Update: Huda Ahmed Abdullah Ghurbal from Duraz, age 23, a student at Bahrain Training Institute, was arrested on 28 April at 10:00 am until afternoon. She was ill treated very badly by the security officers.
Bahrain: Opposition calls for the restoration of “political rights”
The new Amir, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa stated to local media on 28 April that “Bahrain is entering an era of change for the better in all areas,” and pledged “progress in partnership with all loyal Bahrainis, without discrimination.” He said “at the top of our priorities are national unity and interior security, through solidarity of all Bahraini citizens, without discrimination, whatever their origin or creed. There are no differences among citizens, either in rights or obligations. All citizens are equal under the law.”
The opposition welcomes the reiteration that all citizens will be treated equally. This policy needs to find its way to implementation to end the hitherto racist-sectarian polices that are implemented in all walks of life in Bahrain. However, many people did not welcome the statement that “internal security” is a top priority. This buzzword has traditionally meant more repression and oppression. Internal security can be achieved through the restoration of constitutional rule of law. The Amir resorted to the articles of the constitution upon the death of his late father in order to assume the rule of the country. However, the country’s constitution contains many other provisions and the first article specifically mentions “political right” for citizens. Internal security can easily be achieved through the restoration of the entire constitutional process.
Activists from 15 Arab countries and human rights organisations attended an international conference in Casablanca (Morocco) on Friday 23 April. The final statement attributed retreat of democracy in the Arab World “to deep-rooted anti-democratic tendencies of the Arab ruling elites,”. “Violations of human rights have given rise to political problems, leading to a crisis of legitimacy,” said Moroccan Prime Minister Abderrahman El Youssoufi who spent nearly four decades in prison and exile before forming Morocco’s first Socialist-led government last year. The final communiqué listed Bahrain as one of the countries with the worst violations of human rights. Bahrain Human Rights Organisation (BHRO) represented the case of Bahrain in the conference.
The Committee for Defence of Human Rights in Bahrain (CDHRB) organised an exhibition on the struggle of the Bahraini people on 26 April (6.00 PM) in the Danish capital, Copenhagen. The exhibition included posters, publications, photographs and artwork of prisoners of conscience in Bahrain. More than 300 people attended the exhibition and expressed their support to the people of Bahrain. A Danish woman who was planning to visit Bahrain in the summer cried when she saw the photographs of tortured Bahrainis. Most of those who attended the exhibition were Danish parliamentarians, journalist and representatives of human rights organisations.
The (clandestine) Bahrain Labour Union will also participate in the Mayday Festival in Denmark on 8th May 1999. It is expected that large number of people will attend this festival, and the Bahraini opposition will present the case of Bahrain, where the government has banned labour unions.
In the capital, Manama, massive processions toured the streets on the occasion of Ashur’a on Monday 26 April. The processions were peaceful and the people adhered to the opposition’s call for calm. Meanwhile, arbitrary arrests continued. The following are known to have been detained on 25 April: Mohammed Abdul Aziz, 34, Diy’a Al Ghurbal, 20, Ali Al Ghurbal, 18, Mohammed Ali, 16, Seyed Ala’a Bashir, 16, Seyed Sadiq Qasim, 17 and Hussain Fardan. All are from Duraz area.
Local papers said on 28 April that the government has codified one of its repressive polices that has already been implemented in the past four years. The papers said that citizens accused by the unconstitutional State security Courts of “sabotage” will face prison and the bill for the damage under new laws. If they do not meet court orders to pay for the damage, they will face extra time in prison on top of their original sentence. There is a lack of due process and the administration of justice has been condemned by international human rights organisations.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
29 April 1999
Fax: (44) 171 278 9089
MANAMA, April 28 (Reuters) – Bahrain’s new Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, has promised political and economic changes in the Gulf Arab state, local newspapers reported on Wednesday. They said Sheikh Hamad, who took over on the death of his father in March, also said Bahrain wanted to maintain good relations with Iran, the island’s non-Arab neighbour across the Gulf. “We put the development of the economy at the top of our priorities. There are new oil explorations and plans for several projects to activate the economic movement. We are encouraging the private sector to take part in these activities,” he said in remarks published in Bahraini newspapers. Bahrain, the least wealthy of the Gulf Arab states, has signed a deal with U.S. energy group Chevron Corp to drill for oil in northern and western offshore areas close to Saudi Arabia. Chevron said the drilling would begin in 2000. Sheikh Hamad said Bahrain planned to open its doors for foreign investment to participate in the development of the country through “several programmes such as ownership.” He gave no details. Responding to a question on the possibility of an elected shura (consultative) council, Sheikh Hamad said: “I believe that through consultation with the council, we will work for the benefit of Bahrain.” “That means the trend which we have experienced…is not to command the people to do things, but to carry out development through natural procedures. We will choose the right time for development,” Sheikh Hamad said. Bahrain appointed the shura council in 1992 mainly to give its views on laws drafted by the cabinet. In 1996, it increased its membership from 30 to 40 to widen popular representation. Restoration of an elected assembly dissolved in 1975 was a key demand by activists in anti-government protests which began in 1994 in Bahrain, the Gulf’s main financial and banking hub. The protests had abated since 1998. Sheikh Hamad said Bahrain hoped for better relations with Iran. “Iran is a neighbouring and Moslem country… Relations must be developed to the better. I think we are moving in that direction.”
Bahrain and Iran recently exchanged ambassadors, 30 months after the two countries downgraded their relations over an alleged pro-Iranian attempt to topple the Bahraini government.
23 April: Activists from 15 Arab countries and human rights organisations attended an international conference in Casablanca (Morocco). The final statement attributed retreat of democracy in the Arab World “to deep-rooted anti-democratic tendencies of the Arab ruling elites,”. The final communiqué listed Bahrain as one of the countries with the worst violations of human rights. Bahrain Human Rights Organisation (BHRO) represented the case of Bahrain in the conference.
The (clandestine) Bahrain Labour Union will also participate in the Mayday Festival in Denmark on 8th May 1999. It is expected that large number of people will attend this festival, and the Bahraini opposition will present the case of Bahrain, where the government has banned labour unions.
21 April: Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty’s Government what officials of the Government and armed forces of Bahrain they have received during the month of April?.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean replied that the “ Director of Middle East and North Africa, FCO, received Shaikh Abdul Aziz, the Bahraini Ambassador to London, at the Foreign Office on 1 April. They discussed a range of bilateral issues. To the best of my knowledge. HMG has not received any other officials of the Bahraini government or armed forces during April 1999.”
Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty’s Government whether they have received or sought information from the Government of Bahrain on the date of the resumed hearing of the case against Sheikh Abdul Amir Al Jamri; and whether they will ask the Government of Bahrain for permission to send a representative of the British Embassy to attend the proceedings.”
In reply, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean said “ We have not received or sought information from the Government of Bahrain on the resumed hearing of the case of Shaikh Al Jamri, owing to the period of official mourning following the death of Shaikh Isa. We requested permission to send a representative from the British Embassy to attend the trial on 22 February.”
Bahrain: A family forcibly exiled; call for reform continues
Hassan Ali Abdul Wahab Al-Asfoor (from Duraz) returned to Bahrain from Qum (Iran) in mid April. He had earlier been issued with a renewed passport from the Bahrain Embassy in Tehran. Mr. Al-Asfoor returned with his wife and daughter through the UAE and then to Bahrain through the causeway joining Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Upon his arrival, the security officers separated the family. The wife was forcibly deported to Lebanon. The father and the baby were forcibly deported to the UAE. His conditions in the UAE are not known and his family suspects he is probably languishing in a cell in the UAE. This ill treatment of citizens continues while thousands of mercenaries are imported into Bahrain and granted full citizenship.
Inside Bahrain, racist-sectarian columnists are given the opportunity to insult wide sections of the Bahraini society. These racist journalists wish to create marginal issues for the Bahraini people and hope to divert attention from core political issues, namely the continuation of the call for restoring constitutional rights to citizens
The Ashora processions proceeded as had been the customary practiced in Bahrain. In the capital some 25-30 thousands people poured into the capital on 23 and 24 April. The opposition had called for normalisation and calm to help in fostering a peaceful environment for political activism. Many of the pamphlets distributed around the country reinforced the message put across by the opposition. One pamphlet said “The parliament is a fundamental institution in a civil society. The political changes in the global political environment have provided nations with more participation in the decision-making process. The new Amir ought to work together with the opposition to reverse the decline in local democracy. The new Amir may release all the political prisoners as a first step to show his care for his nation’s political demands. Sheikh Al-Jamri’s health is deteriorating as a result of bad treatment by the security forces. This is a very serious incident and may bring the situation to confrontation. Confrontation will ultimately lead to clashes. The new Amir is required to investigate the matter and should act with care to prevent the security forces from undermining the steps taken by the opposition to reconcile the situation.”
Bahrain Freedom Movement
25 April 1999
Fax: (44) 171 278 9089
Bahrain: Rights groups call for international monitoring of abuses in Bahrain
The US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) submitted an important intervention to the UN Commission on Human Rights, which currently hold its fifty-fifth session at the UN headquarters in Geneva. HRW said “Our organisation continues to receive reports of arbitrary detention and physical abuse by security forces. The government provides no information concerning the numbers or identities of persons detained, including those held without trial under the State Security Law and those convicted and sentenced, or in some cases acquitted, following unfair trials before the State Security Court. No human rights groups are permitted to operate in Bahrain. The government has denied requests by international human rights groups to conduct fact-finding missions, and reportedly threatened to disbar defence lawyers if they provide information about arrests and security court trials to the press or international monitors. Human Rights Watch calls on the Commission to urge the government of Bahrain publicly to set an early date for the visit of the Working Group and to accord it full co-operation and access to witnesses as well as government officials.”
Another intervention was submitted by Dr. Charles Graves of Interfaith International. Dr. Grave said that “there are about 2000 political prisoners in Bahrain according to the report for 1998 of the International Committee of the Red Cross.” He continued “ this is an average of one political prisoner for every 200 persons in the country.” Moreover, he said “ Bahrain is the only state which forces its citizens who are political opponents into exile and bars them re-entry to their homeland. Some families are in refuge abroad for up to three generations, denied their Bahraini documents.”
Dr. Graves emphasised that the Bahrain government “must show the international community by its deeds rather by only promises, what it plans to do about prevailing human rights violations against citizens. He ended his intervention by saying “ the protection of political prisoners should be a major concern of Bahrain and the Commission, and as a first step along this line, the government of
Bahrain should immediately fulfil its promises made to the Sub-Commission, lifting its reservation on Article 20 of the Convention on Torture and inviting without delay the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to visit its country.”
The Business Middle East magazine published an article in its 1st-15th April issue entitled “ Change of atmosphere”. It said that “before his accession, Shaikh Hamed had shown little interest in Business, unlike Shaikh Khalifa, who owns a number of hotels in Bahrain. The new Emir has preferred horse riding, camel races, Arabic poetry and other traditional pursuits. As crown prince, he took barely any part in day-to-day government affairs—not least because Shaikh Khalifa was effectively running the country. That lack of experience my tell against him in any confrontation with the prime minister. But it may bring the chance of an end to the political unrest that has troubled Bahrain since 1994.”
The Committee for Defence of Human Rights in Bahrain (CDHRB) will organise an exhibition about he struggle of the Bahraini people on 26 April (6.00 pm) in the Danish capital, Copenhagen (Medorgerhust NORREALLE 7, 2200 Kobenhaven – N). The exhibition will include posters, publications, photographs and artwork of prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
22 April 1999
Fax: (44) 171 278 9089
Bahrain: Al-Jamri’s health deteriorates; Detainees sexually abused
The health of Sheikh Al-Jamri deteriorated sharply and he had been transferred (last week) for a short period to the military hospital. Sheikh Al-Jamri, who is placed in solitary confinement and prevented from meeting with his lawyers, had been subjected to a continuous torturing process commanded by intelligence security officers. These officers are saying to Sheikh Al-Jamri that they had already passed a long-term sentence against him and the State Security Court will merely announce the already passed long-term sentence. The torturers are angry at the statements made by Sheikh Al-Jamri during the first session of his trial on 21 February, during which he reiterated that he only demands “the restoration of the National Assembly”.
Homero Aridjis and Terry Carlborn, the International President and International Secretary of “International Pen” wrote an important letter on 15 April to the new Amir of Bahrain regarding Sheikh Al-Jamri. The said “on behalf of International Pen, the world-wide writer’s association with a 78-year history of defending freedom of expression, we write to you, as the new Amir of Bahrain, to appeal once again for the release of the cleric and writer, Sheikh Al-Jamri. We wrote to the late Amir on several occasions on this matter, but we hope that there is, with your accession, a fresh opportunity for a resolution to this perversion of justice. Sheikh Al-Jamri has now spent more that three years in prison..”.
Abuse of detainees in the Dry-Dock Prison Camp:
The Dry-Dock prison has become the regime’s concentration camp for Bahrainis as was Hitler’s for the Jews. The government of Bahrain thinks abusing a certain section of the society (in this case the Shia of Bahrain) is a “legitimate” act that will not be opposed by regional or international powers. Prisoners’ condition in this prison became unbearable. It was reported that the notorious Fahad Al-Fadalah stepped up his torture campaign against detainees. Al-Fadalah has now started to sexually-abuse several detainees in his quest to inflict more physical and psychological pain. On 31 March, Al-Fadalah and his gang stormed the cells in the Dry Dock concentration camp. The detainees were then beaten and their belongings destroyed or stolen. Prisoners who protested were tortured severely and then placed in section (B). Section (B) lacks any sanitary or electric facilities. It is known among detainees as the “the graveyard of the living”.
Protesting against the inhuman treatment, the prisoners in the Dry-Dock went on a three-day hunger strike and demanded to see the prison director Ali Al-Thani and his assistant Zahir (a Pakistani). Al-Fadalah ignored their demands and escalated his campaign of torture by selecting several of the prisoners, some of whom reported the sexual-buse that was personally conducted by Al-Fadalah.
Sicknesses and diseases are spreading amongst prisoners in the Dry-Dock as a result of the lack of proper treatment. One of the prisoners, Fawzi Ali Al Mu’alim, is in urgent need for treatment. It was reported that he throws up blood and that his face is covered with scars and protuberances. Also his lips were badly inflated. As a result he can neither sleep nor eat and he was not allowed medication or to see a doctor.
The following are some of the 450 detainees who are in need of urgent medical attention:
Mohammed Abdul Karim Al Nashit (heart problems), Jawad Abdula (stomach ulcer), Sadiq Muhsin Ali( epilepsy), Mahmood Ali Ebrahim, Hussain Abdula Abdul Karim(kidneys), Suhail Abdula Maki (dyspnea), Yousif Hassan Ali (psychological), Maytham Badi Al Shaikh (stomach ulcer), Basim Mohammed Ali, Abbas Ali Salman
(dyspnea), Ali Hassan (spinal), Qasim Abd Ali( lose of hearing), Taysir Mahdi (allergy), Husain Mahdi( paralysis), Basim Ahmed Eid (stomach ulcer), Isa Ahmed Ebrahim (sight problems), Mohammed Ali Abdula (kidneys), Mohammed Mansoor(sickle cells), Salman Abdul Aziz (sickle cells), Talib A’yish (diabetes), Nabil Ahmd (sickle cells), Abbas Al Shu’la (sickle cells), Mohammed Khudir Abas (legs problems), Abdul Salam Mohammed (stomach ulcer), Seyed Hussain Seyed Shubar (sickle cells), Musa Jaffar (bone marrow deficiency), Hussain Abdula Ahmed (stomach ulcer), Jassim Hamza Abbas (sight problems), Abdula Hussain Abdula (bone marrow deficiency), Saeed Mansoor (sickle cells), Mohammed Saeed Abdula (sever headache), Ahmed Jassim Al Qash’ami (rheumatism), Hussain Ali Mohammed (efflorescence), Ali Ahmed Hasan (sickle cells), Mahdi Ali Ahmed (stomach ulcer), Maytham Abbas (sickle cells), Yahya Ali Salman , Jaffar Hussain Mohammed (psychological) and Jassim Hassan Abbas (bone marrow deficiency).
Other human rights abuses:
On 1 April, Mr. Hussain Salman Al Ali, 28, was arrested on the Bahrain- Saudi causeway on his way back to Bahrain from pilgrimage to Mecca. The reasons for his arrest are still unknown. Likewise, another person from Kharanah arrested on the same day.
The wife of Mr. Mohammed who was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment was brutally tortured last week. Mrs. Mohammed (a mother of four children) was summoned to the torture centre and was beaten on her ears until they bled. She was later released without being treated for her injuries.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
18 April 1999
Fax: (44) 171 278 9089
15 April 1999
His Highness Shaikh Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa, Amir of Bahrain, Office of His Highness
PO Box 555, The Amiri Court, Rifa’s Palace, BAHRAIN
On behalf of International PEN, the worldwide writers’ association with a 78-year history of defending freedom of expression, we write to you, as the new Amir of Bahrain, to appeal once again for the release of the cleric writer, Shaikh Al-Jamri.
We wrote to the late Amir on several occasions on this matter, but we now hope that there is, with your accession, a fresh opportunity for a resolution to this perversion of justice. Shaikh Al-Jamri has now spent more than three years in prison. A trial was initiated against him last February, although, under Bahraini law, he should have been trial is being held in camera, and recent bearing dates have been deferred. We do not know when the next hearing will take place.
As far as PEN can determine, Shaikh Al-Jamri’s imprisonment stems only from his peaceful advocacy of political reform in your country and his call for the National Assembly to be reconstituted. Such actions as these do not, under international law, and foreign government officials, we therefore appeal to you to turn your attention to this matter as soon as possible. Your decision to grant him and amnesty would be greeted around the world as a positive sign of your commitment to fair governance and human rights in your country.
Homero Aridjis, International President
Terry Carlbom, International Secretary
Bahrain: The government conducts summary trials and sends torturers to London
The Bahrain government adjourned the trial of Sheik Al-Jamri to avoid coinciding with the month Muharram (starting next week) which witnesses mass procession in Bahrain. The trial of Sheikh Al-Jamri is expected to resume towards the end of April and beginning of May.
The State Security Court sentenced seven people on 10 April to terms ranging between 3 and 15 years imprisonment. One of them Ebrahim Yousef Al-Smaheeji was sentenced to 15 years in absentia. The interior ministry claimed that he ran away from prison last year.
Others known to bei the case were: Mahdi Mohammed Ali Al-Ekri, 7 years imprisonment; Jaffer Makki Al-Jaziri, 7 years imprisonment; Arafat Yaqoub Yousif, 3 years imprisonment; Abd Ali Ibrahim Al-Habbash, 3 years imprisonment
The State Security Court held its session in camera and no news was allowed to be reported in local media. The Bahraini authorities consider the sentencing of citizens to 15 years is a routine matter which is not worthy of reporting. Bahraini citizens’ lives are considered to be “cheap commodities” by the autocratic regime.
A team of security officers and torturers are heading for London next week in an what seems to be an upstaging of security service activities against the pro-democracy opposition in London. The Bahraini intelligence established contracts with some individuals and firms in London. The mission of the team of torturers to London is a matter of concern for human rights campaigners who are calling for bring these types of people to trial for their abuse of human rights.
The UN Commission on Human Rights continues its debates in Geneva for the third week. Mohammed Fayek, of the Arab Organisation for Human Rights, said that ”numerous regrettable human rights violations had occurred in Bahrain amongst other countries.” He said that Human rights organisations had been a target of a campaign of criticism, and human rights activists workers had been arrested. The Commission should adopt an “effective programme to implement the United Nations Declaration regarding the protection of human rights defenders.”
In his report Sir Nigle Rodly, UN Special Rapporteur, said that he issued an urgent appeal on behalf of seven juveniles in November 1998. He stated that “ Sadiq Abdula Yousif, 12 year-old, and the son of Mahdi Abdul Nabi Marzooq (his name is unknown), 12, were both arrested in Duraz in October 1998. It is said that they are detained in Budayia detention centre. The two children were brutally beaten in detention. Also, on 13 October 1998, Ayman Ali Ahmed Abdul Rasul, Umran Abdul Rasul Ali Abdul Rasul, both are 14 years old, Umar Abdul Rasul Ali Abdul Rasul, 13, were arrested in Ikir area”.
The special Rapporteur continued “ Mohammed Abdul Muhsin Jassim Abdul Nabi, 17, Abdul Khaliq Jassim Mohammed Yousif, 14, were both arrested on 10 October 1998 in Ikir. The place where the previous five children are detained is unknown. Two other juveniles were arrested in Qadam area on 9 October 1998. They are Hamid Ali Yousif, Ismael Seyed Ali Seyed Hashim, both are 17. They were detained in Budayi’a Centre and allegedly subjected to torture and mistreatment and then released afterwards.”
The Gulf States Newsletter of April 1999 stated “On the-surface, Sheikh Isa’s death did not cause too many ripples in Bahraini politics. His son and Crown Prince, Sheikh Hamad, was rapidly declared Emir. The interesting question that remains to be resolved is the balance of power between Emir Hamad and his uncle, the Prime Minister. The two men have disagreed over policy in recent years, in particular in relation to the opposition.”
Bahrain Freedom Movement
14 April 1999
Fax: (44) 171 278 9089
Seven people were sentenced by the unconstitutional State Security Court on 10 April to terms ranging between 3 and 15 years imprisonment. One of them Ebrahim Yousef Al-Smaheeji was sentenced to 15 years in absentia. The interior ministry claimed that he ran away from prison last year.
Gulf States Newsletter The Changing of the Guard
The death of Bahrain’s Emir, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifah, on 6 March married the start of a new era in Bahraini politics. Sheikh Isa’s death was however of wider relevance since his departure was a reminder of the mortality of the GCC’s other elderly rulers. In typical slow-motion fashion, power in the GCC states is passing from the founding fathers to the newer generation. Whether the new rulers will be able to cope with the complex demands of ruling their societies in a rapidly changing world remains to be seen.
Death of a Father Figure Sheikh Isa had ruled Bahrain since independence, well over a quarter of a century. Widely regarded as a benevolent and well intentioned ruler, in recent years he had withdrawn somewhat from day to day policy malting, leaving his brother and son to take a greater role in managing the emirate’s affairs. Nonetheless, Sheikh Isa retained his abilit y to charm foreign visitors and came over as a wise father figure, sympathetic even to the emirate’s Shia population Sheikh Isa was however very much a man of his generation. There was no question but that he was the undisputed tribal leader of his people, from whom flowed patronage and wise leadership and to whom was owed loyalty. His efforts to modernise Bahrain certainly bore fruit but at the same time the notion of political power sharing was alien to a man of his ilk. He was bemused rather than frightened by the demands for power sharing that emerged in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. His general attitude was of a benevolent but disappointed father whose children are displaying unwonted ingratitude. Since the current unrest broke out in the early 1990s, had Sheikh Isa managed to emphasise his benevolence, at the expense of his brother, Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifah, who is widely regarded as favouring a hard line towards the opposition. However, this difference was more a matter of style than substance. The Al Khalifah philosophy of rule by (almost) divine right and rejection of any real power sharing was as much part of Sheikh Isa’s worldview as of his brothers. Family Intrigue On the-surface, Sheikh Isa’s death did not cause too many ripples in Bahraini politics. His son and Crown Prince, Sheikh Hamad, was rapidly declared Emir. The interesting question that remains to be resolved is the balance of power between Emir Hamad and his uncle, the Prime Minister. The two men have disagreed over policy in recent years, in particular in relation to the opposition. Although the Crown Prince enjoys support in the armed forces, which he personally built up over the years, the Prime Minister is well entrenched at the heart of government. It is likely, therefore, that the new Emir will find his freedom of manoeunTe constrained. Opposition Caution The Bahraini opposition, who have been ground down by the government’s uncompromising policy of repression, responded cautiously to the death of Sheikh Isa. The exiled Bahrain Freedom Movement (BFM), National Liberation Front and Popular Front for the Liberation of Bahrain issued a join statement calling for calm. They reiterated their demands for the recognition of “legitimate popular demands” and asked for “sincere attempts to open up the political process and to introduce reform through peaceful means.” Mansour al-Jamri, the London based BFM spokesman, urged the regime to “open a page, to reconcile with the Bahraini opposition.” In practice, however, the Ba’nraini opposition are realistic enough to recognise that little is likely to change in Bahraini domestic policy. Sheikh Khalifah and Emir Hamad may disagree over the details of policy and there was even one stage when the former Crown Prince hinted at the possibility of dialogue. However, for some time now both men have been committed to a Saudibacked policy. This involves characterising the opposition as a minority of “terrorists,” quashing popular protests and seeking to assuage popular discontent with economic growth. Uncommitted middle class and business elements have been coopted with a mixture of economic coercion and patronage. Indeed, the accession of Sheikh Hamad to power may in fact escalate the confrontation. The Prime Minister has used the police and internal security services to crack down on opposition. An attempt some time aoo by then-Crown Prince Hamad to deploy his Special Forces was quickly vetoed as being too provocative. Now that his father’ s restraining influence is zone, the new emir mav feel the need to flex his muscles and use either his regular troops or his newly constituted gendarmerie to show that he can be as tough as his uncle. Jamri on Trial The inflexibility of Bahraini policy was demonstrated shortly before the emir’s death, when opposition figurehead Sheikh Abdul Amir al Jamri was brought to the State Security Court on 21 February. Jamri, who has been detained without trial on and off for three years, is accused by the governrnent of fomenting insurrection and “terrorism” since 1994. Jamri, a Shiite leader and former Member of Parliament 1974-5, has consistently refused to agree to the government’s terms for his release and has instead acted as a focal point for the exiled opposition and for disaffected Shia youths. The State Security Court has been heavilv criticised by human rights groups and the US State Department alike for its lack of due process. Indeed, it appears that the court was hoping to rush through Jamri’s trial and sentencing before ansone noticed but. when the opposition leaked the newts the trial was postponed. Whether and when to reconvene the trial will be a crucial early decision for the new emir since international human rights groups will be watching closely to see if the treatment of lamri indicates a continuation of repression or a desire to initiate a dialogue. Intimations of Mortality Whatever the impact of the changing of the guard on Bahrain’s internal affairs, Sheikh Isa’s death is a reminder to the GCC’s aged rulers that even the most venerable and benevolent rulers must pass away. In particular, Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed and Saudi Arabia’s ruling triumvirate – Fahd Abdullah and Sultan – must be focusing on their own fates. The condolences that flooded into Bahrain after Sheikh Isa died were an indication not only of the respect in which the old man was held but also of a recognition that the old guard are on their way out. The question is, though, whether the younger generation of GCC rulers Will behave so differently from their elders. Educationally and socially the emerging generation are different. Bahrain’s Emir Hamad, for instance, was educated at an American military academy and has spent much of his career in the modern, international world of military affairs and arms trading. More importantly, as in the case of Qatar s Emir Hamad and Sheikh Zayed’s sons and heirs, he is surrounded by youngish advisors who have had Western educations and have a fair understanding of the implications of global economic and cultural pressures for their societies. That being said even the younger generation are bound by the world views of their parents – most are convinced of the absolute right of their farnily to rule and of the importance of maintaining existing patronage based and centralised political structures. Only in Qatar is Emir Hamad showing true signs of new thinking as he gradually expands the part his population plays in decision making. For the new Bahraini emir as for his GCC cohorts, the question remains – can they ensure the smooth development of their societies in a fast changing global environment. Or will they take the easy route of relying on traditional approaches, that cannot serve their societies in the longer term.
Bahrain: Trial of Al-Jamri not held; Three UN bodies request to visit Bahrain
The BFM reported on 10 April that the second session of the trial of Sheikh Al-Jamri was scheduled for 11 April. The second session of the trial did not take place. Speculation of when will it take place is be treated by the Bahraini authorities as a guarded secret.
In Geneva, Rapporteurs and experts from three bodies belonging to the UN Human Rights Commission requested the Government of Bahrain to allow them to visit the country and investigate the violation of human rights. These are the experts responsible for monitoring violations of human rights in the areas of arbitrary detention, torture, and independence of judiciary. The representative of the Bahraini government has up until now refused to positively respond to these requests.
The fifty-fifth session of the UN Commission on Human Rights which started its annual meeting on 22 March (and continues until 30 April) witnessed several interventions by non-governmental organisations on the situation in Bahrain. Several UN Rapporteurs including those on arbitrary detention, torture, and independence of judiciary and extra-judicial killing mentioned Bahrain.
Questions of concern were raised over the violations of the Bahraini authorities of civil and political rights of Bahrainis such as disappearance and summary executions. Special Rapporteur, Ms. Asma Jahangir, submitted a report pursuant to Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1998/68 on the extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Ms Jahangir said that she continued to receive “ reports of extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions resulting from excessive use of force by the security forces.” She said that during the period under review communications had been received that showed that “poor sanitation facilities and the denial of proper medical care within the prison system has led to deaths.”
Ms. Jahangir transmitted cases on behalf of three persons regarding violations of the right to life. They are Nooh Khalil Al Nooh , Abd Ali Jasim Isa Yousif, Mohammed Al Sayyih. Communications received from the government to the special Rapporteur concerning the killing of three other Bahrainis claimed that Bashir Abdulla Ahmed Fadhel (beaten to death by the security forces), Abdul Zahra Ibrahim Abdullah Ebrahim (beaten to death by the security forces), Ali Mirza Ali Al-Nachas (who died as a result of lack of medical attention).
Sir Nigel Rodley, the Rapporteur on Torture transmitted scores of cases of people being tortured in Bahrain. The lengthy reported ended with a statement saying “ The Special Rapporteur is sufficiently concerned about persistent allegations of torture to have requested from the Government an invitation to visit the country”.
On the question of torture and detention a written statement was submitted by North South XXI, a non-governmental organisation. It said “ the phenomena of detention and imprisonment are natural phenomena when it is within a reasonable scale within the rule of law, In accordance to the internationally recognised norms. But in Bahrain 2,111 political detainees were interviewed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 23 detention centres. With a population of about 400,000, this means 1 political detainee for every 200 citizens, which is appalling.”
The statement continued “ the prisons in Bahrain have not been empty of political prisoners or detainees, but since the initiation of the constitutional movement on a mass scale in late 1994, thousands of Bahraini people have been arbitrarily detained. In addition to expanding existing prisons such as Jaw, Al Kala, Al Adlia, Makeshift detention centres were established quickly, such as Dockyard, and new prisons are under construction. The security and intelligence forces are being beefed up through the recruitment of expatriate mercenaries. In 1994, it was estimated that there were15, 000 members of the security services for a population of about 650, 000.”
Jose Ndjenoti Asadho, of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) expressed concern about the human-rights situation in Bahrain and called on the Commission to investigate human-rights violations in the country.
Interfaith International stated on 9 April “in Bahrain, the prominent religious leader, judge and ex-MP, Shaik Abdul-Amer Al-Jamri, has been in detention since April 1995, even surpassing the 3-year term of administrative detention stipulated by the State Security Law. His fault seems to have been advocating constitutional reform in Bahrain and his calling fir the termination of the government’s sectarian policy against the Shi’a majority in the country. Shaik Al-Jamri’s theological school has been closed since his arrest and he has been dismissed as a judge for the Shi’a religious court. We believe, Madame Chairperson, that the Bahraini government should respect all of the religious elements within Bahrain Society.”
The International Commission of Jurists submitted a damning intervention on 9 April saying, “The inadequate judicial guarantees for the independence of judges or the failure to respect these guarantees are affecting the judiciaries in many countries. The lack of security of tenure for contract judges [Egyptian judges], makes them afraid of rendering impartial decisions”
The International Organisation Against Torture “OMCT” reminded the UN Human Right Commission on 9 April of the statements made by the Bahraini Foreign Minister last year and the promises offered by the Bahraini government to allow access to UN experts and expressed its concern that all such promises are not fulfilled. Instead, human rights violations continue to be reported.
Bahrain freedom Movement
11 April 1999
Fax: (44) 171 278 9089
28. The Special Rapporteur continued to receive reports of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions resulting from the excessive use of force by the security forces. The majority of these allegations concerned instances or protests demonstration and religious gatherings. Communications claiming that poor sanitation facilities and the denial of proper medical care within the prison system had led to deaths were also received during the period under review.
29. The Special Rapporteur transmitted allegations regarding violations to the right to life on behalf of the following three persons:
- Nooh Khalil Al-Nooh, reportedly arrested on 19 July 1998 in Manama. His body, allegedly bearing marks of torture, was delivered to his family by the Ministry of the Interior two days later;
- Abd Ali Jasim Isa Yousif, a prisoner who died on 8 August 1998 after reportedly contracting hepatitis while incarcerated and being denied adequate medical care during his imprisonment;
- Mohammed Al-Sayyad, who reportedly died on 30 September 1998 because of injuries inflicted by a member of the police force.
Communications received from the Government:
30. The Government of Bahrain replies to several communications sent by the Special Rapporteur in 1997. Concerning the case of Bahshir Abdullah Ahmad Fadhel, who was allegedly beaten to death by members of the security forces, the Government provided autopsy reports and a death certificate that identified the cause of death as an overdose of morphine (17 November 1997).
31. In it’s reply to the case of Abdul Zahra Ebrahim Abdullah Ebrahim, who reportedly died from a severe beating inflicted by security forces, a death certificate explaining the cause of death as sickle cell anemia was provided (17 November 1997).
32. The Government also provided an autopsy report and death certificate for Ali Mirza Al Nakkas, categorically refuting all allegations by the source. The information from the Government suggests that he died from a long asthma-related illness, was under close medical supervision, was allowed family visits, and was buried by his family the day after he died (17 November 1997).
33. The Special Rapporteur also received a report from the Government entitled “Bahrain’s Commitment to the Cause of Human Rights”. The report details the steps taken to ensure human rights for Bahraini citizenry as well as the alleged plot by foreign-backed terrorists to destabilize the country. The Government also sent a letter to the Special Rapporteur that described an attempt by an anti-governmental group to distribute false propaganda via a press report (5 May 1998).
34. In a letter dated 29 September 1998, the Special Rapporteur requested an invitation to visit the country in order to better evaluate the situation and make an independent assessment of the reports and allegations received. Such a visit would allow for the formation of pertinent recommendations with the objective of strengthening the protection of the right to life, if appropriate.
35. The Special Rapporteur would like to thank the Government for its cooperation in sending detailed replies to the allegations. She would like to reiterate he interest in visiting the country and looks forward to cooperating with the Government in the future.
E/CN.4/1999/61 COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS Fifty-fifth session Item 11 (a) of the provisional agenda CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING QUESTIONS OF: TORTURE AND DETENTION Report of the Special Rapporteur, Sir Nigel S, Rodley, submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/38
Regular communications and replies received
65. By letter dated 24 September 1998, the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received information indicating that most persons arrested for political reasons in Bahrain are held incommunicado, a condition of detention conducive to torture. The Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) are alleged to conduct interrogation of such detainees frequently under torture. The practice of torture by these agencies is said to be undertaken with impunity, with no known cases of officials having been prosecuted for acts of torture or other ill-treatment. In cases heard before the State Security Court, defendants may reportedly be convicted solely on the basis of uncorroborated confessions given to political or security officials, or on the testimony of such officials that confessions have been given. Although defendants are said often to allege that their “confessions” have been extracted under torture, impartial investigations of such claims are reportedly never ordered by the Court, unless the defendant displays obvious signs of injury. Such outward displays of injury are said to be uncommon since torture victims are usually brought to trial well after their injuries have healed. Further, it is reported that autopsy reports are often falsified and doctors who provide medical attention to victims or report signs of torture are harassed and threatened by State officials.
66. Torture is also reportedly administered to force detainees to sign statements pledging renouncement of their political affiliation, to desist from future anti-government activity, to coerce the victim into reporting on the activities of others, to inflict punishment and to instil fear in political opponents. The methods of torture reported include: falaqa, i.e., beatings on the soles of the feet; severe beatings, sometimes with hosepipes; suspension of limbs in contorted positions accompanied by blows to the body; enforced prolonged standing; sleep deprivation; preventing victims from relieving themselves; immersion in water to the point of near drowning; burnings with cigarettes; piercing the skin with a drill; sexual assault, including the insertion of objects in the penis or anus; electrical shocks; and threats of execution or of harm to family members.
67. By the same letter the Special Rapporteur also advised the Government that he had received information on the following individuals.
68. Nooh Khalil Abdulla Al Nooh was reportedly arrested on 19 July 1998. His body, allegedly bearing physical marks of torture, is reported to have been returned to his family two days later by an official from the Ministry of Interior. Mohammed Jasim Al-Askafi was reportedly arrested on 10 June 1998 and detained at the Al-Qal? police station in Manama; he was released a few days after his arrest. He was allegedly beaten with PVC hosepipes by members of the State Intelligence Service (SIS). Mousa Jafar Mohammed Juma’a was reportedly arrested on 6 June 1998 and was currently being detained in Al-Qal?. He has allegedly been subjected to harsh beatings with PVC hosepipes, especially on the soles of his feet, by members of the SIS. Sadeq Abdul Rasool Habeeb was reportedly arrested on 6 June 1998 and was currently detained in Al-Qal?. He has allegedly been subjected to harsh beatings, especially on the head, by members of the SIS. Ramlah Mohammed Hassan, female, was reportedly arrested on 20 May 1998 at her parents’ house by members of the SIS. She was being held incommunicado at Al-Qal?. Abdul Hadi Mohammed Ali was reportedly arrested on 7 June 1998 and detained for a few days in Al-Qal?. He was allegedly subjected to torture, including electric shocks, by the SIS. Hassan Muslim Ibrahim, age 13, was reportedly arrested in June 1998, detained in the Dry Dock police station and released three days after his arrest. He was allegedly tortured by members of the SIS and was suffering from psychological shock not only because of the harsh torture he went through, but also because he witnessed the torture of his older brother and other detainees. Ibrahim Abdulla Ali was reportedly arrested on 7 June 1998, detained in Al-Qal? and released from detention a few days later. He was allegedly subjected to torture, including electric shocks, by the SIS. Mahmood Ali Abdulla Mohammed, age 17, was reportedly arrested on 7 June 1998 and was being held at Al-Qal?. Mahmood Matook Ali, age 14, was reportedly arrested in June 1998 and detained for three days in the Dry Dock police station. Tortured by the SIS, he sustained serious injuries. Nezar Al Qaree was reportedly arrested on 15 June 1998 and was being held incommunicado in Al-Qal?. Ra’ed Al Khawaja was reportedly arrested on 15 June 1998 and was being held in incommunicado detention in Al-Qal?. Seyed Abdul Sahra’a Al-Seyed Said Al-Seyed Salman, age 16, was reportedly arrested at his house on 3 June 1998, detained in Al-Qal? and released days after his arrest. He was allegedly tortured by the SIS and denied food for two days. Seyed Amin Ibrahim Ali was reportedly arrested on 10 June 1998, detained in Al-Qal? and released days after his arrest. He was allegedly tortured severely by the SIS while in detention. Seyed Fasal Seyed Adnan, age 13, was reportedly arrested in June 1998 and released from detention in the Dry Dock police station three days later. He was allegedly tortured harshly by the SIS. Shaker Muslim Ibrahim, age 16, was reportedly arrested in June 1998, detained in the Dry Dock police station and released three days after his arrest. He was allegedly tortured harshly by the SIS while in detention. Hussain Hassan Ali, age 17, was reportedly arrested on 7 June 1998 and was currently detained in Al-Qal?. He has allegedly been subjected to torture by the SIS. Abbas Jasim Mohammed was reportedly arrested on 7 June 1998 and was currently detained in Al-Qal?. He has allegedly been subjected to torture by the SIS. Faisal, Shaker, Ali, Hassan and Fardan, five brothers, were reportedly arrested by SIS agents at their home on 15 April 1998. At the time of their arrest, they were allegedly beaten, kicked and dragged by their hair in the presence of their parents. They were reportedly detained at Al-Qal?, where they were allegedly beaten with PVC hosepipes and were denied sleep and food. Ali Abd Al Hussain Al Saffi, age 16, was reportedly arrested on 26 April 1998 and detained in Al-Qal?. He was allegedly forced to stand continuously for two days and was not allowed to sleep. Ali Ahmed Jasem, age 17, was reportedly arrested on 26 April 1998 and detained in Al-Qal?. He was allegedly forced to stand continuously for two days and was then beaten with PVC hosepipes by three policemen.
69. Abdullah Ali Al Bari, age 15, was reportedly arrested on 26 April 1998 and detained in Al-Qal?. He was reportedly sexually harassed and beaten on the ears. Ali Ridha Ali was reportedly arrested on 26 April 1998 and detained in Al-Qal?. He was reportedly beaten and not allowed to use the bathroom. Jawad Al Jaziri was reportedly arrested on 26 April 1998 and detained in Al-Qal?. Witnesses are reported to have seen him dragged blindfolded and handcuffed into the police station, where he was allegedly beaten by four policemen. Mohammed Ahmed Ali Al Mu’emen was reportedly arrested on 15 April 1998 and detained for one day at Al-Qal?. He was reportedly beaten by two policemen while being transported to the police station, then forced to stand continuously for one day and beaten with PVC hosepipes.
Urgent appeals and replies received
70. On 24 April 1998, the Special Rapporteur transmitted an urgent appeal on behalf of Sheik Abdul-Amir Al-Jamri and his son, Sadiq Abdul-Amir Al-Jamri, the latter of whom is alleged to have been arrested on 19 April 1998 and whose whereabouts were reportedly unknown. Sheik Abdul-Amir Al-Jamri was currently said to be in detention at the Al-Qala Prison in Manama, where he had reportedly been held since his arrest in January 1998. On several occasions, Sheik Al-Jamri is alleged to have been threatened by a number of officers in an attempt to obtain from him a confession of responsibility for the unrest. The threats made reportedly included the rape of his wife and female relatives, and the arrest and torture of his sons, particularly Sadiq Al-Jamri. In its reply of 15 June 1998, the Government denied that Sadiq Abdul-Amir Al-Jamri had been arrested and stated that Sheik Abdul-Amir Al-Jamri, who is reportedly the spiritual leader of the so-called “Hizbollah-Bahrain”, was detained, in accordance with the law, for his involvement in extreme acts of violence and terrorism including murder, arson and destruction of property. The Government further stated that Sheik Abdul-Amir Al-Jamriis is held in a regular place of detention where his conditions and treatment are humane and in compliance with international standards. He is accorded all his rights of welfare and visitation and he remains in good health and has access to full medication facilities, including frequent medical visits and attendance at his request at a nearby health centre.
71. On 4 November 1998, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal on behalf of the following persons. Seyed Hussain Seyed Ali Seyed Saeed, aged 16, and Sadiq Abas Daqaq, aged 15, were reportedly arrested on 5 October 1998 and were currently detained by the SIS at the Al-Qal? police station. Jasmin Jaffar, aged 16, Hussian Majeed, aged 16, Jalal Hassan, aged 16, Seyed Fadhil Seyed Ahmed, aged 17, Seyed Alawi Seyed Ahmed, Hassan Ali Khalaf, aged 16, Seyed Yunis Seyed Alawi Seyed Majeed, Shakir Ma’tuq, Shafiq Alawi and two persons having the same name, Ali Ahmed, and age, were reportedly arrested on 6 October 1998 and were said to be currently detained by the SIS at Al-Qal?. Mohammed Isa Abdulla, aged 16, was reportedly arrested in August 1998 and was said to be currently detained by the SIS at Al-Qal?. The five sons of Haj Abdul Rasool Ibrahim, Maitham, aged 17, Mohammed and Hussain Ibrahim who were reportedly arrested in August 1998, as well as Abduall, aged 17, and Ali who were reportedly arrested two years ago, were said to be currently detained by the SIS at Budayi’a centre. Ali Abdula Hussain and Zuhair Nooh Al Saeed were reportedly arrested on 4 October 1998 and were said to be currently detained by the SIS at Al-Qal?. Hamad Ali Jaffar was reportedly arrested on 4 October 1998 and was said to be currently detained by the SIS at Al-Qal?. Ebrahim Ahmed Ali and Saeed Khalil Ebrahim were reportedly arrested on 4 October 1998 and were said to be currently detained by the SIS at Al-Qal?. Hussian Jassim Mohammed, Salah Jassim Mohammed, aged 17, and Abas Jassim Mohammed, three brothers, were reportedly arrested in August 1998 and were said to be currently detained by the SIS at Al-Qal?. Seyed Sadiq Seyed Ahmed and his brother, Seyed Saleh Seyed Ahmed, were reportedly arrested on 4 October 1998 and were said to be currently detained by the SIS at Al-Qal?. Sheikh Jaffar Al A’li was reportedly arrested on 6 October 1998 and was said to be currently detained by the SIS at Al-Qal?. Abdul Zahra Abd Ali Ahmed was reportedly arrested on 5 October 1998 and was said to be currently detained by the SIS at Al-Qal?. Seyed Jameel Abas was reportedly arrested on 4 October 1998 and was said to be currently detained by the SIS at Al-Qal?. Jaffar Abdulla Al Shamrukh was reportedly arrested on 14 August 1998 and was said to be currently detained by the SIS at Adlia prison and the Dry Dock prison. Amar Ali Hassan was reportedly arrested at the end of August 1998 and was said to be currently detained by the SIS at Al-Qal?. Madhi Ahmed Madhi was reportedly arrested on 15 August 1998 and was said to be currently detained by the SIS at a police station near Salman Harbour. Ali Al Mulla Al Abas, aged 17, was reportedly arrested on 15 August 1998 and was said to be currently detained by the SIS at a police station near Salman Harbour.
72. On 10 November 1998, the Special Rapporteur, in conjunction with the Chairman-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, sent an urgent appeal concerning attacks on the residents of Daih village by the Security Forces, which allegedly started on 2 November 1998. According to the information received, dozens of houses were attacked and several individuals have been arrested, including: Jamil Al-Sa’af, Yousif Al-Sa’af, age 15, Saeed Ibrahim Al-Sheikh, Haitham Ali Al-Sheikh, Seyyed Hassan Seyyed Jaffer, Hussain Jaffer Haider and 15-year-old Mohammed Ali Al-Ekri. Among the houses reportedly raided was Mahdi Al-Bazaz’ house, which was attacked for three days during different incidents, under the command of an SIS officer. It is believed that Isa Al-Bazaz, Mr. Al-Bazaz’s 16-year-old son, Layla Mahdi Al-Bazaz, female, and Yousif Ahmad Al-Yatamab, a cousin of the family, were all taken hostage by the Security Forces. Furthermore, it is reported that Hanan Salman Haider, female, was arrested on 4 November 1998, following a dawn attack on her parents’ house led by a SIS officer. It is alleged that the Security Forces launched a second attack on the same house and arrested Salwa Hasan Haider, female. It is also reported that Saeed Al-Aradi’s house was also attacked and that his 19-year-old son, Amir Al-Aradi, and daughter, Maryam Al-Aradi, were detained. The Rapporteurs also reported that one of the persons released after arrest, Mona Salman Haider, female, had allegedly been tortured.
73. On 18 November 1998, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal on behalf of seven minors. Sadiq Abdula Yousif, aged 12, and the son of Mahdi Abd Alnabi Al Marzuq (his name is not known), aged 12, were reportedly arrested in Duraz in October 1998. They were said to be held in the Al Budaya Centre. The two children were severely beaten at the time of their arrest. Ayman Ali Ahmad Abdul Rasul and Imran Abdul Rasul Ali Abdul Rasul, both aged 14, and Amar Abdul Rasul Ali Abdul Rasul, aged 13, were reportedly arrested on 13 October 1998 in Ikir. Mohammed Abdul Mohsin Jassim Abdul Nabi, aged 17, and Abdul Khaliq Jassim Mohammed Yousif, aged 14, were reportedly arrested on 10 October 1998 in Ikir. The place of detention of the last five children was not known. Two other minors, Hamid Ali Yousif and Ismael Sayed Ali Seyed Hashim, both aged 17, were reportedly arrested on 9 October 1998 in the area of Qadam, detained at the Al Budaya centre, where they were allegedly tortured and ill-treated, and then released.
74. On the same day, the Special Rapporteur sent another urgent appeal on behalf of Muhammad ‘Ali Muhammad al-‘Ikri, aged 17. Having been released in September 1995 after a July 1995 conviction on the charge of having thrown a petrol bomb at the police, he was reportedly rearrested at his mother’s home in al-Qadam village on 1 November 1998. The reasons for his arrest, as well as his current whereabouts, were not known. He was, however, believed to be held in incommunicado detention at al-Khamis centre, south-west of al-Manama.
75. On 20 November 1998, the Special Rapporteur, in conjunction with the Chairman-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, sent an urgent appeal on behalf of the following persons: Abbas Abd Ali Yousif, Musa Ali Yousif, Hassam Salman Al Qafas, Hussain Khalil Al Munlani, Mahmood Hassan Al Farsani and Maytham Mirza Isa. According to the information received, Abbas Abd Ali Yousif and Musa Ali Yousif were arrested in October 1998 and have been tortured and ill-treated while being detained at Al Budaya Detention Centre since their arrest. Hassam Salman Al Qafas was reportedly arrested without a warrant, on 17 October 1998, during an early morning raid at his house. Hussain Khalil Al Munlani and Mahmood Hassan Al Farsani were reportedly arrested on 9 October 1998 and their current whereabouts were not known. Maytham Mirza Isa was reportedly arrested in Qadam in October 1998 and has since then been held in Al Budaya Detention Centre. It was believed that all the above-mentioned persons were detained under article 1 of the 1974 State Security Law, which reportedly allows the authorities to detain individuals under administrative detention without charge or trial for up to three years.
Follow-up to previously transmitted communications
76. By letters dated 8 December 1997 and 25 March 1998, the Government responded to an urgent appeal that had been sent by the Special Rapporteur on 7 October 1998 (see E/CN.4/1998/Add.1, para.24). According to the Government, Mohammed Ahmed Juma Shafi’i was currently awaiting trial after having been charged under the 1976 Penal Code. Allegations that he was held incommunicado or that he might be subjected to torture were strongly refuted by the Government, which indicated that he was detained in a regular place of imprisonment. The Government also indicated the dates on which he was visited by his family and doctors. Finally, the Government stated that no evidence of ill-treatment had been reported and no complaint made by him to the medical staff or the investigating judge.
77. By letters dated 26 January 1998 and 4 March 1998, the Government responded to a communication sent by the Special Rapporteur on 17 November 1997 (see E/CN.4/1998/38/Add.1, para 21). The Government denied the allegations of ill-treatment of Yasser Abdul Hussein Ali Sayegh during his detention in December 1996. It specified that systematic official records showed regular family visits and routine medical attendances. The Government also noted that no complaint, of any nature whatsoever, was at any time made by or on behalf of Yasser Abdul Sayegh. Furthermore, the Government denied the allegation according to which he was hidden during a visit of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), since the latter was not present in Bahrain at that time.
78. The Special Rapporteur is sufficiently concerned about persistent allegations of torture to have requested from the Government an invitation to visit the country (see above, para. 7).
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS Fifty-fifth session Item 11 (a) of the provisional agenda CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING QUESTIONS OF TORTURE AND DETENTION
Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention 3. Governments’ reactions to opinions 12. Following the transmittal of its opinions, the Working Group received information from the Governments of the following countries with regard to the cases reported there (the opinion to which the information refers is given in parenthesis): Bahrain (6/1998), Cuba (1/1998), Peru (18/1997), United Arab Emirates (2/1998). 13. The above-mentioned Governments contest or challenge the conclusions reached by the Working Group. The Government of Bahrain affirms, in respect of opinion 6/1998, that the Working Group’s opinion contains an erroneous assessment of the legal system applicable in Bahrain and is based on vague assumptions. It argues that the alleged victims (Jaffer Mansoor Mohamed Al-Akri, Mohamed Mehdi Mohamed Al-Akri and Ali Mohamed Ali Al-Akri) were detained in accordance with the law and on precise charges, that they were never denied the right to appeal against their detention, that they were not held incommunicado and that they were afforded all rights of visitation, legal representation and welfare. The Government of Peru, in its response to opinion 18/1997, argues that Gustavo Adolfo Cesti Hurtado was prosecuted and tried in strict accordance with applicable legal procedures and that, accordingly, his case is not one of arbitrary detention. It further contends that the physical, mental and moral health of Mr. Hurtado is fully ensured. The Government of the United Arab Emirates, in its response to opinion 2/1998, contends that the judgments against Elie Dib Ghaled were handed down in strict compliance with applicable domestic legislation and that he had full access to legal representation. The Government adds that given the independence of the judiciary, it cannot interfere with the judgments. By reference to the interpretation of its mandate, the Working Group has formulated its position on the note verbale of the Government of Cuba concerning opinion 1/1998 in chapter I.D of the present report. 14. The Governments of the following countries informed the Working Group of the release of the person(s) concerned: Bahrain (in respect of one of the persons referred to in opinion 6/1998); Philippines (opinion 29/1998), Republic of Korea (opinion 14/1998); Indonesia (opinion 21/1998). The Working Group welcomes the release of these individuals. 20. Furthermore, two invitations have been extended to the Working Group for 1999: Indonesia: following a statement made by the Chairman of the fifty-fourth session of the Commission on Human Rights, on 24 April 1998, the Government of Indonesia extended an invitation to the Group to visit Indonesia prior to the fifty-fifth session of the Commission on Human Rights.
Bahrain: during the fiftieth session of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, the Permanent Representative of Bahrain to the United Nations Office at Geneva stated that his Government had also agreed to extend an invitation to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for a preparatory visit to Bahrain, the date of which would be fixed in consultation with the Chairman of the Working Group (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1998/SR.25, para. 51). At the time of adoption of the present report by the Working Group, the modalities of these visits were under negotiation with representatives of the Governments concerned.
OPINION No. 6/1998 (BAHRAIN)
Communication addressed to the Government on 14 July 1997 Concerning: Jaffer Haj Mansur Al Ekry, Ali Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry, Mahdi Mohamed Ali al-Ekry and Hussain Mohamed Ali al-Ekry The State is not a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was established pursuant to resolution 1991/42 of the Commission on Human Rights. The mandate of the Working Group was clarified and extended pursuant to resolution 1997/50. Acting in accordance with its methods of work, the Working Group forwarded the above-mentioned communication to the Government. 2. The Working Group conveys its appreciation to the Government for having forwarded the requisite information in good time. 3. (Same text as paragraph 3 of Opinion 1/1998.) 4. According to the source, Mr. Jaffer Haj Mansur Al-Ekry, aged 30, a businessman and religious preacher, was arrested on 23 June 1996 for distributing anti-government pamphlets. Ali Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry, aged 42, an electrician and religious activist, was arrested on 26 January 1996, during dawn raids by the riot police, for opening Al-Anwai mosque and calling people to prayer, when security forces had ordered the closure of the mosque. He had previously been detained from 1983 to 1990 for belonging to the Islamic Enlightenment Society. His two brothers, Mahdi Mohamed Al-Ekry, aged 25,a correspondent, and Hussain Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry, aged 28, an electrician, were both arrested on 20 August 1996 in the village of Al-Daih, allegedly for causing damage to the cars of some neighbours. Their arrest is said to be linked to their father’s leading role in the local pro-democracy movement. Reportedly, the police did not produce a warrant for their arrest; the arrests were allegedly ordered by the Ministry of the Interior (SIS), in application of the State Security Law of 1974, which empowers SIS to arrest and detain for a period of up to three years, without charge or trial, any person who may pose a threat to State security. All four detainees, after being locked up at Al-Khamees police station, were then transferred to one of the following prisons: Jao, Dry-Dockyard or the Al-Kalla prison in Manama, Bahrain. The authorities reportedly have not revealed the places of detention of the above-named persons. According to the source, all of the above persons were denied the right to communicate with the outside world, nor were they entitled to consult with legal counsel. 5. In its observations dated 19 September 1997, the Government dismisses the allegations as a product of foreign propaganda and invokes its submissions to a number of United Nations bodies on the subject. It states that Jaffer Haj Mansur Al-Ekry (the correct name, Jaffer Mansoor Mohamed Al-Akri, according to the Government) was arrested on 23 June 1996 and lawfully detained for damaging public property. He was released on 11 December 1996. Ali Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry (correct name Ali-Mohamed Ali Mansoor Al-Akri, according to the Government) was arrested for rioting on 31 January 1996 and is being held in custody in accordance with the applicable law. He is able to receive visitors and is afforded all amenities. He is visited regularly by family members, most recently on 16 July 1997, the next visit being scheduled for 1 September 1997. Mahdi Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry (Mohamed Mehdi Mohamed Al-Ekri) was arrested for planting bombs on 2 September 1996 and is held in custody in accordance with the applicable law. He is not being detained arbitrarily nor incommunicado, is able to receive visitors and is afforded all amenities. He is visited regularly by family members, most recently on 16 July 1997, the next visit being scheduled for 31 August 1997. As to Hussain Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry, the Government contends that no one of this or similar name at present in custody or serving a sentence or was arrested on or about 28 August 1996 or released since then. 6. The two persons whose detention the Government admits are not, in its view, detained arbitrarily. Their arrests were conducted by the regular police, in accordance with the laws of the country and in the proper execution of their duties: the Government invokes article 1 of the 1982 Police Law and article 11 of the 1966 Code of Criminal Procedure governing lawful powers of arrest. The Government notes that the police have lawful authority to detain a suspect for investigation for up to 48 hours after arrest (article 25 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). Detention beyond 48-hours must be authorized by a court order (article 79 of the Code of Criminal Procedure) or authorized by order of the Minister of the Interior under article 1 of the 1974 State Security Law. The Government does not specify where the two Al-Ekry brothers are detained; nor does it deny the allegation that they are denied the right to consult with counsel of their own choice. The Government affirms that no one may be detained solely for his beliefs and that all individuals who have been detained in relation with the social unrest since 1994 were so on the basis of the following provisions of the Criminal Code: articles 178 to 184 (rioting); 277 to 278 (arson); 279 to 281 (use of explosives); 219 to 222 and 333 to 343 (assault, murder and use of weapons); and 156 to 157, 160 and 168 to 170 (incitement/conspiracy/publication to commit violence). All detentions are compatible with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, although Bahrain is not a party to the latter. Lastly, the Government states that it cooperates with the International Committee of the Red Cross, which conducts visits to detainees in Bahraini prisons. The Government affirms that it will not tolerate human rights abuses and fully recognizes its responsibility to uphold fundamental rights and freedoms. 7. The Working Group forwarded the Government’s reply to the source, which commented on it in a submission dated 31 December 1997. It concedes that Hussain Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry was released, after having spent “some days” in prison. However, the source does not confirm the release of Jaffer Haj Mansur Al-Ekri. The source does not refute the Government’s observations concerning the granting of visiting rights to the two Al-Ekry brothers, but seeks to refute them in general terms. It reaffirms that the three Al-Ekry brothers remain in detention, without trial or legal assistance and that the charges against them are fabricated. 8. The Working Group notes with regret that while the Government explains the legislative provisions which could be applied in the case of the above-mentioned persons, it does not specify the legislation which was in fact applied in the case of the two brothers, Ali and Mahdi, whose detention since 31 January 1996 and 2 September 1996 respectively is beyond question, although the parties differ as to the dates of arrest. The Government does not provide any specific information about the charges against the above-mentioned persons, nor does it specify whether they were indeed charged under any of the provisions of the Criminal Code referred to by the Government. Its response does not contain any information about the current legal status/situation of the two brothers. In particular, the Government has not reacted to the allegation that the above-mentioned individuals may, pursuant to the State Security Law of 1974, be detained for up to three years without charges or trial. In respect of the application of the State Security Law of 1974, the Working Group refers to its previous Opinion No. 1995/35, especially paragraphs 5, 9 and 12 to 17 thereof, in which the Group concluded that the application of the Law may result in serious violations of the right to a fair trial guaranteed by articles 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration. Its application is also contrary to principles 10 to 13, 15 to 19 and 33 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment. 9. The Government has stated that Jaffer Haj Mansur Al-Ekry was released on 11 December 1996, after nearly six months of detention. The source a
ffirms that he was still in custody at the end of 1997. Faced with this contradictory information, the Working Group cannot conclude either that Jaffer Haj Mansur Al-Ekry is detained or that he has been released. Accordingly, it cannot formulate an opinion on his case. 10. It transpires from the facts as submitted, which as such are not contested by the Government, that the two brothers, Ali and Mahdi, are detained pursuant to the State Security Law of 1974. For 27 and 22 months respectively, they have been detained without any possibility of challenging their detention before a court and without legal assistance. These facts constitute violations of articles 5, 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of articles 9 to 13, 15 to 18, 33 and 38 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment of such gravity that they confer upon the deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character. 11. In the light of the foregoing, the Working Group renders the following opinion:
(a) The deprivation of the liberty of Ali Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry and of Mahdi Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry is arbitrary, as being in violation of articles 5, 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and falls within Category III of the categories applicable to the consideration of cases submitted to the Working Group; (b) The case of Jaffer Haj Mansur Al-Ekry is kept under review, pending the receipt of supplementary information, pursuant to paragraph 17 (c) of the methods of work of the Working Group; (c) The case of Hussain Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry is filed in accordance with paragraph 17 (a) of the methods of work of the Working
12. Further to the opinion adopted in respect of Ali Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry and of Mahdi Mohamed Ali Al-Ekry, the Working Group requests the Government: (a) To take the necessary steps to remedy the situation and to bring it into conformity with the principles and standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (b) To take appropriate initiatives with a view to acceding to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Adopted on 14 May 1998.
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS Fifty-fifth session Item 9 of the provisional agenda QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS IN ANY PART OF THE WORLD Written statement submitted by the International Federation of Human Rights, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status The Secretary-General has received the following written statement, which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31. 1. The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organization, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Bahrain (CDHRB), would like to express their ongoing concern about the situation of human rights in Bahrain. 2. During the fiftieth session of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities, the Government of Bahrain made two important commitments: (a) To withdraw the reservation it had formulated on article 20 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; (b) To invite the Commission’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to its territory. 3. The FIDH and the CDHRB had welcomed these commitments, which, if respected, would amount to a step forward for the protection of human rights in Bahrain. However, several months later the two organizations are still concerned by the fact that the authorities of Bahrain have shown little will to turn their words into practice. If in the course of the fifty-fifth session of the Commission on Human Rights they do not make effective their commitments, the Commission will have to note that the intentions expressed by the Government of Bahrain to cooperate with the United Nations mechanisms are nothing but mere declarations. 4. Looking back into the record of the Government of Bahrain since the fiftieth session of the Sub-Commission, one cannot see a real change in its policy regarding human rights. Torture and ill-treatment in custody 5. Torture in Bahraini prisons and detention centres is systematic and takes place on a large scale. The CDHRB has collected several cases which illustrate a practice used by the State Intelligence Department and the Criminal Investigation Department whereby instead of practising torture leading to death in custody, they release the fatally injured, who die after they have left the detention centre. Detainees are denied adequate medical treatment. For example, Mr. Mohamed Al-Saya, 28 years old from Sitra, died on 30 September 1998 from brain cancer which he developed during his detention from 5 May 1995 until 12 July 1997. When in detention, he had been denied medical treatment and was not released, even for humanitarian reasons, although he repeatedly requested it. After he was eventually released, he died because of his illness. 6. Women and children detainees are also subjected to torture. Several women were threatened with rape in front of their brothers or husbands. Salwa Hassan Hayder, Hanah Salman Hayder and Lyda Ahmed Alorabi were arrested, among other women, on 3 November 1998. They were confined in solitary cells, beaten, and denied the visits of their relatives, lawyers or medical doctors. 7. The imprisoned leaders of the opposition such as Abdul-Amir Al-Jamri, Mr. Abdul-Whab Hussain, Shaik Hassan Al-Daihi and Hassan Messheme have been in isolation since 23 November and exposed to tremendous pressure to sign a false confession. Shaik Hassan Al-Daihi’s two brothers were arrested. They launched repeated hunger strikes to protest against torture and the harsh conditions of their imprisonment. On 29 November 1998, Yahia Ali Alsatrawi, who was in prison for more than three years, began a hunger strike at the Dockyard detention centre to protest against his continued detention without any charge or trial. The commander of the centre, Lt. Walleed Al-Dwaisan, tortured him in order to force him to eat. One hundred and sixty prisoners started a protest to support their fellow prisoner. For a week Dockyard was a centre of protest and the prisoners were continuously attacked by the riot police. Many of them were tortured, including Maki Salman, Mohamed Alhayiki, Habib Al-Sari, Hussain Al-Basri, Hussain Sultan, Hussain Meshal, Mohamed Fareed and Esa Alhayiki. The prisoners were denied family visits. Arbitrary detention 8. The ICRC confirmed in its 1997 report that it had registered 2,111 detainees and prisoners in 23 detention centres. Currently, there are more than 2,000 persons who are being arbitrarily detained without trial. If one takes into account that the whole population of the country is 300,000, this number is extremely preoccupying. The State Security Law of 1974 entitles the Minister of the Interior to order the imprisonment of a person without trial for three years, if he considers that this person constitutes a danger for public security. The majority of the detainees during the past four years are citizens who were merely practising their constitutional rights, such as demanding the re-establishment of constitutional rule, and were for that reason regarded as a threat to public security. Many of them, such as Mohamed Al-Ghanim, Mohamed Al-Kharaz, Ali Ahmed, Hayder Abdul-Baqi, Taha Saeed and Mohamed Fardan, have been in prison without trial for more than three years. Seventy political prisoners were released on the occasion of the National Day, but more than 100 persons were arrested during the last three months. Unfair trials 9. Those involved in political activities are tried before the State Security Court. This court is not in compliance with the international standards for a fair trial. It often bases its verdict solely on an involuntary confession of the accused or police written testimony without cross-examination. It only holds closed meetings and the accused cannot appeal before a higher degree of jurisdiction. It is composed of judges who are affiliated with Al-Khalifa (the ruling clan) and by recruited Egyptian advisers. The court has convicted and handed down harsh sentences for many political defendants, life imprisonment included, as was the case for Ali Darweesh Rida and Khalil Darweesh Gholum on 24 November 1998. Collective punishment 10. The security forces resort to collective punishment. During November 1998, a whole village, Al-Daih, was put under siege, several houses were broken into, searched and practically demolished in a search for arms and ammunition. Nothing was found. This was repeated to a lesser extent in Al-Dair, where the mosque was excavated, Al-Duraz and Al-Sihla. Denial of political rights and violations of civil rights 11. Although the Constitution of Bahrain stipulates that democracy is the political system of the country, since the Amir dissolved the National Assembly in 1975, the political rights guaranteed by the constitution have been violated by the State. The people no longer have the right to choose their Government and to create associations freely. 12. The Government dissolved the elected administrative board of the Lawyers Society in March 1998, on the pretext of illegal political activity. A new board was nominated by the Government, against the will of the majority of the members. The tragedy of the exiled 13. With the exception of a few Bahraini exiles who found asylum in some Western countries, the majority are not attributed refugee status. They are denied valid Bahraini documents and face legal difficulties because of that. Some live as fugitives. They are separated from their families and friends and cannot return to their homeland. At the same time, the Government exercises pressure on host States so they do not give Bahrainis refugee status. It also denies entry to exiles who try to return; this was the case of Abdul-Majeed Alasfoor, exiled in Denmark, who returned to Bahrain with his family and was not allowed to enter the country. Recommendations 14. The FIDH and the CDHRB call upon the Bahraini authorities: (a) To restore the rule of law; (b) To comply with the internationally recognized human rights standards and, in particular, to guarantee the physical integrity of all detainees, the right to a fair trial, and th
e freedoms of opinion, association and belief; (c) To cooperate with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, in particular by withdrawing the reservation it had formulated on article 20 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and by allowing the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in its territory in 1999.
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS Fifty-fifth session Item 11 (a) of the provisional agenda CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE QUESTION OF: TORTURE AND DETENTION Written statement submitted by North South XXI, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status The Secretary-General has received the following written statement, which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.
Conditions of detention in Bahrain
1. The phenomena of detention and imprisonment are natural phenomena when it is within a reasonable scale within the rule of law, in accordance to the internationally recognized norms. But in Bahrain, 2,111 political detainees were interviewed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 23 detention centres. With a population of about 400,000, this means 1 political detainee for every 200 citizens, which is appalling. 2. The prisons of Bahrain have never been empty of political prisoners or detainees, but since the initiation of the constitutional movement on a mass scale in late 1994, thousands of Bahraini people have been arbitrarily detained. In addition to expanding existing prisons such as Jaw, Al-Kala and Al-Adlia, makeshift detention centres were established quickly, such as Dockyard, and new prisons are under construction. The security and intelligence forces are being beefed up through the recruitment of expatriate mercenaries. In 1994, it was estimated that there were 15,000 members of the security services for a population of about 650,000. 3. The sufferings of the political detainees and prisoners are dreadful. During the last 4 years 10 defendants died as a result of torture, 5 of them in custody. The casualties among the detainees as a result of torture and diseases in custody are numerous. 4. Is there any prospect of demolishing these prisons? Will the promises of the Government of Bahrain before the Commission and the Sub-Commission become realities? We will examine below some aspects of detention in Bahrain. 5. Since suspending vital articles of the Constitution, especially article 65, and dissolving the National Assembly indefinitely on 26 August 1975, the constitutional and judicial safeguards for the citizens have been removed. The persistent policy of Al-Khalifa rule is the denial of the existence of political trends, the prohibition of the opposition, and the supremacy of Al-Khalifa in the society and State. Criticism and political opposition (organizations or individuals) are not tolerated. The prevailing slogan is that Bahraini society is a family headed by the Amir, who knows best what its interests are. 6. The Government issued the State Security Law on 27 October 1974, which was opposed by the all elected members of the National Assembly and consequently led to its dissolution. The Law entitles the Minister of Interior to imprison any person for up to 3 years without judicial verdict once he deems him a danger to State security. Though the Law provides for judicial review, it has never been observed. Thousands of Bahraini people, from different walks of life, men, women and children, have been arbitrarily detained under this Law. Many times the 3-year term was exceeded by up to 7 years. 7. The Penal Code of 1976 was designed not only to cope with penal offences, but also with acts of political and civil opposition. The Government does not recognize the existence of political defendants; they are either State security defendants or penal defendants. To deal with the “State security offences”, the State Security Court was established the same year. The law was amended in order to strengthen the penalties for State security offences, to expand the mandate of the State Security Court, and to make crimes retroactive. 8. The State Security Court is an extraordinary court whose rules and procedure contravene the Constitution of Bahrain and the internationally recognized standards and norms for fair and open trial. The British Bar Society and the British Parliamentary Group for Human Rights released a report on this court. Both the 1974 State Security Law and the Law on the State Security Court of 1976 are unconstitutional, since neither was ratified by the National Assembly, in contravention of the Constitution. Both fail to meet internationally recognized standards. Accordingly, several detainees under the State Security Law provisions had been considered by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention as arbitrary detainees. Those convicted by the State Security Court are considered victims of injustice, and thus arbitrary prisoners. 9. Since its promulgation, the State Security Law has been the main instrument for arresting and detaining more than 15,000 citizens. During the last 4 years, the annual average has been 2,500. The policy of the Government is not to reveal the number, identities, duration and places of detention of the detainees or those released. In a situation of information blackout and the ban on the exchange of such information, and in the absence of human rights organizations, to ensure reliable information on the detainees is a hazardous task. 10. According to an ICRC report for 1997, the ICRC interviewed 2,111 detainees and prisoners in 23 detention centres. Though ICRC is in a position to present the most accurate picture of the detainees and prisoners, it is bound by its protocol with the Government of Bahrain to present its findings to the Government of Bahrain only. We hope that the expected visit of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will contribute to a clear and accurate evaluation, but this will depend on the Government of Bahrain. 11. The number of detainees fluctuates. There are people who have been in and out of detention several times. There are detainees who have served more than the statutory 3 years under the State Security Law, as was the case of Mohamed Al-Ghanem and others from Sitra Yahya Ali Al-Satrawi: one of the group staged a hunger strike on 29 November 1998 in protest of his continued arbitrary detention; he was penalized in a cruel way, which incited a strike by the detainees at the Dockyard Detention Centre. 12. The last 4 months witnessed two major campaigns of arrest. The first was launched in November under the pretext of an attempt to smuggle arms into the country and affected at least 40 persons, including 7 women; only 5 were charged. The second was launched in December when the opposition commemorates the initiation of the constitutional movement; tens of people were arrested. 13. On the occasion of the National Day, the Amir ordered the release of about 70 penal and political detainees, but no names were announced. The plight of the political detainees extends to their families, who are denied visits and their source of income and are liable to reprisals at any time. Those who are released are usually dismissed from their public jobs, in a situation of economic slump. They are denied their passports too, which means denial of vital public services. 14. Barhaini prisons and detention centres are notorious for torture. During the last 4 years, 10 persons died due to torture and mistreatment in detention; 5 of them died in custody and the other 5 died after their release. The last victim of torture in custody was Noah Khalil Noah, 22, from Noaim, who was killed within hours of his arrest on 19 July 1998. The last to die after release was Mohamed Al-Sayah, 28, from Sitra, who died on 30 September 1998. 15. Despite the fact that the State of Bahrain became a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on 18 February 1998, with reservations on articles 20 and 30, torture and mistreatment continue as before in Bahrain. The imprisoned leaders of the opposition were put in solitary cells and exposed to psychological torture. Their families were penalized. Shaikh Al-Jamri’s eldest son Jameel and his son-in-law have been in prison for years. Lately, Shaikh Hassan Al-Daihi’s two brothers were detained. 16. Torture methods are numerous: solitary confinement, denial of sleep, suspension for a day in contorted positions, beating with hoses, whips or cables, electric shocks, poisoning with food or asbestos, denial of lavatories, denial of family visits, threats of rape against the defendant or relatives, and many others. Hundreds of detainees have suffered contagious and other diseases such as cancer, liver diseases, paralysis, skin diseases, etc. 17. The officials who order torture, supervise it or execute it not only enjoy impunity, but also promotion and influence. The “torture gen
eral” Tomas Brian succeeded the ex-“torture general” Ian Henderson at the head of the security service. His collaborators, Col. Adel Flaifel and Col. Khaled Al-Wazan, amassed fortunes while Col. Abdul Aziz Al-Khalifa became the governor of the capital, Manama. No investigation has ever taken place into the five cases of death in custody. The written complaint by Abdu Rasul Al-Eskafi, father of the deceased Said, 16, to the Deputy Minister of Interior was rebuffed. 18. The Commission failed last year to deal with the critical situation of human rights in Bahrain. We hope that the Commission will stand by its commitments and responsibilities at the present session.
Bahrain: Racists call for the continuation of discrimination
On 6 April, the new Amir, Sheikh Hamad Al-Khalifa visited the Defence Ministry and stated that “in Bahrain people are not judged on their racial or religious background”. The opposition welcomes such a statement and hopes that such words will find their way for actual realisation. Presently, Bahrain is one of the worst countries in discrimination. All citizens are firstly judged on their religious and racial backgrounds before anything else. In the past decade, matters also worsened when nepotism and corruption deepened the semi-official racist policies.
Racist persons are provided with columns in the newspapers, and these have intensified their racist-based commentaries. Some of them even called on the new Amir not to release any prisoner. It is believed that the powerful Prime Minister is opposing the release of prisoners and many who benefited from the old reign are calling for continuing the present policies.
However, one columnist, Sawsan Al-Sha’ir changed her earlier attitude. On 4 April the columnist outlined the government’s incompetence in tackling the problem of unemployment in the country. She warned of more instability as high unemployment keeps shooting up. Low wages were categorised as one of the foremost reasons that contribute to this problem. She said that professional Bahrainis are some of the worst groups who are underpaid. “These wages are considered as pocket-money in other countries” she commented. The government has declined to enforce a minimum wage saying that this would drive businesses out of the country. Most professional Bahrainis have their wages ranging between BD100-120 per month ( $365-438). It is well known that women in Bahrain receive even lower wages than their male counterparts.
In the article, Al Sha’ir brought to surface the authorities’ policy of denial of the right to education for Bahrainis. She said that “students who achieved scores higher than 90% were denied the opportunity to undertake further education at the University of Bahrain. This issue has already been highlighted by the opposition and had been taken up by international human rights bodies. Those who were denied access to further education were from ethnic and religious groups that are not favoured by the regime.
On 6 April, The Bahrain Human Rights Organisation (BHRO) issued a statement concerning the trial of Sheikh Al-Jamri . The organisation condemned the prolonged detention of Sheikh Al Jamri. BHRO called on the Bahrain government to “ release Sheikh Al Jamri” . Similarly, the Geneva-based International Secretariat of OMCT issued an urgent intervention regarding Sheikh Al Jamri and eight other prominent figures in Bahrain. OMCT called on the Bahraini authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Sheikh Al-Jamri and order his immediate release and to end the use of arbitrary detention and torture.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
8 April 1999
Fax: (44) 171 278 9089
Bahrain: Distorting unemployment figures; Interior ministry visited
Local newspapers reported on 6 April that “more than 9,500 Bahrainis found jobs last year, according to official figures released yesterday. They were helped by the Governments jobs shop and by implementation of Bahrainisation laws, said Labour and Social Affairs Minister Abdulnabi Al Shoala. He said 9,540 Bahraini job-seekers found employment last year, up by 14.3 per cent over 1997. Nearly a quarter of them were women. The figure includes 3,968 who found work through the ministry’s Employment Services Bureau and another 5,572 who were employed directly by companies and businesses as a result of the implementation of Bahrainisation laws.” He said “Job-seekers registered at the ministry now totalled 10,764,” which “includes 5,318 people who registered before the end of 1997, 4,145 who registered for the first time last year and 1,301 who left their jobs last year and re-registered. A total of 6,796 people were registered by the bureau as job-seekers last year. The number of people in Bahrains labour force is 294,735.”
These are disputed by experts. The labour minister intended to impress the new Amir to keep his job. He together with the Minister of Oil & Industry were expected to be relieved from their jobs next June. The last reshuffle was in June 1995. Early June is the expiry of the official mourning period of three months.
To many in the business community the figures are a mockery. Some employers register locals as employees only to get permit for their expatriates. The process involves asking a student to accept a one-time pay in exchange for allowing the employer to make alternation to the CPR (eg ID) card of registration. Then the employer informs the ministry that a Bahraini has been employed and in return can be granted a permit for importing an expatriate. This is happening widely.
In 1998, about 5,000 entered the job market. The figure released by the minister is close to double that. In reality, crude unemployment is on the rise.
Interior Ministry visit:
The new Amir, Sheikh Hamad Al-Khalifa visited the interior ministry on 3 April and shook hands with senior security men including two British officers, one of whom was Ian Henderson. The visit to the interior ministry is a significant indicator to the approach of the new reign as this ministry is considered to be the king-pin of the old regime under Sheikh Khalifa. It is rumoured that the new Amir prefers to replace the present interior minister with Sheikh Khalid bin Mohhammed Al-Khalifa who was supposed to have replaced Ian Henderson as head of the intelligence department
New vs. old reigns:
People are waiting to see how the new Amir handles the political crisis created by the old regime. Some of the journalists who benefited from the old regime are calling for continuation of repression rather than reform. Such people are a minority and the vast majority of people hope that a new chapter will begin in Bahrain. All will depend on the degree of assertiveness the new Amir will have in the face of his powerful uncle, the Prime Minister. The PM holds most organs of power and has resisted all calls for reform. The enthronement of the new Amir might also be followed by ministerial changed for balancing the influence of he PM.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
6 April 1999
Fax: (44) 171 278 9089
- The 1st of April is the day termed by locals as “Black Saturday”. It was on this day in 1995 the security forces deployed thousands of paratroops in Bani Jamra, encircled the house of Sheikh Al-Jamri, shot dead two citizens, injured fifty people and imposed a 2-week house-arrest. After that house arrest, Sheikh Al-Jamri was taken away for a 5-month detention. During this period he stuck an agreement with the interior ministry to call for calming m down the situation in return for releasing detainees and discussing legitimate demands. The release of Sheikh Al-Jamri for 4 months heralded a quite period of celebrations. Following this period, the security forces re-launched several attacks and re-arrested Sheik Al-Jamri. Since the eruption of events in December 1994, Sheikh Al-Jamri had been out of detention for a total period of ten months.
- Abdul-Sallam Al-Ansari, chief of Manama police and a well-known human rights abuser, summoned (2 April) the religious scholar who leads the prayers in Khawajah grand mosque in Manama. The summoning is part of the intimidation process adopted by the security forces.
Bahrain: “Waiting on the Amir”
The Middle East International (26 March) published an article by the journalist Simon Taggart, titled “Waiting on the Amir”. The article described how the opposition met the death of the Amir of Bahrain with calculated move of calming down the situation which “denied the security forces an excuse for increased repression during the hiatus in government and to provide an atmosphere conducive to negotiation”. The calls were successful and well observed said the Mr. Taggart. He said that a delegation of the Committee for Popular Petition (CPP) visited the Palace to offer condolences and would approach the new Amir, Sheikh Hamad, seeking dialogue. He quoted Dr. Saeed Al Shehabi of BFM saying that “ the call for calm after a week of protest in support of the jailed popular cleric, Sheikh Al-Jamri, was a sign of goodwill towards Amir Hamad in the hope that he would realise the importance of popular participation in running the country.” The British government published its annual report on arms export licences to foreign countries. Before it came to power, the Labour government has pledged not to issue arms export licences for sale to regimes that might use them for internal repression, human rights abuses or to prolong existing conflicts. It also vowed to follow a moral approach to the arms trade. PA News said on 25 March that the report “voiced concern about exports of small arms to sensitive destinations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and countries with poor human rights records including Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Zimbabwe.” The report said that “the government figures showed it signed 19 standard individual export licences for arms sales to Bahrain in its first eight months in power”. It was reported that a Bahraini citizen was handed over by the Dubai authorities to the intelligence department in Bahrain. The torturer Adel Flaifel flew to Dubai and accompanied the citizen, Dr. Akber Zayer Ali Dashti back to Bahrain on 21 March. Dr. Dashti has been living in the UAE for the past four years. There is no information about the reason for handing over Dr. Dashti, but the UAE had in the past handed several Bahrainis without notifying them of the reason for doing so. On 20 March, dawn raiders attacked the house of Hussain Ali Mansoor in Bilad al-Qadim and arrrested him. The dawn raiders damaged his belongings and confiscated his personal computer. He was subjected to a one-day torture session and was latter forced to walk from Al-Qala’a prison to his house in Bilad al-Qadim. He was threatened that if he used any form of transportation, he would be re-arrested and tortured. Reports from Dry-Dock prison indicated that a new wave of torture against detainees by the prison officers had taken place last week. The officers supervised the torturing of the detainees were Adel Al Dawsari, Ali Khamis, Ali Al Zu’bi, Fahad Abdula Al Fadalah. Amongst those tortured were: Rida Ahmad Ali, Ahmad Ali Ahmad, Abd Al Rida Ebrahim Hussin (From Arad), Munir Makki Abdulla, Ahmad Juma’a Jawad, Abdulla Ahmad, Jalal Mohammed Ahmad Al Sami’a, (from Iskan A’li), Hussain Mohammed Khair, Hussain Fatil (From Bani Jamra), Qasim Mohammed Ali (Karana), Abdul Zahra Ali, Yahya Ali Ahmad, Hussain Al-Basri, Khalil Ebrahim Kuwi, Nabil Ahmed Habib, Saeed Abdulla Habib, Ebrahim Abdul Nabi (Sitra), Mohammed Jasim (Karzakan), Seyed Haider Seyed Mohmmed, Seyed Mohammed Seyed Abdul Nabi, Ali Ahmad Mohammed (Sar), Mohammed Habib (A’li), Hani Ammar Abbas ( Nuaim), Nayif Yousif Ahmad (Isa Town), Ali Ahmad Hassan, Isa Yousif (from Ikir), Abdula Salim( Jid Ali), Ismael Abdula Ahmad, Mahdi Ali Ahmad ( Muqsh’a), Yasir Abdul Hussain Al Mutghawwi ( Duraz), Abdula Hassan (Samahij), Hussain Ahmad Al Buri (from Buri), Khalil Ebrahim Rida and Khalil Isa Ahmad.
Bahrain Freedom Movement 1 April 1999
Fax: (44) 171 278 9089
The death of Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa on 6 March of a heart attack has ended an era in Bahrain and provided new opportunities for change. Whether the new regime headed by the relatively-young emir will be able to adapt to the requirements of a 21st century environment remains to be seen. What is certain is that Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has inherited a legacy that is in need for a drastic change. If he is to enjoy his reign over a peaceful country, he must introduce serious political reforms immediately. Any further delay will only result in confirming the grip of the old guards who enjoy no good reputation either inside or outside the country. For quarter of a century, the country has been plagued by instability and protests resulting in the death of scores of young men, women and children in the torture chambers of the “ancient regime”. The prime minister became aware of the hands-off approach of his brother’s (the late Amir) , and exploited it to the limit. The deceased emir became detached from day-to-day affairs and surrendered to Sheikh Khalifa who employed his lackeys in the cabinet, which remained virtually unchanged throughout the bleak period. Together with Ian Henderson, the prime minister succeeded in creating a police state sending thousands of citizens to torture chambers, exiles or gallows. Within a few years after independence, Bahrain became one of the countries with the least openness, and piled for itself a black record in terms of human rights. The prime minister managed to survive the upheavals of the past 25 years with the aid offered by the United States and Britain who effectively sheltered his regime.
Sheikh Isa reigned over a regime bogged by power struggle. Gradually, the prime minister ruled the country through the extensive use of shear terror. Ian Henderson, whose recruitment by the British in 1966 employed his skill in terror tactics against dissidents acquired through his experience in Kenya, used all methods of torture to subordinate those calling for their democratic rights. It became a familiar pattern in local politics that he would “uncover” a plot “to overthrow the regime by force” every December, and, consequently, would send hundreds of Bahrainis to the torture cells.
Once inside, those interns would have not be able to escape signing false confessions on papers prepared by interrogators. As long as the Western support for these inhumane practices continued, Khalifa and Henderson felt free to inflict the maximum pain and suffering on the people of Bahrain. The opposition has, over the past few years, adopted peaceful means in its endeavour to effect a meaningful political change in the country. The Khalifa-Henderson camp felt threatened by the peaceful campaign and introduced new tactics to intimidate the people. International Human Rights organisations reacted by issuing statements and publishing reports condemning the regime of terror being employed by Henderson’s staff.
None of these reports managed to convince policy makers in the West to take active steps to retain a degree of civility in Bahrain. The deceased emir played into the hands of his brother and even went as far as putting his signature on the death sentence ordered by the prime minister.
The opposition has acted responsibly when it called for calming down the situation in the aftermath of Sheikh Isa’s demise. This stand has been praised worldwide. It is hoped that this move would be reciprocated by a courageous decision by the new Amir to release all political prisoners, allow the unconditional return of exiles, repeal the State Security Law, and reinstate the country’s constitution. The forces of death commanded by the prime minister and Henderson, reacted angrily to this political initiative, and undertook to continue their policies of terror and intimidation.
Many men and children were arrested in the first few days after the demise of Sheikh Isa, the people were banned from using microphone systems in mosques, and mercenaries were dispatched to residential areas in a show of strength.
The people realised how desperate the forces of terror were and continued in their wait-and-see policy. Political observers agree that those forces stand to lose greatly if the opposition is to succeed in retaining the initiative. Without the torture chambers their services will no longer be needed, an eventuality they detest. They were also annoyed by the worldwide coverage of the opposition’s call for calm, at a time when the regime was embarrassed by the inundating calls from international human rights organisations to be allowed into Bahrain to monitor the show trial of Sheikh Al Jamri.
The opposition has extended a sincere hand to the new Amir, hoping he would reciprocate with the same. The hope is that the friends of the Al Khalifa will take the initiative to advise Sheikh Hamad to start his reign with a clean note and distance himself from the excesses of his uncle. It must be pointed out that it is in the interest of himself and that of ruling family to start a new chapter based on reconciliation and dialogue.
In a rare sign of a changing environment, one of the columnists was allowed to comment on the question of the dissolved parliament on 23 March. Sawsan Al-Shaer stated that the laws that are issued in the absence of the parliament may be considered “constitutional”. She stated that the parliament (when convened) has the right to review all laws issued during its absence and to validate them. Although many would disagree with her interpretation of constitutionality, such comments are considered to be positive signs and the opposition hopes that the government would lift the strict censorship imposed on the media, so that all matters of concern to the citizens can be deliberated openly and rationally.
A more serious sign of such a tendency would be demonstrated by the unconditional release of the thousands of prisoners relinquishing in the torture chambers. A decision to reinstate the constitution will add up to this and will ensure that his rulership is also constitutional. It must be mentioned that Article of the Constitution makes it a condition that the new Amir is required to address the elected parliament and to seek its approval. In the absence of this elected council, his rule will remain questionable from a constitutional point of view. It is hoped that being a Sandhust-educated he will not miss out this time. The new king of Jordan has set a good example by ordering the release of prisoners.