8/31/2011

Bahrain activists blame police in boy's death

August 31, 2011
© 2011 The Associated Press



MANAMA, Bahrain — Bahraini security forces clashed with anti-government protesters after Wednesday morning prayers, and a 14-year-old boy died after being hit by a police tear gas canister, human rights activists said.

The activists blamed police for the death of Ali Jawad Ahmad, who was in the crowd of protesters in the oil hub of Sitra.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights cited witnesses as saying the boy died after being hit by a tear gas canister fired at close range by police during the demonstration.

Bahraini officials confirmed a 14-year-old was killed but gave no other details on the possible cause of death.

A statement by the Interior Ministry said there was no reported police action in Sitra at the time the boy's death was reported. The statement added that an investigation was ordered and posted a 10,000 dinar ($26,600) reward for information leading to a definitive finding.

Isa Hassan, an uncle of the dead teen, claimed police overreacted when confronted by a small group of protesters after morning prayers marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Hassan said the tear gas was fired from about 20 feet (seven meters) away directly at the protesters.

"They are supposed to lob the canisters of gas, not shoot them at people," he said at the funeral for the boy. "Police used it as a weapon."

Bahrain has been gripped by ongoing clashes between police and Shiite-led protesters demanding greater rights and political freedoms in the tiny Gulf nation that is the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

More than 30 people have been killed since protests began in February inspired by other uprisings across the Arab world.

Shiites are the majority in Bahrain but claim widespread discrimination by the ruling Sunni dynasty. Sunni rulers in the Gulf fear any concessions by Bahrain's Al Khalifa family to protesters would strengthen the region's Shiite powerhouse Iran.

Small-scale clashes between police and mostly Shiite demonstrators have become a near nightly event in the tense Gulf nation since authorities lifted emergency rule in June.

Bahraini boy killed in protest

قناة العالم : نبأ إستشهاد الشهيد علي جواد الشيخ

Bahrain activists blame police in boy's death

 
 August 31, 2011


MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahraini security forces clashed with anti-government protesters after Wednesday morning prayers, and a 14-year-old boy died after being hit by a police tear gas canister, human rights activists said.
The activists blamed police for the death of Ali Jawad Ahmad, who was in the crowd of protesters in the oil hub of Sitra.
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights cited witnesses as saying the boy died after being hit by a tear gas canister fired at close range by police during the demonstration.
Bahraini officials confirmed a 14-year-old was killed but gave no other details on the possible cause of death.
A statement by the Interior Ministry said there was no reported police action in Sitra at the time the boy's death was reported. The statement added that an investigation was ordered and posted a 10,000 dinar ($26,600) reward for information leading to a definitive finding.
Isa Hassan, an uncle of the dead teen, claimed police overreacted when confronted by a small group of protesters after morning prayers marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Hassan said the tear gas was fired from about 20 feet (seven meters) away directly at the protesters.
"They are supposed to lob the canisters of gas, not shoot them at people," he said at the funeral for the boy. "Police used it as a weapon."
Bahrain has been gripped by ongoing clashes between police and Shiite-led protesters demanding greater rights and political freedoms in the tiny Gulf nation that is the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.
More than 30 people have been killed since protests began in February inspired by other uprisings across the Arab world.
Shiites are the majority in Bahrain but claim widespread discrimination by the ruling Sunni dynasty. Sunni rulers in the Gulf fear any concessions by Bahrain's Al Khalifa family to protesters would strengthen the region's Shiite powerhouse Iran.
Small-scale clashes between police and mostly Shiite demonstrators have become a near nightly event in the tense Gulf nation since authorities lifted emergency rule in June.

8/30/2011

Eid Mubarak

ediongsenyene g.umoh
TO OUR MUSLIM BROTHERS: May the prayers of the Ramadan touch your heart with gladness and make your Eid a special one. Eid Mubarak!

Libia: Rebels Capture Gadhafi Loyalists

[AP] Dramatic footage from Libya shows rebel fighters capturing two suspected Moammar Gadhafi loyalists

Nigeria Newsdesk





Nigeria Newsdesk







Nigeria Newsdesk

Nigeria Newsdesk

@NigeriaNewsdesk
Breaking news and current events from around Nigeria and abroad. Got a breaking news tip or story idea? E-mail: NigeriaNewsdesk@gmail.com

Bahrain: Authorities block website broadcasts live events on Twitter

2011.08.29

Bahraini authorities have blocked a website that broadcasts live events on Twitter (http://twitcam.livestream.com/), after signing up on the site, it provides a link that the user can use to broadcast live events on the Internet and the broadcast is viewed on Twitter pages.
Bahrain Youth Society For Human Rights (BYSHR) believes that blocking the site because that the protesters in Bahrain broadcast live events on Twitter, especially the events of repression of the demonstrators demanding political reforms.
Since the protests in Bahrain (14 February), the demonstrators have used social networking websites extensively to call for the protests in the areas and the authorities have arrested many of the users of those social networking websites. The authorities have dismissed many of the students for expressing their political opinion on those sites.
BYSHR expresses its deep concern about blocking popular websites by Bahraini authorities to prevent exposing human rights violations.

8/29/2011

Bahraini protesters reject king's speech

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Bahraini anti-regime protesters have rejected King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's decision to pardon the demonstrators who were arrested during the country's popular uprising.

The protesters took to the streets immediately after the king's televised speech on Sunday, blaming him for the brutal crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations.

King Hamad said in his speech that he would “dismiss charges against some of the detained protesters and allow compensation to prisoners abused by security forces.”

He also promised to reinstate employees and students who have been dismissed for participating in anti-regime protests.

Thousands of employees lost their jobs in punishment for supporting the protests. Some of the students were denied scholarships to study abroad.

The Bahraini king's remarks come more than six months after his regime launched a Saudi-backed crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.

Meanwhile, a special security court on Sunday resumed the trial of 20 doctors and nurses accused of treating injured anti-government protesters. The court adjourned until September 7, when it will begin hearing defense witnesses.

Thousands of anti-government protesters in Bahrain have been holding peaceful demonstrations since mid-February, demanding an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty.

8/28/2011

BICI - BAHRAIN

angry arabiya
If BICI choose to turn a blind eye to sons of the King torturing & beating political prisoners, whose to say they wont do it again

BICI - BAHRAIN

angry arabiya

Bahrain - BICI

BICI

BICI

@BICI_Bahrain Bahrain
Official twitter account for the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry for news, info and statements from BICI. Follow/RT does not = endorsement.

Education Ministry To Reinstate Expelled BTI and School Students

Manama-August 27 (BNA) The Education Ministry has today announced that it would reinstate 50 students which had been expelled from the Bahrain Institute for committing violations.
"The BTI administration has contacted concerned students and urged them to register for the new academic year", the ministry's official spokesman Fawaz Al-Sheroogi today said in a statement, in response to newspaper reports.

He also pointed out that expelled students had completed their suspension period and would return to their schools at the start of the new school year.

Faces of Panzi

August 24, 2011
by rosebell
A few months ago there was a report that put DRC  as one of the worst places in the world to be a woman. I found this kind of description troubling even in the face of what many of the women and Congo as a country have gone through. I even wondered how Dr.Denis Mukwege, the director at Panzi hospital, a man who has dedicated himself to the care of  sexually violated women, would think.
I had learnt about him through the media from a few awards he had won. I never expected to be in Bukavu, South Kivu and at Panzi soon. This week am at Panzi with a group of psychologists and Psychiatrists doing an assesment of trauma among health workers at Panzi. It’s the main hospital caring for survivors of sexual violence which is unacceptably high in South Kivu. Many health workers wondered how they could deal with trauma and sexual violence yet the source of all this-the conflict-is far from being solved.
I always wondered  how their hearts are not in pieces, how they are not resigned amidst all this heart breaking stories. But now interacting with them I am learning from their resilience and their frankness on the challenges they face.  For this week we are listening to the stories they listen to on daily basis. I am here with Isis-WICCE and the Stephen Lewis Foundation on their program- African Institute for Integrated Responses to Violence Against Women and HIV/AIDS which aims to create a network of African-based, women centered technical support on issues of violence against women, HIV/AIDS and counseling.
Not everyone here is a victim of sexual violence but it’s the hospital that has a big department dedicated to sexual violence. Below are random pictures i took during morning prayers and training of health workers.

Beautiful girl in the corridors of Panzi

8/27/2011

#BahrainNOW

the right of self determination protests in Aldair village this night Aug26,2011 مظاهرات حق تقرير... http://fb.me/18M34Ibwjhttp://fb.me/18M34Ibwj

September 30, 2011 is the deadline to submit complaints, BICI announced


Manama, Aug. 26 (BNA)—Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) has announced today that the deadline to submit complaints is September 30, 2011.

The commission has received more than 5200 complaints so far which are being examined and documented to ascertain of their validity, it was revealed. The final report is due to be submitted to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa by October 30, 2011.
It is to note that BICI was created as per royal decree number 28 for 2011 to probe the incidents which happened last February and March, check if there were any violations of the international human rights law and provide appropriate recommendations.

Bahraini forces attack demonstrators

ABNA - 2011.08.26

Bahraini police forces raided the demonstrators in the Bahraini Capital, Manama, on Thursday night, and these deadly clashes continued until Friday morning.
The Bahraini activists have said that during these clashes a number of people have been injured and detained.
The Thursday demonstrations were held in Manama in protest to the insults of Bahraini regime against a senior cleric in this country, Sheikh Issa Qasem.
The Bahraini Minister of Justice, Sheikh Khaled bin Ali Aale Khalifa, a few days ago, accused this senior cleric of stirring sedition and fueling violence in Bahrain.

Bahrain’s Anti-union Repression: ITUC

2011.08.26

ABNA -The authorities in Bahrain are stepping up repression of the country’s trade union movement, with further suspensions and sackings of workers due to their actual or suspected participation in trade union and political actions earlier this year.

Government workers in particular are being targeted, including in health, education and municipal services, as the authorities seek to cleanse the public sector of workers who hold political opinions of which it does not approve.

Dismissals have in fact increased since June, and government workers facing dismissal report having to appear before disciplinary boards with no opportunity to mount a defence of any kind. There is little question that the outcomes of these hearings are predetermined. Minister of Labour, Jamil Humaidan, has disclaimed any responsibility over the public sector, effectively giving a green light to the on-going dismissals.

This year, some 2,600 workers in both the public and private sector have been fired, with an additional 361 workers suspended. Despite numerous promises to the contrary, the government has largely failed to reinstate workers illegally dismissed. According to the General Federation of Bahraini Trade Unions (GFBTU), only 134 workers have been reinstated to date. Many of these workers had to agree to unacceptable, indeed illegal, conditions in order to get their jobs back – including agreeing not to take part in any future political activity, waiving the right to participate in legal cases against the government and agreeing not to re-join their trade union.

Six members of the GFBTU Executive Board remain dismissed as well as 44 Executive Board members of GFBTU-affiliated unions. Of great concern, the Vice-President of the Bahrain Teachers Association, Jalila al Salman and Roula al-Saffar, head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, are to stand trial before a military tribunal next week, despite the fact that they are both civilians. It is highly unlikely that either will get a fair trial on the dubious charges related to the protests earlier this year. The two were only recently released on bail after being jailed for months, where they were reported to have been subjected to torture and degrading treatment during their detention.

“The Bahrain government is continuing its campaign of punitive action against workers who have simply exercised their rights under international law, causing real suffering to them and their families. The imprisoned trade unionists must be released without delay, and all the workers illegally dismissed must be reinstated,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “Instead of maintaining their destructive and repressive approach, the authorities should engage in meaningful dialogue with the GFBTU to resolve pressing issues such as job creation, labour relations and a broader agenda for real reform.”

Bahrain police attacked peaceful protesters in Nuwaidrat

8/24/2011

Wounded in a hospital in Salamaniya in Bahrain

Summon of Nabeel Rajab for his tweets, Return of military trials and other news from Bahrain

Summon of Nabeel Rajab for his tweets, Return of military trials and other news from Bahrain
23 August 2011

Nabeel Rajab President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights was summoned to the police station of Roundabout 17 of Madinat Hamad on August 19th for "deliberately posting sensational propaganda and false information on his social networking site likely to disrupt public order, spark fear among people, damage public interests and defame authorities"
The interrogation was conducted by Ministry of Interior personnel. During the entire interrogation there was an individual videotaping the entire procedure. The questions were in regards to things he had written, his opinions and posting articles from the international media on twitter. They also interrogated him about Zakaryia AlAsheeri who had died in custody and had obvious torture marks on his body. They told him that AlAsheeri died of Sickle Cell disease, and he responded he had evidence that late AlAsheeri had been severely tortured. They also told him that Zainab AlJuma died a natural death, to which he responded that she had died due to teargas inhalation. He said he continues to stand by what he wrote and will continue to write on Twitter. Finally, they informed him that the case would be turned over to the public prosecution.
"Nabeel Rajab has been notified to abide by the law in exercising his right to freedom of expression, as stipulated in the constitution, and commit to legal constraints," the Northern Police director-general said.
Nabeel said that they had a stack of papers, all of which were copies of things he had written on Twitter. This is only one of a lengthy campaign of targeting human rights activists like Nabeel Rajab who is one of the leading activists in the country.
Today 40 people were taken to court, all of who have been in detention for several months without charges or trial. Amongst them were Hussain Ahmed and Wafi AlMajed, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja's sons-in-law. Families were not notified, but found out through the internet, and showed up at the court where they were not allowed to speak to the detainees or sit in on the hearings. Amongst the charges were illegal assembly with the intent of disseminating false information, sending information internationally with the intent of distorting the country's image and incitement to hatred against the regime. The cases were adjourned for two weeks until September.
Despite the order from the King to move all cases to civilian courts, felonies cases are still set to be tried at the military court. Some of these cases are: the appeal of the 21 prominent activists, the case of the doctors and the case of those accused of allegedly cutting the tongue of man.
Report by Human Rights First about the return to Military Courts.
Jalila AlSalman, deputy head of the Bahrain Teacher's Association, and Roula AlSaffar, president of the nurse's society, were both released yesterday with ensuring the place of residence. The court case against them is still ongoing.
AlSalman had recently been taken to the hospital twice due to chest pains.
Shaikh Isa Qassim, one of the most respected Shia clerics in Bahrain, today received a letter from the Minister of Justice, A copy of the letter in Arabic can be seen here.
In short, it was a warning to the cleric in what the minister called: incitement to violence by use of his religious statute. The minster have included no supporting evidences to his accusations.
Last night a religious procession was attacked by civilian clothed thugs in Bani Jamrah. The thugs threw stones on people taking part in the ceremony then ran off, there was one serious injury in which a young man's wrist got cut when one of the stones flew into a car window causing glass to fly. In Muharraq a group of provocateurs targeted a religious procession by standing on the sides and chanting "the people want Khalifa bin Salman (the pm) at people taking part in the procession. Luckily there were no clashes.

8/22/2011

البحرين مواجهات عنيفه في ذكرى الأستقلال في منطقة الدير , 18 8 2011

Pakistani Veterans Beef Up Bahrain Security Forces: VOA

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, made a one-day visit to the Middle East kingdom of Bahrain this week. Substantive details of his meetings with King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa were not made public. But Bahrain has been gripped by anti-government protests, part of the “Arab Spring” sweeping across the region. The Bahraini government has been soliciting help from Pakistan to put down demonstrations.

According to analysts and Bahraini human rights activists, Bahrain's government has been recruiting former soldiers and policemen from Pakistan at a steady rate to bolster the security forces.

Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, who has extensive experience in South Asia, says Bahrain has been recruiting Pakistani veterans for decades. But he says the eruption of the pro-democracy demonstrations in the Gulf state in March has sparked a sharp increase in the recruiting.

"This winter, when the very serious demonstrations began and it looked like the regime might even be toppled at a certain point, their hiring of mercenaries went up substantially," said Riedel. "And they began sending out basically want ads in major Pakistani newspapers advertising well-paying jobs in the Bahraini police and the Bahraini National Guard for any experienced soldier or policeman in Pakistan."

The ads placed in Pakistani newspapers call for ex-riot police and riot control instructors, military police, non-commissioned officers, and other military and security specialists - as well as cooks and mess hall waiters - for the Bahrain National Guard. The ads were placed by the Fauji Foundation, an organization set up to help veterans and their families. Calls to the foundation seeking comment were not returned.

A senior Pakistani source says President Zardari and King Hamad discussed the issue of recruitment during the Pakistani leader’s visit to Bahrain Wednesday. But asked to comment on the matter, a Pakistani embassy spokesman said the recruitment of veterans is done through private channels and has nothing to do with the Pakistani government.

Riedel says hundreds, if not thousands, of unemployed Pakistani military and police veterans were hired. Most have come from the province of Baluchistan in southwest Pakistan.

Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, says the Pakistani recruits have behaved with a heavy hand toward demonstrators.

"They’re uneducated," he said. "They’re told they are going to go to a holy war in Bahrain to kill some non-Muslims or kafir [infidel] or Shias. They are paid well, maybe. They are staying in isolation in Bahrain. They have their own settlement, away from local citizens. And those are maybe responsible for a lot of killing and a lot of systematic torture and human rights violations committed in the past months and years."

Asked how he knew they were Pakistanis, he said the recruits speak Urdu instead of Arabic. In fact, he says, demonstrators would insult the policemen and guardsmen in Urdu.

Rajab says that although the government has lifted the state of emergency and instituted a commission of inquiry into the human rights abuses, the anti-government protests have continued.

Bahrain is a monarchy ruled by Sunni Muslims, a minority in the kingdom. Shi’ite Muslims make up the majority of the population and have been in the forefront of the pro-democracy protests, calling for reforms and more equitable treatment.

Nabeel Rajab, who also serves as deputy secretary-general for the International Federation for Human Rights, says Bahrain's government is wary of Shi’ites serving in security positions.

"Because of their Shia religious background, the government or ruling family, they don’t employ them in the army," he said. "So always they have a gap in the army or the police. They need to employ somebody. The second thing is that to deal with the protesters, to deal with those democracy and human rights protests, the government of Bahrain imports or brings in mercenaries from several countries, mainly from Pakistan."

Bruce Riedel, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, says the Bahraini policy has aggravated the Shia-Sunni sectarian divide.

"The fact that the [ruling] Khalifa family is importing Sunni Pakistani mercenaries to repress the Shia majority only underscores the perception of the Shia majority that the regime is not interested in genuine reforms, not interested in building a constitutional monarchy, but interested in repressing the majority simply because they are Shias," he said.

Repeated calls and e-mails to the Bahrain Embassy in Washington seeking comment got no response.

Riedel adds that for Bahrain's rulers, there is a side agenda to the recruitment.

"Many of these Sunni Pakistani troops, if they’ve served well and served long enough, will also be offered Bahraini citizenship at the end of their career - an offer that is intended to try to increase the demographic size of the Sunni minority on the island. And that only intensifies Shia frustration with the way things are governed in Bahrain," he said.

The issue also has diplomatic repercussions. Iran, a Shi’ite nation, has voiced concern about the Bahraini government’s response to the demonstrations. In March, a 1,600-man Gulf Cooperation Council force, led by another Sunni monarchy, Saudi Arabia, went into Bahrain. In April, Iran summoned the Pakistani ambassador to hear official concern about Bahrain's recruitment of Pakistani mercenaries to help put down the protests. According to Iranian press reports, Iranian officials warned of “serious ramifications” for Pakistani-Iranian relations if the recruitment continued.

8/21/2011

Bahrain government fires hundreds of employees for political views

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency), Tension is rising in the country on the eve of Imam Ali’s martyrdom. The regime’s armed militias (Death Squads) have threatened to attack the religious procession in Muharraq tonight and tomorrow night. These squads are responsible for the abduction, torture and killing hundreds of Bahrainis in the past twelve months.

They are run by the royal court and are immune from prosecution. There are hundreds of images of these squads wreaking havoc on the citizens. They often roam the streets wielding axes, swords, wooden sticks or guns. They were deployed last summer after the crackdown on the opposition figures to instill fear in the hearts of the people. Their actions have only solidified the will of the people to oppose the Al Khalifa hereditary dictatorship. When the 14th February youth declared the revolution these Death Squads were granted extra weapons and powers to attack humans and properties. Bahrainis have appealed to the international community to intervene to stop these thugs before the situation gets out of control. Bahrainis will not allow themselves to be intimidated.

Last night demonstrations erupted in most areas amid massive attacks by the regime’s forces. Bahrainis have celebrated 40 years of independence from the British rule in their own ways. They wanted to tell the world that the struggle of the people had contributed to the independence and that the 150 years British rule was abruptly ended. The message is that regardless of the duration of the occupation, it has to end one day. The Al Khalifa rule is also bound by this fact; it has to end one day. It is not eternal; it is a temporary arrangement that is now doomed due to the excesses of the regime. The people of Dair took to the streets, breaking the siege by the regime’s forces. They marched bare-chested near the main entrance to the town until they were mercilessly attacked by the aggressors who used tear and chemical gases, rubber bullets and shotguns. The Al Khalifa forces also attacked people’s properties and cars.

The people of Sitra marched on 17th August near the main road before they were attacked by the regime’s forces. Moving images show clearly the intensity of the confrontations that had taken place near the police station and the National Bank building. Similar scenes were reported at Mhazza, wadyan, Sfala, El Ekr and Ma’amir. On the same day another demonstration in Dair was attacked near Martyr Zakaria Al Ashiri’s Square. All kinds of repressive measures were used against the demonstrations that have continued in most areas of Bahrain to mark the Independence Day which the regime has refused to recognize. Many casualties were reported and the images of these indicate intentional attacks to suppress the voice of dissent and revenge from those who defy the Al Khalifa hereditary dictatorship.

Meanwhile it has been reported that Jalila Al Salman, the teacher who began a hunger strike last week has been transferred to hospital after her health deteriorated on Wednesday. She was joined by Dr Rola Al Saffar who is also behind bars for treating the injured in March. Medics have remained in detention ever since as the international community failed to force the regime to release them.

In a separate development the discredited royal commission,  headed by Charif Bissiouni to whitewash the dictator and his sons from any wrong doing has shown signs of serious cracks in its membership. The head of the local committee supervising the investigation, Kamran Chaudry, has resigned for “personal reasons” and left the country. The resignation came after it became clear that Bissiouni has sold out to the dictators and betrayed the trust of some of his victims.

8/20/2011

BCHR Second Open Letter to Head of the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI)

18 August 2011

Dear Sir,
Thank you for your letter dated 9 August 2011, in which you outlined the position of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).
Whilst we, at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), are of course pleased that the government has demonstrated “extraordinary willingness... to listen to anything we bring to his [minister of interior] attention and act on it”, the main issue raised by our previous correspondence with you was your statement that this willingness from the minister “leads me to believe that on his part there was never a policy of excessive use of force or torture.” It was this last statement which we sought clarification about, since we did not understand how you had reached this conclusion at such an early stage. Your letter in response was noticeably silent on this point. You did note that you believed it was “premature to reach any conclusions”, which we are certainly in agreement with.
Whilst appreciating the difference between individual criminal responsibility and the responsibility of superiors, there is a wealth of evidence confirming that, at the very least, the government and the ruling establishment had knowledge and condoned the actions of the security forces.

Left: Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Commander in Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force - Right: Nasser Al Khalifa, son of the King
The most notable examples of this are the speeches of Marshal General Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Commander in Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force, and the actions and speeches of Nasser Al Khalifa, the son of the reigning monarch. Khalifa bin Ahmed threatened protesters in remarks made to BNA in May, saying, "I say to those who did not get the message, 'If you return we will come back, stronger this time'". In a public forum, on state television, Nasser Al Khalifa threatened retribution to all those involved in the protests regardless of their position in society and their profession. In a telling final statement, Nasser Al Khalifa noted that, as an island state, those involved in the protests in Bahrain had “nowhere to escape to”. Within a few hours of this statement, the systematic targeting of athletes involved in the protests commenced. To compound this, Nasser himself became personally involved in the torture of at least two opposition leaders, Abdulla Isa Al-Mahroos and Mohammed Habib Al-Muqdad, both of whom have provided testimonies which have been sent to the BICI.
Other witnesses have come forward to testify that they were beaten by different members of the Al-Khalifa family, such as Fatima Al-Bagali, who was tortured at West Riffa detention center on the 9th of May by the General Director of Southern Province Police, Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, because of a speech she had made at Pearl Square. Ayat Al-Qurmezi, also arrested for an anti-government poem she had read at Pearl Square, and Dr Fatima Hajji, have also claimed to have been tortured in detention by Noura Al-Khalifa.
These testimonies are, worryingly, the tip of the iceberg. In these circumstances, I hope you can appreciate that your comments to Reuters that “there was never a policy of excessive use of force or torture”, even if taken out of context, were highly prejudicial and created much anxiety and anger amongst the victims of this policy.
The actions of Bahrain’s ruling elite have consistently reinforced the message that dissent, in any form, is simply not to be tolerated in Bahrain. The targeting of individuals, both physically and economically, has been systematic. State television has pursued an agenda akin to the McCarthy witch hunts; naming and publically humiliating those involved in the recent protests. Indeed a number of state sanctioned websites have sprung up in which people are encouraged to name “traitors” to the regime. This state-sanctioned pressure has been compounded by the mass expulsion by state entities of employees who have been “tainted” through their association to the opposition.
It is in this context that it becomes difficult to believe that those in authority did not have knowledge of the persecution being effected through state apparatus. We would be happy to provide a range of evidence to confirm the assertions made in this letter and look forward to working with the BICI to achieve its stated goals and bring to light the situation in Bahrain.

8/17/2011

Bahrain Commission of Inquiry Statement on events at their offices, 16th August 2011


Manama, Aug 16 (BNA) In light of recent allegations that the Bahrain Commission of Inquiry (BICI) has reached a determination on its investigation, as well as verbal and physical attacks on its staff, the BICI wishes to make the following statement.

Despite misleading headlines in recent news articles claiming that the Commission has determined that the government of Bahrain committed no crimes against humanity during the demonstrations that have occurred over the last several months, the Commission would like to clarify that it has not made any such determination. The Commission's investigation is ongoing and will continue until all relevant evidence has been gathered. Its staff is still in the process of interviewing victims and witnesses, collecting evidence, and evaluating the circumstances. The Commission will not make a determination as to the extent of human rights abuses in Bahrain until its investigation is complete. Because certain media outlets and activists have misrepresented the comments of the Commission Chair, Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, in order to support their political positions, for the time being, the Commission will no longer entertain interviews to the media. Should the Commission decide that a public statement is necessary, it will provide this information on its website, www.bici.org.bh. The Commission will not allow itself to be used as a political tool for any group.

Additionally, the Commission's office is hereby closed until further notice. This is due to the fact that today, hundreds of people forced their way into our office, having been angered over what they believed to be the Commission Chair's "conclusions" on the investigation, and additionally having been directed by activists on Twitter and through mass texts to come to the office to report their complaints. The Commission believes its doors should be open to anyone who wishes to come forward and provide information on human rights abuses. However, as we have advised on our website and on Twitter, appointments must be made in order for our investigators to best serve the witnesses and victims. After attempting to accommodate the crowd by offering to take down their information in order to schedule appointments, some in the crowd became restless and verbally and physically threatened the staff. Individuals yelled insults, posted threatening messages on the office walls, sent threats via text and email, and even physically shoved and spat at a member of staff. Individuals also continued to photograph and video record people in the office, despite advice from staff that such actions undermine the confidentiality and safety of the many witnesses and victims coming forward. While the Commission's staff is committed to conducting its investigation, it will not jeopardize the security of the individuals that work at and patron the office. While the office remains closed, investigators will continue to accept statements submitted by email.

The Commission is concerned about the attacks upon the integrity of its Commissioners and staff. Its Commissioners are comprised of the foremost international criminal law and human rights experts. To learn more about their backgrounds, please visit our website. Similarly, the Commission's staff is comprised of international judges, human rights lawyers and advocates who have established reputations in their fields. The staff has worked tirelessly to hear evidence from all witnesses and victims who have contacted the Commission to tell their story, including by visiting prisons, hospitals and demonstration sites, as well as by staying at the office until well past midnight in order to accommodate the high volume of interview requests.

The Commission remains committed to its mission to investigate the events in February and March. We would like to assure the public that none of its staff have resigned as a result of recent events. Though our office is temporarily closed, the work will continue. Our staff will continue its investigation and will issue a report with recommendations as scheduled, as per our mandate. We ask the people, organizations, institutions and government of Bahrain for their cooperation in making this investigation a fair and successful one. As the Commission continues its work, anyone who would like to reach us may contact us by email at outreach@bici.org.bh

Bahrain: Independence Day

2011.09.17


The past few days have witnessed dramatic escalation in demonstrations and protests in most towns and villages. Yesterday Bahrainis held a big rally in Sitra to mark the 40th anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain.

On 14th August 1971 the British signed the document granting Bahrain full independence following decades of struggle by Bahrainis that eventually led to a UN fact finding mission in 1970 to evaluate what the Bahrainis wanted. The mission confirmed to the UN General Assembly that the people wanted full independence and a new government in which they would be full partners. Bahrain became independent on 15th August only to enter into the black era headed by the notorious dictator, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa who would stay at the helm of power until today. It has been one of the bleakest period of Bahrain’s history with thousands of Bahrainis detained, tortured or killed. Despite the independence, British legacy has survived through Ian Henderson, the notorious torture architect, the unwavering British support to the Al Khalifa hereditary dictatorship and clandestine security and military support from both USA and UK to this murderous regime.

Over the past few days, Bahrainis have been preparing to mark the anniversary through nightly protests.  The revolutionaries had announced a week-long programme of activities to mark the independence. At Sitra’s festival yesterday, the people power was exhibited through the speeches, poems, slogans and dedication to the cause of freedom and liberation. The day before (Saturday 13th August), several demonstrations and protests took place in several places. There was a big protest at Dair town in which men and women participated. They were attacked by the regime’s Death Squads and mercenary forces and the skirmishes continued during the night. The aggressors used excessive amounts of tear gas and chemical weapons against the unarmed civilians and there were several casualties. The people were entrenched near the Zakariya Al Ashiri roundabout and would not be dislocated by the aggressors. A similar protest took place at Sitra, Al Ekr and elsewhere. The night before there were demonstrations in many places, led by the peoples’ night march in Sanabis. It was one of the most memorable encounters between the people and the mercenaries. It continued throughout the night, but it was a testimony to the bravery of the Bahrainis and the cowardice of the Al Khalifa forces who targeted women and children inside their homes with tear gas and chemical weapons.

Meanwhile, calls have been made to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch its long-awaited fact-finding mission to investigate the Al Khalifa crimes against Bahrainis. This has followed the disastrous failure and the near-collapse of the Bissiouni royal commission which had been formed and financed by the dictator. Mr Charif Bissiouni gave his commission the kiss of death when he pre-empted its finding by absolving the regime of responsibility for the crimes committed against Bahrainis. More seriously, Bissiouni has been accused of passing information from the victims to the dictator that led to immediate revenge from those who have been languishing In jail for months under torture. The commission has failed to stop torture and sought to flatter the regime by not asking for the immediate repeal of the notorious Decree Law 56 that is at the source of the ongoing torture and abuse. Mr Bissiouni had earlier praise the dictator and his son of being “democratic” and “against torture” while the attacks on peaceful demonstrations continued unabated.

Among the most dramatic cases that had been presented to Bissiouni’s doomed commission are two testimonies by senior figures who had been severely tortured since their arrest in mid-March. Both have accused Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the dictator’s son, of personally administering torture on them. These are among the most damaging to both the dictator and his newly-recruited ally. To stop torture immediately,  Bissiouni has to order the immediate arrest and trial of this torturer, a step that is unlikely to be taken by the commission which is financed by the despot himself. This makes it  a priority for Navi Pillay to request the immediate dispatch of her mission to Bahrain.

The New Piracy

2011.09.16



Interview with CMF / UKMCC Media Operations Officer
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command
Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs Office

Manama, Bahrain


by Adriana Fara



1. Currently how many ships are hijacked and where are kept them?
As of 10 Jul 11, CMF figures indicated pirates are holding 17 vessels and 390  mariners.

2. What nationality have the ships kept by pirates?
Pirates are known to be currently holding hostages from the following countries: Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma, China, Denmark, Georgia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Jordan, Montenegro, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Serbia, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam, Yemen.

3. What kind of protection is given by the Combined Multinational Forces?

Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) has a headquarters in Bahrain and operates 3 task forces at sea.  Piracy is a threat to the maritime security of all nations and requires an international solution.   Combined Task Force 151 is a multinational task force established in January 2009 by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) headquartered in Manama, Bahrain to conduct counter piracy operations under a mission-based mandate to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations. The ultimate solution is ashore in Somalia, assuring security and stability and making sure the conditions that breed pirates are no longer there. 


The presence of Coalition Navy vessels in the region demonstrates our commitment to regional security and stability.  To continue to counter and deter piracy successfully, Coalition efforts must be complimented by proactive measures by commercial shippers, regional governments, and the international community. CMF works alongside NATO, EUNAVFOR and other independent nations.  Last year CMF units disrupted 170 piracy attempts.


The ultimate solution to piracy is ashore in Somalia, assuring security and stability and making sure the conditions that breed pirates are no longer there.

4. In which way the merchant community protects itself and how the BMP works?

Commercial shipping can not underestimate their power to prevent and defend against attacks, and they should take measures recommended by the International Maritime Organization and their flag states to deter acts of piracy.   We are pleased with the efforts that a number of shipping companies are taking to defend their vessels and their crews; they are working.

All commercial and civilian vessels transiting the IRTC are encouraged to incorporate counter-piracy ‘best practices’ as issued by the International Maritime Office (IMO) to help prevent acts of piracy when operating in dangerous waters. Those ‘best practices’ include maintaining a proactive 24 hour lookout for suspicious activity, reporting any suspicious activity to authorities, the use of deck lighting, netting, razor wire, electrical fencing, fire hoses, and surveillance and detection equipment, as well as engaging in evasive maneuvering and speed during a pirate attack. 


To go along with these best practices, commercial and civilian shipping are using embarked security teams to ensure the highest level of protection.  Security teams have proven to be an effective measure to defend against pirate attacks.

5. How many nations are currently involved into CMF and how many will may join in the future?

CMF is comprised of 25 Coalition nations who focus on Maritime Security Operations and work together to deny the use of the seas for terror and other illicit activity.  The strong, diverse Coalition works together, and has a stabilising effect throughout the region.  No one nation can go it alone; the Coalition has grown over time and in doing so has become more effective. CMF is always open to new partners becoming part of the coaltion.

Many Coalition partners contribute maritime forces such as ships, boarding teams, maritime patrol aircraft, knowledge sharing, and staff augmentees, to support ongoing operations.  Local countries have a vested interest in interoperability, knowledge sharing, and assistance with deterrence against international terrorist organizations (ITOs) that pose a threat to key infrastructure.

6. Which main results the SHADE meeting achieved over the recent years?

Key Leader Engagement between countries to discuss piracy has been established by the formation of the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) meetings in order to co-ordinate military activity.  These meetings provide a working level opportunity for navies and maritime organisations to share information and co-ordinate counter-piracy efforts.  The results of these meetings are fed back into CMF to further facilitate planning of operations in the region.  CMFs results are therefore contributable in part to the results of SHADE.  Shade also brought about the advocation of the use of Best Management Practices (BMP).

7. Do you know if within the pirates there are former Somali armed forces officials?

It is impossible to know the background of every pirate but we are working to understand the organisational framework of the pirates better. 

8. What are the main fields of concerns against piracy?

Piracy off the Horn of Africa is a threat to the security of all nations and requires an international solution.  The presence of Coalition Navy vessels in the region demonstrates our commitment to regional security and stability.  To continue to counter and deter piracy successfully, Coalition efforts must be complimented by proactive measures by commercial shippers, regional governments, and the international community. It is also important to remember the “people aspect” of these criminal attacks.  Piracy involves more than ships and their cargo, it involves their crews.

Piracy is a threat to the maritime security of all nations and requires an international solution.   Even with Combined Task Force 151 and other naval vessels operating in the region, military efforts alone cannot guarantee safety in the region.  CMF has a common purpose and goal – to increase the security and prosperity of the region by working together for a better future.  CMF is working to defeat terrorism, prevent piracy, reduce illegal trafficking of people and drugs, and promote the maritime environment as a safe place for mariners with legitimate business.

Certain elements of the international maritime forces are involved in protecting ships from the World Food Programme (WFP).  With the famine in Somalia developing, it is important to protect WFP shipping from the risk of pirate attacks.  This protection is a large drain on military resources, however, WFP is an important programme to help to reduce the impact of the Somali famine,

9. How many casualties among the crew and the pirates occurred up to now?

CMF does not track the number of suspected pirate casualties. CMF has, and will continue to, provide medical assistance to mariners in line with the Safety of Life at Sea convention.

CMF does not track the number of casualties among the crew. UKMTO, MSC HOA or NATO shipping centre are the best points of contact for such questions.

10. Are there women among the crews of ships crossing the Gulf of Aden?

CMF is comprised of 25 Coalition nations.  Of these nations, some employ women as part of their policy so some warships currently operating in the region may have women onboard. It is certain that amongst the 26,000 merchant ships that transit the Gulf of Aden each year, some will have female crew members.

11. Are Eritrea and Yemen collaborative towards piracy?

Piracy emanates from Somalia. Yemen plays an important role alongside CMF to assist the counter-piracy effort. CMF does not have a counter-piracy relationship with Eritrea.

12. Is Piracy expected to increase or do you think that from the maritime perspective there will be some significant successes against it?

We are having a significant effect disrupting the pirates in the GOA and the Somali Basin.  Statistics show that although piracy attempts have increased in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin, the number of successful attacks has been reduced considerably over the last year.  In 2009, pirates had 51 out of 207 incidents which were successful.  In 2010, pirates had 54 out of 330 successes.  This shows a reduction from 24% down to 16%.

13. Are there some proven evidences that may link piracy with terrorism in Somalia?

It is widely reported that there are some formal links between piracy and terrorism.  Any links that exist are local, ad hoc and in the form of mafia-type protection money (paid to Al Shabaab by the pirates). This is not something that CMF monitors, but information on this may be more useful from our partner organisations

14. In which way is CMF facing the possible terrorism treat at sea and in the main international straits in the region?

Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) patrols more than 2.5 million square miles of international waters to conduct both integrated and coordinated operations with a common purpose: to increase the security and prosperity of the region by working together for a better future. CMF is working to defeat terrorism, prevent piracy, reduce illegal trafficking of people and drugs, and promote the maritime environment as a safe place for mariners with legitimate business. CTF 150 conducts maritime security and counter-terrorism activities in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman. CTF 152 conducts similar activities in the Arabian Gulf. CMF is well aware of the importance of countering terrorism at sea and the attractiveness of the international straits in the region to terrorists.

Coalition forces play vital roles in keeping the sea lines open for communication and trade, thereby ensuring the free flow of shipping.  Military Security Operations develop the conditions for security in the maritime environment.  From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity.  MSO complements the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

15. Are CMF and USNAVCENT fully aware of the piracy HQs in Somalia?

We are aware that there are a number of pirate camps and anchorages along the coast of Somalia.

16. Who is preventing USNAVCENT and the CMF intervention ashore?

USNAVCENT and CMF action is conducted within the legal framework set by the various UNSCRs covering piracy off the coast of Somalia and any national caveats that nations may choose to apply to their forces within CMF.

17. What happen to the abandoned ships by the crew?

We have an obligation to help save mariners of all sea going vessels.  Once a crew is safe it is up to the owners of the vessel to co-ordinate with the coastguard agencies / MTO to make arrangements for the safe recovery of any vessel.

18. In which way the Regional Engagement can help the maritime effort to combat piracy?

Regional engagement is important to build and sustain a coalition of willing nations to tackle the problems in this area. Through regional engagement CMF is able to improve the overall stability and security of the region, strengthen regional nations’ maritime capabilities and encourage them to participate in CMF’s activities.

19. How long is the average hijacked period of time for a merchant vessel?

The time a vessel is held by pirates varies depending on negotiations between the pirates and any agencies involved.

20. How much money do pirates normally ask for a hijacked ship?

Open source reporting suggests that vessels pay ransoms in the region of $3M but varying amounts have reportedly been paid.

21 In which ways are pirates operating at sea?

Pirates are becoming more aggressive – routinely firing on ships they are trying to pirate. They continue to use motherships to allow them to reach further to conduct attacks.

The area where pirates are currently operating off the coast of Somalia and Kenya as well as in the Gulf of Aden is over 1.1 million square miles (2.5 million square kilometers), roughly the size of the Mediterranean and Red Seas combined.



 

8/15/2011

ICRC: Health care in danger: making the case

ICRC: Health care in danger: making the case
Posted: 12 Aug 2011 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday it was "extremely concerned" about events in Bahrain and mentioned the country in a report on attacks against health care workers and hospitals.
"We are extremely concerned about what is going on in Bahrain. We are doing our utmost to ensure we have access not only to hospitals but to detention centres," ICRC director-general Yves Daccord told a news briefing in Geneva on Wednesday.
The report, which surveyed 16 countries and took more than two years to research, warned that the very foundations of the Geneva Conventions - the right of those wounded in war to receive medical attention, and the right of those treating them to work unimpeded - are under threat.
The report cited several examples as evidence that attacks on health care workers are increasing, from the murder of medical students in Somalia, to the invasion of an Afghan hospital by militia groups, to the shelling of hospitals in Sri Lanka. All of these incidents took place in 2009.
One year later the picture was, if anything, even bleaker, with doctors in Libya attacked, and ambulances fired upon. In Bahrain, patients were reportedly snatched from their beds, and hospital staff intimidated.
The ICRC said the violence is driving thousands of medical professionals from their jobs, and putting millions of lives at risk.
Extracts from the report regarding Bahrain

VIOLENCE AGAINST HEALTH-CARE FACILITIESAttacks on health-care facilities during armed violence and internal disturbances tend to fall into four main categories.
The second category of attack is also deliberate, but this time for political, religious or ethnic reasons rather than for military advantage per se. Such assaults against health-care facilities include [..]; the cordoning off and military takeover of Salmaniya referral hospital in Bahrain in early 2011 after it was perceived to support the cause of anti-government protesters;
What the law says:
• Health-care facilities shall be respected and protected at all times and shall not be the object of attack.
• Protective emblems such as the red cross, red crescent and red crystal identifying medical units shall be respected in all circumstances.
• Small arms are permitted in health-care facilities for the purpose of self-defence or defence of the wounded and the sick (against bandits, for example). The presence of all other weapons
compromises the neutral status of a facility.
• Health-care facilities lose their protection if they are used to commit “acts harmful to the enemy.”
• “Acts harmful to the enemy” include the use of health-care facilities to shelter able-bodied combatants, to store arms or ammunition, as military observation posts or as a shield for military action.

VIOLENCE AGAINST THE WOUNDED AND THE SICKIn some contexts, the wounded and the sick face discrimination in access to, and quality of, health care. Although prohibited by international humanitarian law and human rights law, as well as contrary to medical ethics, health-care personnel have refused to treat, or given inferior treatment to patients on the basis of their ethnicity, religion or political affiliation. [..] In recent unrest in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen, protesters have been too afraid to use medical facilities for fear that their wounds will identify them and provoke harsh reprisals.
What the law says:
The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional rotocols of 1977 contain the following rules:
• The wounded and the sick, as well as the infirm, and expectant mothers, shall be the object of particular protection and respect.
• The wounded and the sick must be protected against ill-treatment and pillage.
• No one may be left wilfully without medical assistance and care.
• Whenever circumstances permit, and particularly after fighting, each party
to a conflict must, without delay, take all possible measures to search for, collect and evacuate the wounded and the sick without adverse distinction between them.
• The special role of the ICRC is recognized in facilitating the establishment of neutralized zones to protect the wounded, the sick and civilians from the effects of war.
• Parties to a conflict have the first obligation to care for the wounded and the sick. Any care provided by the local population, humanitarian organizations or other third parties does not relieve the parties of their obligations.

VIOLENCE AGAINST HEALTH-CARE PERSONNELHealth-care personnel face many challenges working in situations of armed conflict and other violence, having to adapt standards of care to the resources available and dealing with large influxes of patients requiring immediate life-saving attention. Beyond these professional challenges often lie grave dangers associated with the nature of their work.
[..]
On occasion, health-care personnel have also been arrested for carrying out their professional responsibilities to treat all in need regardless of who they are and what they have done.
In Bahrain, 47 doctors and nurses who treated protesters have been detained in sweeping arrests of health workers that followed the crackdown on protesters and face trial in a military court on a range of other accusations.
What the Law says:
• Health-care personnel, whether military or civilian, may not be attacked or harmed.
• Health-care personnel shall not be hindered in the performance of their exclusively medical tasks.
• Parties to a conflict shall not harass or punish health-care personnel for performing activities compatible with medical ethics, nor shall they compel them to perform activities contrary to medical ethics or to refrain from performing acts required by medical ethics.
• Medical personnel may not be required to give priority to any person except on medical grounds. Medical personnel decide, in accordance with medical ethics, which patient receives priority.
• The protection of medical personnel ceases when they commit, outside their humanitarian function, acts harmful to the enemy.
Full report of ICRC