrain urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Naji Fateel, all BYSHR members as well as all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Release Mr. Naji Fateel immediately and unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment against Mr. Naji Fateel, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Messrs. Naji Fateel, all BYSHR members as well as all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, Article 11, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exercise of his or her occupation or profession”, Article 12(1) that provides “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

Addresses:

· Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587

· Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; fax: +973 172 12 6032

· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; fax: +973 175 31 284

· Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: info@bahrain-mission.ch

***

Paris-Geneva, June 5, 2014

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] Article 6 provides that “life imprisonment shall be the penalty for everyone who forms, establishes, organizes or operates, contrary to the provisions of the law, a society, association, organization, group, gang or a branch of any of the above or undertakes the leadership or command thereof for the purpose of calling for obstructing the enforcement of the provisions of the Construction or the laws or preventing any of the government organizations or public authorities from carrying out their activities or infringes upon the citizen’s personal freedom or other freedoms or public rights secured by the Constitution, the law or undermines national unity if terrorism is one of the methods used in the realization or implementation of the purposes called for by the society, association, organization, group or gang or any of their branches”.

[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal BHR 003 / 0613 / OBS 052.1, issued on October 31, 2013.

[3] See Joint Press Releases, June 21 and November 15, 2013.

Bahrain: 15 Year-Old Child Detained and Denied Education: here.

There are few authoritarian regimes that enjoy as much political support from the UK as the one in Bahrain. Bahraini opposition groups are threatening to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections unless democracy can be guaranteed, but the UK has only increased its public support for the brutal and oppressive dictatorship: here.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses serious concern in regards to the practice by the Public Prosecution in Bahrain in bringing new charges against detainees to avoid releasing them. In the most recent case, Mansoor AlJamri, 19 years old, had a new case brought against him yesterday, and according to information relayed to the BCHR by the family, the Public Prosecution ordered that he be detained for 60 days pending investigation under the internationally criticized Terrorism Law: here.

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