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Art by Bahraini Children Depicts Atrocities, Violence, Fear, and Hope

Human Rights First presented an exhibit of art by Bahraini Children at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC this week. The images portray their grief and anger over the violence that has affected their families.

Each of the images was accompanied by some background information on the child and his or her situation. Child psychology experts examined the drawings and presented their hypotheses about each child’s emotional state.

This drawing is by an 8 year old boy whose father was shot while protesting with his arms up. The boy drew a scene of protesters around the iconic statue, the Pearl Roundabout (now destroyed by the Kingdom). The flag of Bahrain flies from the Pearl Roundabout. The protesters hold up their hands to show they are unarmed and peaceful.

This 9 year old boy’s grandfather was shot by government forces. The boy has drawn a protest scene. Forces in helicopters and cars attack the protesters. A protester lies on the ground bleeding.

The uncle of this 7 year old girl was shot in the head by Bahraini forces, and the images of him were broadcast on television. The girl says the picture shows her and her sister running to help her uncle.

Despite assertions to the contrary, torture continues in Bahrain, and UN is denied access

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As reported by Human Rights First’s Human Rights Defender Program director Brian Dooley in his article for Foreign Policy on March 22, 2012, torture by security and police forces continues to take place in Bahrain, despite the government’s assertions that real progress has been made.

The (dozen teens) said they had been severely beaten by the police in the previous two days. “They beat us until they got tired, then other policemen would take over and beat us more,” said one boy….

…Several showed me severe bruises on their backs and arms, marks they said were from the beatings.”

Bahrain Denies UN Access to Investigate

Tellingly, Bahrain formally requested a delay of the official visit of Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, who was to visit Bahrain in early March 2012 to investigate. Mr. Mendez has had an illustrious career in international law, including a current position teaching American University’s College of Law and 15 years of work with the humanitarian group, Human Rights Watch. This action effectively prevented Mr. Mendez from entering the country and making his independent investigation on behalf of the United Nations.

According to a UN spokesperson, Bahrain’s excuse was that they were “still undergoing major reforms and wants some important steps, critical to the special rapporteur’s mandate, to be in place before he visits so he can assess the progress that Bahrain has made to date,” as reported by Andrew Hammond, senior correspondent for Reuters, on March 1, 2012.

Bahrain has rescheduled his visit for July 2012.

Bahrain Fails to Prosecute Those Guilty of Torture

Meanwhile, Alex Delmar-Morgan (a Wall Street Journal reporter who was infamously arrested by Bahraini security forces while he was covering the protests in Bahrain in March 2011), reported on March 11, 2012 in the Wall Street Journal that Cherif Bassiouni, former United Nations human rights lawyer and head of the royally-appointed Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, stated that the Bahrain regime had failed to act on his recommendations that members of the government involved in systematic torture and homicides be brought to justice and called for accountability.

Please, Take Action

The use of torture by police and security forces in Bahrain has been, and continues to be, extensive, egregious, and systematic, and apparently, sanctioned by the government. If you are inclined, please write to Mr. Mendez at this address, or take other action as you see fit:

Mr. Juan Mendez
Special Rapporteur on Torture
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10