Kim Kardashian and Bahrain human rights violations

One of the Bahraini children killed during a protest last year

Kim Kardashian in Santa Monica, California on May 13, 2009 at Maxim's 10th Annual Hot 100 Celebration

From the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights:

Bahrain: Open Letter to Mrs. Kim Kardashian

29th November 2012

Dear Ms. Kardashian,

My name is Maryam Alkhawaja, and I am writing in my capacity as the Acting President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) [our work has been recognized by a number of international human rights bodies over the last few years- see below]. I am pleased that you’ll be visiting Bahrain, and that you’re interested in using your celebrity to “raise awareness about important issues in the area”. It is admirable that you will take time to meet with local leaders during your busy trip. International human rights organizations have only faced difficulties in entering Bahrain, and since you have listed this as a priority, we’d like to extend an invitation to you to meet with local human rights defenders, who have been documenting Bahrain’s deplorable human rights violations since the unrest started two years ago.

The revolution in Bahrain began on 14 February 2011, and for the past two years the struggle for human rights and dignity has been faced with a violent crackdown. Although not everyone may have heard of the revolution, Bahrain is well known for its Grand Prix and the Bahrain International Air Show. This is because the government of Bahrain want you to believe that the country is merely the home of exciting business opportunities and a modern, new Middle East. No matter how they spin it, Bahrain has had at least 84 people killed since February 2011 and more than 80 children arrested in just the past several months. People have even been arrested for things they’ve said on Twitter. I don’t know about you, but I’d hardly call that modern.

If you are, as was reported, planning to meet with ‘local leaders’, we hope that you take time during your trip to learn about abuses that have largely been ignored by the international community. Given your fame, it is impossible for your trip to remain apolitical. This is because it will be used to demonstrate to the international community that everything in Bahrain is fine. We can assure you that unfortunately everything is not fine, and that your celebrity status is likely to be used in order to distract the global public from Bahrain’s human rights violations. We are delighted to hear you will be meeting local leaders, and the BCHR would be happy to help arrange those for you.

For more information on human rights abuses in Bahrain, please visit our website and our latest report. If you’re interested in arranging meetings, please let me know.

Best regards,

Maryam Al-Khawaja

Acting President – BCHR

BCHR and its staff have been the recipients of:

The Woodrow Wilson Award, Freedom House’s Freedom Award, the Baldwin Medal, the Martin Ennals Shortlist, the Stieg Larsson Prize, the Index on Censorship Award for Advocacy.

Bahrain: call for release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and 12 other jailed activists: here.

From Education International:

Bahrain: Trade unionist released from prison (29 November 2012)

EI welcomed the release from prison of Jalila Al-Salman, the acting President of the Bahraini Teachers’ Association (BTA), on 25 November.
BTU President Mahdi Abu Dheeb

Her colleague, Mahdi Abu Dheeb, the BTA President, is nevertheless still serving five years in the Jaw prison.

Mahdi and Jalila were condemned, respectively, to 10 and three years in prison by a military court in September 2011. The verdict was upheld by the Manama Court on 21 October, but the sentences were reduced to five years and six months respectively.

Jalila had been unjustly detained on false charges, for simply exercising her right to freedom of assembly and demanding reforms in the educational system in Bahrain.

Rights violations

Many serious human and trade union rights issues remain to be tackled in Bahrain, and violations of basic trade union rights need to be addressed.

EI deeply regrets that Jalila’s time in prison occurred under difficult conditions.

In addition, Mahdi was denied medical treatment required by his doctor, as well as medical tools provided by his family following doctors’ orders. As a result, his back and knees are in a bad and worsening condition.

EI: Fight continues

“While EI cautiously welcomes Jalila’s release, it reminds us that we still have to fight hard for Mahdi to assume his rightful place as a leader of the Bahraini Teachers’ Association,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.

“While welcoming this important step forward, EI, on behalf of its member organisations around the world, once again calls on Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally set Mahdi free,” he added.

This release is the result of international pressure exerted by EI and its affiliates worldwide, a clear signal that international solidarity is crucial to help Mahdi, unjustly detained, be released.

EI encourages its affiliates and concerned citizens to continue giving visibility to both appeals on the EI and Labour start websites.

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