Bahrain: Threats and defamation against Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha and Hussein al-Satri

07/06/2019
Urgent Appeal

BHR 001 / 0619 / OBS 048
Threats /
Defamation
Bahrain
June 7, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the threats and defamation against Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha, Vice-president of the NGO Salam for Democracy and Human Rights and Board member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and Hussein al-Satri, an online activist [1].

According to the information received, on May 19, 2019, the Director General of Anti-corruption and Economic & Electronic Security (Ministry of Interior) announced that an investigation launched into Twitter accounts “that tended to encourage sedition and harm civil peace, social fabric and stability” in Bahrain had shown that most of these accounts were managed by individuals based in Iran, Qatar, Iraq, European countries such as France and Germany, and Australia, and by “fugitives convicted in absentia” [2]. In his statement, the Director General namely accused Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha and Hussein al-Satri of managing an “e-network of accounts providing false information” and said that legal action will be taken against those accounts holders. Following this statement, the King of Bahrain and its Prime Minister also called on those running these Twitter accounts to be held to account.

On May 21, 2019, the media outlet Al Arabiya published a video report about the Ministry of Interior’ statement. The video [3] describes Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha and Hussein al-Satri as “wanted” men. The two defenders have never been consulted by the media to get quotes or their versions of the facts. Mr. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha stated he would denounce this act of defamation before courts and considers these threats constitute a reprisal for his human rights work and Tweets denouncing the human rights violations in Bahrain.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha has already been targeted for information he shared on social media in the past. In December 2012, Mr. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha was arrested for allegedly spreading false information on Twitter, following his documentation of a peaceful protest in Manama. He was held in pre-trial detention for one-month and then released on bail on January 17, 2013.

The Observatory is deeply concerned about the threats and acts of defamation against Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha and Hussein al-Satri, and fears the consequences those could have on their family members based in Bahrain. The Observatory believes these threats are only aimed at punishing Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha and Hussein al-Satri for their legitimate human rights activities and exercise of their freedom of expression and opinion, as it has been the case with other human rights defenders in Bahrain, including Mr. Nabeel Rajab [4].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Bahrain asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha, Hussein al-Satri, their family members, and all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

ii. Put an end to all threats and acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha, Hussein al-Satri and all the human rights defenders in Bahrain;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 11 and 12;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.

Addresses:

• Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA, King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587
• Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fax : +973 17 21 05 75; ofd@mofa.gov.bh
• Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Fax: +973 175 31 284
• Lt. Gen. Cheikh Rashed bin Abdulla AL KHALIFA, Minister of Interior, Email: info@interior.gov.bh
• H.E. Mr. Yusuf Abdulkarim Bucheeri, Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: info@bahrain-mission.ch
• H.E. Ahmed Mohammed Yousif Aldoseri, Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Belgium, Fax: +32 (0) 26472274; E-mail: Brussels.mission@mofa.gov.bh

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, June 7, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
• Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] Messrs. Sayed Yousif Almuhadafdha and Hussein al-Satri are respectively based in Germany and Australia.
[2] See the Kingdom of Bahrain Ministry of Interior’s online article, posted on May 20, 2019: http://www.policemc.gov.bh/en/news/ministry/92021
[3] See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrwXatLUlS8&feature=youtu.be
[4] See the Observatory Press Release published on August 29, 2018.

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