Bahraini photographer gets ten years jail for photography


This video says about itself:

France 24: Bahrain Juveniles Under Crossfire & Toxic Gas

23 April 2013

Program produced by France 24 Arabic Channel about what minors in Bahrain suffer from, it shows how security forces storm schools and arrest students. It also highlights the story of a 5-years-old boy who had been shot with a shotgun which struck his eye. Ahmed Al-Nahham’s eye was removed, his testimony about what happeded to him.

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

15 April, 2014

Bahrain: 10 Years in Prison for Photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan after an Unfair Trial

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern about the Bahraini authorities’ continued practice of arbitrary arrests and excessive use of force against journalists, photographers, and human rights activists. On Wednesday, 26 March 2014, the Third High Court issued a 10-year prison sentence against photographer Ahmed Humaidan [1] in a trial that lacked due process.

A reputed freelance photographer, Humaidan has won 163 awards internationally for his contributions to the field. After his arrest for alleged arson in December 2012, he stated that he suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of the torture he was reportedly subjected to by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) [2]. Humaidan was reportedly subjected to various methods of torture, including being forced to stand in a cold room for hours whilst handcuffed and blindfolded. Humaidan informed his family that while he was blindfolded and handcuffed at the CID, he was reportedly forced to carry an object that his interrogators told him was a live bomb. He was made to hold the object for several hours under duress and strict surveillance. Additionally, Humaidan stated that he was psychologically intimidated during questioning in order to extract a false confession. Interrogators reportedly threatened to bring charges against his siblings on fabricated crimes if he refused to confess.

Fadhel Al-Sawad, Humaidan’s lawyer, stated that no incriminating evidence was presented in court against Humaidan, except for the confessions that were reportedly extracted under torture and reports from anonymous sources from within the CID. Humaidan was subjected to an unjustified delay in his trial that continued for more than a year because key witnesses from the Ministry of Interior evaded and declined to attend the court proceedings for six months. There were numerous inconsistencies in witness testimony throughout the trial, particularly in regards to the location of the alleged crime [3]. Although Al-Sawad submitted substantial evidence in support of Humaidan’s innocence during the year-long trial, the court delivered the maximum sentence against Humaidan, whilst simultaneously acquitting two fugitive defendants that lacked defense and proof of innocence [4]. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights considers the decisions of this court to be arbitrary, and politically motivated.

The BCHR has documented attacks on photographers and journalists since the beginning of the pro-democracy movement in 2011. More than ten members of the media have been sentenced to prison [5]; some of them were reportedly subjected to torture. The blogger Zakariya Al-Ashairi [6] was documented in the BICI report as having been tortured to death. Others have faced extrajudicial killings, including photographer Ahmed Ismail Hasan [7]. During the three-month state of emergency in 2011, several photographers and members of the media were documented to have been summarily dismissed from their jobs and arrested during house raids; their families were reportedly intimidated, and some of their personal photography equipment was reportedly stolen. The government has failed to independently investigate these incidents, and has failed to hold the perpetrators of these acts accountable. On the contrary, in a recent case, the police officer Sara Al-Moussa [8] was acquitted of all charges in which she reportedly tortured the journalist Nazeeha Saeed (see: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/6260).

The authorities in Bahrain continue similar practices today. Many members of the media, including photographers such as Ahmed Fardan and Jaffar Madhoon, are subjected to enforced disappearance and reportedly tortured in order to extract false confessions [9]. Others, such as photographer Hussein Hubail and blogger Jassim Al-Noaimi, are reportedly subjected to torture, and then denied access to adequate medical attention [10]. The Bahraini authorities also target specific members of the press, such as journalist Mazen Mahdi and photographer Mohammed Al-Sheikh. On 26 February 2014, Mahdi was shot directly in the leg with a tear gas canister while filming a protest. The angle at which the shot was fired and the deliberate aiming of teargas directly at photojournalists confirms that the targeting was specific and intentional [11].

International human rights institutions and organizations have condemned the practice of targeting photographers and members of the media and subjecting them to enforced disappearance and torture. Reporters Without Borders has condemned the government’s practice of using arbitrary arrests as a means of intimidation to restrict the flow of information out of Bahrain [12].

Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, United Nations and all close allies to the government of Bahrain to pressure Bahraini authorities to:

Immediately release Ahmed Humaidan and all other arbitrarily arrested members of the media and photographers;
Uphold Article 19 concerning the freedom of expression as a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
End the systematic targeting of photographers, journalists, and bloggers, and allow all members of the media to carry on their work free from restrictions and harassment;
Commission an independent investigation into the allegations against those implicated in human rights violations and acts of torture against imprisoned photographers, journalists, and bloggers.

—-

[1] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4219/news/read/870181/1.html

[2] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/5608

[3] http://manamavoice.com/news-news_read-19338-0.html

[4] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3803/news/read/735384/1.html

[5] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/6771

[6] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/5737

[7] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/5143

[8] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3943/news/read/787380/1.html

[9] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/6683

[10] http://bchr.hopto.org/ar/node/6609

[11] http://www.bahrainpa.org/?p=199

[12] http://en.rsf.org/bahrain-news-photographer-gets-10-years-in-26-03-2014,46046.html

[13] http://www.alwasatnews.com/3773/news/read/728056/1.html

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Free Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja


This video from Ireland says about itself:

On September 15, 2011 more than 130 human rights defenders from over 80 countries protested outside the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Dublin, Ireland for the freedom of their colleague Abdulhadi Al Khawaja from Bahrain.

From the International Federation for Human Rights:

9 April 2014

BAHRAIN: Third Anniversary of Arrest: Calls for the Release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

The undersigned civil society organizations express their serious concern for the health and well-being of imprisoned Bahraini human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja. Mr. Al-Khawaja was arrested three years ago today, on 9 April 2011, and continues to require medical attention for injuries sustained during his arrest and subsequent torture.

Former president and co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Mr. Al-Khawaja was sentenced to life in prison in June 2011 by a military court as part of a group of human rights activists and political leaders known as the Bahrain 13. We believe that Mr. Al-Khawaja is being unjustly persecuted for his legitimate human rights activity.

In its September 2012 decision, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Mr. al-Khawaja’s arrest was due to his exercise of the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. According to the Working Group, the charges against Mr. al-Khawaja—including membership in a terrorist organization— were “vague” and “raise doubts as to the actual purpose of detention.” The Working Group also concluded that throughout Mr. Al-Khawaja’s arrest, detention, and trial, “the Government violated numerous international norms to the right to fair trial.”

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) further concluded that Mr. Al-Khawaja was subjected to torture and inhumane treatment during his arrest and detention. Mr. Al-Khawaja was severely beaten, resulting in a broken jaw, and later spent two months in solitary confinement where he was subjected to physical, psychological and sexual torture. A full testimony from Mr. Al-Khawaja regarding his torture can be found here.

Mr. Al-Khawaja continues to be denied adequate medical attention and suffers from severe medical complications as a result of his mistreatment in detention. Mr. Al-Khawaja has reported that he has cramps in his facial muscles from metal plates and screws that were set in his jaw after it was broken by security officials in four places in 2011. Mr. Al-Khawaja also continues to experience acute pain due to an injury to his coccyx sustained during torture in 2011.

Mr. Al-Khawaja and his family have repeatedly requested that the various operations he is in need of are performed by an independent doctor due to legitimate concerns about the impartiality of the doctor appointed by the Bahrain Defense Force Hospital, Dr. Al-Muharraqi, who in 2011 stated that Mr. Al-Khawaja was not subjected to torture. It is also deeply alarming that during his most recent examination, Dr. Al-Muharraqi informed Mr. Al- Khawaja that his entire medical file had gone missing from the system. Mr Al-Khawaja’s lawyers have been requesting a copy of his medical files since 2011, as it would serve as evidence of the multiple injuries and medical conditions caused by torture.

Despite his incarceration, Mr. Al-Khawaja and his colleagues continue to be the target of defamation campaigns. On the 27 February, 2014, a 12 minute video published on YouTube accused Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, BCHR President Nabeel Rajab and BCHR Acting President Maryam Al-Khawaja of inciting terrorism, “taking the country hostage” and branding them as racists. The video included footage that could have only been obtained from official authorities, including the use of an interview with a police officer which requires the approval of the Ministry of Interior. The video unjustly targets the four human rights defenders as a result of their legitimate activities and could be seen to incite violence against them given the accusations presented.

In an attempt to test the legal procedures of combating defamation of human rights defenders in Bahrain, Mr. Al-Khawaja submitted a complaint to the Jaw Prison Administration which was then submitted to the Public Prosecutor in response to a degrading article about Mr. Al-Khawaja published on 28 May 2013 in the Gulf Daily News (GDN). In response, the GDN published a letter on 22 May 2013 accusing Mr. Al-Khawaja of “instruct[ing] rioters to attack military bases in Bahrain and is one of the master planners for an armed military coup.” Nearly a year later, no steps have been taken to address Mr. Al-Khawaja’s complaint.

The undersigned civil society organizations call for the immediate and unconditional release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja as well as immediate access to independent medical examination and treatment. In addition, we urge the Bahraini authorities to cease harassment and persecution of human rights defenders including unwarranted defamation campaigns.

The co-signed organizations are:

AMAN Network for Rehabilitation and Defending Human Rights
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO)
Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS)
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
Bahrain Interfaith
Bahrain Rehabilitation and Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO)
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
CEARTAS – Irish Lawyers for Human Rights
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
European Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR)
Front Line Defenders
Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR)
Gulf Civil Society Associations Forum (GCSAF)
Human Rights First (HRF)
International Media Support (IMS)
Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC)
LuaLua Center for Human Rights (LCHR)
No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ)
PEN American Center
Pen International
The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)
The National Lawyers Guild International Committee
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT)
Tunisian Initiative for Freedom of Expression
Vivarta

On 3 April 2014 a Bahraini Court of Appeal ruled to uphold a sentence of one year’s imprisonment issued by the Third Criminal Court in Bahrain against human rights defender and medic Dr Saeed Al Samahiji: here.

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the 30-month jail sentence that a Bahraini court passed on the blogger Ali Maaraj on 8 April on charges of “insulting the king” and “improper handling of information technology”: here.

Someone should really write a book or paper about why the majority of Bahrain’s security forces are comprised of foreign nationals. I mean there is something really strange about a regime that needs to import people to defend it.  On a similar note, here‘s an article in AlAkbar about political naturalization in Bahrain. Again why is it that the Bahraini regime feels the need to change the demographics of the country? What kind of regime simply wants to replace its own citizens? Here.

While there are differences in tone and length (the UK barely fills a side, while the U.S. version is 49 pages long), both of the reports from Bahrain’s two strongest western allies are critical of the regime’s failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice. The UK report agrees with the U.S. assessment that there are problems around impunity for Bahrain’s security forces “…regarding the accountability of police personnel, and the investigation and sentencing of those alleged to have committed torture and mistreatment”. The criticism in the UK report, however, is generally tepid, saying with predictable understatement that “…some areas of reform have been slower than we would have hoped”: here.

Bahrain Watch expresses its serious concern about a new $20 million contract between the Economic Development Board and PR firms Bell Pottinger and Consulum, signed amid ongoing human rights abuses.  This latest deal, to “restore [Bahrain’s] global reputation as a business-friendly haven,” brings the total value of the government’s contracts with Western PR firms since 2011 to $50 million, as documented by Bahrain Watch.  The bid by the two companies first came to light through a posting on the Tender Board’s website last year.  PR spending since 2011 has served to whitewash the government’s human rights abuses and failure to reform: here.

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Bahraini dictatorship and Formula One racing


Bahraini pro-democracy demonstrators. A Bahraini protester raises a sign against the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix during a protest in Saar, Bahrain, Friday, April 4, 2014. Tens of thousands of Bahraini anti-government protesters carrying signs and images of political prisoners waved national flags and signs against the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix, which is being held Sunday in the Gulf island kingdom. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

From Associated Press:

Thousands rally in Bahrain ahead of auto race

April 4, 2014 2:59 PM EDT

MANAMA, Bahrain — Thousands have marched in the streets of Bahrain to voice their opposition to this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix auto race.

Witnesses say protesters Friday carried banners and chanted slogans against the government and the Formula One race, the tiny island kingdom’s biggest international event of the year. Practice runs for Sunday’s race went ahead amid tight security.

Groups of anti-government activists clashed with police following the largely peaceful rally outside the capital, Manama, hurling gasoline bombs and blocking roadways with tires.

Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. The country has witnessed more than three years of unrest following a Shiite-led uprising calling for reforms and greater political freedoms from the Sunni monarchy.

Journalism in Bahrain

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

4 April, 2014

Joint Statement – Bahrain: Bahrain Racing in Circles

Press freedom campaign launch timed to Formula One race in Bahrain

New York and Paris, April 3[tk], 2014—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have launched a joint social media campaign calling on the Bahraini government to allow journalists to work freely during the Formula One Grand Prix race in Bahrain on April 6, 2014. Using the social media tool Thunderclap, the “Bahrain Racing in Circles” campaign participants will call for press freedom in Bahrain at the exact start of the Formula One race. As of April 2, the campaign had gained a potential audience of 2.6 million people, twice the population of Bahrain.

“It’s clear that it’s not only F1 cars that are racing circles in Bahrain, as we see the same cycle of protests, repression, and censorship every year,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Every year, the Bahraini government hopes the roar of Formula One cars will drown out criticism of the regime’s human rights violations,” said Soazig Dollet, head of RSF’s Middle East and North Africa desk. “This year, we’re calling on everyone to join our F1 campaign to make sure that does not happen.”

CPJ and RSF have documented a consistent attempt by the Bahraini government to censor the press since the launch of a mass protest movement on February 14, 2011. Most recently, on March 26, freelance photographer Ahmed Humaidan was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on charges of attacking a police station in 2012. Humaidan was at the station to document the incident as part of his coverage of unrest in the country.

To get more information and to join the campaign, please visit the campaign website here.

### CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.
Reporters Without Borders promotes and defends the freedom to be informed and to inform others throughout the world

Media contacts:

New York, USA:
Samantha Libby
Communications Associate
Committee to Protect Journalists
slibby@cpj.org
212-300-9032. Ext 124

Paris, France:
Soazig Dollet
Head of Middle East and North Africa Desk
Reporters Without Borders
Tel: 33 1 44 83 84 78
Email: moyen-orient@rsf.org

On the morning of the Grand Prix race which will take place today at 6pm in Sakhir; BCHR (Bahrain Center for Human Rights), BIRD (Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy) and BYSHR (Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights), note their concern for the growing violations against civilians in Bahrain: here.

Thousands Protest for Democracy in Bahrain: here.

Bahrain: Shooting Victim Sentenced to 15 Years; Attacker Enjoys Impunity: here.

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Marital rape legal in Bahrain


This video says about itself:

3 April 2013

Footage has emerged of Bahraini police throwing stun grenades at two women and a young child in the town of Al-Malkiyah on 31 March. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights say the women were targeted for being protesters.

From IANS news agency:

Suggestion on spousal rape opposed in Bahrain

Manama, March 10, 2014

Last Updated at 14:26 IST

Bahrain‘s top legal authority’s suggestion that spousal rape should not be treated as crime has been opposed, local media reported.

The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) last Tuesday suggested that husbands who force themselves on their wives should not be prosecuted. Also, it said, the men who “reasonably” discipline their wives and daughters should be considered above the law. …

“Rape is rape, regardless of who the victim is. There is still a lack of understanding in this region about the rights of women in abusive relationships. The last thing we want is for a rapist husband to use the law as a shield against being charged with rape,” the Gulf Daily News quoted Batelco Care Centre for Family Violence Cases head Sharifa Swar as saying.

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Bahraini minor shot, jailed without charges and medical care


This video says about itself:

Maryam Al Khawaja on Bahrain‘s “inconvenient revolution”

22 Feb 2014

On the anniversary of the third year of protests in Bahrain, Maryam Al Khawaja, a Bahraini human rights activist, discusses the continuing stalemate with the pro-democracy movement, the conditions of a purported 3,000 political prisoners, including her own family members, and the geopolitical realities of the what she calls the inconvenient revolution. Video and interview by Multimedia Journalist Preethi Nallu with The Atlantic Post.

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

9 March, 2014

Bahrain: Urgent Appeal: Minor Shot by Police detained without Charges and Without Access to Adequate Medical Care

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is seriously concerned about the health and well being of Sadeq Jaffar AlAsfoor, 17 year-old, who has been in detention since the 8th of January 2014. AlAsfoor, who was shot at time of arrest, reported that he is experiencing pain in his stomach to the extent that he is unable to eat, but his condition is being ignored by the authorities.

On Wednesday, 08 January 2014, AlAsfoor was visiting a released prisoner in the village of Markh, Bahrain with three others. Witnesses reported that they heard the authorities open fire with live ammunition on the four young men as they left. All four of them were subjected to enforced disappearance, with one of the victims, Fadhel Abbas, reported dead 18 days after the incident (read BCHR report on http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6727).

Following this incident, AlAsfoor was subjected to enforced disappearance for over 15 days, and his family were not certain if their son was alive, despite making inquiries at the public prosecution and the police station. His father was told that there are no criminal cases lodged against Sadiq in the police electronic system.

His family was finally allowed to briefly see him at the prisoner’s clinic of the Ministry of the Interior, on Friday January 24, 2014. The visit took place with security presence and with restrictions on their talk limited to his medical condition. Sadeq AlAsfoor’s family was made aware that he was injured in his kidneys, stomach, and back. It was not clear how many bullets were removed from his body.

On 20 February 2014, AlAsfoor received detention order of 37 days in custody pending investigation. He was moved on the same day to the Dry Docks prison despite his injury and need for proper medical care. The lawyer appointed by the family in this case has not been able to contact Alasfoor to date or to get concurrent information on his charges.

AlAsfoor’s family visited him on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at the Dry Docks prison and they reported that he appeared fatigued. He complained to his family about bad prison conditions.

On the 05th of March 2014, AlAsfoor contacted his family via telephone and informed them that he is experiencing severe stomach pain. AlAsfoor stated that he requested to be transferred to the hospital, but was informed that he was put on a wait list. He reported that the pain was so intense that he is unable to eat. He added that he was having difficulty walking because of problems with his leg, and that on a previous visit to the prison clinic, the doctor ignored AlAsfoor’s reports of stomach pain.

The BCHR is seriously concerned about the health and well being of Sadeq Jafar AlAsfoor, who is detained without any clear charges, particularly considering the reports of lack of medical care in prisons that has led to deaths in custody the last being Jaffar AlDurazi who passed away last month.

Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other close allies and relevant institutions to apply pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:

Immediately and unconditionally release Sadiq AlAsfoor along with all other prisoners who are held on politically motivated charges because of the ongoing popular protests for freedom and democracy.

Immediately allow access to adequate medical treatment for all prisoners, political and not political, as stated in Article (22) of the “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners: “Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.”

As the world celebrates the International Women’s Day on March 8th, the Bahraini women are subjected to various forms of persecution and oppression and that has not stopped since February 14, 2011. Early 2014, Asma Hussein passed away after witnessing a terrifying home raid by the security forces, making the number of female martyrs to around 31 since 2011: here.

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Bahrain, Formula One racing and human rights violations


This video is called Former CNN journalist Amber Lyon & Joe Rogan talk about Bahrain dictatorship.

From the Committee to Protect Journalists:

Bahrain racing in circles

By Jason Stern/CPJ Middle East and North Africa Research Associate

Thursday, the official Bahrain News Agency announced the “final 30-day countdown [to] the Formula One extravaganza” to take place the first week of April. Every year the race acts as a lightning rod for criticism of the Bahraini government, which seeks to use high-profile international events like the F1 to gloss over human rights violations in the country.

So perhaps it’s all too predictable that another journalist was arrested in Bahrain only a few hours before the BNA article went to press. Freelance photojournalist Sayed Baqer Al-Kamil was arrested at a checkpoint west of Manama sometime in the early morning hours, according to news reports and his colleagues. It is not clear why he was arrested, but Al-Kamil has meticulously documented the protest movement in Bahrain.

In another recent case, Bahraini security forces arrested photographer Sayed Ahmed Al-Mosawi and his brother in a house raid the morning of February 10, according to news reports.  Al-Mosawi was transferred to the Dry Dock prison after several days of interrogation about his work. The journalist, who has won international recognition for his photographs, told his family in a phone call from prison that he had been tortured through beatings and electrocution, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Al-Kamil and Al-Mosawi join at least three other journalists behind bars in Bahrain, the second worst country in the world for journalists imprisoned per capita, according to CPJ research.

The blast came as Al Sinan was covering clashes between riot police and protesters from a funeral procession of a Bahraini inmate who died last month in custody. The government said the inmate, Jaffar Al-Durazi, died from complications of sickle cell anemia, but opposition groups said he was subjected to torture and medical negligence.

It is not clear who carried out the attack on the security forces, with at least two groups claiming responsibility on Facebook, according to Bahrain scholar Marc Owen Jones. Bahrain’s major opposition and human rights groups condemned the attack and urged Bahrainis to end the cycle of violence.

In a photograph of the attack captured by EPA photojournalist Mazen Mahdi, riot police grimace from tear gas as one of their comrades lay wounded in the street. A few days prior, on February 26, Mahdi accused the police of aiming deliberately at journalists after he had been shot in the leg by a teargas canister while covering protests in Daih. He was not seriously injured.

Mahdi and other journalists have faced consistent harassment from security forces attempting to limit coverage of opposition demonstrations, according to CPJ research. The independent Bahrain Press Association reported that Associated Press photographer Hassan Jamali has been unable to cover protests since his press credentials were confiscated by security forces on February 12.

None of this is new for Bahrain. In the past three years, CPJ has documented the arrest, torture, assault and sadly even death of journalists. …

Yet the pace of violations seem to be accelerating, especially as the Bahrain government collects more local freelance journalists in its prisons and frustration on the street grows stronger. As Gulf expert Christopher Davidson recently tweeted, “Bahrain looking more tense now than for a long time.” With a political solution no closer, despite repeated rounds of political dialogue since 2011, I fear those tensions will lead to even greater restrictions on the press.

It appears not only F1 cars are racing in circles in Bahrain.

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No Formula 1 in dictatorial Bahrain, activists say


This video is called Bahrain capital of torture.

From ANSA news agency in Italy:

Suspend Bahrain Formula 1 say human rights NGOs

NGOs call for urgent visit by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

05 March, 16:14

ROME, MARCH 5 – Human rights NGOs on January 14 urged the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to suspend the 2014 Formula One Grand Prix scheduled from April 4-6 in Bahrain, where a Sunni minority rules a Shiite majority with an iron fist.

The decision to hold the Formula One Grand Prix in the monarchy has provided the Bahraini government with ”the pretext to increase its systematic crackdown on protesters, journalists and human rights defenders.

As such, FIA bears “a unique ethical and moral responsibility to safeguard the integrity and reputation of motor sport worldwide by cancelling the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix until such abuses cease to exist”, human rights activists said.

Activists pointed to the direct correlation between intensified crackdowns on civilians and protesters during previous Formula One events in the country, with restrictive measures such as enclosing entire villages in barbed wire, setting up an excessive amount of police checkpoints, firing tear gas into residential areas, and jailing protesters.

In 2012, security forces killed protester Salah Abbas Habib on the first day of the Bahrain Grand Prix. There are currently more than 3,000 political prisoners behind bars in Bahrain, and there is no indication that such measures will not be used again during the 2014 Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, according to the NGOs.

The letter to FIA President Jean Todt was signed by Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the Bahrain Institutes for Rights and Democracy, Bahrain Watch, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, and the European Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights.

FIA has yet to reply, human rights activists said, adding that in addition to targeting protesters, the Bahraini government’s restriction on free speech has led to the ongoing practice of denying journalists access to the country.

Journalists denied access to or deported from Bahrain during the Grand Prix include a news crew from UK Channel 4, who were deported in 2012, and an ITN news team, who were deported in 2013.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is presided by Nabeel Rajab, who has been in prison since July 9, 2012. He is serving a two-year sentence for protesting the government’s human rights violations, according to the NGO’s website.

It is also presided by Maryam al-Khawaja, whose father Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has been sentenced to life in prison and who carried out a long hunger strike during the 2012 Formula One.

The 2011 Formula One was cancelled due to Arab Spring protests in Bahrain, which saw the Shiite majority demand more democratic rights, and which was quelled in blood with the help of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) troops.

Three years after that bloody crackdown and the repression of dissent that followed, the same NGOs on March 4 called on the international community to pressure Bahrain to grant the right to self-determination, the right to protest peacefully, and freedom of expression.

The human rights activists also asked for a UN-supervised independent commission of inquiry into suspicious deaths that have occurred since 2011, and called on the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to urgently visit the country. The call follows on the death in police custody of a protester, Jaffar al-Durazi, in the village of Daih, on the outskirts of Manama, which was followed by a March 3 bomb attack that killed an Emirati officer and two policemen during clashes between security forces and Shiite protesters, according to media reports.

The government responded by arresting 25 people and announcing it will give no quarter in its fight against terrorism. ”We do not justify violence under any circumstance, but we believe no form of violence justifies further violations of human rights”, the NGOs said in their appeal.

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Will Bahrain regime arrest human rights activist again?


This May 2012 video from the USA is called Freed Bahraini Activists Nabeel Rajab & Zainab Alkhawaja Urge End to U.S.-Backed Crackdown.

That was then. Meanwhile, the Bahrain royal dictatorship has jailed Nabeel Rajab for life. And they have jailed Zainab Al Khawaja, released her recently, and may jail her again.

From The Peninsula daily in Qatar:

Bahraini activist fears re-arrest

February 19, 2014 – 5:07:14 am

Manama: A Bahraini activist recently released from prison has told Amnesty International she fears she may be rearrested when she attends court this week to face further spurious charges.

Zainab Al Khawaja was released on Sunday but is due to appear in court again today in two separate cases.

The Bahraini authorities must not place Zainab Al Khawaja behind bars yet again. Her release this week was long overdue,” said Said Boumedoua, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“She has long been a thorn in the side of the Bahraini government, who have repeatedly found excuses to ensure she remains locked up in order to silence her.”

In the first case, Zainab Al Khawaja is accused of destroying government property after she ripped up a picture of the Bahraini King while she was detained in a women’s detention centre in ‘Issa Town on May 4 and 6, 2012. In the second, she is accused of insulting a police officer after she defended a prisoner that she claims was humiliated in front of her in June 2013.

“The authorities must take urgent steps to clear Zainab Al Khawaja’s name once and for all. Her convictions must be overturned and all outstanding charges dropped as a matter of urgency,” said Said Boumedouha.

Zainab Al Khawaja spent nearly a year in jail serving several short sentences for an array of different charges before being released on Sunday. These included destroying government property, insulting a policewoman, illegal gathering and rioting, and inciting hatred against the regime, among others.

She told Amnesty International that during her incarceration additional restrictions were placed on her when she went on hunger strike in March 2013. The prison authorities responded by denying her family visits or phone calls to her lawyer. The restrictions ended when she finished the strike.

Amnesty International had designated her a prisoner of conscience held solely for peacefully exercising her rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and repeatedly called for her unconditional release.

Zainab Al Khawaja and her family are among many activists who have been targeted by the Bahraini authorities’ crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly in an effort to stamp out all dissent since the 2011 uprising.

“Activists must be allowed to freely express their opinions without fear of intimidation, harassment or arrest. All Bahraini prisoners of conscience must be released immediately and unconditionally and the right to freedom of expression and assembly respected,” said Said Boumedouha.

Bahrain is the 2nd worst jailer of journalists per capita in the world: here.

Bahrain: Ahmed AlArab: Severely Tortured for Confessions, Denied Medical Attention: here.

Horrifying sexual torture in Bahrain jails: Prisoners’ families reveal: here.

Bahraini activists Rula al-Saffar and Jalila al-Salman spoke to Judith Orr about resistance to the al-Khalifa regime: here.

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