URGENT ALERT: BAHRAIN – Human Rights Activists Detained and Ill-treated

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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15 February 2008

URGENT ALERT: BAHRAIN – Human Rights Activists Detained and Ill-treated

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

1. Summary
Several human rights activists detained in relation to demonstrations held in commemoration of the killing of two protestors are reportedly being tortured at the hands of security forces. According to reports, some are held in solitary confinement while some have been sexually abused. Their case is scheduled for a hearing on 24 February 2008, if they are found guilty they can face up to 32 years in prison.

2. Background

Several human rights activists and protestors were arrested in the wake of a demonstration held on 17 December 2007 to commemorate the killing of two protestors 13 years ago. Of the fifteen protestors still detained, some are well-known human rights activists, including

• Maytham Bader Jassim Al-Sheikh, Hassan Abdelnabi, Abdullah Mohsen Abdulah Saleh and Ahmad Jaffar Mohammed Ali, who are members of the Unemployment Committee,

• Naji Al-Fateel, member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR),

• Mohammed Abdullah Al-Sengais, Head of the Committee to Combat High Prices and brother of human rights activist Abduljalil Al-Singace, from the HAQ Movement of Liberties and Democratic Bahrain

• Ebrahim Mohamed Amin Al-Arab, founding member of the Martyrs and Victims Committee

All of the detainees, especially the above-mentioned notable activists, have been reportedly abused and subjected to torture at the hands of the security forces. According to reports by family members and detainees’ accounts:

• Some detainees including Mohammed Al-Sengais, Hassan Abdelnabi, Naji Al-Fateel and Maytha, Al-Sheikh are held in solitary confinement, handcuffed and blindfolded in dark 1×2 metre rooms.
• Some have been beaten and kicked to prevent them from sleeping and have been made to stand for three days. Mohammed Al-Sengais was dragged outside and beaten by a metallic object after he complained of a headache. The beating has left a scar on his head.
• They were not allowed to take a shower or use the toilet for long periods.
• Some have been sexually assaulted, like Maytham Al-Sheikh who was subjected to rectal penetration with a stick. Hassan Abdelnabi has been threatened with sexual abuse if he does not reveal the plans and future activities of a committee in which his wife is involved.
• Some have been electrocuted and subjected to painful torture techniques such as Falaqah.
• Some have suffered psychological torture as well. They are made to hear the cries and screams of others being tortured; they are taken out of their cells at night for interrogation, and are verbally abused. One detainee has also been reportedly threatened with a gun.

In addition to the reported torture and ill-treatment, their access to their lawyers and family members is restricted as well.

The detainees have been charged with rioting, possession and theft of weapons and setting fire to a police vehicle. Their case was scheduled for a hearing on 3 February 2008 but was postponed to 24 February 2008 because the defence lawyers decided to boycott the session in protest, when the judge decided to hold the session outside the official governmental timings.
If the detainees are found guilty, they can face up to 32 years in prison.

According to the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), this reported ill-treatment of human rights activists in Bahrain is aimed ‘at discouraging the Bahraini society…[from getting]…involved in human rights activities.’

For more details please refer to https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3078, https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3148, https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3179 and https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3176

3. Action required
a) Write to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in your country, urging him/her to raise this issue with his/her Bahraini counterpart to ensure that these attacks on civil liberties are immediately halted.

UK campaigners can write to:

Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

b) Write to the Bahraini Ambassador in your country

UK campaigners can write to:

HE Shaikh Khalifa bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Khalifa
30 Belgrave Square
London, SW1X 8QB

Fax: +44 020 7201 9183
Email: enquiries@bahrainembassy.co.uk

c) 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) 2262169

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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Sample letter to Minister for Foreign Affairs in your country (UK campaigners can use the address supplied)

[Your Name]
[Your Address]

[Date]

Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr. Miliband,

Re: Human rights activists detained and ill-treated in Bahrain

I am deeply concerned about the welfare of several detained human rights activists and protesters in Bahrain who are reportedly being tortured and ill-treated.

They were arrested in the wake of a demonstration held on 17 December 2007 to commemorate the killing of two protestors 13 years ago. They have been charged with rioting, possession and theft of weapons and setting fire to a police vehicle.

According to reports by their family members and their own accounts, they have been subjected to severe beatings, sexual abuse and psychological torture. The most noteworthy human rights activists amongst them are held handcuffed and blindfolded, in solitary confinement. They need medical attention due to the harsh prison conditions they are enduring.

I am further concerned that the detainees’ lawyers have been permitted restricted access to their clients. Their case is scheduled for a hearing on 24 February 2008; if they are found guilty they can face up to 32 years in prison.

I urge you to raise these issues with your Bahraini counterparts to ensure that the detainees are treated in accordance with international human rights standards and an investigation is launched into the allegations of torture. Further, please ensure that those detained for political reasons are released immediately and that these attacks on civil liberties are immediately halted.

I look forward to your response on these matters.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Signature]
[Your Name]

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

[Your Name]
[Your Address]

[Date]

HE Shaikh Khalifa bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Khalifa
30 Belgrave Square
London, SW1X 8QB

Your Excellency,

Re: Human rights activists detained and ill-treated in Bahrain

I am deeply concerned about the welfare of several detained human rights activists and protesters in Bahrain who are reportedly being tortured and ill-treated.

They were arrested in the wake of a demonstration held on 17 December 2007 to commemorate the killing of two protestors 13 years ago. They have been charged with rioting, possession and theft of weapons and setting fire to a police vehicle.

According to reports by their family members and their own accounts, they have been subjected to severe beatings, sexual abuse and psychological torture. The most noteworthy human rights activists amongst them are held handcuffed and blindfolded, in solitary confinement. They need medical attention due to the harsh prison conditions they are enduring.

I am further concerned that the detainees’ lawyers have been permitted restricted access to their clients. Their case is scheduled for a hearing on 24 February 2008; if they are found guilty they can face up to 32 years in prison.

I urge you to ensure that the detainees are treated in accordance with international human rights standards and an investigation is launched into the allegations of torture. Further, I urge you to immediately take action to release those detained and 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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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: Human rights activists detained and ill-treated in Bahrain

I am deeply concerned about the welfare of several detained human rights activists and protesters in Bahrain who are reportedly being tortured and ill-treated.

They were arrested in the wake of a demonstration held on 17 December 2007 to commemorate the killing of two protestors 13 years ago. They have been charged with rioting, possession and theft of weapons and setting fire to a police vehicle.

According to reports by their family members and their own accounts, they have been subjected to severe beatings, sexual abuse and psychological torture. The most noteworthy human rights activists amongst them are held handcuffed and blindfolded, in solitary confinement. They need medical attention due to the harsh prison conditions they are enduring.

I am further concerned that the detainees’ lawyers have been permitted restricted access to their clients. Their case is scheduled for a hearing on 24 February 2008; if they are found guilty they can face up to 32 years in prison.

I urge you to ensure that the detainees are treated in accordance with international human rights standards and an investigation is launched into the allegations of torture. Further, I urge you to immediately take action to release those detained and 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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