Silencing Dissent: A Policy of Systematic Repression

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On the eve of the UN Human Rights Council 21st session where the Bahraini government is expected to respond to the recommendations of the Council made on the 21st of May 2012, FIDH releases its report entitled “Silencing Dissent: A Policy of Systematic Repression”.

The report is the result of an investigation on the situation of human rights in Bahrain, a year and a half after the government’s violent response to the protest movement that started on 14 February 2011. It focuses in particular on the gap between the recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) [1] and their implementation by the government of Bahrain. Nearly a year after the release of the BICI report, one cannot but notice the reluctances of the government to definitely end with human rights violations. Despite the King’s promises, the reforms remain widely insufficient.

FIDH’s report takes into account both official declarations and actions, and accounts from the local civil society, notably reports of FIDH’s two member organizations in Bahrain, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS). Many of the accounts received were substantiated on the occasion of a field mission to Bahrain, which was conducted between April 1 to 5, 2012 [2] . The mission met with victims of human rights violations, human rights defenders, civil society organizations, lawyers, medical workers, teachers, university students, families of individuals killed and injured, journalists, political opposition members, the Minister of Justice, the Public Prosecutor, the Deputy Minister of Human Rights and Social Development, and the ambassadors of the United States and France to Bahrain as well as representatives of the United Kingdom. The mission also observed three court hearings for the cases of the twenty medical workers, the Bahraini Teachers Association (BTA) and the case of Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and twenty other human rights defenders and political opponents.

While certain efforts have been made by Bahraini authorities to address many of the BICI recommendations, the report concludes that the government continues to deny a majority of Bahraini’s fundamental rights on a daily basis and uses governmental structures to attack or control the population rather than protect it, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and fear among the population. declared Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. As an example, since 14 February 2011, 80 people have been killed; 34 of them have died after the release of the BICI report on 23 November 2011.

As the government of Bahrain will attempt to convey to the Council its actions for democratic reforms tomorrow, we must remind the international community that human rights defenders such as Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, remain in prison today solely for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and assembly said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH president.

Nabeel Rajab, FIDH Deputy Secretary-General, president of BCHR and former president of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, is currently imprisoned after he was sentenced to three years imprisonment on August 16th for his participation in peaceful protests [3].

We call on the international community to support the establishment of an international monitoring mechanism to be set-up, through a resolution of the UN Human Rights Council, to monitor the implementation of the BICI recommendations and the overall resolution of the human rights crisis in Bahrain added Belhassen.

Furthermore, FIDH calls upon the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally put an end to the ongoing repression against human rights defenders and for the immediate and unconditional release of all those imprisoned for exercising their fundamental rights.

Silencing Dissent: A Policy of Systematic Repression (Report on Bahrain)

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