Bahrain, torture and Formula One news


This video says about itself:

Western hypocrisy on human rights for Bahrain

11 February 2012

Maryam Al-Khawaja, of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, warns of a violent crackdown on pro-democracy activists over the coming days amid a media blackout.

Hundreds of anti-government protesters take to the streets in a peaceful rally calling for the release of political prisoners ahead of the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix: video here.

The 2015 Formula One World Racing Championship kicked off in Bahrain on Friday amid opposition protests calling for the event to be cancelled: here.

From the International Business Times:

Bahrain: Dissidents in Jaw Prison ‘subjected to mass torture’ in nightmarish building No. 10

By Gianluca Mezzofiore Senior Foreign News Reporter

April 17, 2015 18:20 BST

A recent riot at the infamous Bahrain’s Jaw Prison, south of capital Manama, where political and criminal prisoners are held, has led to a bloody crackdown with harrowing episodes of mass torture by riot police, according to a human rights group and testimony exclusively seen by IBTimes UK.

Hundreds of prisoners were subjected to tear gas, shot from close range, beaten and rounded up and taken outdoors, where they were stripped naked and left for three days. Then, they were crammed inside a tent for 30 days with no access to toilets or showers. Inmates were called one by one and taken to infamous building number 10, where further torture took place.

Reports of alleged torture and human rights violations come just days after Amnesty International issued a damning 79-page report accusing the Bahraini government of rampant abuse by security forces on dissidents – with documented episodes of torture and mistreatment of detainees, continued jailing of activists and bans on protests in the capital.

They used tear gas and gunshots. One guy was shot at a very close range. Everyone was beaten and asked to stand down”
– Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei

The outbreak of violence started on 10 March due to poor conditions and overcrowding in the prison, whose capacity is 450 but currently contains 1020 prisoners.

A government newspaper reported that the unrest was the result of violence by prisoners after a row between prison guards and three visitors. However, local rights groups said security forces used excessive force against prisoners.

The reaction of the Bahraini government was to bring in the feared riot police, formed by Pakistani and Jordanian guards, which surrounded the main buildings of the prison and then broke inside.

“Then the torture started,” Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of Advocacy at Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, who collected the testimonies, told IBTimes UK. “They used tear gas and gunshots. One guy was shot at a very close range. Everyone was beaten and asked to stand down.”

Then, the prisoners were rounded up, taken outside the prison facility and stripped of their clothes. They also had cold water poured on them. “Riot police used broken table legs and wood bars to beat the prisoners,” Alwadaei said.

Held outside for three days

The inmates were allegedly forced to stay outside for three days, during which they were regularly beaten by the riot police.

“People were called by name and taken to building number 10, where torture was conducted in much more horrific way,” Alwadaei said.

One of the witnesses reported seeing a man with who suffered further injuries to his head after being beaten where the stitches had been placed.

Another prisoner had his nose and leg broken and was subjected to “psychological and physical torture”, according to the transcript of a testimony seen by IBTimes UK. He was also banned from accessing the toilet and had overnight cold water dropped on him while sleeping.

“What is happening now in Jaw prison is even worse than 2011,”Alwadaei said. “We were shocked about the details.”

Families of some inmates at the prison were allowed no contact with them for more than one month, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), which issued a statement earlier in April:

The wife of the human rights activist Naji Fateel said she has not heard from her husband since March 10. On March 24, she attempted to make a scheduled visit but said she was told by a member of prison staff that visits were “suspended indefinitely.” Fateel, who is also held in building 4, is serving a 15-year sentence for allegedly establishing a group that aimed to change the constitution.

The Bahrain’s police media centre at the Ministry of Interior denied any torture allegations when asked by IBTimes UK.

“No, these are all false rumours,” a spokesperson said. “We don’t use torture in Bahraini prisons. These are all lies… who told you this? It’s all lies”.

The testimonies of the alleged violations have been submitted to the UN for breach of international human rights and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Amnesty report

After the crackdown on the pro-democracy uprising in 2011, led by Saudi forces, Bahrain has plunged deeper into sectarian conflict between the wealthy ruling Sunni-al-Khalifa minority and the Shia majority.

King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa has pledged to implement recommendations by an independent commission of inquiry but reforms are progressing slowly and reconciliation talks have stalled. Violence between riot police and protesters is a weekly occurrence.

Decrees approved by Hamad include up to seven years in jail for criticising him. All protests, sit-ins and gatherings in Manama are banned indefinitely.

The Amnesty report documented dozens of cases of detainees being beaten, deprived of sleep and adequate food, burnt with cigarettes, sexually assaulted, electrocuted including on the genitals and burnt with an iron in order to try and force them to “confess” to crimes.

The Amnesty report added: “One such detainee told us he was struck with the claw of a hammer on several parts of his body. Another said he was raped by having a plastic pipe inserted into his anus.”

Formula One Voices Support For Human Rights, Ignores Abuses In Bahrain: here.

Bahrain, Formula One racing and dictatorship


This video says about itself:

The martyr alHuajjairi.. Bahrain’s witness on torture and impunity

3 May 2013

The martyr [medical profesional] AbdulRasoul alHujjairi had disappeared to be found later thrown in a street with scars of brutal torture and assault all over his body.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry chaired by international law expert Cherif Bassiouni documented in paragraph number 586 of its report that:

At 06:30, the body of Mr Abdulrasoul AlHujjairi was found in the vicinity of al-Askar Road in the Awali district. He was taken to BDF Hospital where he was pronounced dead. While the exact circumstances leading to this fatality are unclear, reports indicated that the deceased had gone missing around sunset the previous day. He suffered severe injuries all over his body and to his head caused by beatings.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Formula One 2015

Thursday 16 April 2015 00.04 BST

Amnesty warns human rights abuses ‘unabated’ before Bahrain Grand Prix

Amnesty International report details ‘chilling’ crackdown on dissent
• ‘Notion that Bahrain respects freedom of expression is pure fiction’
• Leading Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab arrested for highlighting prison abuse

Formula One back in Bahrain amid heightened rights concerns: here.

Human rights and Formula One: here.

Glitz of Formula One must not divert attention from Bahrain’s jailed journalists: here.

Bahrain Human Rights Abuses: Amnesty International Report Says Country Maintains ‘Chilling Crackdown On Dissent’: here.

Government reforms put in place by Bahraini authorities in the wake of widespread anti-government protests four years ago have failed to end serious violations of human rights in the strategically important Gulf nation, Amnesty International said in a report released Thursday: here.

HUMAN rights watchdog Amnesty International accused Bahraini authorities yesterday of continuing rights violations in a “chilling crackdown on dissent”: here.

On Monday 13th April, the Bahraini authorities carried out widespread arrests, some of which have been recognized as arbitrary. The arrests were followed by a statement made by the Minister of Information who said “the Interior Ministry shall face with law any calls or events that attempt to defame the international event and the interests of Bahrain before, during and after the Formula 1 race”. Bahrain is to hold the Formula 1 Grand Prix between the 17th and 19th of April 2015: here.

Bahrain: Constant judicial harassment of Ms. Ghada Jamsheer. The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the constant judicial harassment of Ms. Ghada Jamsheer, Head of the Women’s Petition Committee, an organisation which campaigns for the rights and dignity of women in the Shari’ah family courts: here.

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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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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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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