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Bahrain’s human rights black hole – When will there be enough?

(Bahrain-file photo)

by Catherine Shakdam, source

If Syria is quite rightly monopolizing much of the world’s attention as fears of a global war are slowly materializing now that Washington has put in motion its rhetoric of war, walls of terror and despair are closing in on Bahrain, a once joyful and united nation.

Plagued by protracted political and social unrest, the people of Bahrain have since 2011 relentlessly called on their government and leader – King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah – to implement broad social, political, judicial and constitutional reforms as to reflect their democratic aspirations.

Unbending and unwilling to renounce his kingly privileges for the sake of justice or democracy, King Hamad has so far met his people’s demands with fire and lead, thus prompting a national resistance movement.

While political activists and politicians of the opposition remained true to their peaceful aspirations, determined to see through change without resorting to violence, the regime, led by King Hamad has been ever increasingly sinking to new levels of infamy.

Countless reports of physical and psychological abuses have been reported, documented and witnessed by rights groups since 2011, painting the horrific realities of life under a repressive, amoral and unlawful regime.

But if al-Khalifa has authorized and even instructed its security apparatus to act viciously against whomever would dare rise in opposition to his rule, reports that the regime brutalized and unlawfully detained a pregnant – woman have incensed activists around the world and created a popular backlash of such magnitude that it could very well mark a turning point in the opposition movement.

Many Bahrainis have already asked how one could even contemplate agreeing to any form of political agreement with a regime that could behave beyond what is humanly tolerable, or even acceptable.

Because if torture and sectarian-based repression are indeed despicable human rights violations, the persecution of a pregnant woman falls under crime against humanity.

The case of Nadya Ali

Earlier this month the authorities ruled that Nadya Ali, a young wife and mother-to-be would have to remain in detention pending trial, based on fabricated allegations that she physically assaulted law enforcement officers.

As reported by Ahlul Bayt News Agency, “Nadya has been facing false accusations, after she was stopped at a checkpoint on 30th May, during a security clampdown on the village of Bani Jamra. The complaint against her is lacking in credibility, especially with the plaintiff holding the power of arrest. Nadya has been held continuously since her arrest, although has not yet been convicted of any crime. Therefore her detention is considered a punishment against her and her unborn child, outside the course of both justice and humanity.”

Nadya’s family have told reporters time and time again that the young woman’s terrifying ordeal with the law started when she and her husband were stopped at a checkpoint in Bani Jamra.

Without giving any reason or justification, the police demanded that Nadya’s husband step out of his vehicle, before they moved to handcuff him and threw him in a van to be transported to the police station and processed.

As Nadya protested, stressing her husband’s innocence, not understanding why the police would perceive him to be a threat, officers turned their attention to her. In what can only be characterized as a random and sectarian-based targeted attack, police confiscated her ID card, warning she would face prosecution should she continue to resist.

Left free to return home, Nadya thought of nothing but to arrange for her husband’s safe release from jail, she never imagined that she, soon, would be the victim of state repression.

As per reported by her family members, when Nadya presented herself to Budaiya Police station, as she had been instructed to do by officers, she was immediately put into custody and brutalized by two policewomen in the toilet.

“On visiting Budaiya Police Station to request the return of her ID, an officer handcuffed her and took her to the toilet facility in the station, where she was tied to a chair and assaulted with the help of two other policewomen. Following this ordeal she was falsely charged with attacking security personnel and transferred to the Public Prosecution, who ordered her detention,” her family told the press.

The very idea that the sanctity of life could be so blatantly trampled over and overlooked by al-Khalifa has horrified Bahrainis across all segments of society, regardless of their political affiliations or religious beliefs.

The entire nation has been stunned by such barbarism and inhumanity.

Many activists have asked, “What monster, what blood-thirsty psychopath could ever justify harming an unborn child and his mother? What crime could this child ever be accused of? When will enough be enough? What atrocities will the people of Bahrain have to endure before the world can recognize the evil of this regime?”

The Women Affairs Unit in al-Wefaq National Islamic Society – the most prominent party of the opposition – stated, “Keeping Nadya and her unborn baby in oppressive detention illustrates the methodology of the regime in targeting women and children. Nadya’s arrest reveals a deep problem in human rights in general and especially the rights of women and children in Bahrain.”

Moreover al-Wefaq Liberties and Human Rights Department -LHRD – have called on the Red Cross to intervene on behalf of Nadya Ali and seek her immediate release on humanitarian grounds. The LHRD said “keeping Nadya in jail for this length of time is a punishment for her and her unborn baby.”

They noted that the accusations against her are minor compared with those against many security officers who have been released despite being accused of killing pro-democracy protesters.

Disturbed by the gravity of Nadya’s plight, Dr. Haitham Abu-Saeed, the deputy minister of Foreign Affairs of the International Parliament for Safety and Peace, told the press in reaction, “So much is required from the authorities in Bahrain, and Nadya’s case is only an overflow from the tip, because the violations in Bahrain are many and ugly, and they are documented. The reports we are receiving from Manama suggest that torture methods and disrespect to human rights have gone beyond expectations. The Bahraini Government is required to reverse on its wrongdoings and abide to international covenants and sit on dialogue table with the Bahraini dissidents.”

Such atrocities, such abominable impunity can only reinforce al-Wefaq’s rejection of a decision made by the Arab League to establish a human rights court in Manama.

As noted by Nicholas McGeehan, a Persian Gulf researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW), “The establishment of a glitzy new court won’t disguise the fact that Bahrain has a dismal and worsening record in that regard.”

Bahrain imposes tougher restrictions on opposition

Press TV

Bahrain has imposed new tough restrictions on the opposition, banning political groups from meeting with foreign diplomats without government permission.

According to a decree by Bahrain Justice Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa on Tuesday, all contacts between Bahraini political groups and diplomatic missions and consulates in Bahrain, foreign organizations, and representatives of foreign governments must be done in coordination with the Foreign Ministry.

It also says that a government representative must attend any meeting between Bahraini political groups and foreign diplomats.

The order also requires political groups to obtain government permission to meet international organizations outside Bahrain.

The new set of rules apparently aims to limit the activities of – opposition groups that have played a leading role in a more than 30-month uprising in the Persian Gulf nation…

Thousands of Bahrainis hold fresh anti-regime rally

(Bahrain-file photo)

Press TV

Tens of thousands of Bahraini people have taken to the streets near the capital Manama in a fresh protest rally against the decades-long rule of the Al Khalifa royal family.

The protest took place on Friday in the Shiite village of Jad Fahs where anti-regime protesters chanted slogans against the “dictatorship.”

The protesters also demanded “democratic changes” in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

The protest came a day after a bomb blast rocked a Shia Muslim village near Manama, injuring at least four policemen.

According to a statement released by the country’s Interior Ministry on Friday, the explosion took place on Thursday night in the village of Sahla, about 8.5 kilometers (5 miles) west of Manama.

Describing the blast as ‘an act of terror’, the statement also added that an investigation had been launched into the attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

On August 17, five Bahraini police officers were wounded in a homemade bomb explosion in the Persian Gulf country.

According to Interior Ministry, the attack was carried out in al-Diar area on the island of Muharraq, northeast of the capital.

Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, demanding political reform and a constitutional monarchy. However, the demand changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa regime following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.

Scores have been killed, many of them under torture while in custody, and thousands more detained since the popular uprising began.

Protesters say they will continue holding anti-regime demonstrations until their demand for the establishment of a democratically-elected government and an end to rights violations are met.

Protesters to hold fresh demonstrations across Bahrain: Al-Wefaq

(Bahrain-file photo)

Press TV

Bahrain’s main opposition group al-Wefaq says anti-regime demonstrators are to stage fresh protest rallies across the Persian Gulf state on Friday.

Al-Wefaq said in a statement issued on Thursday that all the major opposition parties in Bahrain are set to take part in the protests, which are planned to be held later in the day.

“The demonstrations are to insist on a right that is clear and legitimate for the Bahraini people to move towards democratic transformation,” said the statement.

The Bahraini group also stressed that anti-regime protests will continue in the country until the demands of the nation are met.

The call for fresh protests in Bahrain comes despite the law passed by the Al Khalifa regime in July, banning all protests in the capital, Manama.

On August 14, Bahraini protesters took to the streets in several towns near Manama, chanting slogans against Al Khalifa amid a heavy-handed crackdown by security forces.

Clashes erupted in several areas between regime forces and protesters. Reports said that police fired tear gas and birdshot to disperse protesters…

Bahraini security forces attack protesting prisoners, 40 injured

Press TV

At least 40 Bahraini prisoners have been injured after security forces attacked inmates protesting against their conditions, an activist says.

Sayed al Muhafada of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) said on Friday that he had received a call from inside the prison telling him that security forces used batons, tear gas, pepper spray and stun grenades against around 100 prisoners who were protesting over being deprived of family visits and other grievances, Reuters reported.

The inmates are reported to be political prisoners.

“They humiliated, tortured and abused political detainees by cursing, severely beating with batons, using pepper sprays and threatening them,” BCHR said.

“Some of the prisoners defended themselves [which] resulted in the security forces using more violence. The BCHR received confirmed information from sources that the prison guards and security forces used stun grenades and tear gas inside closed cells that resulted in at least 40 injuries.”

Some reports, however, suggest that the clashes erupted when prison guards began a sudden search of the prison cells.

The Interior Ministry said security forces have restored order, describing the protest as a riot.

“They tried to break the doors, the police interfered and restored order,” a tweet by the ministry said.

Most of the anti-regime protesters arrested by the Manama government are charged with terrorism offences and face harsh conditions at prisons…

Bahrainis on Independence Anniversary

(Bahrain-file photo)

Al Manar

More than 60 demonstrations distributed over 40 Bahraini regions responded on August 14, which marks the anniversary of the Bahraini Independence from the British mandate, to the calls issued by Tamarod movement, challenging the regime’s threats.

Since the early morning, the peaceful rallies started in Karzkan, Damstan, Mousalla, and dozens of other villages.

The participants asserted the rights of the Bahrainis to achieve freedom, democracy, and the state of justice and equalityBahrain2. They further stressed the necessity of ending dictatorship and power monopoly.

The demonstrators raised the Bahraini flags as well as the photos of the Bahraini Revolution martyrs and insisted on expressing their opinions despite the siege imposed by the security forcBahrain3es.

In response, the regime security forces used shotguns to disperse the demonstrations and flooded the different cities with toxic and suffocating gases to attain as much damage among the citizens as possible.

Local sources asserted that the regime security forces heavily deployed around the capital and tried to isolate the different Bahraini cities. These forces took “security measures” that included raising the arrests and raids against the houses of the opposition activists.

Bahraini Tamarod movement later announced, in a statBahrain5ement, that the peaceful demonstrations will target “Sayf” Intersection and that decentralizing the peaceful demonstrations is possible.

The statement saluted all the Bahrainis who responded to Tamarod’s calls and urged the International community to impose on the Bahraini regime respecting the international charters that ensure the human rights.

Bahraini PM: We will forcefully confront protests this week

Al Ahed news

Bahrain’s prime minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa said yesterday his government would “forcefully confront” protests called for later this week, and warned those involved that they would be punished, Bahraini state news agency BNA reported.

“The government will forcefully confront suspicious calls to violate law and order and those who stand behind them through decisive measures,” Prince Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa said after a meeting to discuss preparations to confront anti-government protests.

“It will punish (those) who stand behind them in line with recommendations of the National Council (parliament), which represents the will of the people of Bahrain,” he added.

The warning came in reaction to a plan by the opposition to hold a major demonstration on August 14, when the country will hold celebrations of independence from the UK.

Bahrainis hold funeral for boy killed in regime crackdown

(Bahrain-file photo)

Bahrainis hold funeral for boy killed in regime crackdown

Press TV

People in Bahrain have held a massive funeral procession for a young boy who died after inhaling toxic gas used by the regime forces, becoming the latest victim of the kingdom’s brutal crackdown.

People joined the procession that started from the town of al-Malikiyah to his resting place on Saturday.

Ali Jaffar Habib, 10, was transferred to a hospital outside Bahrain after he became seriously ill for inhaling toxic gas.

The young boy’s grandfather, Haji Habib, was killed on the same day the regime forces fired toxic gas.

More than one hundred people have died since the revolution began two years ago. Many of the victims died when regime forces fired poisonous tear gas into residential areas and homes to crush anti-regime protests.

The kingdom’s main opposition group, al-Wefaq, said earlier the regime forces raided 216 homes in several villages across the country last week.

The opposition group also said most raids took place after midnight or at dawn and 42 people including two children were also arrested…

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Bahrain deports American human rights activist

Press TV

Bahraini authorities have deported a US human rights activist for allegedly posting “radical” articles on social media websites, thus tightening the noose on all forms of dissent.

According to Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BHCR), Erin Kilbride, who worked as a teacher, left the tiny Persian Gulf Sheikdom for the United States on Saturday.

In a statement on Saturday, Bahrain’s Ministry of State for Communications said Kilbride violated her visa by working “illegally as an unaccredited journalist.”

The US woman was “using Twitter and a number of websites to publish articles on Bahrain that were deemed to incite hatred against the government and members of the royal family,” the ministry added.

Bahrain forces injure over a dozen protesters & rights activist barred from returning

(Bahrain-file photo)

Bahrain forces injure over a dozen protesters: Party

Press TV

Bahrain’s main opposition group al-Wefaq says regime forces have injured over a dozen protesters in the past few days as the crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators and activists continues in the Persian Gulf sheikhdom.

The Bahraini opposition party said that the Manama regime forces raided 216 homes in several villages across Bahrain last week.

According to al-Wefaq, most raids took place after midnight or at dawn and 42 people including two children were also arrested.

On August 7, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa banned protests in the capital, Manama, ahead of the August 14 celebrations of the country’s independence from the United Kingdom.

The opposition is planning to hold a major protest on the same day. The Manama regime has warned that any protests would face the “force of the law.”

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Bahraini rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja barred from flight to Bahrain

Press TV

A prominent Bahraini rights activist has been barred from a flight to her homeland, Bahrain, as the Persian Gulf nation is preparing for a major anti-regime protest.

Maryam al-Khawaja was prevented from boarding a British Airways flight from Copenhagen to Bahrain on Friday over a request from Manama authorities.

The airways officials, however, gave no specific reason for stopping her from boarding. A British Airways spokesman only said the airline barred her as “we are required to comply with requests from individual government authorities.”

“I had the flight this morning from Copenhagen and everything was fine. I did the online check-in yesterday. I was blocked at the boarding and told to check with the counter because there was a problem. The lady called the office in London who told her that there was a denied boarding message as a decision from Bahrain government,” she told IBTimes UK.

Maryam, who holds dual Bahraini-Danish citizenship, was due to visit Bahrain to monitor the situation ahead of planned anti-regime protests set to take place on August 14. Manama regime has already warned that anyone participating in protests would face the “force of the law.”

She later tweeted, “What I want to know is what the regime is so afraid of that they [would] issue a ban preventing me from travelling to Bahrain.”

Maryam is the acting president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BHCR) and according to a statement by the organization, she was due to visit her jailed father.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was given life sentence by a military court in June 2011 for organizing and taking part in anti-regime protests…

Bahraini regime arrested over 200 protesters in July, al-Wefaq says

(Bahrain-file photo)

Press TV

Bahrain’s main opposition group al-Wefaq says more than 200 people including women and children were detained during the heavy-handed regime crackdown on protests in July.

The Bahraini opposition party recently revealed that at least 19 children and one woman were also among those arrested by the regime forces during the demonstrations last month.

According to al-Wefaq, over 170 people were also wounded due to the excessive force used by the Manama regime forces.

Meanwhile, Manama forces have raided some 650 homes over the past month, while 18 cases of brutal and inhumane tortures have also been reported.

On August 7, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa banned protests in the capital, Manama, ahead of the August 14 celebrations of the country’s independence from the United Kingdom.

The opposition is planning to hold a major protest on the same day. The Manama regime has warned that any protests would face the “force of the law.”

Bahrain’s loyalist-dominated parliament has also approved a bill banning all protests in Manama.

Bahrain bans Manama protests through law amendment

(Bahrain-file photo)

Al Ahed news

Bahrain’s King Hamad banned protests in Manama in an amendment to a law on public gatherings prior to a major opposition demonstration to be held in August.

Bahraini authorities further imposed a crackdown on peaceful protesters by stricter penalties on the guardians of minors taking part in protests.

Guardians will be given a warning the first time a juvenile is caught taking part in protests. The minor will undergo vocational training or be sent to a social care center if the act is repeated.

The Bahraini King amended the law to “ban organizing protests, rallies, gatherings or sit-ins in Manama, with the exception of sit-ins outside (offices of) international organizations.”

Moreover, the Bahraini regime has already decided to ban the mid-August protest and warned to strictly punish participants.

At least 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since anti-regime protests erupted two years ago.

Bahrain Watch organization says Manama regime tracks critics via Twitter

Press TV

The Bahrain Watch organization has revealed that the Manama regime uses fake Twitter accounts to track government critics online.

Since October 2012, the Bahraini regime has detained several citizens for posting anonymous tweets that refer to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

An eight-month investigation showed that the Bahraini regime identifies those anonymous online critics by sending them malicious IP (Internet Protocol) spy links from a network of Twitter and Facebook accounts impersonating well-known opposition figures or other seemingly friendly individuals.

When a person clicks on an IP spy link, the report said, the security forces reveal the IP address of the internet connection they clicked from.

The regime can then force the internet service provider of the IP address to disclose the real name and street address of that internet connection’s subscriber.

According to the report, an examination of court records for five related cases shows that the Public Prosecution’s case centers on linking the IP address of the defendant to the offending anonymous Twitter account.

The prosecution, however, declined to disclose how the IP addresses were acquired, citing information obtained through “private methods that cannot be disclosed.”

The Bahraini regime apparently uses these accounts in secret, and may target their followers, friends, or contacts through private messages.

The report also lists over 120 other accounts that were also targeted in Twitter with IP spy links traceable to the government over the past two years.

Bahrain Watch lead researcher Bill Marczak said, “It is outrageous enough that individuals have been arrested and jailed for mere tweets criticizing the government.”

“That these individuals are being tracked down and convicted based on such weak digital evidence only makes matters worse.”

Bahrain Watch has urged political and social activists in Bahrain, and around the world, to be vigilant about impersonation accounts and malicious links.

“Given the government’s track record, it comes as no surprise that it would resort to such measures to stifle free speech,” Marczak stated.

“However, our hope is that this report will spread awareness of the methods that governments around the world use to trap digital activists.”

Al-Khalifa regime blocks Al-Manar website in Bahrain

Al Manar

Bahraini authorities blocked Al-Manar Website on Saturday claiming it violates the laws and provisions adopted in the country.

The website blockage comes after tightening sanctions by the National Council and the threat of the government to implement the recommendations, which tighten the noose against the opposition before the date set for Tamarrod (Rebellion) – Bahrain opposition peaceful protests on 14 August.

In the meantime, Bahraini authorities also banned demonstrations following the dubious bombing in Riffa city.

Bahrain approves bill banning protests in capital, Manana

(Bahrain- file photo)

Press TV

Bahrain parliament has reportedly approved a bill banning all protests in the capital, Manama, as the Al Khalifa regime continues its crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.

The move, which coincides with a special parliament session to discuss growing violence and anti-government protests in Bahrain, comes as the country’s opposition is preparing for mass demonstrations scheduled to be held on August 14.

Bahrain’s Justice Minister Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa has also called for stronger measures against escalating violence and anti-government protests.

On July 22, Bahraini police forces raided the houses of anti-regime demonstrators in a number of villages across the country, arresting dozens of people…

100 injured in three days of protests in Bahrain: Rights group

100 injured in three days of protests in Bahrain: Rights group

Press TV

At least 100 people have been injured in Bahrain in the regime crackdown on protests over the past three days, a human rights group says.

Member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Yousef al-Mohafadheh says the clampdown took place in several villages across the country, including Abu-Saibah and Bilad al-Qadeem.

According to Mohafadheh, Saudi-backed Bahraini forces fired tear gas at demonstrators, raided dozens of homes and made several arrests.

The secretary general of Bahrain’s main opposition group, al-Wefaq, Sheikh Ali Salman is now calling on Bahrainis to defy the crackdown and continue holding peaceful protests…

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Opposition to continue protests in Bahrain

Press TV

The head of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, has underscored the Bahraini nation’s determination to continue their anti-government protests in the face of Manama’s iron-fist policies.

On Saturday, Sheikh Ali Salman stressed that Al Khalifa regime’s repressive policies cannot prevent the Bahraini nation from holding peaceful demonstrations and that the popular protests will continue until public demands are met.

He pointed out that the Bahraini public is stronger than the government despite the regime’s crackdown on uprisings.

He underlined the importance of protests as a legitimate right confirmed by international laws and bodies and noted that the Manama regime must take responsibility for its repressive policies against the Bahraini protesters.

Al-Wefaq says the government’s account of a recent mosque bombing in Riffa is a fabricated story and that there were political intentions behind the “suspicious” incident.

The group noted that the incident was followed by several attacks on Sunni mosques to make it seem as part of sectarian tensions and push the people toward violence.

On Wednesday, a car laden with explosives detonated outside the mosque in the country’s second largest city.

The Bahraini government blamed the attack on the opposition. But the opposition rejected the accusation and described the incident as an attempt by the Al Khalifa regime to tarnish the image of the opposition ahead of planned rallies in mid-August.

The protests are scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of the British withdrawal from the Persian Gulf island nation in 1971…

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