Appalling Human Rights Abuses in Bahrain
by Stephen Lendman
Since February 2011, Bahrainis challenged state terror policies heroically. Brutal crackdowns followed. They continue.
They include mass arrests, imprisonments, torture, kangaroo court trials, and overall ruthlessness.
Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa monarchy is a close US ally. Washington provides material support. It’s one of the world’s most despotic regimes. Ruthlessness defines its policies. More on that below.
According to the State Department’s 2012 human rights report,
serious human rights abuses persist.
They include “citizens inability to change their government peacefully; arrest and detention of protesters on vague charges, in some cases leading to their torture in detention; and lack of due process in trials of political and human rights activists, medical personnel, teachers, and students, with some resulting in harsh sentences.”
“Other significant human rights problems included arbitrary deprivation of life; arrest of individuals on charges relating to freedom of expression; reported violations of privacy; and restrictions on civil liberties, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and some religious practices.”
“The government sometimes imposed and enforced travel bans on political activists.”
“Discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, nationality, and sect persisted, especially against the Shia population.”
“There were reports of domestic violence against women and children.”
“Trafficking in persons and restrictions on the rights of foreign workers continued to be significant problems.”
In more detail, the State Department cited:
- “Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life;”
- “Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;”
- Horrific prison and detention center conditions;
- “Arbitrary Arrest(s) (and) Detention(s);”
- Lawless arrest procedures and treatment;
- “Denial of Fair Public Trial(s);”
- Imprisonment for political reasons;
- Lawless civil judicial procedures and remedies;
- “Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence;”
- Speech, press and other civil liberties violations;
- Restricted Internet freedom;
- Restricted academic and cultural events freedom;
- Lack of freedom of assembly and association;
- Denial of free internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, repatriation and religion;
- Sham elections and other political irregularities;
- Corruption and lack of government transparency;
- Discrimination and other societal abuses;
- Violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and
- Greatly restricted labor rights.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) discusses ongoing human rights abuses regularly.
On September 29, it headlined “Bahrain Court Sentences 50 Defendants, Including Human Rights Defenders, Under Terrorism Law, and Reduces Sentence For Two Police Officers Convicted of Torturing Detainee to Death.”
They received a combined 430 years imprisonment. Their crime is wanting equity and justice. They want freedom from political persecution. They want what everyone deserves. They want what Bahrain denies.
At issue was the so-called “February 14 Coalition” case. Fifty Bahrainis were charged under the politically motivated terrorism law.
Trial proceedings excluded internationally recognized judicial standards. Fairness was entirely lacking.
Defendant testimonies revealed torture and other forms of abuse. The court ignored them.
On September 5, defense counsel requested a new judge. Conflict of interest was cited. It was denied.
The defense team withdrew from proceedings. It cited Bahrain’s Criminal Procedure Law, Article 211.
Defendants boycotted the trial. They cited a lack of judicial fairness.
Sham proceedings continued. On September 29, 16 defendants received 15 years imprisonment, four got 10 years, and 20 others got five years each.
BCHR’s Acting President Maryam Al-Khawaja responded as follows:
“There was no due process in the entirety of this case which is why the defendants and their lawyers decided to boycott.”
“From the time that the defendants were abducted, tortured and then sentences, nothing was done according to international standards of a fair trial.”
“If these fifty people were really guilty of a crime, why was the only evidence presented confessions extracted under torture?”
“This was a sham trial with a political verdict. They should be released immediately.”
On October 12, BCHR published messages from imprisoned and targeted human rights defenders. Said Yousif AlMuhafdah is Acting BCGR Vice President. He’s a wanted man.
He was arrested numerous times for doing the right thing. Bahrani justice calls right wrong. Said’s been “beaten, defamed, threatened and harassed” for his work.
He’s traveling abroad. Days earlier, his family said he received a summons for interrogation. It was for speaking openly about torture.
Human rights defender Naji Fateel is imprisoned. He’s serving 15 years for doing his job. He was severely tortured.
Human rights defender Abduljalil AlSingace is paralyzed. He was tortured anyway. He’s imprisoned for life.
Nabeel Rajab co-founded BCHR. He’s been arrested, brutally beaten, prosecuted and imprisoned for three years. It’s for defending human rights. He’s a political prisoner. He wrote supporters saying the following.
“I am addressing you from cell in Bahrain, where I have been imprisoned since July 9th, 2012.”
“The regime of Bahrain decided to silence my voice from defending freedom of speech and from defending the rights of all Bahrainis for freedom, democracy and social justice.”
“I ask you, my friends and colleagues, to help the long-suffering people of Bahrain to regain their rights from a tyrant regime.”
“There was international condemnation of the widespread human rights violations which included extrajudicial killings, systematic torture, arbitrary arrests and the list is long; but the regime refuses to change.”
“Several human rights defenders, including myself, were put in prison just for speaking out.”
“I ask you to stand in solidarity with the imprisoned human rights defenders in Bahrain.”
Abdulhadi Alkhawaja co-founded BCHR with Rajab. He was arrested, brutallly tortured, prosecuted and imprisoned for life.
His daughter Zainab is a prominent human rights defender. She’s been imprisoned for supporting right over wrong. She said “defending others is not what (her) father does. It’s who” he is.
“Never was this more clear to me than when my father told me about his experience in military prison.”
“He calmly told me about two months in isolation, about not being allowed to speak, about never seeing a human face. He described the torture sessions and the masked torturers.”
“But the calm disappeared, and I saw pain in my father’s eyes when he told me: ‘The worst thing was when I could hear the others being tortured and I couldn’t do anything.’ “
“He tried. My father’s first hunger strike during this imprisonment was while he was in solitary confinement and being tortured routinely.”
“His only demand was that they stop torturing the head of the teachers’ union Mahdi abu dheeb in the cell next to him, and whose screams he could hear.”
“My father was tortured severely until he ended that strike.
My father and other defenders have dedicated their lives to defending victims, educating people about their rights, and exposing the regime’s crimes.”
“The regime in Bahrain fears International pressure more than they care about people’s rights. Their solution is to commit their crimes in darkness, far away from the eyes of the international community, the media, and human rights organizations.”
“The best way to achieve this is by silencing those who shed light on the human rights abuses being committed against the people of Bahrain.”
“In a nutshell, the Bahraini regime has realized that by arresting and silencing one human rights activist, you can more easily oppress tens and hundreds of other people.”
“The Bahraini regime is therefore shamelessly targeting human rights activists through arrests and torture, detention and beatings, threats and interrogations, and defamation campaigns.”
“And as more activists are silenced simultaneously we see a rise in the human rights abuses, violations, and crimes towards the general Bahraini population.”
On September 30, political activist Mahdi Sahwan was imprisoned. It was for insulting King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
In July, he was arrested for political speech. He was charged with attending an “illegal gathering.” He was held in Dry Dock Prison for seven days.
He was detained an additional 45 days pending further investigation. On August 26, his trial began. Guilt by accusation followed.
He got one year imprisonment for insulting King Hamad. He got an additional three months for attending an “illegal gathering.”
On October 11, BCHR headlined “Bahrain: Death of Yousif AlNashmi: Arbitrarily Arrested, Tortured and Deprived of Adequate Medical Care.”
On August 17 he was arrested. He was verbally and physically abused. Family members were denied permission to see him for days. Initially he was denied counsel.
A later family visit discovered disturbing symptoms. He complained of headaches. He couldn’t sleep. He acted strangely. On September 19, he was hospitalized.
He was transferred back to prison the same day. He collapsed. He fell into deep coma. He was again hospitalized. He was diagnosed with brain cancer.
He was denied proper treatment. On October 11 he died. Examination showed evidence of torture.
It may have contributed to his condition. A proper forensic examination hasn’t been conducted.
Horrendous human rights abuses continue. State terror is official policy. It’s unrelenting. King Hamad is one of the world’s most ruthless tyrants.
Fundamental rights are denied. Police state viciousness targets dissenters. Thousands languish in Bahrain’s gulag.
They include doctors, nurses, other medical personnel, students, academics, independent journalists, bloggers, activists, and human rights defenders.
Collective punishment targets Bahrain’s majority Shia population. Brute force is systematically used.
Torture extracts confessions. Legitimate courts don’t allow them. King Hamed’s word is law. What he says goes. He rules by diktat power.
Democracy is blasphemy. Bahrain’s parliament is rubber-stamp. Courts pronounce guilt by accusation.
Rogue states operate that way. Bahrain is like Saudi Arabia. It’s one of the world’s worst regimes. It rules by brute force.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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Copyright: Stephen Lendman