British government helps torturers in Bahrain


Bahraini human rights activists Asma Darwish and Hussain Jawad, when they were still both free and together

From Middle East Eye:

The UK could have stopped my husband being tortured in Bahrain

Asma Darwish

Friday 27 March 2015 09:34 GMT

The UK refused to grant Hussain Jawad asylum and now he is in a Bahraini prison due to his human rights activism

My husband Hussain Jawad has been in prison for more than a month. Every day, I get flashbacks about the night he was taken by state security from our home in Bahrain.

Hussain is a human rights defender and chairperson of the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR).

On 16 February 2015, at 1am, he was arrested by 15 masked, plainclothes police officers. They insulted him by calling him a donkey and shouted: “damn you and the human rights field you work in”.

Hussain was then taken to the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) and he has since called me from prison to tell me of the torture he says has been subjected to there. He said CID officers handcuffed him and forced him to stand in a narrow, freezing cell.

They beat his back, chest, and head. Officers told him he would “never leave this place” and that they could fabricate more than 20 cases against him – adding up to a lifetime in prison.

He says officers have repeatedly threatened him with further violence if he does not admit to charges that include “rioting, participating in illegal gatherings and possession of Molotov cocktails”.

“If you don’t admit willingly in five minutes to save your honour, I will shove your honour up your ass,” one officer said to him.

“Do you want us to squeeze your mother’s milk out of your chest?” another asked.

One interrogator, he told me, touched his genitals and asked: “Do you want me to make you urinate or not have kids?”

The same man threatened to rape Hussain by inserting a pipe into his anus.

After all of this abuse and intimidation my husband signed a number of false confessions, including four different charges – one of which was “collecting money to fund saboteurs”.

When I asked him why he signed them, he told me: “CID is worse than hell itself.”

There is mounting evidence of the Bahraini authorities having tortured political prisoners, however, they continue to deny mistreating detainees.

My husband has a long history of human rights activism and this is not the first time he has been arrested, but this time it could have been avoided.

In November 2013, the government arrested Hussain for a speech he had given that month which called for peaceful reform. He was charged with “criticising government institutions” and “insulting the flag and emblem of Bahrain”.

That case is still going through the court system.

On 30 January 2014, shortly after being released from prison on bail, Hussain fled Bahrain to seek asylum in the United Kingdom.

I believed he had a good case. His arrest in Bahrain was public knowledge and I had hoped the asylum plea would be processed quickly in the UK so that we could be reunited as a family to raise our young son, Parweez.

But upon his arrival in the UK, Hussain was held for four days at the Harmondsworth Detention Centre. He was then referred to Fast Track Detention (FTD) – a process for non-urgent cases for asylum seekers who will likely be returned to their home country.

I didn’t know what to do. I felt helpless.

The Bahraini community in London – many of whom live in exile – helped me to hire lawyers from Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, who filed a case against the UK Home Office to try and challenge Hussain likely being refused asylum.

My husband suffered badly throughout this process. He was released from the detention centre but had no way of supporting himself. For days he would be confined to his hostel, unable to buy food, waiting in vain to hear about his asylum claim.

When he first left, I honestly thought it wouldn’t take more than two months before we were reunited because of my belief in the strength of his case. I believed that we would live freely and in peace to raise our son Parweez. But after eight months without him and with no progress made on his case, I began to worry for our safety. I was worried that his continuing activism could anger authorities here in Bahrain. I was worried they would come after me, and that my son would have no one.

During Hussain’s absence, Parweez had to undergo an open-heart surgery. I had to take care of my sick child in the hospital without the emotional support of his father. We depended on Skype and social media to stay in touch.

On 28 August 2014, Hussain came home to Bahrain, having given up hope of winning asylum and out of a desire to be reunited with me and Parweez.

It was just five months later that he was re-arrested in the middle of the night at our home.

My son’s birthday was on 28 February. Hussain has now missed his last two birthdays: this year he is in prison and last year he was in the UK hoping for asylum to help us escape repression in our home country.

Hussain continues to be held in custody and his next trial hearing will be on 7 April.

We don’t know what will happen to him – there are thousands of political prisoners in Bahrain and many are serving years and years in prison for crimes that amount to no more than challenging the autocratic rule of the al-Khalifa royal family.

While the Bahraini authorities are the ones ultimately responsible for the treatment of my husband – and they should release him immediately – his latest arrest and subsequent suffering in prison was entirely avoidable.

I don’t know if the UK did not award Hussain asylum because of their well-known close ties with the Bahraini royals, but what is clear is that their refusal to give my family safe refuge has directly exposed my husband to the torture he says he has been experiencing in prison.

– Asma Darwish is the head of information and media relations at the European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR). She is married to EBOHR Chairman, Hussain Jawad and the mother of two-year-old Parweez.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: Hussein Jawad and Asma Darwish pose together for a photograph (MEE/Asma Darwish)

* Faten Bushehri – a Bahraini freelance journalist and human and civil rights advocate – also contributed to this article.

Bahrain: Ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Hussain Jawad: here.

Lifting [United States] arms restrictions to Bahrain would enable the regime’s oppression: here.

Saudi Arabian government attacks Yemen


This video from Bahrain says about itself:

Saudi Invasion of Bahrain

27 March 2011

Since the very first day Gulf Shield forces have been attacking and killing innocent Bahraini citizens, it’s considered as an invasion and it breaks the international law.

The regime in Saudi Arabia seems to be not satisfied with just killing its own people, or invading Bahrain … so, now this news from Reuters agency:

Saudi Arabia Launches Military Operations In Yemen

03/25/2015 7:53 pm EDT Updated: 21 minutes ago

WASHINGTON, March 25 – Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies launched a military operation involving air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters who have tightened their grip on the southern city of Aden where the country’s president had taken refuge, the Saudi envoy to Washington said on Wednesday.

Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir told reporters a 10-country coalition had joined in the military campaign in a bid “to protect and defend the legitimate government” of Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. He declined to give any information on Hadi’s whereabouts.

He told reporters that Saudi Arabia had consulted with the United States but that Washington was not participating in the military operation. (Reporting By Matt Spetalnick, Yeganeh Torbati and Sandra Maler)

Stop human rights violations in Bahrain


Bahraini human rights defender Ms Ghada Jamsheer

From SpyGhana.com in Ghana:

Bahrain: Lift the travel ban imposed on human rights defender Ms Ghada Jamsheer

March 24, 2015

Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa,

Minister of Interior,

Tel: +973 -17572222 and +973 17390000.

Email: info@interior.gov.bh

Your Excellency,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights activist and Freelance journalist.

I would like to draw your attention to the following case.

Human rights defender Ms Ghada Jamsheer was stopped at Bahrain International Airport on 14 March 2015 by security authorities and was informed that she was not permitted to travel as the Prosecutor General had ordered a travel ban against her. She had not received any written notification of such a ban.

Ghada Jamsheer is a human rights defender and the Head of the Women’s Petition Committee. She is an author, blogger, and an advocate for women’s rights and freedom of religion. Ghada Jamsheer attended the Fourth Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders in 2007.

The human rights defender was stopped at Bahrain International Airport as she attempted to travel to France to receive medical treatment. Ghada Jamsheer and her legal representative immediately sought a meeting with the Prosecutor’s Deputy, who reportedly refused to meet them. No reason was provided for the travel ban, but the Prosecutor’s Deputy asked the human rights defender to submit a request the next day for a review of the decision. Prior to travelling, Ghada Jamsheer had reportedly sought and received assurance from the Deputy Interior Minister that she would be allowed to travel.

Ghada Jamsheer has been targeted in the past for her human rights work, and is currently a defendedent in a prolonged trial on charges of “assaulting a police officer”. On 15 December 2014, the human rights defender was released after spending more than three months in detention in connection with the charges. Ghada Jamsheer had been arrested at her home on 12 November 2014, 12 hours after being released from ten weeks of detention.

The human rights defender was originally arrested on 14 September 2014 against the backdrop of ten complaints filed against her by different individuals for posting “insulting” and “defamatory” tweets.

I am concerned at the travel ban and on-going trial against Ghada Jamsheer, as it is believed that they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate human rights work. I view this act as part of an ongoing crackdown against civil society and human rights defenders in Bahrain.

I urge the authorities in Bahrain to:

1. Immediately drop all charges against Ghada Jamsheer, and lift the travel ban imposed on her, as it is believed that they are solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of human rights;

2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human rights activist & Freelance journalist

Also from SpyGhana.com in Ghana:

Bahrain: Investigate the allegations of torture against Naji Fateel

March 24, 2015

Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa,

Minister of Interior,

Tel: +973 -17572222 and +973 17390000.

Email: info@interior.gov.bh

Your Majesty,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights activist and Freelance journalist.

I would like to draw your attention to the following case.

23 March 2015 marks the 13th day since human rights defender Mr Naji Fateel, detained in Jaw prison, has been held incommunicado. Authorities have refused to allow the human rights defender’s family to visit or contact him and did not provide any information on when contact may be resumed, stating that he is being punished.

Naji Fateel is a board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and a blogger who has been active in reporting human rights violations in Bahrain. He has been imprisoned and tortured in the past, and was the subject of death threats during the Bahraini uprising starting in February 2011.

Reportedly, on 10 March 2015, Bahraini security forces attacked prisoners at Jaw Prison using rubber bullets, tear gas, and shotgun pellets. The incident allegedly started when the family of a detainee protested after being denied permission to visit the person. According to a witness, Naji Fateel was held in the same building where the clashes occurred, but was not involved in the events. However, shortly after the incident, an officer ordered that several individuals be taken to Building 10, including Naji Fateel.

The human rights defender had a sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment upheld against him by the Appeals Court of Bahrain on 29 May 2014. The human rights defender had been convicted of establishing “a group for the purpose of disabling the constitution” under Article 6 of the controversial Terrorism Act. Front Line Defenders sent an observer to his first instance trial, which fell short of fair due process guarantees. At the time of his arrest on 2 May 2013, Naji Fateel was held incommunicado for three days and reportedly subjected to torture.

I would like to express my grave concern at the incommunicado detention of Naji Fateel, especially given that he was not involved in the clashes, as well as at the absence of any information on his current situation. In light of his previous ill-treatment and torture and the fact that the use of torture has been documented in Bahrain, I am concerned for his physical and psychological integrity and security.

I urge the authorities in Bahrain to:

1. Immediately allow Naji Fateel to resume contact with his family;

2. Ensure that the treatment of Naji Fateel, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment’, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

3. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture against Naji Fateel, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human rights activist & Freelance journalist

Bahrain: Families Denied Prison Access After Unrest. Investigate Overcrowding; Ensure Family Contact for Prisoners: here.

Will a British court deliver justice for Bahraini torture victims? Here.

Bahrain asks [United States] Congress for help in restoring arms sales. Read more: here.

‘British police, arrest Bahraini torture prince’


This video from Britain says about itself:

Solicitor Sue Willman on case against Bahrain prince accused of torture

Sue Willman from Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors speaking at “Forced Disappearance and Torture in the UAE” on 5 November 2014 in London.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Human rights activists demand arrest of prince accused of torture during Bahrain uprising

Campaigners hope today’s ‘dossier’ will encourage police to question Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa while he is London

Jamie Merrill

Friday 20 March 2015

Human rights activists have demanded that Scotland Yard arrest a Bahraini prince accused of torture – after the royal let slip he had returned to the UK by posting a video on Instagram.

Yesterday, campaigners presented the Metropolitan Police with a “dossier” of new claims against Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, who they say was involved in the torture of prisoners during a pro-democracy uprising in Bahrain in 2011.

The Bahraini royal, who is the son of the King of the Gulf country, is believed to be staying at a hotel in central London. On Thursday he posted a video online of himself running in Hyde Park, with a squadron of the Life Guards of the Household Cavalry in the background.

The post on Instagram was captioned: “That’s how it feels and sounds when you run in Hyde Park, London.”

His visit comes after the High Court ruled in October 2014 that Prince Nasser did not have diplomatic immunity from prosecution, overturning a previous Crown Prosecution Service decision.

But to the dismay of campaigners, Scotland Yard said there was insufficient evidence to pursue a case. The Government said Prince Nasser was “welcome” in Britain.

Now campaigners hope new information will encourage police to open a new investigation and question Prince Nasser while he is London.

Prince Nasser has denied any involvement in torture. Since the court ruling last year he has visited Britain on at least one occasion, during which he met with defence officials and David Cameron’s envoy to the Middle East.

Less than a month after the meeting, Bahrain signed a deal to establish a new Royal Navy base in the Gulf country.

Amnesty International has repeatedly expressed “serious concerns” over human rights in Bahrain, where it says there is “huge crackdown on freedom of expression”.

Last year’s High Court case arose after a refugee from Bahrain, referred to as FF, sought the arrest of Prince Nasser in London. Under international law Britain must investigate war crimes and FF claimed he had been tortured by Bahraini authorities – but not Prince Nasser directly.

Yesterday lawyers acting for FF delivered a fresh dossier to Scotland Yard’s specialist War Crimes Unit.

See also here. And here.

Bahrain’s Prisons at Their Breaking Point: here.