Bahrain: health workers convicted to prison sentences


Thursday, 29 November 2012 21:13

 

On 21 November, 23 health professionals in Bahrain were sentenced to three months in prison on charges of illegally gathering during Arab spring protests in 2011. Five others were acquitted.

Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights said: “We are disappointed, though not surprised, that the Bahraini regime once again has decided to punish health professionals merely for expressing their right to peaceful assembly. Instead of punishing these dedicated professionals, the Government of Bahrain should focus on prosecuting the people responsible for torturing many of those who were arrested and detained.”

The 23 people convicted today include 12 physicians, as well as nurses and other health professionals. All are expected to appeal their convictions. Four other health professionals whose appeals were denied in October are already serving sentences ranging from one to five years.

Last year, a Commission of Inquiry established by the King of Bahrain to investigate charges of human rights abuses, recommended that the government review and commute the sentences of all persons charged with offenses involving peaceful political expression and to drop any outstanding charges against them. However, the court did not follow this advice.

“None of these health professionals belongs in prison,” said Sollom. “Once again, we call on the regime to reverse the convictions of all health professionals, to expunge those convictions from their records, to restore them to their jobs, and to compensate them for the time they lost in having to challenge these spurious charges.”

Source: Physicians for Human Rights website

 

AIl Demands Bahrain Free Prisoners of Conscience Following Verdict “Driven by Vindictiveness”


 

Thirteen Men Imprisoned for Exercising Human Rights in 2011 Anti-Government Protest Must Be Released Immediately

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @strimel

(New York) – Amnesty International today urged Bahraini authorities to overturn an appeal court decision upholding the convictions and sentences against 13 opposition activists and again demanded their immediate and unconditional release.

An Amnesty International trial observer was present in court on Tuesday when the High Criminal Court of Appeal in Bahrain upheld the convictions and sentences of the 13 men convicted last year by military courts on charges related to anti-government protests.

“Today’s court decision further engulfs Bahrain in injustice and shows once more that the Bahraini authorities are not on the path of reform, but are rather driven by vindictiveness,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

“Rather than uphold the sentences, which range from five years to life in prison for peacefully exercising their human rights, the Bahraini authorities must quash the convictions for the 13 men and release them immediately and unconditionally.”

The 13, including prominent activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and opposition political activist Ebrahim Sharif, were originally sentenced by a military court of appeal in June 2011 to a range of two years to life in prison on charges including “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution.”

On 30 April 2012, the Court of Cassation ordered their appeal be held before a civilian court. This process began on May 22 and ended with today’s verdict, which was announced in a session than lasted only three minutes.

All prisoners maintain their innocence.

Farida Ismail, Ebrahim Sharif’s wife, said: “I was expecting this outcome, as it is clear to us the government is not ready to be held accountable – its procedures continue as before.”

“There is not enough pressure from abroad. What happens next will depend on which steps are taken by the international community and what states do in the next Universal Periodic Review session. As for our government, it is clearly not ready for justice.”

Bahrain’s human rights record will be under scrutiny during the next Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the United Nations Human Rights Council in mid-September, when the Gulf state will have to confirm its acceptance or rejection of 176 peer recommendations presented to it during the previous UPR session in June.

“Bahrain cannot get a free pass at the UN Human Rights Council. We urge states to tell the Bahraini authorities that today’s verdict crosses a red line, and that they can no longer be considered credible partners,” said Sahraoui.

Amnesty International also repeated its call to Bahraini authorities to order an immediate and independent investigation into allegations made by defendants during previous court hearings that they had been tortured, sexually assaulted, and otherwise ill-treated while in detention in order to coerce “confessions” from them.

Fourteen opposition activists were originally arrested in 2011 after taking part in pro-reform protests in Manama. One of the men was later released. Many have alleged they were tortured during their first few days of detention while being interrogated by officers from the National Security Agency.

Some charges against three of the defendants were dropped on September 4.

Opposition activists who were arrested include: Hassan Mshaima’, Abdelwahab Hussain, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Dr Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad, Abdel-Jalil al-Miqdad, Sa’eed Mirza al-Nuri, Mohammad Hassan Jawwad, Mohammad Ali Ridha Isma’il, Abdullah al-Mahroos, Abdul-Hadi Abdullah Hassan al-Mukhodher, Ebrahim Sharif, Salah Abdullah Hubail al-Khawaja.

Al-Hur Yousef al-Somaikh has since been released, having served his sentence after the Court of Cassation reduced it to six months in prison.

Other prisoners of conscience currently held in Bahrain include:

Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights is serving a three-year prison sentence for calling for and participating in ‘illegal gatherings.’ His appeal on this case is due to start on September 10.

Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, the former president of the Bahrain Teacher’s Association (BTA), is serving a ten-year prison term imposed by a military court for using his position “to call for a strike by teachers, halting the educational process and inciting hatred of the regime,” among other charges. There is no evidence proving that he used or advocated violence.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

 

Bahrain jails prominent activist Nabeel Rajab for 3 years #WTFnews


 

Published: 16 August, 2012, 13:23
Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab attends an anti-regime demonstration in the village of Muqsha, Bahrain, December 9, 2011.

Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab attends an anti-regime demonstration in the village of Muqsha, Bahrain, December 9, 2011.

TRENDS:Arab world protests

TAGS: ConflictMiddle EastProtestPolitics,Human rightsOppositionPolice

Bahraini Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced to three years in jail for “participation in an illegal assembly” and “calling for a march without prior notification.”

Rajab has been held in police custody since June 6th, apparently over comments made on twitter critical of the Prime Minister in Bahrain, and calling for him to step down. Rajab was sentenced on July 9th to three months for his remarks, raising eyebrows and concerns around the world among free-speech activists.

But on Thursday, the lower Bahraini court sentenced the human rights activist to another three years for “involvement in illegal practices and inciting gatherings and calling for unauthorised marches through social networking sites”, for his “participation in an illegal assembly” and for his “participation in an illegal gathering and calling for a march without prior notification.”

Rajab himself is a prominent human rights activist, and has played a significant role in anti-regime demonstrations in recent months. Rajab is also affiliated with international groups such as Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch censured the July 9 court ruling and said, “If anyone is guilty of insult today, it is the Bahraini government, which has reminded citizens they’re not free to express political views.” On July 5, Rajab called on the international community to stop the Manama regime’s violent crackdown on protesters in Bahrain.He said the silence of the European community and the United States is a green light for the Al Khalifa forces to continue their violation of human rights in Bahrain.

Amnesty International claimed Bahrain had done little to improve its human rights record following its bloody crackdown on Arab Spring protesters last year.

“Nabeel Rajab’s imprisonment is the latest example of how, despite government promises to introduce reforms following its violent crackdown on protesters in 2011, few improvements have been seen on the ground,” the group said in a statement at the time.

“He should be released immediately and all other charges or convictions against him dropped or overturned,” it added.

Separately, Bahraini lawyers said on August 14 that the appeals court postponed its verdict in the case of 13 detained opposition figures, including senior activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, until September 4.

Bahraini protesters have been holding demonstrations against the ruling Al Khalifa family since February 2011 and they hold King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa responsible for the deaths of demonstrators during the uprising.

 

Bahrain: An open letter from the family of Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab


 

To the governments of the USA, the UK and all governments who have influence on Bahrain And to the UN and all Regional and International Human Rights Organisations 

 

 Bahrain: An open letter from the family of Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – My name is Sumaya Rajab, the wife of the prominent Bahraini human rights defender,Nabeel Rajab, who is currently detained in Bahrain. I write this letter in my name, and the names of our son Adam and our daughter Malak to urge you to use your influence and act quickly to guarantee my husband’s release immediately and unconditionally.

The Bahraini government fabricated a number of cases against Nabeel to take revenge because of his human rights activities. He was recently convicted as a result of his tweets in which he criticized the Prime Minister who has been in his post for 42 years. It is well-known that Nabeel exercised his right to freedom of expression in his tweets, which was guaranteed by all international conventions for human rights. Other cases taken against Nabeel related to his criticism of the security forces and the use of excessive force and torture and also his calls for peaceful protests through social networks. The right to assembly to demand civil rights is guaranteed by Bahraini laws.

My husband Nabeel is a prominent Bahraini rights activist and he is the head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, and a member of Human Rights Watch’s MENA Advisory Board. He is also the Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights. Nabeel has worked in human rights for 20 years and he has held important positions in several countries.

With the beginning of what is known as the Arab Spring, Nabeel initiated many peaceful activities to support the right of all peoples to decide their destinies. This came at the same time as the Bahraini revolution in February 2011 which demanded the Bahraini people’s legitimate rights to democracy, social justice and the end of corruption. Nabeel initiated a campaign on social networks to support Bahraini people’s rights, erase corruption and uncover violations of human rights. He also tried to uncover the role of the ruling regime in Bahrain in these violations. Nabeel has become one the most prominent activists on social networks, especially Twitter. He has at present more than 166,000 followers from all around the world. He travelled around the world and he met several international officials both in the West and the Middle East and officials in human rights organizations and institutions to uncover the human rights violations carried out by the regime and to explore ways to stop these violations and end the impunity. Nabeel and his team at the BCHR succeeded in uncovering the lies of the regime in front of the world. As a result, the Bahraini regime manipulated the politicized judicial authorities to fabricate cases against him in order to imprison him and stop his influential activities.

Bahraini security forces attacked his home on several occasions and fired tear gas inside the house in order to put pressure on him and his family. His family, including his children and elderly mother, have suffered from breathing problems more than once as a result of the tear gas. What happened inside the house was documented by video recordings and through international statements issued on these occasions. The regime also made it difficult for Nabeel to work and ruined his business. Our children were harassed in school and I, his wife, was sacked from my job after a campaign of harassment so that the regime could make sure that Nabeel’s only income was stopped. Nabeel has been arrested and interrogated on several occasions for his criticism of the regime and also for his calls for peaceful protests. He declared from his prison that he rejects all these fabricated charges and he refuses to appear before any court because the judicial system in Bahrain lacks independence and transparency. Dozens of regional and international human rights organisations issued statements demanding the immediate release of Nabeel Rajab, an end to the harassment of him and our family and also that he be allowed to work freely on his independent human rights activities, but the Bahraini regime did not respond to all these calls.

Nabeel Rajab is currently held at Jaw central prison in harsh conditions which reflect the desire of the Bahraini regime to take revenge. He is being held in a dirty cell where there are insects. The cell has no ventilation despite the high temperature. He is isolated from political prisoners and held with criminal prisoners. Prisoners are not allowed to talk to him, excluding the two people who share the cell with him. He was refused access to the doctor despite the fact that he suffers from eczema, high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. In addition, on several occasions, the prison administration has denied access to his medication in order to put pressure on him. Contrary to the rules of Bahraini prisons, we as a family are harassed when we apply to visit him and the reply to the applications always take a long time. Also, in contrast to other detainees, he is always brought to the visiting room with his hands handcuffed.

We, as the family of Nabeel Rajab, plead to you and plead to the UN and all international human rights organizations and institutions to demand from the Bahraini authorities that Nabeel Rajab should be released, that abuses against him and our family should stop and that he should be allowed to practice his human rights activities as guaranteed by all international conventions. We also hold the international community responsible for protecting freedoms and human rights in Bahrain and for working to put an end to human rights violations against the Bahraini people and especially against human rights defenders such as Nabeel Rajab.

We hope that you will take our plea into consideration and that you realize that the silence of some Western governments about the gross human rights violations in Bahrain means that the Bahraini people will lose trust in you and in principles you talk about. The people of Bahrain cannot understand the silence of the international community about the violations taking place in Bahrain while it is moving to resolve violations in other areas of the world. Freedom and respect for human rights are the only path to building a flourishing future for all people without any exception, and we in Bahrain long to build a state based on the foundations of justice and equality for all Bahraini people without any exception.

Bahrain, 11 August 2012

Sumaya Rajab, wife of activist Nabeel Rajab
Adam Rajab, son of activist Nabeel Rajab
Malak Rajab, daughter of activist Nabeel Rajab

 

Verdicts to be Issued for Bahraini Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab


Verdicts to be Issued Thursday for Bahraini Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab

 (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) -On Thursday August 16, a court in Manama, Bahrain is expected to issue a verdict/hear briefs in four cases pending against Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab, including Rajab’s appeal over the three-month sentence he is currently serving for being found guilty of libel due to posting six statements on Twitter that are critical of the BahrainiPrime Minister. The other cases that the court will hear include allegedly inciting gatherings and unauthorized marches.This is not the first time the court has set a date for a verdict, and in other prominent cases – notably that of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja – the court has met only to announce a delay. These postponements raise the question as to the legitimacy of Bahrain’s judicial process. Media reports have cited the delays as an indication of the government’s commitment to reform, yet the track record to justify such conclusions is lacking.

“I believe strongly in peaceful means of struggle. It could take longer time, but has better results,” Nabeel Rajab told Witness Bahrain in a videotaped interview just days before his arrest. “I will continue all my life struggling for democracy and human rights.”

Rajab is currently being held in Jaw Central Prison and, according to reports from his family, in an insect-ridden cell without air conditioning or proper ventilation, and without needed medical attention for his eczema, high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.

“We, as the family of Nabeel Rajab, plead to you and plead to the UN and all international human rights organizations and institutions to demand from the Bahraini authorities that Nabeel Rajab should be released, that abuses against him and our family should stop and that he should be allowed to practice his human rights activities as guaranteed by all international conventions,” wrote Nabeel Rajab’s wife Sumaya in an open letter on behalf of herself and her two children.

In addition to this just-released video interview, in which Nabeel Rajab talks about his work oh behalf of the Bahraini people’s struggle for democracy and human rights, a member of Witness Bahrain conducted a video interview with Nabeel Rajab on July 9, 2012, the day he was arrested and taken to prison, including filming surreptitious footage of the arrest itself.

Press contact for Witness Bahrain:
Kate Raphael katrap40@gmail.com, +1-510-381-1287

Appeal Bahraini health workers: nine back to prison, nine cleared of all charges .


Bahrain (Political) 2003

Bahrain (Political) 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday, 22 June 2012 07:17

 

Last week, nine medical professionals in Bahrain were sentenced to up to five years in prison for ‘crimes against the state’. Nine were cleared of any charges by the Bahrain High Criminal Court of Appeal.

A further two healthcare workers did not appeal against their sentences; they are thought to have left Bahrain or gone into hiding. The twenty Shia doctors and nurses were arrested and convicted after civil unrest broke out in Bahrain in February 2011. Earlier, a military judge awarded them much harsher sentences, which led to a huge international outcry condemning the poliically motivated charges. The new sentences range from one month to five years for offences including ‘attempting to occupy a public hospital using force’. The original sentences were from five to fifteen years.

Medical neutrality

The British Medical Association (BMA), as well as numerous human rights organisations have expressed  their profound disappointment with the outcome of the appeal procedure. The BMA has repeatedly lobbied the Bahraini authorities over the case amid concerns that medical neutrality was being jeopardised. The BMA director of professional activities, Vivienne Nathanson, said: ‘We have seen no evidence presented against these doctors and it therefore appears to be wholly contrary to natural justice for them to be found guilty.’

Torture and ill-treatment

Dr Nathanson’s letter to Bahrain’s king states that Bahrain ‘risks appearing to persecute healthcare workers, under the guise of criminal charges, solely because they have fulfilled their fundamental ethical duty to treat patients injured in anti-government protests according to medical need.’ The BMA also calls for an independent investigation into claims by the healthcare workers that they were tortured and ill-treated during their time in custody.

 

Source: BMA website news, 14 June 2012

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