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Bahrain

    April 15, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs BST 16 April 2015

    A new report by Amnesty International details the rampant abuses including torture, arbitrary detentions and excessive use of force against peaceful activists and government critics, which continue to take place in Bahrain four years after the uprisings that rocked the Gulf kingdom in 2011. 

    Behind the Rhetoric: Human rights abuses in Bahrain continue unabated, demonstrates that the authorities have failed to deliver crucial reforms to end repression, despite repeated assurances to their Western allies that they are truly committed to human rights. The report is being published days before the world gathers in Bahrain for the Formula One Grand Prix tournament this weekend.

    “As the world’s eyes fall on Bahrain during the Grand Prix this weekend, few will realize that the international image the authorities have attempted to project of the country as a progressive reformist state committed to human rights masks a far more sinister truth,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program.

    March 18, 2015

    On the fourth anniversary of the arrests of 13 leading opposition activists and other prisoners of conscience in Bahrain, Amnesty International calls for their immediate and unconditional release and urges the authorities to ensure that the rights of all prisoners, including those held in Jaw prison, are fully respected.

    Four years ago, starting on 17 March 2011, security officers in Bahrain raided the houses of several opposition activists, took them to unknown locations and detained them incommunicado for several weeks. Amongst them were 13 opposition activists, ‘Ali al-‘Ekri, a medical doctor, and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, the head of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association.

    January 20, 2015

    The Bahraini authorities must quash the conviction of prominent human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, who has today been sentenced to six months in prison for posting comments online which were considered insulting to the Ministries of Interior and Defence, Amnesty International said.

    “Nabeel Rajab is being unjustly punished simply for posting tweets deemed insulting to the authorities. His conviction is a blow to freedom of expression – it must be quashed. He should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    Ahead of today’s verdict Nabeel Rajab told Amnesty International:

    “The unjust and relentless targeting of myself by the authorities provides just one example of what many other human rights defenders from across the Gulf region are subjected to. We are not only the victims of the repression of our own governments but also the victims of the silence, hypocrisy and double standards of the international community. Our people, who are hungry for freedom and social justice, are being forced to pay the price.”

    December 04, 2014

    A court in Manama has today handed down a three-year prison sentence and a 3,000 Bahraini Dinar (approx. US$8,000) fine to prominent activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, for allegedly “insulting the king” when she tore up a photograph of him in a court in October.

    She and her family have been continually targeted by the Bahraini authorities. Her father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a leading human rights activist and prisoner of conscience, is currently serving a life sentence. Just three days ago, her sister Maryam Al-Khawaja, who is living in exile, was sentenced in absentia to one year in prison.

    “Tearing up a photo of the head of state should not be a criminal offence. Amnesty International is calling for this and all of Zainab Al-Khawaja’s other convictions to be quashed and all outstanding charges to be dropped,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    December 01, 2014

    Leading Bahraini human rights activist Maryam Al-Khawaja has told Amnesty International she is determined to continue to expose abuses in the Gulf state despite being sentenced today, in absentia, to one year in prison.

    Maryam Al-Khawaja and her family have been targeted relentlessly by the state. Her father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a leading human rights activist and prisoner of conscience, is currently serving a life sentence. Her sister Zainab Al-Khawaja is also due back in court on 4 December.

    “What matters is not if I have been sentenced to one or to 15 years because the consequences will be the same; if I go back to Bahrain I will go to prison, so this means I cannot see my family, especially my father. However, this sentence is not going to affect my determination to continue working on human rights issues,” Maryam Al-Khawaja told Amnesty International.

    November 02, 2014

    News that Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been released on bail is long over-due said Amnesty International today as it called on authorities to drop all charges against him.  

    Nabeel Rajab was detained over tweets he posted that were deemed insulting to the Ministries of Interior and Defence. Today he was released on bail and his trial was set for January.

    “While we welcome that Nabeel Rajab has been released on bail, he should never have been detained in the first place. The Bahraini authorities are merely obfuscating, meanwhile a man’s future hangs in the balance. Rather than this temporary measure,  the authorities must immediately drop the charges ,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “Worryingly, we are seeing a return to old ways. The Bahraini authorities have prosecuted a string of activists in recent months in a crackdown on peaceful dissent, leaving little doubt that they have once again shelved reform despite past promises.”

    October 28, 2014

    A decision by a court in Bahrain today to deport 10 people who have been stripped of their Bahraini nationality must be quashed, said Amnesty International.

    The 10 are among 31 people whose nationality was arbitrarily revoked in November 2012. In addition to their deportation, the court also ordered they pay 100 Bahraini dinars (approximately US$ 250).

    The men, who have been considered foreigners in the country since their nationality was revoked, were told they could be deported within days. They have not been given any details of where they will be sent.

    “Arbitrarily depriving these Bahrainis of their nationality and forcing them out of Bahrain renders them 'stateless' and goes contrary to Bahrain’s international obligations,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    “They have already been effectively stripped of basic rights such as access to work, health care and education simply for holding dissenting views and deporting them just adds insult to injury.”

    October 27, 2014

    Bahrain’s authorities must immediately release Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist who has been detained over tweets he posted that were deemed insulting to the Ministries of Interior and Defence said Amnesty International, ahead of a verdict in his case on Wednesday.

    “Convicting Nabeel Rajab would be a terrible injustice. It would only be further proof that respect for the right to freedom of expression in Bahrain is under attack,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “Prosecuting anyone merely for peacefully expressing their political views is a clear form of repression and a brazen violation of their rights. Nabeel Rajab is a prisoner of conscience, he must be released immediately and the charges against him must be dropped.

    October 15, 2014

    A human rights activist detained for “insulting” Bahrain’s King after she tore up a photograph of the monarch in court yesterday is a prisoner of conscience and must be released, Amnesty International said today.

    Zainab Al-Khawaja, who was appealing against two previous convictions for ripping up photos of Bahrain’s head of state, is now being held for seven days while authorities investigate the incident. If convicted, she could face up to seven years in prison.

    “The detention of Zainab illustrates the Bahraini authorities’ growing intolerance of any criticism and their harsh methods of dealing with dissent,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director for Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “They must immediately and unconditionally release Zainab and all others who are detained for peacefully expressing their views.”

    Zainab Al-Khawaja, who is more than eight months pregnant, was previously handed four-month jail sentences for destroying government property when she ripped photos of King Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa on two occasions in May 2012.

    October 09, 2014

    The Bahraini authorities must immediately and unconditionally release human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, Amnesty International said today after he was formally charged with publicly insulting official institutions on Twitter.

    Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty has written to the King of Bahrain expressing the organization’s grave concern over the detention of Nabeel Rajab and the charges brought against him.

    He urged the Bahraini authorities to uphold the right to freedom of expression.

    “The Bahraini authorities must stop locking up peaceful critics who express opinions they do not like,” said Said Boumedouha Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “The charges levelled against Nabeel Rajab violate Bahrain’s international obligation to respect freedom of expression. He should be released immediately and the charges against him dropped."

    Nabeel Rajab posted tweets on 28 September commenting on members of Bahrain’s security forces who had joined the armed group calling itself the Islamic State. 

    October 02, 2014

    The Bahraini authorities must immediately release a prominent human rights activist who has been detained for posting tweets deemed insulting to the country’s Ministry of Interior, Amnesty International said today.

    Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, could face up to three years in prison for comments he posted online about reports that members of Bahrain’s security forces had joined the Islamic State armed group in Iraq.

    “The detention of Nabeel Rajab is yet another serious blow to freedom of expression in Bahrain and entrenches growing attempts by the authorities to muzzle dissenters,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “He must be released immediately and these outrageous charges against him must be dropped.”

    Nabeel Rajab, who is also the Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, was summoned for questioning by Bahrain’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) yesterday afternoon and remanded in custody overnight.

    June 10, 2014

    Nabeel Rajab, a prominent Bahraini human rights activist jailed for calling for anti-government protests, was released on 24 May. He told us about being imprisoned – but not silenced – and what international support means to him.

    Nabeel Rajab, Bahrain, 2012. © Private

    I am Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR). I have just been released from prison after serving a two-year sentence for my peaceful and legitimate human rights work.

    April 17, 2014

    Bahrain’s government must end its intimidation of a Shi’a Muslim cleric who was stripped of his nationality, said Amnesty International.

    Shaikh Hussain al-Najati was reportedly given 48 hours to leave the country on Tuesday and warned that his family may be harmed if he failed to do so. He is among 31 opposition activists – all Shi’a Muslims - who were stripped of their Bahraini nationality by the Ministry of Interior in November 2012 on national security grounds. The 48 hour deadline ended this morning.  After he failed to leave, he received a call from a state security officer saying he would pay for his decision. If deported, he will become stateless.

    “This campaign of threats, harassment and intimidation against Shaikh Hussain al-Najati is unacceptable and must stop immediately. Forcing him out of his own country would render him stateless.” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    April 01, 2014

    Mourners at the funeral of 20-year-old Fadel Abbas Musalem, allegedly tortured to death © MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images

    As the eyes of the sporting world turn to Bahrain’s Formula One Grand Prix this weekend, Amnesty International urges the country’s authorities not to quash peaceful protests surrounding the event.

    The Formula One racing tournament is due to take place in Bahrain from 4-6 April. In previous years, the authorities have taken severe repressive measures against pro-reform demonstrators, activists opposed to the Royal family and human rights campaigners during the event. 

    “Bahrain’s authorities must not repeat past mistakes by restricting freedom of movement or crushing protests. The rights of people in Bahrain to peacefully to express their opposition to government policies and voice human rights concerns are legitimate and must be respected,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    February 18, 2014

    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 16 February but is due to appear in court again on 19 February 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 4 and 6 May 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.

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