Category Archives: Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

Bahrain court upholds military court rulings against activists

Bahrain has sentenced twenty activists to prison sentences ranging from five years to life.  Among those sentenced were Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, who underwent a 110-day hunger strike earlier this year in protest of his torture and mistreatment by security and prison staff.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights reported on the verdicts on the cases of twenty activists which were upheld from previous sentences by military courts today.  Charges included attempting to overthrow the government.

The sentences may be appealed to the Supreme Court in Bahrain.  Some analysts have speculated that the government is holding the activists as a bargaining chip in upcoming talks with the opposition; others posit the rulings are a concession to hardliners with the government and an attempt to send a defiant message to the U.S. and other nations who have called for clemency.

Whatever the motives, the widely-condemned sentences will surely continue to polarize the nation and obstruct dialogue.  The government’s official news media has branded the activists as “terrorists.”

The thirteen activists who are currently imprisoned were charged by the National Safety Court, a military tribunal, in June 2011 after being arrested in February and March 2011.  These trials were later deemed unlawful and have been criticized as violations of human rights.  It is acknowledged and documented that the confessions that led to the June sentences were extracted through extreme instances of torture.  Yet, today those sentences were upheld by a civilian court.

“Today’s court decision is another blow to justice and it shows once more that the Bahraini authorities are not on the path of reform but seem rather driven by vindictiveness.” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Programme (AFP).

Sentenced to life in prison:

  • Abdulwahab Hussain Ali
  • Abduljalil Abdullah Al Singace, Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy
  • Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, President, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
  • Abduljalil Mansoor Makk (Abdul Jalil Miqdad)
  • Mohammed Habib Al Safaf ( Mohammed Habib Miqdad)
  • Hassan Ali Mushaima
  • Saeed Mirza Ahmed. ( Saeed AlNouri)

Sentenced to fifteen years in prison:

  • Abdul Hadi Abdullah Mahdi Hassan ( Abdulhadi AlMukhodher)
  • Mohammed Ali Ismael
  • 
Mohammed Hassan Jawad

Sentenced to five years in prison:

  • Abdullah Isa Al Mahroos
  • Ibrahim Sharif Abdulraheem Mossa
  • Salah Hubail Al Khawaj

Seven activists were sentenced in absentia. Sentenced to life in prison was Saeed Abdulnabi Shehab.  The remaining six activists who are not currently in prison were sentenced to fifteen years:

  • Akeel Ahmed Al Mafoodh
  • Ali Hassan Abdulla (Ali Abdulemam) – blogger
  • Abdulghani Ali Khanjar
  • Abdulraoof Al Shayeb
  • Abbas Al Omran
  • Ali Hassan Mushaima


Here are some of today’s news stories on the developments.

Andrew Hammond, Reuters: UPDATE 2-Bahrain court upholds sentences on uprising leaders

Al Jazeera: Bahrain courts uphold activists’ conviction

Associated Press: Bahrain court upholds life sentences for opposition activists (appeared in Washington Post and New York Times)

Frank Gardner, BBC News: Bahrain appeal court upholds activists’ convictions

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Bahrain is putting the cart before the horse with its latest attempts at so-called social reconciliation

The government of Bahrain announced last week that they would provide the equivalent of $500,000 US to non-governmental organizations that develop ” social reconciliation” programs.  The Orwellian twist is that this latest effort joins previous initiatives aimed at Bahrainis — primarily at children and young people in school and camp settings — to attempt to influence them to “forgive and forget” past abuses and transgressions by the regime.  This, while Bahraini forces continue to tear gas and shoot birdshot pellets at its citizens, and people who have been tortured, innocent of wrongdoing, still languish in Bahraini prisons, including Abdulhadi Alkhawaja.

In addition to the the deaths and injuries related to police brutality, dozens of women in Bahrain have miscarried their unborn children because of excessive exposure to tear gas.

Perhaps this money might be better spent on reforming the regime’s security and police forces.  Oh, right, they tried that.  Efforts in that direction seem to be fruitless.  The regime’s forces are as vicious as ever.

Royalists in Bahrain label any person who supports the opposition, democracy, and human rights as a “terrorist” and anyone who attempts to bring light to these injustices as an instigator of violence.  The lion’s share of violence, however, is coming from the regime, as numerous, reputable journalists, human rights organizations, and witnesses have reported again and again.

Evidently “social reconciliation” in Bahrain does not involve protecting the human right freedom of speech.  At time of this announcement, the government banned all demonstrations and marches and imprisoned one of the nation’s foremost civil rights leaders, Nabeel Rajab, for speaking his mind on Twitter.

While Bahrain continues to imprison political prisoners…arrest, beat, and torture citizens for speaking their mind…tear-gassing villages…blinding and maiming children and adults with birdshot….any discussion of “reconciliation” is premature.

After all, we are not talking about a parking ticket here.  There have been hundreds of documented cases of human rights abuses, including torture and loss of life.  People have disappeared who are still not accounted for.  People have lost their jobs because of their beliefs.  Mosques, hundreds of years old, have been destroyed.

What kind of reconciliation was Bahrain seeking when they shot a tear gas canister into Zainab Alkhawaja’s leg at close range on June 27?  What kind of reconciliation were they seeking when they shot four-year-old Ahmed Alneham with buckshot, maiming him for life, while his father begged them to stop?

Actions speak louder than words.  Peace is impossible without freedom.  Reforms first — then reconciliation.

 

Bahrain Coordinating Committee Supports UN Human Rights Council Recommendations for the Kingdom of Bahrain

Bahrain Coordinating Committee Supports UN Human Rights Council Recommendations for the Kingdom of Bahrain

[Washington, DC]   June 3, 2012 – The DC-based Bahrain Coordinating Committee announces its support of the recommendations proposed to the Kingdom of Bahrain by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

UN Human Rights Council issues recommendations to Bahrain at Universal Periodic Review

Sixty-six delegations from around the world, including the U.S., made statements and recommendations at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Bahrain on May 21, 2012.   The recommendations were informed by 18 reports from nonprofit and non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights First, and Front Line Defenders, among others.  The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner submitted a report documenting numerous human rights violations and transgressions against international law.

Included among the UPR recommendations were that Bahrain

  • Restore peace and ensure the respect of all human rights in view of recent events (protests and security force crackdowns), and events associated with protests in February and March 2011.
  • Respect the rights of all citizens to freedom of expression and assembly.
  • Release prison detainees imprisoned in connection with the freedom of expression.
  • Conduct new trials of all defendants convicted in military courts as soon as possible.
  • Prosecute security agents who tortured protesters and create new laws ensuring the accountability of security forces for human rights violations.
  • Establish a standing body to investigate all acts of torture.
  • Accept the visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, who was scheduled to observe in March 2012 (his inspection was postponed by the government).

U.S. calls for release of peaceful protesters

The statement from the U.S. mentioned concern about “ongoing detention and trials of hundreds who participated in peaceful anti-government protests.”  The statement also referred to the prosecutions of twenty medical professionals and the human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja.

Bahrain refutes evidence of human rights abuses

The Bahrain delegation refuted many of the well-documented human rights abuse claims.  They maintained that the government had not used excessive force against protesters, and that there were no detainees for freedom of expression.

Bahrain delegation claims freedom of the press in Bahrain

The delegation claimed there were no restrictions on journalists.  However, restrictions have been legion, including the instance reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists when journalists from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Al Jazeera, BBC, and Christian Science Monitor were denied entry to the country. The delegation also claimed that no journalist had been detained since 2002.  However, several journalists have been arrested and detained, including a U.S. reporter for the Wall Street Journal.  A U.K. Channel 4 news crew was arrested and deported in April 2012, and a Bahraini policewoman is facing criminal charges for arresting, detaining, and torturing a France 24 reporter.

UNHRC President Laserre angered by reports of threats against delegates

Controversy arose during the UPR session when United Nations Council Human Rights President Laura Dupuy Lasserre called on the Bahrain delegation to ensure reprisals were not taken against 14 Bahraini human rights defenders attending the UPR session.  “I wish to remind you that we are all duty bound to ensure that nobody is persecuted on his return to his country for having participated in meetings of the human rights council or other bodies,” stated Lasserre.  The Bahrain delegation denied any involvement.

About the Universal Periodic Review

The 13th session of the Universal Periodic Review took place in Geneva, Switzerland.  Information about the session may be obtained at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

About the Bahrain Coordinating Committee

The Bahrain Coordinating Committee is a Washington, DC-based grassroots movement that works to obtain U.S. support for democracy and human rights reforms in Bahrain.  For more information, please visit http://www.BahrainCoordinatingCommittee.org

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MEDIA NOTICE:                   Please contact the Bahrain Coordinating Committee to arrange in-person and telephone interviews with spokespersons.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja ends hunger strike; Bahrain Coordinating Committee calls for release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE         Download the PDF of this press release

Media Contact: Mary Fletcher Jones       Email: BahrainCC.org@gmail.com

Phone:  (571) 269-7559 (24 hrs/7 days)

Bahrain Activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja Ends Hunger Strike;

Bahrain Coordinating Committee Calls for Release

[Washington, DC]   May 28, 2012 — The DC-based Bahrain Coordinating Committee applauds the sustained courage of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, the imprisoned human rights activist on trial for leading protests in Bahrain, who ended his 110-day hunger strike today, and calls for his unconditional release and the dismissal of all charges.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

In a letter to his family, the activist stated the hunger strike served one of its purposes: to shed light on the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain.  Although he did not attain his freedom, the second objective of his hunger strike, he felt prison officials had made it clear to him that they would force feed him again if his health deteriorated.

Read the report on his letter to his family here, from Bahrain Center for Human Rights: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5296

Khawaja commenced his hunger strike on February 8, 2012 to protest conditions of his detention, including abuse and torture while in custody. The activist was force-fed on with a naso-enteric tube in late April.  The World Medical Association states that force-feeding is a form of inhumane and degrading treatment.

Khawaja, the co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been imprisoned for more than a year.  He was arrested in April 2011 and sentenced to life in prison by the National Security Court in a martial law proceeding.  The sentence was condemned by international human rights groups and several nations, and is being re-tried in the civil courts, along with the cases of twenty-one other activists.

About the Bahrain Coordinating Committee

The Bahrain Coordinating Committee is a Washington, DC-based grassroots movement that works to  obtain U.S. support for democracy and human rights reforms in Bahrain.  For more information, please visit http://www.BahrainCoordinatingCommittee.org

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Statement by the White House Press Secretary on the Situation in Bahrain

The White House: Statement by the Press Secretary on the Situation in Bahrain (April 11, 2012)
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

The United States continues to be deeply concerned about the situation in Bahrain, and we urge all parties to reject violence in all its forms. We condemn the violence directed against police and government institutions, including recent incidents that have resulted in serious injuries to police officers. We also call on the police to exercise maximum restraint, and condemn the use of excessive force and indiscriminate use of tear gas against protestors, which has resulted in civilian casualties.

We continue to underscore, both to the government and citizens of Bahrain, the importance of working together to address the underlying causes of mistrust and to promote reconciliation. In this respect, we note our continued concern for the well-being of jailed activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and call on the Government of Bahrain to consider urgently all available options to resolve his case. More broadly, we urge the government to redouble its ongoing efforts to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, and renew our call for the government, opposition parties, and all segments of Bahraini society to engage in a genuine dialogue leading to meaningful reforms that address the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis.