Target: Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain
Goal: Tell Bahrain to respect human rights and release prisoners of conscience.
Over the past year, the condition of human rights in Bahrain has worsened, despite the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), a panel tasked with monitoring the human rights situation in Bahrain. The recent arrest of activist Zainab Al-Khawaja has drawn attention once again to Bahrain’s disregard for human rights. Tell Bahrain that the world will not stand for human rights abuses; sign the petition demanding that Bahrain adopt the recommendations of the BICI and release prisoners of conscience like Zainab Al-Khawaja.
Established by the king in 2011, the BICI is made up of experts in human rights from around the world, led by Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni of the United Nations. In a 513-page report dated December 10, 2011, the commission stated that in Bahrain, “[m]any detainees were subjected to torture and other forms of physical and psychological abuse while in custody” and that “the lack of accountability of officials within the security system in Bahrain has led to a culture of impunity, whereby security officials have few incentives to avoid mistreatment of prisoners or to take action to prevent mistreatment by other officials.” The Bahraini government promised to abide by the recommendations of the commission, and claimed in September 2012 to have implemented 140 of the commission’s 176 recommendations.
However, the recent arrest and imprisonment of activist Zainab Al-Khawaja directly contradicts these claims. According to Amnesty International, Zainab Al-Khawaja and her fellow activist Ma’suma Sayyid Sharaf were held recently on charges of “illegal gathering” and “inciting hatred against the regime.” The charges had been levied against the two in December 2011 and both women had been previously imprisoned over them. Zainab Al-Khawaja faces further charges for other protests as well.
These arrests and trials are in direct violation of Bahrain’s agreement to adopt the recommendations of the BICI. Tell Bahrain that it must comply with the BICI’s recommendations in both words and deeds. Sign the petition and remind Bahrain that the world is watching.
Over the past several years, the human rights situation in Bahrain has been disintegrating to an alarming degree. The establishment of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), while an admirable goal, has turned out to be ineffective, as the government has adopted the commission’s recommendations in words alone rather than through actions. Bahrain must make defense of human rights a priority and fully commit to adopting the recommendations of the BICI.
Although the Bahraini government assured the world in September 2012 that it had adopted 140 of the BICI’s 176 recommendations, recent evidence from Bahrain tells a different story. For instance, despite its promise to release prisoners of conscience, Bahrain has detained activists Zainab Al-Khawaja and Ma’suma Sayyid Sharaf on charges of “illegal gathering” and “inciting hatred against the regime.” Zainab Al-Khawaja also faced charges of “destroying public property” earlier this year for ripping up a picture of your majesty.
These charges are ridiculous in any regime, but they are especially egregious for one that claims to be adopting measures to promote human rights. It is clear that Bahrain is just telling the rest of the world what it wants to hear rather than actually following through on its promises.
But the world is watching, and we can see the injustices Bahrain is allowing. Do not continue to permit such flagrant abuses of human rights. Abide by the recommendations of the BICI and immediately release and drop the charges against prisoners of conscience like Zainab Al-Khawaja and Ma’suma Sayyid Sharaf.
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