Category Archives: Press Releases

Bahrain Coordinating Committee calls for release of imprisoned activist Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain


August 17, 2012 — The Washington, DC-based Bahrain Coordinating Committee strongly condemns the prison sentence of three years on charges of illegal gathering imposed on Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab. The group condemns all forms of repression, and calls on the government and its agents to respect the universal human right of peaceful freedom of expression, along with other basic human rights.

US human rights group calls for release of imprisoned activist Nabeel Rajab in BahrainOn August 16, 2012, the Lower Criminal Court in Manama, Bahrain sentenced Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, to three years in prison for participating in “illegal protests.” In Bahrain, a protest is illegal if it is not officially permitted by the government, and all opposition protests have been deemed “unauthorized” in recent months. The court also alleged that Rajab incited attacks against security forces. Rajab will appeal the decision.

The U.S. State Department also condemned the trial and sentence of Nabeel Rajab yesterday.

Thirteen other political dissidents, imprisoned on charges passed down by military courts during the government crackdowns on protests in 2011, remain behind bars while they wait for their sentences to be re-tried in civilian courts, per the BICI recommendations made to the government of Bahrain. Those trials were postponed until September 2012.

The government of the United States has called on the government of Bahrain to release them and anyone else detained for expressing his or her personal beliefs without violence in the Gulf nation.

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.  More information can be found online at

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Bahrain Watch detects spy operation against activist organizations


Twitter: @bhwatch

July 25, 2012

Malicious E-Mail Attachments Sent to Activists Steal Passwords, Record Skype Calls

Bahrain’s government is spying on Bahraini activists with a malicious computer program apparently supplied by a UK firm.

Bahrain Watch founding member Bill Marczak, and Citizen Lab security researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire analyzed a string of suspicious e-mails sent to activists over the past two months.  The e-mails promised exclusive images or documents about the political situation in Bahrain.  Upon closer examination, the e-mails were found to contain attachments that installed a malicious program on a victim’s computer.  Some of these e-mails impersonated Al Jazeera English reporter Melissa Chan.

The malicious program was found to record keystrokes, take screenshots, record Skype calls, and steal passwords saved in web browsers, e-mail programs, and instant messaging programs.  The malicious program sent this data to an internet address in Bahrain.

The analysis suggests that the malicious program is “FinSpy,” a product of UK firm Gamma International.  FinSpy belongs to the FinFisher suite for “Governmental IT Intrusion and Remote Monitoring Solutions.”  Gamma International was criticized for apparently selling the same product to Mubarak’s regime in Egypt. Before technology giant Apple closed the security gap, FinSpy would infect computers by tricking users into thinking that it was an iTunes update.  London-based NGO Privacy International has threatened to take the UK government to court for failing to control the export of surveillance technology to repressive foreign regimes.

During the analysis of FinSpy, a stolen GMail password was later used in an attempt to access the GMail account, suggesting that the Bahraini government is actively monitoring and exploiting the information captured by FinSpy.

A detailed report of the technical analysis of the program can be read at:  A non-technical report of the analysis by Bloomberg News can be read at:  Bahrain Watch would like to extend its gratitude to all of the activists, researchers, and journalists, including those at Bloomberg News, who contributed to this story.

Have I been infected?

The malicious e-mails analyzed were sent from the following addresses:

The malicious e-mails analyzed had the following subject lines:

  •     Existence of a new dialogue – Al-Wefaq & Government authority
  •     Torture reports on Nabeel Rajab
  •     King Hamad planning
  •     Breaking News from Bahrain – 5 Suspects Arrested

The malicious attachments display images or documents when opened.  If you have received e-mails with these subject lines or from these addresses, DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENTS.  If you opened one of the attachments, your computer may be infected.  STOP USING THE INFECTED COMPUTER IMMEDIATELY.

If you have received these e-mails, or any other suspicious e-mail about Bahrain with an attachment, please contact with details.

Tips for safe internet usage

Do not open unsolicited attachments received via email, Skype or any other communications mechanism.  If you believe that you are being targeted, be especially cautious when downloading files over the Internet, even from links that are purportedly sent by friends.

Bahrain Watch is a monitoring and advocacy group that seeks to promote effective, accountable, and transparent governance in Bahrain through research and evidence-based activism.  About Bahrain Watch:


Twitter: @bhwatch

ADHRB and Bahrain Coordinating Committee to Exhibit at ADC National Convention, June 22-24, 2012

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), a U.S. nonprofit organization, will present an informational exhibit about the Bahraini Revolution titled: “Bahrain: The People’s Revolution” at the ADC National Convention June 22-24, 2012 in Washington, DC.

The ADHRB exhibit booth will hosted by Mr. Husain Abdulla, Director of ADHRB and board member of the Bahrain Coordinating Committee ( Bahraini American activists will also be available to speak to attendees and answer questions. The booth will offer the latest news on the human rights and democracy movement in Bahrain, as well as an exhibit of Bahraini children’s art and a digital photo exhibition.

Each June in Washington DC, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) hosts its annual convention, the largest national gathering of Arab Americans. The Convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit

About Americans for Democracy and Human Rights

Founded in 2008, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) is a U.S. nonprofit organization that works to obtain U.S. support for democracy and human rights reforms in Bahrain.

Bahraini Lawyer’s Rights to Privacy Violated; Bahrain Coordinating Committee Pledges Its Support

In response to reports, The DC-based Bahrain Coordinating Committee strongly condemns sensitive and personal content posted on the Bahrain Forum, a pro-government Bahraini online discussion forum.

Allegedly, a video file was posted online that contained images of the prominent Bahraini human rights lawyer, Mohammed al-Tajer.  The images depicted him in his bedroom with his wife.

In the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report (section 1261.b), it was reported that Tajer was threatened with humiliation by government forces who had arrested him and detained him for several months for making a speech during the Bahraini protests in February 2011. While detained, Tajer was abused in prison, and in the course of interrogation was informed that he had been videotaped sleeping with his wife and was threatened that this tape would be made public.

The Bahrain Coordinating Committee condemns all acts of torture and humiliation, and calls on the government and its agents to treat political dissidents and other Bahrainis with respect and humanity, as they seek to obtain the rights to free expression, and other basic human rights.

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

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

Bahrain Coordinating Committee Pledges Its Support For Freed Activist Zainab Al-Khawaja

 Bahrain Activist Zainab Al-Khawaja is Freed; Bahrain Coordinating Committee Pledges Its Support

Zainab Al-Khawaja[Washington, DC]   May 29, 2012 — The DC-based Bahrain Coordinating Committee is pleased by today’s reports that Zainab Al-Khawaja, daughter of renowned human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, has been released from prison in Bahrain, after her trial last week and the payment of her bail (BD 200, about $530 US).

The Committee supports Al-Khawaja’s right to free political expression and her commitment to achieving human rights for the people of Bahrain.

Khawaja was sentenced to one month in jail for protesting the Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain.  However, since she had already served more than a month in jail — – having been arrested on April 21 — she was freed.

The 29 year-old activist will appear in court again on June 24 to face charges related to organizing demonstrations.

Khawaja is known for her tenacious participation in demonstrations and sit-ins supporting the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain.  She has emerged as a dynamic voice of the opposition, particularly in her use of social media.  Khawaja has more than 42,000 Twitter followers and posts updates on her Twitter profile @angryarabiya.

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

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:

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:

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

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Nabeel Rajab Released On Bail; New Hearing Scheduled for June 17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   Download PDF of this press release

Media Contact: Mary Fletcher Jones

Email:        Phone: 24/7 (571) 269-7559

Nabeel Rajab Released On Bail; New Hearing Scheduled for June 17

[Washington, DC]   May 28, 2012 — The DC-based Bahrain Coordinating Committee is pleased to announce the release of Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab on bail, who has been detained in prison in Bahrain since May 5 pending his hearing today.

Nabeel Rajab

Prior to today, the option of Rajab’s release on bail was in some doubt, but the court released the activist on payment of BD 300 (about $800 US), on the condition that he not travel.

Rajab was arrested on charges that he incited illegal demonstrations through Twitter updates.  The activist, who has more than 100,000 Twitter followers, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.  His hearing has been scheduled for June 17.

Rajab is the director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights

The Bahrain Coordinating Committee supports the exercise of free political expression, and advocates for the dismissal of charges against Rajab.

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

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Bahrain Center for Human Rights’ Report on the proceedings of Bahrain’s Second Cycle UPR session

Press release from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights

25 May 2012

(London/Geneva) – UN member states expressed strong concerns over Bahrain’s human rights record during the second cycle of their Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva on Tuesday. States issued a total of 176 recommendations, which is a marked improvement from the 9 recommendations issued by states when Bahrain was the first state chosen for review in the first cycle in 2008. This indicates that states are taking the UPR process more seriously and know they cannot let Bahrain’s human rights abuses pass without censure.

Many member states expressed strong concerns regarding the lack of progress made towards realizing the recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). These recommendations were submitted to the King in November 2011 in a report which confirmed that the regime committed serious human rights violations during their efforts to suppress pro-democracy protests since February 2011. The regime in Bahrain insists that the recommendations in the report have been accepted, but that their implementation will take time; many member states expressed the opinion that this progress is too slow or all together lacking.

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) called the opening statement by Bahrain’s delegation ‘bemusing’, saying that Bahrain’s Human Rights minister “spoke vaguely yet optimistically of Bahrain’s ‘culture of respect’ for human rights” while avoiding specific mention of last year’s protests beyond references to ‘unfortunate events’. The conflicting narratives of the Bahrain regime and international human rights bodies was in evidence throughout the session and in the way it was reported, with an article by the state-owned Gulf Daily News titled ‘Bahrain Defends Rights Success’.

Four years of failure

Bahrain began by thanking the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, for its technical and financial support for the implementation of the last UPR recommendations, for which it was given $1.4 million and which resulted in the creation of a Government controlled human rights group and a few training sessions. The majority of the previous recommendations were never implemented.

Bahrain did not mention the fact of its failure to implement the 2008 recommendations but stated that it had begun a national human rights education plan to ‘encourage a human rights culture’. Looking at the 2008 recommendations, it can be seen that this was not one of the suggestions at the time. The delegation then attempted to pretend that the creation of the Supreme Council for Women in Bahrain was a way of furthering the role of women in society, when in fact it is used by the regime to give political jobs to female members of the royal family. The women’s rights activist Ghada Jamsheer was banned from appearing on national media in 2007 when she dared to criticize the Supreme Council for Women for not taking any steps towards implementing a family law on citizenship, a recommendation from 2008 which still has not been achieved[1]. The Council for Women is said to be studying the recommendation to remove reservations from the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which was another recommendation from 2008 that is not yet implemented.

Bahrain has not confirmed any visits from UN Special Rapporteurs. The Government has earlier postponed the visit of the Special Rapporteur on Torture days before it was planned to take place. So far no new date for the visit has been set.

The 2011 Uprising

Far from admitting failures in the handling of last year’s crisis, Bahrain’s delegation stated that the events “enabled Bahrain to realize significant human rights reforms and achievements in favor of citizens.”[2]

The delegation then made a number of statements which are entirely misleading as per reports from victims and international NGOs. They said that ‘trials of the aftermath’s events were conducted before the civil courts in compliance with international standards. Each prosecuted person is allowed access to a lawyer. A lawyer is also appointed for each person accused in a criminal case who has no lawyer of his own. The court provides the accused person with all guarantees which enable him/her to defend himself/herself. All court trials are held in public’, and also that ‘charges related to freedom of expression and opinion have been dropped’.

Trial observers have repeatedly questioned the independence of trial judges, the lack of access of prisoners to their lawyers and the necessary provisions to properly defend themselves. Many charges related to freedom of association are ongoing or new, and prominent activists like BCHR’s President Nabeel Rajab are being sentenced for crimes related to freedom of expression.

ISHR noted that “Throughout the review, the Bahraini delegation tried to direct attention to the future when questioned about human rights violations related to the protests, defeating the regularly reiterated commitment of States to a ‘frank and productive dialogue’.”[3]


The Bahrain government engaged to some extent with recommendations which dealt with the rights of women, children and migrant workers, but delegates were dismissive of those relating to freedom of expression, torture, freedom of the media and retrials for civilians convicted in military courts. ISHR referred to a worrying trend of deflecting responsibility from the government for these problems, and seemed to believe that setting up the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was enough to absolve the regime from responsibility for their actions.

Some of these deflections of responsibility looked disingenuous, as when the delegation dismissed the call from Denmark, the US and other delegations for the release of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja for medical treatment by saying that they could not interfere with the ‘perfect independence’ of the judicial system. The Bahraini delegation reiterated the government line that there are no political prisoners in Bahrain.

Bahrain’s delegation also dismissed criticism of the draft press law, a recommendation from 2008, which Japan claimed would be even more restrictive than the last one. Despite Bahrain’s ambassador to the UK, Ms Alice Samaan stating in November 2011 that state owned BTV should be reformed due to its clear government bias and inflammatory anti-protest rhetoric, independent media in Bahrain are reporting that they face continual threats and obstructions. A recent report in the Financial Times notes that the editor of Bahrain’s only independent newspaper feels that BTV is hardening its anti-protest rhetoric and aiming veiled threats at his newspaper.

Bahrain’s human rights minister even went so far as to claim that ‘there were no restrictions on journalists’ in Bahrain, stating that many had entered Bahrain in the last year. However there are many recorded incidents of foreign journalists being arrested and deported (A team from the UK’s Channel 4 during the Formula 1 event) and even tortured (France 24 journalist Nazeeha Saeed). Finally the delegation made the startling claim that ‘Since 2002, no journalist has ever been detained’.

The US, Germany, Denmark and others expressed their opinion that the implementation of the BICI recommendations had been insufficient and little progress had been made on the most important provisions. Other Arab states like Egypt and Jordan also called for the full implementation of BICI.

However, Bahrain’s participation in the UPR and ‘implementation’ of the previous UPR recommendations was commended by such notable human rights violators as China, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, and other countries of the Arab bloc.


BCHR is pleased at the number and strength of the recommendations to Bahrain in the second cycle of its UPR. Recommendations to accede to OPCAT, the ICC, Optional Protocols to the ICCPR and the Convention on Protection from Enforced Disappearances, as well as the incorporation of the provisions of the ICCPR into domestic law are a positive step from the international community in holding Bahrain to account. Bahrain was also encouraged again to invite the Special Procedures and to abolish the death penalty.

However, BCHR has worryingly learned that Bahrain does not intend to either accept or reject the long list of recommendations proposed. Instead, it will take them all into consideration. This is precisely what Bahrain said to the recommendation to invite special rapporteurs in 2008, which means that Bahrain intends to stall for time, pretend that processes are in place in order to review and make more recommendations, and in the end nothing will be done. Bahrain’s government is institutionally corrupt and those who hold the reins of power will never accept the kind of deep reforms that Western states want to see. Bahrain has become accomplished at putting on a smile and pretending that everything is fine, but Bahrainis have been waiting since 1975 for a government based on a fair and non-discriminatory constitution. By denying its people even the most basic reforms, it risks a loss of faith in the political process to produce change and an increase in violence.

BCHR encourages the international community to keep its attention fixed on the actions of the Bahraini regime. BCHR remains a banned organization in Bahrain with a number of its leading members currently in jail, yet we will remain vigilant in our reporting of the crisis in Bahrain and call on governments and NGOs to stand with us to protect the rights of Bahrainis and bring the weight of public opinion to bear on the Bahraini government.

During the Council Session for the adoption of the Report, the President of the Human Rights Council, Laura Dupuy Lasserre, has boldly and courageously asked Bahrain to commit as a government not to harass or abuse any of the members of the opposition, the NGO members or activists present at the UPR session upon their return to Bahrain. She pointed to several articles that were written by several pro-government media outlets defaming and calling for action against those members and activists from NGOs and political societies attending the UPR and organizing side events. The BCHR would like to take this opportunity to commend and thank the President of the Human Rights Council for her courageous stance.

For general comments or inquiries about the BCHR, please email: info@

Further questions may be directed to:
Maryam Al-Khawaja, Acting President:
Tel: +4581757959

For documents from the UN relating to the Universal Periodic Review Second Cycle for Bahrain, see:

U.S. House Armed Forces Committee Expresses Concern For Human Rights in Bahrain

[Washington, DC]   May 24, 2012 — Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), a U.S. nonprofit organization, commends a landmark statement issued by the House Armed Services Committee regarding human rights concerns in Bahrain.

The Committee calls upon Bahrain to “continue to support protections of human rights and reduce sectarian divisions in all facets of society.”

The statement appears in a report, issued May 10, in connection with HR 4310, the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (  It mentions the nation’s strategic partnership with the Kingdom of Bahrain in the section of items of special interest (page 260).

ADHRB director Husain Abdulla stated: “We are gratified to achieve this unprecedented recognition and support from the Armed Services Committee for human rights in Bahrain. We will continue to work to raise awareness on Capitol Hill to support reforms.”

About Americans for Democracy and Human Rights

Founded in 2008, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) is a U.S. nonprofit organization that works to obtain U.S. support for democracy and human rights reforms in Bahrain.  For more information, visit


Media Contact:

Husain Abdulla

Director, ADHRB

Phone (251) 648-2490