21 Mar, 2014

Bahrain: Torture Continues In Bahrain, Sadiq Al-Shabani Reportedly Another Victim

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern for the Bahraini authories' persistence in reportedly adopting mental and physical torture as the means to extract confessions from detainees. The BCHR received information that the detained actor Sadiq Jaffar Al-Shabani (31 years old) was subjected to torture in the Criminal Investigation building in Adliya. Al-Shabani had been arrested by the Omani Intelligence on Monday 27 January 2014 when he was in Oman. The Omani authorities had handed Sadiq over to the Bahraini authorities and he was in an enforced disappearance for more than 10 days.[1]

Al-Shabani informed his family that he was able to identify one of the people who tortured him and he is the lieutenant Fawaz Al-Sameem, however he was unable to identify the rest. Al-Shabani had stated that the one interrogating him had asked him, ‘Do you want us to treat you as a human or as an animal?’ The questions then followed, in order to force him to confess to joining the ‘Tamarud’ (rebellion) movement – and which is a movement that runs peaceful anti-government activities – however Al-Shabani denied his relationship with the Movement, and by that they handcuffed him from behind and told him that they will treat him like an animal. Sadiq said that Al-Sameem and the rest of the interrogators stripped him fully off his clothes, and sexually assaulted him by inserting a rod in his anus, and then they showed him private photos of him with his wife which they had obtained when they raided their house during the ‘National Safety’ period and they threatened to rape her. Al-Sameem misled him to believe that his wife was in the next room, and they made Al-Shabani hear the voice of a girl screaming as if there was someone raping her. They also brought to Al-Shabani photos of girls from his family and they threatened to rape them all if he did not confess. His penis was pulled with a string and cold and hot water was poured on him. Al-Shabani added that he was electrocuted in his anus, and he was given a hard slap on his face and ears which caused his face to swell and his anus to bleed; this is in addition to the physical and mental pain he still suffers from. Amid the investigation, Al-Shabani was asked to determine the nature of his relationship with Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafda – Vice-president of the BCHR – and they threatened to arrest and rape him as well.

Lieutenant Fawaz Al-Sameem

This is not the first time that the BCHR receives statements from detainees about being subjected to torture by the lieutenant Fawaz Al-Sameem, among the activists who stated that are the media worker Jassim Al-Noaimi and the photographer Hussein Hubail[2]. The BCHR confirms documenting hundreds of cases that prove the existence of torture in the prisons of Bahrain[3] and which at times caused the death of 5 detainees which Mr Bassiouni had documented and mentioned in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report. However none of those who practiced torture have been held accountable until this day which confirms the BCHR’s belief that torture is a recognized system and the lack of accountability was and still is the means of impunity and thus the number of victims is escalating.

While the Authority in Bahrain denies the existence of torture in Bahrain, it is still banning the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture – Juan Mendez – from entering Bahrain too look into the conditions of more than 3000 prisoners of conscience in the Bahraini prisons. Mendez stated before the Human Rights Council during the 25th session held on 10 March 2014 that he is worried about the torture complaints that are continuing to be received in Bahrain[4], noting that he is ready to carry out the postponed visit to Bahrain without any compelling reasons and that the government has to cooperate to schedule a date for the visit without any further delay. Mendez also stressed that the countries that practice torture have to be aware that not signing the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) means being pursued by international law.

Based on the aforementioned, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, United Kingdom, United Nations, European Union, and all the close allies and international institutes to lay pressure on the Bahraini Authorities in order to:

  1. Put an immediate end to the practice of torture as a means to extract confessions, and to provide guarantees regarding the safety and security of detainees;
  2. the immediate and unconditional release of Sadiq Al-Shabani and the rest of the detainees who have been arbitrarily arrested for politically motivated charges due to the current public movement for freedom and democracy;
  3. question and hold accountable all those who are implicated in torture specifically the ones in the higher ranks who order or supervise the practice of torture.
21 Mar, 2014

BRITISH MP CHAIRS ‘FORMULA ONE: IMPLICATIONS IN BAHRAIN’ EVENT AT PORTCULLIS HOUSE

Labour MP, Katy Clark, today chaired and hosted the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy event at Portcullis House. The panel included Maryam Al-Khawaja, the acting president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Daniel Carey, a civil and human rights solicitor, and Nicholas McGeehan from Human Rights Watch.

Katy Clark took the opportunity to introduce a Early Day Motion 1194 which calls on the UK government to oppose the 2014 Formula One race in Bahrain “due to ongoing human rights violations.” The EDM also recalls concerns over the sexual abuse in custody of Rihanna al-Mousawi who was detained at the Bahrain Formula One track in 2013. It also recalls concerns over the extrajudicial killing of protester Salah Abbas during the race in 2012 by security forces. 25 MPs have signed the EDM to date.

http://youtu.be/l_Lw_WiQGj0

Human Rights Violations in Bahrain

Acting President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Maryam al-Khawaja, began the discussion by highlighting the ongoing grave human rights violations in the country. She highlighted the dangers of the new Gulf Cooperation Council Security Agreement that “infringes upon the basic rights of all GCC citizens.” Ms. Khawaja furthermore highlighted the stringent environment and reprisals faced by human rights defenders in Bahrain and refuted the speech made by the Bahrain Foreign Minister in Geneva earlier this month noting:

“Bahrain uses terrorism as an explanation to justify the crackdown against individuals in the country, whilst attempting to convince F1 that it is safe to race in the country. Why are they hosting the F1 if there is terrorism in Bahrain? F1 would not go to Bahrain if that was the case.”

OECD Complaint Launched Against Formula One

Daniel Carey, who headed a legal team to file an OECD complaint to stop a 3 million shipment of tear gas canisters to Bahrain, took the opportunity to announce that an OECD complaint has been filed by Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain against Formula One Management, sponsors and teams in the UK.  The complaint alleges that the defendant organisations have not mitigated the human rights impact caused by their actions in the country. The complaint has been filed with the United Kingdom Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills in London, which is the UK’s National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines.

According to the 2011 OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, organisations have a responsibility to “… avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts and address such impacts when they occur.” Organizations falling under OECD jurisdiction additionally must “seek ways to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their business operations…” and “carry out human rights due diligence…” as appropriate to their involvement with abuses.

Mr. Carey also highlighted  ’irresponsible statements’ made by Bernie Ecclestone in the past regarding the staging of the race in Bahrain.

Bernie Ecclestone has noted in previous years:

“We don’t go anywhere to judge how a country is run. I keep asking people what human rights – I don’t know what they are. The government here are stupid to put this race on. It is a platform for people to use protesting.”

Dorset Band Rejects Invitation to Perform During Bahrain Grand Prix

http://youtu.be/RxUH1d0vPiQ

Dorset band, Magic Drum Orchestra, used the event to announce that the have firmly rejected an invitation from Bahrain to perform at the Formula One over serious concerns about the human rights situation in the country.

On receiving the booking enquiry from the Bahrain International Circuit, the band investigated the situation there and were concerned by reports from NGOs about the human rights abuses committed in the country. A member of the band visited Bahraini activists in London who were gathered to mark the anniversary of the uprising. On hearing about the violent crackdown on peaceful protests, including imprisonment, torture and teargas fired into people’s homes, the band unanimously decided not to pursue the offer. They dedicated a song to the people of Bahrain as part of a recent performance to a packed out Electric Palace in Bridport, during which a police riot van arrived on the scene to investigate the noise. The song was the bands own interpretation of Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’, thought to have been originally written about state violence. They added a new introduction, to the rhythm of ‘Down Down Hamad’ which Bahrainis often play during protests calling for democracy.

Glyn Bush, of Magic Drum Orchestra, said “playing in Bahrain would have been our first international performance, but we felt that pursuing the offer to play would be taking the side of a repressive regime instead of supporting the people. We urge other musicians, drivers and racing fans to take a stand for democracy and human rights by boycotting the event”.

Magic Drum Orchestra are the latest to support the campaign to suspend the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was initiated by Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Bahrain Centre for Human RightsBahrain Youth Society for Human Rights,