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Bahrain

    February 13, 2014

    There are fears that the Bahraini authorities may use violence to quash planned demonstrations on 14 February, said Amnesty International, when thousands are expected to take to the streets to mark the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising. 

    “The authorities’ relentless repression of dissent continues unabated – with security forces repeatedly using excessive force to quash anti-government protests,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Scores of people, including dozens of children have been detained for participating in peaceful protests over the last year. Many of them alleged that they were tortured in detention. Protesters must be allowed to take part in peaceful demonstrations without the fear of reprisal or attack”.

    In July 2013 Bahrain’s King issued a draconian decree banning demonstrations, sit-ins and public gatherings in the capital, Manama, indefinitely.

    January 27, 2014

    The Bahraini authorities must immediately investigate the death in custody of a 19-year-old boy who was shot in the head by security forces, said Amnesty International.

    “Bahrain’s authorities must come clean and open a full, independent investigation to establish the truth about the death of Fadel Abbas. Those responsible for his death must be held to account,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “The conflicting information that has emerged over the version of events that led to his death makes such an investigation even more urgent.”

    Fadel Abbas was wounded when security forces tried to arrest him and others as they went to visit a recently released prisoner in the village of Markh.
     
    The Interior Ministry said in a statement on 26 January that Fadel Abbas had died of his wounds after he was shot on 8 January when he “purposefully” drove a car into members of the security forces as he attempted to escape arrest for smuggling arms and explosives. The Ministry said its forces had acted in self-defence.  

    January 07, 2014

    South Korea today announced a halt to shipments of tear gas to Bahrain, following pressure from Amnesty International and other human rights groups which worked alongside Bahrain Watch’s ‘Stop the Shipment’ campaign.

    “The South Korean authorities should be commended for this move to help prevent further human rights violations in Bahrain, which comes after sustained campaigning by activists from Amnesty International and other NGOs in Bahrain and around the world,” said Brian Wood, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

    The announcement by South Korea’s defence agency cited pressure from human rights groups following the Bahraini authorities’ repeated – and sometimes fatal – misuse of the toxic chemical agents against peaceful protesters.

    “South Korea is sending a clear message that the Bahraini authorities’ ongoing repression of peaceful protests is unacceptable and will not be rewarded with future weapons transfers. Other countries that continue to supply Bahrain with tear gas and related equipment should sit up and take notice,” said Wood.

    December 15, 2013

    Released on December 16, 2013 0:01 GMT

    Children are being routinely detained, ill-treated and tortured in Bahrain, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.

    Scores of children arrested on suspicion of participating in anti-government protests – including some as young as 13 – were blindfolded, beaten and tortured in detention over the past two years the organization said. Others were threatened with rape in order to extract forced confessions.

    “By rounding up suspected under-age offenders and locking them up, Bahrain’s authorities are displaying an appalling disregard for its international human rights obligations,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.  

    November 27, 2013

    Bahrain’s authorities must immediately release Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist jailed for taking part in an anti-government protest last year, said Amnesty International.

    Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), has been detained in Jaw Prison since 9 July 2012. On Friday 29 November he will have served three quarters of his two year sentence and will become legally eligible for release.

    “A failure to release Nabeel Rajab on Friday would make it crystal clear that his imprisonment is not about justice or the law but about silencing him,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Nabeel Rajab should never have been imprisoned in the first place. As a human rights defender he should be allowed to carry out his work free from intimidation or threat of reprisal. His arrest, detention and trial demonstrate the brazen disregard the Bahraini authorities have displayed for human rights and freedom of expression.”

    Amnesty International considers Nabeel Rajab a prisoner of conscience.  

    November 05, 2013

    Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior must immediately rescind the decision to strip 31 members of the opposition of their Bahraini nationality made a year ago, Amnesty International urged.

    On 7 November 2012, the Ministry took the extreme measure against the opposition activists, who are all Shi’a, saying they had caused “damage to state security”. Those without dual citizenship were effectively made stateless by the decision.

    “Stripping away the nationality of government critics shows that the Bahraini authorities continue to lash out and discredit anyone they deem a threat. Instead of addressing the criticism levelled against them, the authorities have found no other way to respond than depriving Bahraini citizens of their nationality,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East Programme.

    September 30, 2013

    Allegations the Bahraini authorities used electric shocks and other torture methods to extract confessions from members of a group of 50 Shi’a activists are just one factor making their trial and convictions unfair, Amnesty International said today.

    A Bahraini court sentenced the 49 men and one woman, many in their absence, to up to 15 years’ imprisonment on Sunday, on charges related to their involvement in the opposition youth movement known as the 14 February Coalition. The predominantly Sunni Bahraini authorities have accused the Shi’a group of terrorism.

    “It’s appalling what passes for ‘justice’ today in Bahrain. The authorities simply slap the label ‘terrorist’ on defendants, and then subject them to all manner of violations to end up with a ‘confession’,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    The torture allegations have not been investigated and were not considered by the court.

    September 18, 2013

    The arrest of the prominent opposition leader Khalil al-Marzouq in Bahrain last night is the authorities’ latest move to tighten the noose on political opposition in the country and silence anyone seen to be critical of the authorities, Amnesty International said.

    “Khalil al-Marzouq is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned only for of his vehement criticism of the government. He must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “His arrest is yet another blow to the National Dialogue which the Bahraini authorities have been flaunting as a reason to cancel the visit of the UN expert on torture to the country. However harsh his speech towards the authorities, he should not have been arrested for expressing his views.”

    Khalil al-Marzouq, the Assistant Secretary General of al-Wefaq, the registered political association representing the majority Shi’a population in Bahrain, and former Head of the Legislative and Legal Committee in parliament, was arrested on 17 September.

    August 13, 2013

    The Bahraini authorities must not crack down on mass anti-government protests scheduled for tomorrow said Amnesty International. The organization fears that new legislation introduced last week will be used to legitimize the use of force to quash peaceful protests.

    “The people of Bahrain have the right to express their views freely and to protest peacefully without the threat of violence,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “For years the authorities in Bahrain have shamelessly sought to stifle freedom of expression, taking increasingly drastic steps to stamp out dissent with complete disregard for international law.”

    Demonstrators plan to hold major rallies across Bahrain on Wednesday calling for an end to repression and for genuine political reforms.

    On Monday, Bahrain’s Prime Minister, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, warned that any attempts to destabilize the country will be dealt with harshly. He accused anti-government protesters of seeking to topple the government.

    August 07, 2013

    Two new emergency decrees issued by the King of Bahrain last night, which include the banning of all protests, are a further shameful attempt to completely ban any form of dissent and freedom of expression in the country, Amnesty International said.

    “Banning sit-ins, public gatherings and demonstrations in Bahrain’s capital and stipulating that parents could be jailed if their children repeatedly participate in demonstrations is outrageous, and violates international law,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “Authorities in Bahrain have, for years, abused existing legislation to suppress any form of dissent, but these new measures are taking their disregard for human rights to a completely new level. We fear that these draconian measures will be used in an attempt to legitimize state violence as new protests are being planned for 14 August.”

    One of the decrees makes new amendments to the 1973 Law on public gatherings and demonstrations, which include the banning of demonstrations, sit-ins, marches and public gatherings in the capital Manama.

    July 01, 2013

    The Bahraini Cassation Court’s decision to uphold the convictions against two leaders of the Teachers Association is a charade and yet another example of the heavy price government critics pay in Bahrain for their views, Amnesty International said today.

    Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb and Jalila al-Salman, the former president and vice-president of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association were sentenced to 10 and three years imprisonment respectively on September 2011 after they called a teachers strike. They were charged with halting the educational process, inciting hatred of the regime, attempting to overthrow the ruling system by force.

    “There hasn’t been a shred of evidence of either teachers using or advocating violence. The trials were marred by irregularities, based on spurious evidence and their sentences should be quashed,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    May 16, 2013

    The Bahraini authorities must immediately release five men sentenced to a year imprisonment for allegedly insulting the King of Bahrain in messages posted on Twitter, Amnesty International said.

    Lawyer Mahdi al-Basri, 25, was arrested following a police raid on his home in Karrana, northern Bahrain.

    Mahmood ‘Abdul-Majeed ‘Abdullah Al-Jamri, 34, Hassan ‘Abdali ‘Issa, 33, Mohsen ‘Abdali ‘Issa, 26, and ‘Ammar Makki Mohammad Al-Aali, 36, were detained a day later.

    The five were tried in separate cases on charges of insulting the King in messages posted on Twitter.

    Mahdi al-Basri was accused of posting twitter messages in June 2012 that were traced to his IP address. He has denied the charges, stating that his personal Twitter account was not the one used to post these messages and that he had no connection to the account that used his IP address.

    The men were sentenced to one year imprisonment on 15 May under Article 214 of Bahrain’s Penal Code, which criminalizes “offending the emir of the country [the King], the national flag or emblem”.

    April 24, 2013

    Bahrain is clearly "not serious" about implementing human rights reforms, Amnesty International said today after the Gulf kingdom cancelled a planned visit by the United Nations' torture expert for a second time.

    The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, said he was "deeply disappointed" after Bahrain postponed next month's visit, citing delays in "ongoing national dialogue".

    The Bahraini authorities also cancelled a visit by Juan Mendez in February 2012, claiming they were “still undergoing major reforms".

    "This latest cancellation shows that Bahrain is clearly not serious about implementing human rights reforms. The authorities have used the buzzword of 'reform' as a smoke screen, when in reality they are not reforming," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    "There are no reforms in Bahrain, but rather human rights abuses continuing unabated."

    April 17, 2013

    As Bahrain steps into the global spotlight with the upcoming Formula One Grand Prix, there is a high risk that last year’s repressive tactics – when a protester was killed by the security forces – will be repeated or even increased by the authorities, Amnesty International said today.

    The intensity of protests is expected to top last year’s demonstrations around the Grand Prix during a week of planned protests organized by political groups. Clashes between protesters and security forces have been reported in the past two weeks and human rights activists claim dozens of protesters have already been arrested ahead of this year’s event.

    “Instead of responding to the uprising of February 2011, the last two years have seen continued killings, arbitrary arrests and alleged torture in Bahrain. The authorities are trying to use the Grand Prix as a platform to show progress, with claims that the human rights situation has improved, whilst stepping up repression in order to ensure nothing disturbs their public image,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program Deputy Director.

    April 15, 2013

    A move by Bahrain’s government to jail anyone found guilty of insulting the Gulf nation’s King for up to five years is a new attempt to crush dissent before the country hosts the Formula One Grand Prix later this week, Amnesty International said.

    According to state media, Bahrain’s cabinet – chaired by the Prime Minister and the newly appointed deputy Prime Minister, the Crown Prince – on Sunday endorsed an amendment to Article 214 of the Penal Code, increasing the penalty for offending King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah or the country’s flag and other national symbols.

    The amendment, which has now been referred to the National Assembly, would make such offences punishable by up to five years in prison in addition to steep fines.

    “Increasing the punishment for criticism of Bahrain’s King is a further attempt to muzzle activists ahead of the upcoming Grand Prix,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

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