Silver Lining

Food for thought

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.”

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