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Bahrain

    July 15, 2015

    Amnesty International called today on the Bahraini authorities to release political activist Ebrahim Sharif and end his ongoing prosecution on charges brought solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression following a speech he gave last Friday.

    Ebrahim Sharif, former Secretary General of the National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), was arrested at 2.30am on 12 July at his home by security officers and remanded in custody for 48 hours for questioning at the Criminal Investigations Directorate of the Ministry of Interior in connection with statements he made in a speech at a public gathering on 10 July.

    On 13 July, the Public Prosecution interrogated Ebrahim Sharif on charges of “incitement to hatred and contempt of the regime” and “incitement to overthrow the regime by force and illegal means”, under Articles 165 and 160 of the Penal Code. He denied all the charges against him. The prosecution ordered his detention for 15 days pending further investigation. 

    June 16, 2015

    The verdict against Sheikh Ali Salman today, sentencing him to four years in prison for inciting disobedience and hatred, demonstrates the Bahraini authorities’ consistent disregard for the right to freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.

    “Today’s verdict is shocking. It is yet another clear example of Bahrain’s flagrant disregard for its international obligations. Sheikh Ali Salman has been sentenced solely for peacefully expressing his opinion,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “For a country that has expressed outrage at criticism of its human rights records, Bahrain has not hesitated to suppress political opposition and muzzle critical voices at every opportunity. The authorities must release Sheikh Ali Salman immediately and unconditionally, and ensure his conviction is quashed.” 

    May 14, 2015

    The appeal verdict against Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab confirming his sentence of six months in jail for insulting government institutions on Twitter, demonstrates the Bahraini authorities’ complete disregard for the right to freedom of expression, said Amnesty International today.

    “Today’s verdict shows once again that Bahrain is brazenly flouting its international obligations. Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced solely for peacefully expressing his opinion, the Bahraini authorities must release him immediately and unconditionally, and ensure his conviction is quashed,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “The Bahraini authorities have expressed outrage at criticism of their human rights record, claiming they have introduced a series of reforms in recent years. However, this case provides further proof that these reforms amount to little more than empty gestures. Bahrain today remains a country where exercising freedom of speech is treated as a crime.”

    April 16, 2015

    This weekend, Bahrain will host the Formula One Grand Prix. But behind the shiny fast cars and super-sized champagne bottles lies a government that is willing to stop at nothing to punish those who dare to speak out about the tragic human rights situation in the country.

    Here are five facts you should know about the Gulf Kingdom ahead of one of the most glamourous events in the sporting calendar.

    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.

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