HRinfo argues Bahraini Authorities to immediately release Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja Cairo, 26 Sptember 2004) Mr. Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja, the executive director of the Bahraini Center for Human Rights is detained in the context of the policy of silencing human rights defenders’ voices, these policies which are applied by the Arab governments. The arrest of Al-Khawaja uncovers the falseness of the alleged reform promised by the Arab countries.HRinfo was reported that Abdul-Hadi received a phone call from the Nabeeh Saleh Police station at 10:30pm on 25 September. He was summoned to the named police station. When he got there he was arrested and detained. This was two days after voicing his opinion in a symposium, namely “The National Campaign to Promote Economic Rights in Bahrain.” Which was organized by the Bahraini Center for Human Rights. In this symposium, he criticized the government policies and the prime minister who has been in the top of the government for more than thirty years and is responsible for the deterioration of the economy and all the human rights violations in the past. He also spoke out about the government’s economic policies in regard to unemployment, unemployed persons and poverty. Up till now, there is no clear charge brought against Abdul Hady Al-Khawaja, he is detained in Hod Al-Jaf prison, he has announced that he has started a speech and hunger strike, and he will continue this strike till the Bahraini prime minister resigns, as the latter is considered by Al-Khawaja to be the stumbling block in the path towards the reform planned and built by Sheikh Hamad Ben Essa Al Khalifa.
HRinfo condemns these irresponsible practices by the security against the human rights defenders and appeals for the Bahraini authorities to immediately release Abdul-Hady Al-Khawajaز
Cairo 26\9\2004 urgent ActionRelease Al-Khawaja immediatelyArab governments tend to deal with human rights activists in aggressive way that contradict with its hypocritical claims of reforms and the increase of freedom margins. Ironically, Arab security forces always ready to silence democracy and human rights activists if they ever believed official slogans and allegedly constitution amendments In this regard, Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja, the executive director of Bahrain Center for Human Rights and APHRA coordinator has been arrested since last night 25\9 following a symposium and report on Poverty , unemployment and economic rights. Al- Khawaja reviewed the report in the symposium and called for the deposition of prime minister as the responsible person of deteriorating economic and rights situation in Bahrain.It is worth mentioning that Al-Khawaja went on hunger and speech strike unless the prime minister resign. Held in Houd Al gaf prison with no official charges, Al Khawaja had been in exile for along time and returned to Bahrain after constitution amendments made by Bahrain King Hamad Bin Iesa.APHRA expresses absolute solidarity with Al Khawaja and condemn such security behaviour, specially Al Khawaja voiced his points of view peacefully in accordance with Universal Declaration of Human Rights, articles 6 and 19.APHRA urge Bahraini authorities for the immediate release of Al Khawaja and call regional and international human rights organization for solidarity.Please write appeals to King Hamad Bin Iesa on : 0097317664587.Ministry of foreign affairs: 0097317212603Prime minister: 0097317229999Ministry of interior: 009731727201——————————————————————————–The Arab Program for Human Rights Activists25 Ibrahim Ibn El Mahdy St.7th District, Nasr CityCairo, EgyptTel: 002 02 4041185Tel/Fax: 002 02 4039954www.aphra.org
Ambassador Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed-al KhalifaBahrain Ambassador to UK30 Belgrave SquareLondonSW1X 8QB27 September 2004Your Excellency,Following our letter dated 17 September expressing our appreciation of your Government’s invitation to visit Bahrain, BHRC has learned that the Executive Director of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Abdul Hadi al-Khawajeh, has been arrested and is being detained at Howdh al-Jaf detention centre. We are informed that Mr. al-Khawajeh has begun a speech and hunger strike and we are concerned for his well being. BHRC met with Mr. al-Khawajeh in December 2003 when he was in London and we have been anticipating meeting him and other representatives from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights upon our visit to Bahrain. We are concerned that the arrest and detention of Mr. Al-Khawajeh challenges the redibility of the Center and the important work that it carries out, especially concerning the issues of migrant workers, discrimination, torture and the promotion of the freedom of expression and association in Bahrain. We respectfully request additional information about the situation and we thank you kindly for your attention on this important matter. We very much look forward to visiting Bahrain.Yours sincerely,Peter Carter QCChairmanBar Human Rights Committee 10-11 Gray’s Inn Square London WC1R 5JD Tel: 020 7395 9508 Fax: 020 7831 2430
H.E.M. Saeed Mohammed Al-Faihani Ambassador of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva Your Excellency, You have no doubt been informed of the arrest of Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja, director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights on 25 September after his speech at the Aruba Club. Although I do not have any coments about his call for the deposition of the Prime Minister of Bahrain, it seems to me that his speech about economic opportunity in Bahrain deserves attention. Economic and social injustice should always be discussed in countries claiming to be democratic. To arrest a person who speaks about injustices and human rights only confirms in the mind of the people that the government is not interested in such questions. It is too bad that the government had to take such radical measures concerning an important person in the human rights field. With best personal wishes, Yours sincerely, Charles Graves, D. Theol. Secretary General
The Bar Human Rights Committee is extremely concerned about the recent detention of Abdul Hadi al-Khawajeh and the subsequent closure of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. This detention and closure raises serious questions about the Bahraini Government’s commitment to democratic reform and the promotion of an open and pluralistic society. According to reports, Mr. Al-Khawajeh was arrested pursuant to expressing his concern on the governmental policy in relation to poverty in Bahrain. Under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, each citizen has the right to freely criticize in a non-violent manner their government and its policies. The Bar Human Rights Committee has written to the Bahraini Ambassador in London raising these concerns and seeking further clarification about this detention and closure of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. The Bar Human Rights Committee will continue to urge the Bahraini Government to fully implement its own status commitments to the implementation of democratic reform and respect for rule of law including international human rights norms and standards.Peter Carter QCChairman, Bar Human Rights CommitteeMark Muller
Vice-Chair, Bar Human Rights Committee
Briton reveals how he saw Prisoners die before his eyes in a Bahrain prison Briton Richard Mechan describes some of his experiences inside a Bahrain prison to Jeannette Oldham of the Sunday Mercury September 2004 Briton tells of Four Year Nightmare in Bahrain Jail. I was beaten up badly five of six times. I saw men on hunger strike die in front of me A BRITON freed after spending nearly four years in a jail in one of the worlds most repressive countries has told for the first time some of the horrors he endured. Richard Mechan, 38, was jailed for 15 years on July the 4th 2000 for stabbing to death an American at his home in the Gulf State of Bahrain-but he has always insisted he acted in self defence. He was released last August after intervention by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw-and was re-united with his disabled daughter Laura, aged 15. But he says that his three and half years in prison were like a life sentence. “Because everything was spoken in Arabic, the first I knew that I had been sentenced was when the guards grabbed me whilst stood in front of the judge. I had no idea what had taken place and it wasnt until I was removed from the court that I had found out that I had been given 15 years for manslaughter. I felt faint and my girlfriend was absolutely distraught”. The father-of-one, from Kingsholm in Gloucester, insists he acted in self-defence when a drunken Marshall Emmons, 31, launched a series of unprovoked attacks on him. But he was sentenced to seven years for manslaughter, and further eight years because he had drunk alcohol prior to the death – the equivalent of just two pints. The Gulf State of Bahrain has been repeatedly criticised throughout the world for its Human Rights record and its lack of real democracy since its National Assembly was dissolved in 1975. Dissidents and political opponents have been imprisoned without trial, tortured and even murdered at the hands of the Bahraini security forces. An army of 20,000 foreign nationals from all over the sub-Asian continent have been employed above Bahrainis to protect the royal family and its interests. After he originally surrendered himself at the scene to the local police, he was held for three weeks at a police office, chained to a desk, together with four Indian prisoners The fight with the American had left him bruised, bleeding and with a broken thumb but he was not allowed to see a doctor. He had his first shower a week later For the next seven months, Mr Mechan, a £75,000-a-year IT manager for the oil company Aramco, was locked a tiny cockroach infested cell with a hole in the ground which acted as both wash basin and toilet. “I can remember walking down a corridor to the cell,” he recalled.” There were dozens of gaunt faces with staring eyes and beards down to their knees.” “I thought, Oh God, please dont leave me here. “A month later I was moved into solitary confinement. There were times that I spent up to five days without once being allowed to exercise.” “This was every ex-pats worse nightmare. I was going to go out of my mind but was determined to stay strong.” After sentencing he was moved to Manama Fort, a notorious jail condemned as a living hellhole by Amnesty International for the torture and deaths of political prisoners that had taken place there. The first prisoner he met in Jaw Prison was an African diplomat who had been allegedly caught importing around 8 million pounds worth of Bahraini currency into Dubai, a separate Gulf State “He was a devout Muslim and we became great friends,” Mr Mechan said He was just doing what his government had told him to and had the relevant paper work to back this up. He was never tried and treated so badly that he put a noose around his neck and tied it to the cell door. “The guards stormed his cell with tear gas. I never saw him again.” Mr Mechan says that he might have been released in a year if he had been an obedient prisoner and his Father stopped making a fuss. “I was dammed if I was going to do that” he said.” I resisted them all the way. I sang songs out of tune-to annoy the guards” “I refused to wear the uniform and also went on hunger strike. I must lost two stone within the first few weeks. “I was attacked and beaten about five or six times throughout my time in prison. I have seen men on hunger strike die in front of me.” “There were men who lost there toes through beatings from the guards who regularly stormed the cells and would beat people mercilessly. One time I did think I would die was directly. After speaking about jail conditions to visitors from the UN Human Rights Group, I was thrown into a tiny cell about six ft long by 3 ft wide. I couldnt stand up, I could barely lie down. I remained in this unventilated place for a week. The outside temperatures were in excess of 50 c. “They knew I had a potentially fatal heart condition and I had trouble breathing. There was a water pipe and I kept flooding the cell floor to stay cool. In February last year he gained a new cellmate- a suspected Bahraini al Qaida leader. “He approved of me because I had killed an American and he hated Americans.” Said Mr Mechan “I told him I wanted my life back. He replied I want my guns back Mr Mechan said he quickly had to learn how to survive in jail “I paid two Indians £5 a month to watch my back. Two Arabs tried to kill me on two separate occasions. One of them tried to break into my shower but I fought him off.” Despite making over 60 court appearances, Mr Mechan was never allowed to give his account of the death of Mr Emmons. “I deeply regret the death of Marshall Emmons but I dont regret defending myself”, he told the Mercury “On the night it happened, I went to bed early after a 15 hour day working in Saudi Arabia, but at 11 pm some friends turned up at my house Emmons had followed them, uninvited I made them some food then my mates went to bed leaving me with Emmons who was becoming more and more drunk and aggressive, I asked him to leave and he flew at me whilst I was sat down”. “He was kicking and punching me. I managed to get away from him twice but he repeatedly attacked me. I armed myself with the knife I had used to prepare the food. I tried to beat him off but he was raining punches down on me. I was physically exhausted by this time. I suffer from the heart disease, HyperThropic Cardiomyopathy, where I can die under stress and have to take beta-blockers. I was physically exhausted at this point. I was on my knees and I pushed my knife hand forward. I though I had just grazed his ribs but when I looked then I realised he was in trouble. I tried to stem the bleeding with a damp towel and applied mouth to mouth resuscitation but to no avail” I ran to raise help from my friends, but by the time we got to him he had died,” he added. “I thought What the hell I am I going to do?. My friends left to get the police and I got my passport and wallet and waited for the police to arrive.” “I was numb-my whole life had come and gone in the space of a few minutes” There was no phone in the house and they left to ring the police from a nearby supermarket. An hour later the CID officers arrived. Mr Mechan was eventually interviewed by Col. V.B. Walmsley, a Briton working for the Ministry of Interior in Bahrain, a colleague of the infamous Col.Ian Henderson known as the Butcher of Bahrain the Scots-born former head of Secret Police in the Tiny Gulf State. He is now Col. Walmsley with other Bahraini officials, for false imprisonment and torture. “He asked me to write down what happened. I wrote about four pages and drew some diagrams. The statement was never seen again.” “Mr Mechan had to attend court without a lawyer; something denied him by Col. Walmsley in the presence of British Embassy Officials. During the closed court session he was ordered to sign a confession written in Arabic. Two years later the subsequent translation showed it had omitted every single mitigating circumstance which would have meant a case of self-defence, in fact, he wasnt even allowed to enter a plea of self-defence. “He said I wanted the courts to
know that I acted in self-defence, that I had a potentially fatal heart condition and that I was aware Emmons was violent, and I had no choice at that instant. But the Judge just dismissed it all out of hand and none of it was recorded so the subsequent trials never knew what I told the “confession” Judge, even though I now have a copy of my CID statement which laid out all these facts of self defence. firstname.lastname@example.org ——————————————————————————————– I owe my freedom to my Dad Richard Mechan believes he would still be rotting in jail if it had not been for his dad. Retired communications engineer, Terry Mechan, aged 62 also from Gloucester, launched a one-man crusade to overturn the 15 year sentence. He commissioned the State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, to review the prosecution forensic evidence. His evidence stated that “Mr Emmonss death was entirely consistent with Mr Mechan attempting to protect and defend himself, lawfully, against a violent physical assault”. Terry Mechan also hired a private detective in America to research Mr Emmonss past. He found that the engineer, from Tucson, Arizona, had previous convictions for violence and drunkenness. At one stage he had been imprisoned for breaking a 72 year old mans collar bone with a pick handle. At the time of his death in Bahrain, he was wanted by the FBI for escaping prison. Richard Mechan was finally freed last August following a clemency plea by Jack Straw. He remembers being overwhelmed by the sight of ordinary things. “Everyone had mobile phones!” he said. “They didnt when I went away” “I saw trees and just wanted to hug them. It was wonderful to breathe fresh air” “My father met me at Heathrow. He just said That was a long one. “Id like to thank lots of people, but above all my dad. He is an outstanding individual- he fought my corner relentlessly for 3 and half years and all within the law. Richard Mechan is now suing the Bahraini government and the King for false imprisonment and torture. He has named the officials as Sheik Khalifa bin Rashid al-Khalifa, Deputy head of the supreme Council for Justice, Col Abdul Racman Amuruci, director of Jau prison in Bahrain, Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, the Bahraini Ambassador to Britain and Briton Col Walmsley. Mr Mechan added “I tried to go back to Bahrain in March to begin my legal action in the Constitutional Courts but was denied admission.
There is much more to tell about Bahrain in this matter and I will use my constitutional rights in this country to reveal them in my legal action against all the people involved.