[Note: edited to clarify date of Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain]

As the latest Editor’s Picks on the Hub show, evidence is emerging of continuing abuses against individuals and human rights defenders in Bahrain. Through these testimonies (in Arabic) individuals report serious mistreatment, abuse and injury at the hands of the Bahraini police. Please ensure that these videos get wide circulation, and take action by supporting Frontline’s campaign supporting human rights defenders at risk in Bahrain.

These testimonies come in the wake of Martyrs’ Day, December 17, commemorated every year since 1994, when two young men were shot dead. During the commemoration three weeks ago, one man was killed, after which riots ensued (images here, here, and here – via GV), resulting in a violent crackdown. One blogger, Emoodz, aims a rebuttal at what he calls “lies” on a Bahraini TV show “supposedly showing an injured riot control officer in the recent clashes”.

For a country that with one hand ten days ago approved a draft law dealing with human trafficking to be striking so openly with the other hand against human rights defenders and individuals appears to match British peer and human rights campaigner Lord Avebury’s assessment, in a speech at the House of Lords on December 19th 2007:

Evidently Bahrain wishes to be thought of as a state where human rights are respected, but doesn’t have any real intention of complying with standard international norms.

Lord Avebury highlighted a key pressure point on the Bahraini state:

…Bahrain is due to answer to the UN Human Rights Council next February [2008], under the new procedure for review of member states. Key features of the procedure are that a State has to prepare the information through a broad national consultation process and the High Commissioner for Human Rights has to compile a summary of the State’s compliance with the human rights treaties…

Lord Avebury challenges Bahraini civil society to make its own report to the Human Rights Council to draw attention to recent abuses, including the death of Ali Jassim al-Barbari on Martyrs’ Day, to Bahrain’s failure to comply with international human rights standards, and the recent crackdown on freedom of expression.

Little more than three weeks ago we held a workshop with activists in the country, and it is to be hoped that the activists trained are able to contribute more video evidence to a potential shadow report to the Human Rights Council.

The case of 20-year-old Mohamed Abdul Nabi Al-Maskati, Director of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, who faces trial on 21 January for failing to register the NGO and for having members under the age of 18, by writing to the Bahraini ambassador in the UK to demand that the trial be abandoned.

If this has piqued your interest in Bahrain, there’s plenty more video out there:

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights’ video gallery
And via Wikipedia:
Carlton TV documentary about Bahrain Uprising
Channel 4 video of Bahrain Uprising
Video: Bahrain – The Story of Constitutional Uprising

2 thoughts on “Bahrain: video testimony of abuses

  1. The draft report is here, with the Bahrain section starting in detail on p101 (perhaps appropriately):
    http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/do

    Here's FrontLine's submission:

    "208. Front Line noted that the Government had not responded positively to a recommendation in 2005 by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to maintain dialogue with all civil society organizations, including those critical of its policies. Secondly, during the last four years, human rights groups and defenders were harassed, defamed, denied access to the media and legally prosecuted. Many of them were victims of the use of excessive force. Frontline recommended that Bahrain invite the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders to visit Bahrain as soon as possible."

    On a lighter note, I particularly enjoyed this sentence:

    "Welcoming amendments to the law on the press and reaffirming the right to freedom of expression, Tunisia encouraged Bahrain to strengthen its efforts in this regard."

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