Slandering media campaign against seven defenders- BHR 001 / 0109 / OBS 003

07/01/2009
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) about a slandering media campaign against Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former President of the BCHR and Protection Coordinator at Frontline, Mr. Ali Mushaima, a former leading member of the Unemployed Committee living in the United Kingdom as political refugee, Mr. Abdulraoof Al-Shayeb, former President of the National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture living in the United Kingdom as political refugee, Mr. Hasan Mushaima, Secretary General of the political party Haq Movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy, Dr. Abduljalil Alsingace, Head of the Human Rights Unit of Haq Movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy, Mr. Mohamed Habib Al-Meqdad, a religious scholar, and Mr. Ali Ahmed, an activist. All are well known, outspoken and leading participants in activities involving the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular the question of the equality in the enjoyment of economic, political and social rights in Bahrain, particularly in relation to the Shi’a minority.

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


Description of the situation:

According to the information received, on December 15, 2008, the authorities staged a wave of arrests to later announce uncovering an alleged “Terror Plot”. Approximately twenty youths involved in social protest movements were arrested and detained incommunicado until December 28, 2008. According to the detainees’ lawyers, the detainees showed signs of ill-treatment and torture during interrogation.

On December 28, 2008, a Government-owned and run TV “Bahrain Satellite” channel broadcast a pre-recorded video displaying unrelated images of violence amidst confessions of some of the detainees. The second day, daily newspapers showed publication of these confessions, names and pictures of thirteen of the youths, among them those shown in the TV broadcast.

One of the detainees, Mr. Hasan Ali Fateel - a former member of the Unemployed Committee - stated in his confession that Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja had encouraged the unemployed in 2006 to organize a series of sit-ins near the Royal Court and the House of Representatives, without making any relevant connection with the alleged terrorist scheme. He also mentioned the names of Mr. Hasan Mushaima and Dr. Alsingace as being instigators for demonstrations and public protests. Other detainees stated in their broadcast “confessions” that they had been instigated and instructed by Messrs. Mohamed Habib Al-Meqdad, Ali Ahmed, Ali Mushaima and Abdulraoof Al-Shayeb to carry out planned acts of terror.

Messrs. Ali Mushaima and Abdulraoof Alshayeb are now UK residents as they enjoy political asylum status after fleeing repression of the local authorities due to their human rights activities. Before and after the announcement of the alleged “Terror Plot” in December, the Bahrain authorities have been unsuccessfully exerting diplomatic pressure on the British authorities to have their political refugees status nullified in the UK.

The Observatory was also informed that Mr. Abdul-redha Hassan Al-Saffar, a human rights defender, well-known for his role in organizing peaceful sit-ins in collaboration with the families of detainees and the Unemployed Committee, was also arrested by heavily armed forces dressed with military and civilian outfits led by officers of State Security Bureau in the early morning of December 21, 2008 from his residence in Mahooz village. On January 5, 2008, a lawyer known to the BCHR, met him in the public prosecution and reported that Mr. Al-Saffar was subjected to severe torture using electrocution in different parts of the body and in particular the genitals.

The Observatory fears that the mentioned defenders have been targeted to deter them from pursuing their human rights activities for the defence of the Shi’a minority rights, and urges the Bahraini authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment against them, in line with Article 12.2 of the of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.


Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Bahrain urging them to:

i. Ensure that the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Abdul-redha Hassan Al-Saffar, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Abduljalil Alsingace, Hasan Mushaima, Mohamed Habib Al-Meqdad, Ali Ahmed, Ali Mushaima and Abdulraoof Al-Shayeb be guaranteed in all circumstances;

ii. Immediately release Mr. Abdul-redha Hassan Al-Saffar, since his detention is arbitrary as it seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Order a thorough and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned acts of torture and ill-treatment in order to identify those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the criminal sanction provided by the law;

iv. Put an end to all forms of harassment against them as well as against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as Article 12(1) that provides “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, and Article 12(2) mentioned above;

vi. 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, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : +973 172 12 6032

· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; Fax: +973 175 31 284

· Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: info@bahrain-mission.ch

***

Paris-Geneva, January 7, 2009

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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