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Press Release: Activists to Gather at 5PM Today to Demand Release of Nabeel Rajab

Activists will gather today at 5PM outside the Bahraini Embassy in Washington DC to demand the release of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent Bahraini human rights defender who was sentenced today to three years in prison.

Active since the late 1990s in the Bahrain human rights scene, Rajab currently serves as the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.  Since the start of the Bahraini Uprising in 2011, Rajab has been continually harassed by authorities.  Last year, he was summoned before the Military Prosecution after photographing the corpse of a man who was tortured to death in prison.   Police have targeted his house with tear gas on several occasions.  In January 2012, Rajab was beaten by police at a protest.

The three-year sentence  is on the charge of participating in an “illegal gathering.”  Rajab was already serving a three-month prison sentence stemming from a complaint filed by a group of retired security officers and an adviser to the King, in a separate case.

For event information, please visit and RSVP on the event’s facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/events/198227033642242/198236670307945/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity

 

By the numbers: an abysmal human rights record in Bahrain in July

Al-Wefaq has collected some distressing statistics about the state of human rights in Bahrain last month.  We have learned…

  • More than 240 Bahrainis were arrested, some of whom were wounded.
  • Approximately 100 people were injured by shotgun pellets, rubber bullets, projectiles, and exposure to tear gas.
  • More than 200 homes were raided by security forces, bringing the total to more than 311 in the past two months.  Security forces are especially notorious for late-night raids, intimidating families, damaging property, and “acquiring” electronics and items of value.

August is not getting off to a great start.  Zainab Alkhawaja was arrested yesterday.

Pictures from the crackdown on today’s demonstrations around Bahrain

Opposition groups called for protests in ten areas around Bahrain to take place today, Friday, July 13th.  The protests were set to start at 5pm Bahrain time.  The Ministry of Interior announced yesterday that all demonstrations would be considered illegal, and anyone participating in today’s events would be breaking the law.

Today, riot police were on the scene early.  Many streets were closed, and some towns were partly sealed off, preventing people from getting in.  Checkpoints were installed in other areas.

Despite the intense security measures and attempts to prevent protesters from joining the demonstrations, people went out anyway.  The crackdown started even before even the demonstrations commenced.  Tear gas and flashbang grenades were fired in every town that attempted to protest.

Riot police raided many private homes, in some cases firing at the occupants.  In Karzakan, a 16 year old girl was shot with a flashbang grenade, and at the same house a 40 year old woman was forced out of the shower naked.  Police also directly targeted protesters.  A 13 year old from Al Dair was shot in her ankle with a tear gas canister.

The Bahrain Coordinating Committee has not yet been able to establish the exact number of injuries, but the pictures below tell the story.

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Slow-motion video proves Bahrain riot police shot to kill

Take action: use this form http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments to write to United States President Obama and ask him to issue a statement from the White House condemning this attack.

The horrifying and cowardly attack on peaceful protesters by Bahrain riot police on Friday, June 22 has made headlines all over the world, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and New York Times in the United States.

Now, Al-Wefaq has released a slow-motion version of the YouTube video showing the incident that clarifies many points to the observer:

1.  The protest was clearly peaceful in intent and execution.

2. The physical attack by riot police was unprovoked by any action whatsoever on the part of the protesters.

3. The riot police aimed weapons and threw projectiles at the level of the protesters heads, ostensibly with the intention to maim or kill.

4. The riot police shot and threw projectiles at extremely close range to people, which is against the intended crowd-control use of these items, as they can maim and kill when used in this way.

5. The riot police continued to fire and lob volleys of grenades in spite of the fact that the crowd immediately dispersed, even while it was evident injuries were occurring.

6. They did not stop their attack until it was evident to them a person had fallen and was critically injured.

7. Rubber bullets and projectiles hit people in the back, as they were fleeing the attack.

The Bahrain Coordinating Committee calls on the United States and the United Nations to condemn this brutal and senseless attack.

The story of Sitra’s martyrs

We visited a grave yard in Sitra where martyr Ali Alshaikh is buried next to other martyrs.

Zainab Alkhawaja told us their stories, what happened and how they died.

Ali Alshaikh’s house was filled with his pictures, his mother remembers how active he was and kind to others. It was the third day of Eid in 2011 and he was only 14 when he got shot during a protest close to his Sitra home. He told his family he can’t celebrate Eid while there are political prisoners in Bahrain.

An apparent case of police brutality in Bahrain – can you provide the details?

A friend on Twitter provided this video to me, however, I cannot locate the original version on YouTube, and I wanted to share it with you.

It appears to show a traffic stop in a Bahraini neighborhood where people are harassed and threatened by riot police.

Do you know what happened here?  When was this, and where?  What is the story?  Can you solve this mystery?

If you know the original YouTube video, please share the link in the comments!

Maryam Al-Khawaja and Matar Matar to appear on Al Hurra TV this afternoon

Free Hour, a program of Alhurra TV, an Arabic-language U.S. television station, will feature an interview with Maryam Al-Khawaja and Matar Matar this afternoon at 20:00 GMT.  The second half of the hour long program will be devoted to the interview.   The program may be watched live at http://www.alhurra.com/  The second half of the program will be devoted to the interview.

Maryam Al-Khawaja (Twitter: @maryamalkhawaja)is a human rights activist and the daughter of imprisoned human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja.  She is also the Vice President for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and the head of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, and is visiting Washington, DC to speak with congressional legislators and speak with reporters at NPR and other media outlets.

Matar Matar (Twitter: @matar_matar) was featured on Al-Jazeera’s The Stream Tuesday, along with activist and Bahrain Center for Human Rights director Nabeel Rajab.  Matar Matar is a former member of the Bahrain parliament, and now works on behalf of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, Bahrain’s leading political party. Al Wefaq has been a prominent voice in Bahrain’s opposition movement.

The host for the program will be Hussein Jradi (on Twitter @hussein_jradi )

Free Hour is on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/freehour and Twitter @alhurrafreehour

Alhurra TV is operated by Middle East Broadcasting Networks, a nonprofit organization financed through a grant from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an independent federal agency funded by the U.S. Congress.