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Back Activities Alerts URGENT ALERT: Bahrain – Director of Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights charged under controversial 1989 Law on Societies

URGENT ALERT: Bahrain – Director of Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights charged under controversial 1989 Law on Societies

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Bahraini human rights activist Mohammed Al Muskati charged under repressive 1989 Law on Societies.
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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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12 November 2009

URGENT ALERT: Bahrain – Director of Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights charged under controversial 1989 Law on Societies

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


1. Summary

Mohammed Al Muskati, director of Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights has been charged and served with a notice to appear in court for breaching the 1989 Law on Societies.

He faces 6 months imprisonment and a fine of 500 BD if found guilty.


2. Background

Bahrain’s controversial 1989 Law on Societies effectively restricts the activities of societies and dictates the parameters in which they must operate.  The most affected organisations are those who criticise government policies and highlight various inequalities experienced by certain sections of the community due to the governments discriminatory polices.

Mohammed al Muskati is the latest victim of the 1989 Law on Societies. Mr Al Muskati, 22, is falsely accused of establishing Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights when the founding members were less than 18 years old. The law requires for the founders of any society to be over 18 years old. Mr Al Muskati and his colleagues were all over the age of 18 at the time of its formation. The basis of the charge is unfounded and is politically motivated.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights have worked tirelessly campaigning for the marginalised and discriminated sections of Bahraini society, their work extends from protecting the rights of non violent political opposition to the Bahraini government onto the rights of women, children and those who are victims of human trafficking. Their website can be accessed via this link: http://byshr.org/.

Numerous human rights organisations in Bahrain are working illegally due to the restrictions placed on formation and running of an organisation. It is unacceptable for a government to determine who can form civil societies and how these societies should be run. These laws allow the government to control political activity and opinions in Bahrain and silence those who the government dislikes by not allowing them to form societies and then prosecuting them when they do. In this way the government is able to control civil society, manipulate it and keep it subjugated.


3. Action required

Write to the Bahraini ambassador in your locality urging them to drop the charges against Mohammed Al Muskati, end government intimidation of human rights activists and review the controversial 1989 Law on Societies.

British campaigners can find the address on the sample letter below and other campaigners can locate their Bahraini ambassador from the following website: http://bahrain.visahq.com/embassy/United-States/#

4. Sample letter
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A sample letter is 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 very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.

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You can contact the Bahraini embassy via Fax: +44207 201 9183 or email: info@bahrainembassy.co.uk

[Your name]
[Your address]

Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali bin Rashid Al-Khalifa
30 Belgrave Square
SW1X 8QB
London
[Date]

Dear Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali bin Rashid Al-Khalifa,

Re: Charges against Mohammed Al Muskati

I am deeply concerned about the charges brought against Mohammed Al Muskati regarding the formation of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights. Mr Al Muskati and the other founding members were accused of being underage when they formed this organisation; however this is completely baseless as they were all over the age of 18. Therefore they are not breaching the restrictions of the 1989 Law on Societies.

The controversial 1989 Law on Societies imposes restrictions which affect the reliability, independence and truthfulness of information collected, therefore numerous organisations in Bahrain are forced to work illegally if they are to maintain these honourable principles. It is clear that this law needs to be reviewed in order to allow freedom of thought as well as protecting civil liberties and maintain a good working relationship between the government and its citizens.

The government intimidation experienced by human rights activists in Bahrain is frequently reported and publicised. This law legitimises this intimidation although in the long term cannot achieve the censorship it seeks, since people are not afraid to voice their opposition to repressive and discriminatory treatment, even if its at the cost of their own freedom and safety.

I urge you to drop the charges against Mr Al Muskati because they are baseless and are politically motivated. This reflects poorly on the international image of Bahrain and its government.

I look forward to your reply regarding this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below

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For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below.

"And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper."
Holy Qur'an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Wembley
HA9 7XH
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183
Email: info@ihrc.org
Web: www.ihrc.org

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