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Back Activities Alerts UPDATE ALERT: Bahrain – Five detained human rights activists excluded from general amnesty

UPDATE ALERT: Bahrain – Five detained human rights activists excluded from general amnesty

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Five activists sentenced in July 2008, following demonstrations in December 2007, were excluded from the King's amnesty.

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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7 August 2008

UPDATE ALERT: Bahrain – Five detained human rights activists excluded from general amnesty

Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letters


1. Summary

Six of the eleven human rights activists, sentenced on 13 July 2008, after clashes with the police following a demonstration on 17 December 2007, were granted amnesty by the King Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah. However, the remaining five human rights activists, who were handed down the harshest of jail sentences of five and seven years, continue to be detained.

IHRC requests all campaigners to write to the Bahraini authorities and appeal against the unjust prison terms.

For background information to this campaign, please visit the Bahrain campaign page: http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3502


2. Background

Six of the eleven human rights activists who were sentenced on 13 July 2008, after clashes with the police following a demonstration on 17 December 2007, were granted amnesty by the King of Bahrian, Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah. The amnesty on 30 July 2008 was granted to 225 prisoners in total.

However, the remaining five human rights activists, who were handed down the harshest of jail sentences on 13 July 2008, continue to be detained.

One of them, Hassan Abdel-Nabi, a well known activist, has been sentenced to seven years in prison and fined 9985 dinars, for allegedly setting fire to a police vehicle. The remaining four have been sentenced to five years each, who are all well-known civil rights activists, Naji Fatel, Maytham Al-Sheikh, Mohammed al-Singace and Isa al-Serh.

Mohammed al-Singace is also brother of human rights activist Abduljalil Al-Singace, from the HAQ Movement of Liberties and Democratic Bahrain.

These activists were rounded up with 70 other protestors following demonstrations in Sanabis on 17 December 2007, held to commemorate the thirteen year anniversary of 'martyrs of unrest in the 1980s and 1990s.' The detained activists were charged with what appears to be trumped up charges of rioting, possession of ammunition, theft of a weapon and setting fire to a police vehicle.

Out of the 70 arrested, 15 remained detained until the trial verdict on 13 July 2008, and is claimed to be the largest group to stand trial to date in Bahrain.

The trial verdict came amidst allegations that the authorities employed torture against the detainees to obtain confessions. Reports state that according to Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, 'the court paid no attention to the appeals, or to the medical team who had examined the detainees and concluded that there were signs they were tortured.'

In response to allegations that the detainees have been mistreated, six key Bahraini opposition parties launched a month-long campaign to pressurize authorities for their immediately release. The campaign also aims to eradicate the use of excessive force by police against protestors.

Many human rights organizations have appealed against the unjust sentences, including Human Rights Watch (HRW). Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, stated, “By convicting these people partly on their confessions without having credibly answered claims of coercion and abuse, Bahrain's courts are failing to address the possibility of torture…They should suspend the verdicts and thoroughly investigate the claims of abuse in detention.”

Defence lawyers are planning to appeal the verdict in the High Criminal Court in the coming days.

In response to the rising tensions in the country, the King has launched a watchdog committee to investigate outlets promoting sectarianism; already it has lead to the closure of three websites running 'prominent political forums.'

For background information to this campaign, please visit the Bahrain campaign page: http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3502

Also see http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3552 *

*IHRC is not responsible for the content of external websites, nor endorses them by providing their link.


3. Action Required

a) Write to the Bahraini Ambassador in your country

UK campaigners can write to:

Mr Jamie Bowden OBE
Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain
30 Belgrave Square
London, SW1X 8QB

Fax: +44 0207 201 9183
Email: information@bahrainembassy.co.uk


b) Write to the Bahraini Minister of Interior.

Rashid bin Abdallah bin Ahmad al-Khalifa
Ministry of Interior
P.O. Box 13
Manama, Bahrain

Fax: +973 172 326 61


4. Sample letters
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Sample letters are given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is extremely important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.

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1. Sample letter to Bahraini Ambassador in your country (UK campaigners can use the address supplied)


[Your Name]
[Your Address]


[Date]

[Recipient's Name]
[Recipient's Address]

Your Excellency,

Re: Detained human rights activists in Bahrain given harsh prison sentences

I am deeply concerned about the harsh prison sentences handed down to several human rights activists on 13 July 2007 in a Bahraini criminal court.

These activists were arrested following demonstrations on 17 December 2007, held to commemorate the 13 year anniversary of the killing of protestors. They were charged with what appears to be trumped up charges of rioting, possession of ammunition, theft of a weapon and setting fire to a police vehicle.

Six of the activists, who were sentenced for one year each, were granted amnesty by the King of Bahrian, Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah, on 30 July 2008. However, five of them, who were handed down the harshest jail terms of five and seven years and are all well-known activists in popular civil organizations, continue to be detained.

The court paid no attention to appeals or to the medical teams who had examined the detainees and concluded that there were signs that the detainees were tortured. Further, allegations that confessions were obtained from detainees after abuse were not investigated and testimonies by defendants, about the torture that they were subjected to, were ignored.

I have read reports that several detainees are suffering from illnesses and serious medical conditions owing to torture, bad prison conditions and the neglect shown by the authorities. Some who required urgent medical treatment did not receive much care. I am concerned that the unjust prison terms will worsen their situation.

I urge you to ensure that these human rights activists are immediately released and an inquiry is launched into the torture allegations. Please also ensure that a full review is instigated of the public security laws that have been used to target human rights activists. I urge you to ensure that these attacks on civil liberties are immediately halted. As Bahrain has committed itself in the last decade to better governance, these actions blacken Bahrain's reputation.

I look forward to your response on these matters.


Yours sincerely,


[Your Signature]
[Your Name]

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2. Sample letter to the Bahraini Minister of Interior


Your Name]
[Your Address]


[Date]

Rashid bin Abdallah bin Ahmad al-Khalifa
Ministry of Interior
P.O. Box 13
Manama, Bahrain

Your Excellency,

Re: Detained human rights activists in Bahrain given harsh prison sentences

I am deeply concerned about the harsh prison sentences handed down to several human rights activists on 13 July 2007 in a Bahraini criminal court.

These activists were arrested following demonstrations on 17 December 2007, held to commemorate the 13 year anniversary of the killing of protestors. They were charged with what appears to be trumped up charges of rioting, possession of ammunition, theft of a weapon and setting fire to a police vehicle.

Six of the activists, who were sentenced for one year each, were granted amnesty by the King of Bahrian, Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah, on 30 July 2008. However, five of them, who were handed down the harshest jail terms of five and seven years and are all well-known activists in popular civil organizations, continue to be detained.

The court paid no attention to appeals or to the medical teams who had examined the detainees and concluded that there were signs that the detainees were tortured. Further, allegations that confessions were obtained from detainees after abuse were not investigated and testimonies by defendants, about the torture that they were subjected to, were ignored.

I have read reports that several detainees are suffering from serious medical conditions owing to torture, bad prison conditions and the neglect shown by the authorities. Some who required urgent medical treatment did not receive much care. I am concerned that the unjust prison terms will worsen their situation.

I urge you to immediately release these human rights activists and to launch an inquiry into the torture allegations and a full review of the public security laws that have been used to target human rights activists. I urge you to ensure that these attacks on civil liberties are immediately halted. As Bahrain has committed itself in the last decade to better governance, these actions blacken Bahrain's reputation.


I look forward to your response on these matters.

Yours sincerely,


[Your Signature]
[Your Name]


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