Bahrain: The Al-Khalifa distribute honours on British intelligence officers

Human right activists in Geneva organised a seminar on Bahrain inside the UN compounds on 25 April. The documentary film produced by Channel 4 on the role played by the British officer Ian Henderson in repressing Bahrainis became the centre-point of discussion held in one of the halls as part of NGOs activities during the 56 the session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Four international human rights organisation, FIDH, OMCT, Interfaith international and Nord-Sud sponsored the show, It was attended by scores of delegates and Dr. Charles Grave of Interfaith International chaired the meeting. At the end of the show a debate was opened where both Dr. Grave Mr. Abdul-Nabi Al-Ekry of CDHRB, answered the questions raised by the audience.

While the activities at the UN Human Rights Commission continued, the ruling Al-Khalifa family had its own agenda. It despatched one of its number, the torturer Abdul Aziz Attiat-Allah Al-Khalifa and at the same time the Amir presented the British officers controlling the intelligence services and interior ministry with the highest tribal honours. Several names were honoured by the Al-Khalifa including (names are re-translated from Arabic and hence may have different spelling): Ian Henderson, Raymond Michael Mather Lou, N. C. Raffle, J. Stone, Fernon Barry Wamsley, A. B. McInt, Donald Bryan, Samuel B. Ishaq, James Windsor, and David Darby. The honouring of these intelligence and interior ministry officers by the Al-Khalifa shows that they are intent on continuing to repress the citizens of Bahrain.

Meanwhile, human rights abuses continued. The security forces attacked Nabih Saleh island on 13 April and arrested Abdul Zahra Isa Mohammed, 22, and Qasim Hassan Abdulla, 16. Earlier, the security forces had attacked Sitra-Sfalah and arrested Haji Ibrahim Tawwash and on the next day they re-attacked his house and arrested his son Mahdi Ibrahim Tawwash, 24. The latter remained in detention. In Duraz, the security forces arrested Seyyed Hussain Majid Fadhl, Nadheer Hassan, 20, Seyyed Hassan Saeed. Only the latter was released after suffering exhaustion from the torture he had been subjected to. The security forces re-attacked Duraz on 14 April and arrested Mahmood Thabit, 17, Mahmood Jamil, 17. On the same day, the security forces attacked Massallah and arrested Ali Mirza, 20, Hani Mirza, 19, Seyyed Fadhil Al-Massali, 16, Makki Ahmed Hassan, 16, and Nabil Ahmed Hassan, 17. All Massallah’s persons were tortured in Al-Khamis police station and released after several days. A similar attack on Iskan-Jedhafs resulted in the arrest of the 12-year child Ahmed Makki. The child was tortured for in Al-Khamis police station and then released after 2 days.

The case of seven citizens from Shakhora confirm the arbitrariness of the interior ministry and the extent of its violation of human rights. Ali Mulla Mohammed Al-Madhi, Osama Saeed, Abdul Jalil Mohammed Kadhim, Aqil Ali, Seyyed Mohammed Jaffer, Abbas Salman, Seyyed Yasir Marhoon, have spent more than two years in administrative detention. They were brought before the State Security Court 14 times. During these fourteen times, the interior ministry accused them with three different charges/cases. The court acquitted them on all charges during all the sessions. However, the interior ministry refused to release them.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

28 April 2000

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Bahrain: Feudal politics smothers the political rights of citizens

The State of Bahrain under the present Al-Khalifa leadership continues to politically march backward. The year 2000 has been marked with reversals in the political process on several fronts. It is now twenty-five years since the late Amir had decided to abolish the parliament and suspend key articles of the constitution that specifies the functioning of a political system with political rights for citizens, independent judiciary and freedom of conscience. The Al-Khalifa rulers have respected non of these provisions and nothing seems to be changing.

The Amir issued a decree re-organising the Ministry of Justice, and in this decree he dashed all hopes for legal reforms. The judges were firmly brought under the control of the justice minister. It is expected that the same Al-Khalifa and short-term judges recruited from Egypt on 2-year contracts will staff the forthcoming Supreme Council of Judiciary. These are the same individuals who arbitrarily sentenced the citizens of Bahrain to long terms of imprisonment without a just due process. The State Security Court and the State Security Law continue to smother the political life of Bahrain and there is no intention to repeal these unconstitutional instruments.

The prime minister is more concerned with enlarging his unfair trading practices and in competing with the Amir and crown prince. Because he Amir visited the island of Muharraq, the prime minister paid a visit (accompanied by his son the transport minister) on 26 April to woo the residents of Muharraq. The competition to win Muharraq has been increasing, following announcement of the Amir that he decided to demolish an old quarter in the city and to build a palace for his son, the crown prince, to receive visitors of the residents of Muharraq.

Relationship with Qatar is pursuing a tricky route. Qatar’s ambassador started his term in Manama and the crown princes of both countries met to discuss bilateral relations. The International Court of Justice in the Hague is resuming its activities with regard to the dispute between Qatar and Bahrain on Hawar islands.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

27 April 2000

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Bahrain: The Amir’s programme has no agenda for political reforms

The pro-democracy Bahraini personality, Dr. Abdul Hadi Khalaf published an important article in the journal “Civil Society”, Volume 9, Issue 100, April 2000, titled “The New Amir of Bahrain: Marching Sideways”. Dr. Khalaf anaylsed the succession of Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa to the thrown on 6 March 1999 and how the Amir started his rule by say that Bahrain “is entering an era of change for the better in all areas…”. The Amiri manifesto solemnly added that “at the top [of my] priorities are national unity and internal security, through the solidarity of all Bahrain citizens, without discrimination, whatever their origin or creed”. Dr. Khalaf reviewed some of the Amir’s attempts to carry out the tasks he set for himself and his reign. Dr. Khalaf also assessed aspects of the political environment within which the Amir treads. The account confirms that there are some straws in the wind but not enough to indicate that a serious political shift is in the making.

Dr. Khalaf stated “Hamad spent most of his energies on consolidating his reign. To the dismay of his opponents, all his moves have been within the confines of the ancien régime. He has concentrated on mobilizing the same external and internal resources of legitimacy that supported his father’s reign. These did not include, at least not since 1975, the constitution and rights and obligations it sets for the ruler and the ruled. During the past year, one can identify the following areas with which the Amir has been preoccupied: .. the ruling family, the tribal and clerical establishment, and human rights issues.

Dr. Khalaf concluded his essay by saying: “Hamad’s record during the year seems modest and uninspiring. Mistakenly, probably, he has raised expectations to levels that he could not possibly carry through without confronting his powerful uncle. He attempted to cover a vast area without securing, among other things, a popular base of support for his moves. To do so he needed to take the bull by its horn, as it were.

Hamad ruled out any meeting with members of the PPC, let alone initiating a meaningful political dialogue, which lead to national reconciliation. Few weeks ago the Amir, following his father’s footsteps, refused to receive a letter from the PCC sent to him through one of his newly appointed advisors. Like his father, he has reportedly stated that he, too, does not receive petitions. Ironically, the action of the Amir is within the letter of the constitution. Article 29, specifically states ” Any individual can address the public authorities in writing and with his signature. Only duly constituted organizations and corporate bodies shall have the right to address the public authorities collectively”. By defining the PPC as not a ‘duly constituted organization or a corporate body’, the Amir was formally correct, but this is likely to grow into a strategic blunder. The final price of his blunder may be more than just delaying a return to constitutional legitimacy and democracy.

Sheikh Hamad bin Isa has not been idly sitting by during the year. He has concentrated on maintaining the cohesion of his family as well as trying to establish a credible base of authority which can compete, if not completely neutralize, the power base of his uncle, the Prime Minister. The latter, the founder of the modern state according to his official biography, would certainly be happy to turn his nephew into a powerless figurehead of the state. It is too early to judge how viable is the current cohabitation in Bahrain, or to predict its likely outcomes.”

Bahrain Freedom Movement

25 April 2000

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Bahrain: Cheap tricks exposed the dictatorial regime in Geneva

Samir Rajab, the appointed head of the governmental committee for human rights confirmed that the primary aim of his activities is to defend the government and not the victims of torture and human rights abuse in Bahrain. His confirmation came in a statement he delivered on 19 April before the UN Commission on Human Rights during the 56th annual session being held in Geneva. Mr. Rajab fled the hall directly after delivering the statement and ran away from the non-governmental organisations that wanted to ask him about the nature of the role prescribed for him by the government of Bahrain.

The statement delivered by Mr. Rajab confirmed all what the opposition had said. Opposition’s statements revealed last February that this person together with some others, were summoned by the torturer Abdul Aziz Atteyat-Allah Al-Khalifa and were ordered to prepare themselves for defending the atrocities of the government before the UN Commission in Geneva.

Bahraini human rights activists in Geneva published the stained records of Mr. Rajab. The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Bahrain (CDHRB) stated that “Samir Rajab was used by the government for similar purposes. When the government dissolved the Bahraini Bar Society in 1998, Mr. Rajab was one of those who were appointed by the government to replace the elected executive committee. Because of his services for dictatorship, he was awarded with an appointment in the powerless Shura Council.” Samir Rajab was the one who refused to do anything without prior permission from the interior ministry.

The Al-Khalifa ruling family has suffered extensively in Geneva this year. The prime minister sent one of his torturers, Abdul Aziz Atteyat-Allah Al-Khalifa, to head the mission for whitewashing the atrocities of the regime. The Swiss newspaper “Le courrier” exposed the presence of this torturer on 15 April. The paper quoted international human rights organisations as well as diplomats saying that the presence of this individual is a sham and an insult to human taste and to human rights since he was himself responsible for torturing Bahrainis. Sending such a person to Geneva to represent his family and the tortures of Bahrain has characterised the real situation in Bahrain. A situation that could not be salvaged by cheap resources employed in a Shura Council or in a government-controlled committee that operates under the auspices of the interior ministry.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

22 April 2000

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Bahrain: Government’s ambassador in Geneva caught red-handed in a shameless act

Mr. Ahmed Al-Haddad, the government’s ambassador in Geneva, was caught red-handed stealing pamphlets and articles that were displayed by a human rights organisation during the 56th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. He was caught on 17 April during his illegal and shameless act of stealing all copies of an article published by the Swiss newspaper “Le courrier”. The article describes the situation in Bahrain and speaks about the torturer Abdul-Aziz Atiatallah Al-Khalifa, who was despatched to Geneva to represent the torturers of Bahrain. The Swiss newspapers reported the implications of a torturer heading the Bahraini delegation at the Commission in Geneva.

Human rights activists reported the theft of Mr. Al-Haddad to the UN officials. A human rights activist stated that Mr. Al-Haddad had been warned that he is allowed to pick one copy only, but the ambassador was so frightened of the truth revealed by the Swiss newspaper that he couldn’t resist grabbing all copies and removing them from the distribution desk.

Bahraini human rights activists representing the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Bahrain (CDHRB) submitted several reports revealing the worsening situation of human rights in Bahrain. Mr. Abdul Nabi Al-Ekri, representative of CDHRB said that the shameless act of the ambassador reveals the true nature of the regime.

The International Secretariat of the International Organisation Against Torture issued two urgent actions on Bahrain. It said that “OMCT has been informed by the Bahrain Human Rights Organisation (BHRO) a member of the OMCT network, of the arrest and detention of 23 persons and savage attack on one person in various incidences. According to the information received, On 22nd March 2000, mercenary forces attacked Karzakkan and arbitrarily detained six persons, including a child (see Case BHR 110400.CC)… It is all reported that several attacks and arrests were reported in Sanabis.”

Another urgent action by the International Secretariat of OMCT focussed on the detention of children in Bahrain. OMCT recalled that Bahrain “is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37b) which states that “The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.” Furthermore, that “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” OMCT urged the authorities in Bahrain to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the above-mentioned persons; order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges or, if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times; put an immediate end to the use of arbitrary detention of people by the police and abrogate 1974 State Security Law and all national laws which are not in compliance with international human rights standards; guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international standards, in particular those established in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Bahrain.”

Bahrain Freedom Movement

18 April 2000

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Bahrain: Religious and national figures condemn backward policies

The people of Bahrain commemorated the Day of Ashura on 15 April amid tight security environment imposed by the interior ministry. The security forces had been attempting to impose a regime aiming at the stripping of religious rights enjoyed by the people for the past fourteen centuries.

Following on from the appointment last month of an Al-Khalifa security officer (Abdul Rahman bin Sagher Al-Khalifa) as a governor for the Northern region, several citizens were contacted by the interior ministry and asked to work as “mukhtars”. The mukhtar is an appointed individual charged with spying on social activities and acting as a guard (natoor) for the ruling Al-Khalifa family. The interior ministry contacted Sayed Kadhum Al Durazi (a known personality in Duraz) and asked him to become a “mukhtar.” This appointment will be detrimental to the reputation of the citizen who knows that the people will be boycotting him the day he announces that he will be working as a “social spy” for the ruling family.

In Muharraq, two religious scholars, Sheikh Talib Shuwaiter and Sheikh Salah Al-Joder, spoke about the wide-spread corruption and bad policies of the government. Sheikh Salah Al-Joder criticised in his Friday sermon (delivered in Othman-bin-Affan Mosque) the recent changes in the judiciary. He slammed the lack of independence of judiciary and how it is controlled by the few for their own interests. A decree issued recently by the Amir distributed all the top positions on members of his family.

On 14 April, the pro-democracy figure, Mr. Mohammed Jaber Sabah wrote an important article in Al-Quds Al-Arabi questioning the logic behind the re-arrest of Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain. He said “this was a mystery to all people who can not understand how the establishment functions and what sort of rationale followed by those who continue to detain pro-democracy leaders.” He also questioned why is Sheikh Al-Jamri continues to be under house arrest. Another article written by Mr. Ahmed Al-Thawadi on 10 April in Al-Quds Al-Arabi said that the honours showered by the ruling family on the British officer Ian Henderson defines how distant this family is from the people of Bahrain.

Graham Fuller and Rend Francke published their important study on the Arab Shia (ISBN 0-312-22178-9). An important chapter on Bahrain revealed the background of the struggle for democracy in Bahrain and how the strategy of the ruling family concentrated on discriminating amongst the Bahraini people for their selfish interests.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

16 April 2000

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Bahrain: Falsifying history will backfire on Al-Khalifa

One of Bahrain’s religious scholars publicly spoke out against the corruption of the government. Last Friday, Sheikh Talib Shuwaiter of Muharraq criticised (during the Friday prayer sermon) the lavish spending on all types of useless activities that have no value to the struggling people.

It is worth noting that the new Amir has launched major celebrations for Arabian horse-racing. He was quoted last Sunday in Al-Ayyam newspaper saying that “we have preserved the pure breading of the Arab horse since the creation of the Al-Khalifa Arabian Kingdom in tnis land three hundred years ago”. This erroneous and baseless statement is the first of its kind and indicates that the Al-Khalifa have not yet understood Bahrain or the people of Bahrain. The history of the past 300 years is well-documented and falsification will always fail. In 1982, the Al-Khalifa abandoned a major drive for falsifying the history of Bahrain when it found that historians were about to dig out one of the worst histories of any ruling family in the Gulf.

A new book was published last month on Bahrain containing deep historical and socio-political analyses by Dr. Abdul Hadi Khalaf. The book was titled “Unfinished Business – Contentious Politics and State-Building in Bahrain, ISBN 91-7267-004-5. The focus of the book is the faltering process of nation-building and the role of social forces involved at different phases of the process. The book illustrates the assertion that contentious politics in Bahrain have oscillated between two grand strategic options, the ethnic and the national. The unfinished business refers to the role of the Al-Khalifa family, through its domination of the State, in confronting attempts to creating a national identity.

It transpired that the prisoners and detainees held in the Dry-Dock camp at Hidd went on strike two weeks ago. Sixty five detainees staged a hunger strike for eight days and they all demanded their immediate freedom.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

12 April 2000

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Bahrain: More interventions on Bahrain at the UN

The 56th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights continued to hear more interventions about the continued violations of human in Bahrain. “Liberation”, OMCT and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) called on the international community to probe the Bahraini regime for its continued abuse of human rights.

Special Rapporteur, Radhika Coomaraswamy, on the Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective, focusing on violence against women, its causes and consequences, the trafficking of women, women’s migration and violence against women, which was submitted in accordance with Commission resolution 1997/44. Addendum 1 to the report consists of information reviewed by the Special Rapporteur with respect to various countries that included Bahrain.

Various other Rapporteurs covered Bahrain in their reports including Sir Nigel Rodley on Torture, Mr. Dato Cummerswamy on Independence of Judiciaryy and Mr. Louis Joinet on arbitrary detention.

Under item 11, violations of human rights including torture , disappearance , extrajudicial killing and detention, several NGOs highlighted Bahrain in their interventions. Liberation asserted that despite that Bahrain had ratified article 20 of The Convention Against Torture (CAT), torture is still rampant in Bahraini prisons and detentions. The new Amir has is not coming up to expectations.OMCT expressed its deep concern on the human rights situation in Bahrain and recorded sustained and systematic violations of human rights . It urged the Government of Bahrain to allow a speedy and thorough visit by The Working Group on Arbitrary detention (WGAD) to Bahrain. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)stated that while the government asserts that the human rights situation is good , it is actually deteriorating and urged the government to allow the visit of the WGAT quickly.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

11 April 2000

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Bahrain: More citizens dragged before the Al-Khalifa court of injustice

Three Bahraini ladies were dragged before the draconian State Security Court on Saturday 8 April. The ladies are Leeda Ahmed Isa Al-Oreibi, 27-year old from Tobli, Hanan Salman Ahmed Haider, 21-year old from Manama, and Salwa Hassan Ahmed Haider, 35-year old from Daih. The court is presided by a member of the Al-Khalifa family and is staffed by two non-independent Egyptian judges (on 2-year renewable contractual arrangement). The courtroom is located in the militarised village of Jaw where the Al-Khalifa commit most of the human rights abuses under an iron curtain.

The three ladies were initially arrested and tortured in 1998 and were then released following a popular uproar regarding the way they were ill-treated and forced to depict acts near the palaces of the Al-Khalifas as part of a show of muscle by the ruling family.

Another group of youths who are in detention are also to be dragged before the unconstitutional court on 8 April. These are Sadiq Qassim, 23, Mohammed Al-Daihi, 22, Qassim Ali Al-Daihi, 23 (both are brothers of the detained personality Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi), Mohammed Al-Jeser, 33, and Saeed Al-Sheikh, 32. The latter has already appeared before the Al-Khalifa judge in another case.

The continuation of these trials has come as another proof that the Al-Khalifa family has not changed and has no intention of reforming itself. The trials are being processed while detentions, forcible exiles and torture continue as usual. The case of the 18-year boy, Naji Ahmed Salman, from Kawarah, who was detained since 5 January 1997 (and remained in the Dry-Dock camp since then) and is now in Salmanya Hospital (Ward 12) suffering from the ill-treatment and torture he was subjected to, is but another proof of the brutality of the ancient regime.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

8 April 2000

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Bahrain: EU representative and UN experts slam Al-Khalifa

The Al-Khalifa family was slammed by UN human rights experts during the 56th meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission being held in Geneva. The Al-Khalifa government had despatched the largest delegation to the Geneva meeting. The latter is made up of security officers representing the torturers in the interior ministry as well as some individuals from the foreign ministery.

Judge Louise Joinet, the chairman of the “UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention” informed the UN meeting about the unacceptable manoeuvres of the Al-Khalifa government. He stated “During the fiftieth session of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the Permanent Representative of Bahrain to the United Nations Office at Geneva declared that his Government “has also agreed to extend an invitation to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for a preparatory visit to Bahrain, the date of which will be fixed in consultation with the Chairman of the Working Group” (see document E/CN.4/Sub.2/1998/SR.25). Consultations were held between the Group and the Bahraini authorities during the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th meetings of the session. Initially, the visit was planned for the course of 1999, but it could not be conducted on account of scheduling difficulties of the Bahraini authorities. On 6 July 1999, the Under-secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain addressed a letter to the Vice-Chairman of the Group, requesting a deferral of the Group’s visit to the year 2001. Following consultations during the fifty-first session of the Sub-Commission and the twenty-fifth session of the Working Group, the Group addressed a letter to the Bahraini authorities, requesting its visit to be scheduled during the year 2000. On 30 November 1999, the Permanent Representative of Bahrain to the United Nations Office at Geneva informed the Chairman of the Group that his Government was not prepared to accede to the Group’s request, and reiterated that the Group’s visit should not take place until the year 2001. Noting that the Government’s position had already caused the cancellation of one visit by the Group in 1999 and that further deferrals of the visit would jeopardise the credibility of the Group’s activities, the Chairman, on the Group’s behalf, informed the authorities that the Group would decline to visit Bahrain in those circumstances;”

The declaration made by Judge Joinet means that the Bahraini government (controlled by the Al-Khalifa family) has failed to fulfil its obligation made in front of the UN Sub-Commission in August 1998. It was that obligation which stopped the Sub-Commission from another damning resolution during the 1998 session. This means that next August the Sub-Commission will have to respond to the mischievous Al-Khalifas.

It also transpired that the chairman of the UN Rapporteuor on Torture had requested to visit Bahrain and investigate allegations of torture and ill treatment and that the Al-Khalifa government refused to allow such a visit to take place. The European Union took an honourable position when its official statement said “the EU regrets the refusal of the Government of Bahrain to receive the Special Rapporteuor on Torture”. The Swiss representative (although not a member of the UN but wilds an influential position) called for a mandate to ensure that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is allowed a visit to Bahrain.

The people of Bahrain have won another battle against dictatorship on the international scene, but all recognise that the path for human rights and democracy will always be a hard and long one especially as the obstacle to freedom is an ancient mentality that refuses to behave in a humane manner.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

7 April 2000

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Bahrain: Human rights abuses uninterrupted

The Honourable Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty’s Government what information they have about the re-arrest of Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain, who was released on 17th March after more than four years of imprisonment in Bahrain without charge or trial; and whether they will raise his case and those of other long-term detainees in Bahrain at the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Commission.”

Baroness Scotland of Asthal (speaking for the British Government) responded on 4 April saying “We have asked our Embassy in Bahrain for full details of Mr. Hussain’s case and in particular the circumstances surrounding his resent re-arrest which we view with concern.”

While the UN Human Rights Commission listens to interventions damning the Al-Khalifa government, inside Bahrain business is as usual, with human rights abuses continuing every day.

An 18-year boy, Naji Ahmed Salman, from Kawarah, who was detained on 5 January 1997 and remained in administrative detention (in the Dry-Dock prison camp) since then has been transferred to hospital suffering from exhaustive torturing. The interior ministry transferred the boy to Salmanya Hospital on 31 March and claimed that he had fell down. The boy was arrested at the age of 15 and had been ill treated.

Hussain Saleh, 22, was returning from Saudi Arabia on 21 March to his country. The security forces arrested him upon his arrival via the causeway linking Bahrain to Saudi Arabia on 21 March. Nothing has been heard about him since then.

On 5 April Hussain Ali Ahmed Al-Tawil returned to his country from Qatar. Upon his arrival, he was detained at the airport and then forcibly deported from his country. The Al-Khalifa government has been forcibly deporting the natives of Bahrain, while at the same time has imported thousands of mercenaries and granted citizenship.

On 31 March, the security forces attacked Bilad al-Qadim and arrested the following citizens during dawn raids: Salah Mirza Ali, 20, Fadil Al-Kattab, 22, Hassan Abdul Jabbar Mirza, 19, Hussain Saleh Al-Towbaji, 21. Similar dawn raids against the residents of Jedhafs resulted in the arrest if Ali Hassan Ali, 36.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089

Bahrain: New Zealanders petition the Amir of Bahrain

More than seventy personalities from New Zealand petitioned the Amir of Bahrain this week with regard to the continuation of human rights abuses. They included members of New Zealand parliament, human rights advocates, lawyers, journalists and university professors. The petition was submitted this week to the Amiri Court in Rifa’a Palace (Bahrain) by fax and by post expressing concern at the continued violations of human rights in Bahrain. The petitioners said:

“We, the undersigned, are outraged and disturbed about the continued violation of human rights in Bahrain. International human rights organisations have documented the systematic torture and intimidation conducted by the security forces in Bahrain. Mosques have been closed by these security forces which are led by some thirty British intelligence officers, headed by the notorious Ian Henderson. Scores of opposition leaders have been thrown in jail including human rights campaigners, writers, journalists and professors. Many have been intimidated or dismissed from their jobs.

State Security Courts that are headed by members of the ruling Al-Khalifa family and filled with judges from outside Bahrain have passed so many arbitrary sentences that can not be appealed. These sentences range from a few years to life imprisonment and death sentences. There are three innocent people on death row. Lawyers have documented more than 50 witnesses proving the innocence of these people from any punishable offences, yet the government refuses to listen or heed advice. Such a situation is not conducive to peace and stability. We call on the Bahraini authorities to listen to the calls for justice and to end the abuses conducted by the security forces.

Furthermore, we call on the Bahraini authorities to permit the return of exiled families under safe conditions, free of any form of coercion or intimidation by the authorities. We also call on the Bahraini government to return n the dissolved parliament, respect the international and Bahraini laws and free all political prisoners and detainees”.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

4 April 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


Bahrain: Cheap games exposed with the distribution of rotten sheep

The government-controlled newspapers carried stories about the release of fourteen detainees on 1 April in accordance with another “gratitude” by the Amir, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The newspapers failed to reflect the truth of the matter. These individuals had been administratively detained and in some case had completed sentences that had been passed against them by the unconstitutional State Security Court. For example, one of those released was Dr. Issa Mattar. Dr. Matter had completed his sentence five months ago but the interior ministry refused to release him. The citizens are used as “cheap stock” by an uncaring and repressive regime. The fictitious reporting is aimed at deflecting international attention at the time when the UN Human Rights Commission is meeting in Geneva.

On 1 April, four citizens were dragged before the unconstitutional State Security Court that is presided by a member of the ruling Al-Khalifa family and staffed by Egyptian judges imported on 2-year renewable contracts. The citizens were Majid Abdul Aziz Salman, 24, his brother Salman, 23, his cousin Salman Abdul Hadi Salman, 25, and Mohammed Ali Mansoor, 25. All these citizens come from Jabalat-Habshi and have been in administrative detention for about three years.

While the government-controlled pressed spoke about 14 released, the security forces arrested the following citizens in the past days. Between 22-24 March, the following were detained during dawn raids conducted against the residents of Bori: Seyyed Hashim Adnan Yousif, 15, Hassan Abdulla Ibrahim, 15, Abbas Ahmad Isa, 16, Yousif Ali Mohammed Al-Aali, 16, Mohammed Ali Salman, 17, Abbas Salman Mohammed Al-Aali, 18, and Salman Hassan Al-Oreibi, 18. A short period before this wave, the security forces had detained from Bori Ali Hassan Al-Hujairi, 22, his brother Mohammed, 17,Mohammed Habib, 16, Seyyed Ahmed Ali Al-Alawi, 21, Seyyed Hassan Jawad Shubbar, 18. Similar raids were also conducted against the residents of Karzakkan.

On 23 March, the security force conducted dawn raids against the residents of Daih and arrested Shakir Isa Madan, 25, Jaffer Mohammed Hassan, 26, Mohammed Saleh Mahdi Khalaf, 20, Mohammed Mahdi Abdul Rasool, 19, Taha Ahmed Ali Al-Sheikh, 19, Basim Ibrahim Mohammed Yaqoub, 18. On 25 March, the security forces conducted another wave of dawn raids against the resident of Daih and arrested Tawfiq Sa’af, 27, Saleh Ibrahim Al-Sheikh, 24.

On 30 March, the security forces conducted dawn raids against the residents of Duraz and arrested Seyyed Mahdi Majid, Seyyed Hassan Saeed, and Nadheer Hassan Ali.

As a replacement for snatching the sons of citizens, the Amiri court distributed sheep for consumption by attendants of some of the religious places. This is the second time the Amiri court distributes such sheep. However, in line with official views towards the citizens, the sheep are of the bad quality. Several people in-charge of religious places suspected the bad quality and took specimens for testing where vets confirmed that they are not suitable for public consumption.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

2 April 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089


Bahrain case at the UN Commission on Human Rights

The UN Commission on Human Rights, 56th session, listened to an intervention delivered on 29 March by Dr. Charles Grave of Interfaith International.

The UN Commission debated the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the world by hearing statements by representatives of States and non-governmental organisations. Speakers decried human rights violations in many countries and urged the Commission to continue to adopt resolutions on countries, which violated fundamental freedoms. Dr. Graves stated that “The human rights situation in Bahrain was worrying, including long and irregular administrative detentions.” His intervention included the following text:

“Mr. Chairman, the situation in Bahrain continues to preoccupy our organisation. The latest information received indicates that on 25 March this year the Ministry of the Interior released 24 citizens held in custody, including Mr, Omran Hussain Omran, Sheikh Mohammed al-Rayyash and Mr. Ibrahism Hassan Jassim, all of whom had been hold in administrative detention for more than four year.

The case of Mr. Jassim illustrates the sad situation of violation of human rights in Bahrain he was detained in December 1994 and them held for three years without charges. At the completion of his first batch of three years he was released for one night only, then taken back into prison for under two and a half years detention.

Sheikh Mohammed Al-Rayyash was detained in December 1995 and was subjected to various forms of torture. His only crime seems to have been leading prayers in a mosque which the Ministry of Interior wished to control because of certain persons who prayed inside it. Sheikh spoke against the governments action against places of worship, and as a result he ended up in administrative detention for more than four years.

According to information received at the international Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) another detainee in Bahrain the pro-democracy leader Abdul Wahab Hussain, was released from prison in Bahrain, on 17 March this year, having spent already three years in detention for his activities. On 14 March a High Court judge ordered his release, but only a few hours after being release, he was again imprisoned apparently for another period of three years, in accordance with the 1974 State Security Law which allows for maximum administrative detention of three years according to information received by OMCT, Mr. Hussain was pressured by the security officers to sign a statement apologising for his actions and to promise not to undertake any further act calling for political reforms.

Mr. Chairman, we note that the visit to Bahrain of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention which was to have taken place in October last year has again been delayed, upon the request of the Bahrain authorities, until 2001. On the other hand Mr. Chairman, irregular detentions continue to exist in Bahrain, and our organisation supports a speedy and thorough visit of the Working Group to Bahrain as soon as possible. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

Bahrain Freedom Movement

30 March 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089

April 2000

Bahrain: Political Stalemate; The Amir’s bandwagon comes to halt Now that the political process in the country has come to a halt, the situation has become prone to unlimited number of eventualities. The most unlikely outcome will be the stability of a regime that is intent of continuing its flagrant violation of its own emergency laws let alone international norms and conventions. After more than a year since he assumed the role of the ruler of Bahrain following the demise of his father, Sheikh Hamads programme has been shown to be void of real initiatives to deal with the chronic political problems. His uncle, the prime minister has clearly outmanoeuvred him in a spectacular move early in his career. Apparently, the new Amir has agreed to leave the management of the internal situation in the hands of his uncle, while keeping to himself foreign and defence affairs. The prime minister, assisted by people like Ian Henderson and a handful of anti-reform hard-liners went ahead with their iron-fist policies against the inhabitants of the island. They have ruled out any compromise and chosen to go all the way in their quest to crush the opposition. The Amir shrugged off all suggestions that he moved against the evil intentions of his uncle. It is said that there is a handful of those who have political agenda but are too weak to face the veteran prime minister. One year on and the situation remains as bleak as ever. The Amir has undertaken several initiatives in the opposite directions. He has instituted a more severe form of “Khalifanisation” of the country and installed several members of the ruling family in key posts. It is now agreed amongst the members of the Al Khalifa that the Ambassadors in important capitals all come from the Al Khalifa family. Only the ruling family must be made aware of what goes on between the embassies in these capitals and the officials of that country. Matters relating to property ownership, arms transfers and diplomatic initiatives must be confined to the ranks of the Al Khalifa. The appointment of women in important portfolios was confined to members of the Al Khalifa including the one who was appointed Ambassador to France. To the outside world the propaganda machine of the regime presented half the truth; that women have gained high posts, not mentioning that the lucky ones were all from the ruling family. The regime went further. The country has been divided into four districts and members from the ruling family have been appointed governors. So far Muharraq, Manama and the Northern district have been allocated a governor, all the three from the Al Khalifa and all are security officers. The Amir also appointed one of his cousins, Khalid bin Mohammed bin Salman Al Khalifa a deputy minister of the interior for security affairs. He had earlier been appointed to share the position Ian Henderson but it now seems that the appointment has been reversed, and Henderson is back as the chief of SIS. In these circumstances it is difficult to imagine how the situation could progress from here. The security forces have been on the rampage for the past five years and no efforts are made to curtail their activities. They receive their orders from the prime minister who has given them a free hand to deal with the disturbances. Although the government has signed the Convention Against Torture (CAT) they have not lived up to their obligation in line with this treaty. Not a single person from the rank and file of the security forces has ever been brought to justice or made to account for his crimes against the Bahraini detainees. The human rights committee which was called for by the Amir has proved to be a mouth piece for the government and has failed to offer any assistance to the victims of torture and arbitrary arrests. In fact its members were ordered to go to Geneva and work as agents for the government Perhaps one of the most dramatic follies of the regime has been the rearrest on 17 March of Mr. Abdul Wahab Hussain one hour after releasing him following a court case that found nothing tangible against him. Last month the 47 years-old political activist who had been in jail for more than four years was temporarily released after a successful appeal against his continued detention. The judge of the State Security Court ordered his release since the authorities had given no reason for his arrest for more than 4 years. It is believed that Mr. Hussain may be held for another three years in accordance with the draconian State Security Law. The UN Human Rights Commission which is holding its annual session in Geneva listened to interventions about the case of Bahrain with regards to violation of human rights under various categories. The government has dispatched the biggest team to defend it in Geneva several members of the security service some of whom are notorious torturers. In doing so, the government is banking on the support of representatives of friendly countries. It had earlier hosted a member of the UN Sub Commission for Human Rights and afforded her the treatment of heads of state. The aim is to win the support of as many individuals as possible especially those with financial needs. The opposition has however succeeded in presenting a more balanced picture of the situation in the country and has been targeted by members of the official delegation for abuse and hostile propaganda. It is now crystal clear that a new phase of struggle is about to begin, The government has lost golden opportunities that have been available to it ever since the last Amir died. It is clear that there is no interest within the political hierarchy in pursuing the path of dialogue and political reform. It is doing so at its perils. The people of Bahrain are clear in their demands and are unlikely to compromise them. The onus is thus on the government to undertake a serious initiative to pre-empt political explosion on the scale that it witnessed five years ago. Is there anyone out there to bring the message home to Al Khalifa? Bahrain Freedom Movement 1 April 2000

Tel/Fax: (+44) 207 278 9089

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