2/08/2013

Bahrain Human Rights Network

 
 
 
 
The Networks Vision of the human rights situation in Bahrain since the outbreak of popular protests in demand for freedom and democracy in February 2011 and the two years to follow.
 
As part of the ‘Arab Spring’, protests erupted in Bahrain demanding freedom and democracy in February 2011. Peaceful features were the prevailing factors of the uprising, however, the Bahraini security forces (alongside GCC forces) on the 16th of March initiated an attack on the center of the protests movement, Pearl Square, in a move against the internationally recognised legal principles of freedom of assembly and association.
A month after the outbreak of protests, the Bahraini authorities declared a state of national emergency for three months; a period which administered, and today continues to administer, the most brutal forms of repression against opponents and critics of the government. Since then, following two years, 110 individuals have been killed using live or fissile ammunition and teargas, including 4 who were tortured to death in prison and an individual who had a confession broadcasted following the proclamation of his death. Thousands were arrested including prominent symbols of the peaceful opposition, doctors, teachers, trade unionists and journalists. Thousands of civilians were arbitrarily dismissed from their jobs and thousands of students from university on a sectarian basis. Checkpoints were erected in areas inhabited by the opposition creating sectarian barriers separating villages, mosques were demolished, a political society dissolved, and the elections of the Lawyers Association were cancelled bringing in management from elsewhere.
Following the lifting of the state of emergency, the King of Bahrain created a fact-finding commission which worked to address these violations and for the first time, authorities investigated some lower-ranking officials in connection with cases of torture and deaths both within and outside prisons. However, the result has been the failure of officials to implement major Commission recommendations, most notably the release of prominent leaders and opposition figures for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and the absence of investigations into senior officials for systematic violations. Security officials used excessive force to disperse anti-government protests in 2012 and continued their systematic repression and torture subsequently leading to more arrests and deaths of both protesters and foreign laborers due to the excessive use of teargas.
In 2012, authorities are increasingly and continuously refused to license opposition events and demonstrations against government policies. Security forces resorted to indiscriminately attack demonstrators using fissile bullets, sound bombs and teargas, and arbitrarily arrested men, women, and children alike. Human rights organisations continued to receive reports of torture and ill treatment of detainees and the prevention of detainees from undertaking appropriate procedures during interrogations and hearings; which included preventing them from meeting with lawyers and preventing them from giving statements or testimonies.
During this time, authorities also targeted human rights defenders and activists most notably arresting Nabeel Rajab, Head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, for calling for demonstrations in two cases and for comments made on Twitter in another bringing the conviction to a total of 2 years in prison following appeal. The authorities have also violated domestic laws and practices by withdrawing the citizenships of dozens of dissidents and activists for reasons undeclared.
The Bahrain Human Rights Network believes that Bahraini authorities have violated the majority of ratified international human rights treaties and conventions including the UN Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The legal rights of workers, trade unionists and the press have also been violated.
We today bare witness that authorities have continued in their policies of repression and attacking peaceful dissent, however, see an opportunity for authorities, government agencies and security officials to change their policies and practices in dealing with dissent during the second anniversary of the start of popular protests. We hope that officials deal with dissent in line with international conventions that have been signed and ratified by the State, and believe that this would amend its position in relation to the human rights situation. Members of the Network will monitor, document and follow-up protests and the manner in which security officials deal with them.
We also believe that officials must face the facts and truths of these unfortunate events and enforce a new stage of equality, reconciliation and transitional justice to create a platform for dialogue and a draft political solution to preserve the stability of the country