We, the undersigned more than 75 international, regional and Yemeni CSOs, call for the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) to extend and broaden the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (GEE), including a thorough investigation into specific violations against human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers, and the closure of civic space.
The mandate of the GEE, which was created in September 2017 and extended for one year in September 2018, is up for renewal at the 42nd session of the UN HRC in September 2019. The UN High Commissioner will present the GEE’s report at the HRC followed by an interactive dialogue. The GEE’s mandate is to “monitor and report on the situation on Human Rights in Yemen” through “a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights…. committed by all parties to the conflict since September 2014, including possible gender dimensions of such violations,” to “identify those responsible” and to provide “guidance on access to justice, accountability, reconciliation and healing.”
The humanitarian disaster caused by the war in Yemen has been well-reported. Among the many victims are human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers and activists. We encourage the GEE to ensure that upcoming reports increase the focus on the ongoing attacks by all the parties to the conflict specifically perpetrated against human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers and Internet activists. The closure of civic space makes it difficult for civil society organisations (CSOs) to operate, including through restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, such as travel restrictions on human rights defenders which prevent them from engaging with the UN and the international community at large.
We are deeply concerned about the repeated and persistent closures of the Internet throughout Yemen as well as the targeting of Internet activists by various parties, which has resulted in an Internet blackout. We hope that the upcoming report of the GEE will address all these important issues that directly affect freedom of expression on the Internet.
We are highly appreciative of the important and necessary work of the GEE, which has thoroughly detailed the disturbing human rights crisis in the country. We further support calls to build on this important work and upgrade the GEE into a Commission of Inquiry explicitly mandated to conduct investigations into violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, collect and preserve evidence of such violations, and identify the perpetrators with a view to ensuring that those responsible are held accountable. This would be consistent with the mandate of the GEE.
The mechanism should report directly to the HRC and function independently from its member states. It should also have a multi-year mandate with a view to strengthening accountability and countering impunity for human rights violations.
When releasing its first report in August 2018, the GEE stated that: “The Experts also have reasonable grounds to believe that, since September 2014, parties to the conflict in Yemen have severely restricted the right to freedom of expression. Human rights defenders and journalists have faced relentless harassment, threats and smear campaigns by the Government of Yemen, coalition forces, including those of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and by the de facto authorities in blatant disregard of human rights law.”
The 40-page report includes sections on “Arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment” and “Violations of freedom of expression”, in which human rights defenders are mentioned several times. We welcome the references to human rights defenders, activists and journalists who have been attacked and/or are arbitrarily detained in Yemen. We note the particular references to those who have faced threats and relentless harassment or been repressed on the basis of gender. We encourage further attention to the details of the repression they have faced, including building on the GEE’s documentation of 20 cases of women human rights defenders, journalists and activists who “have faced specific repression on the basis of gender” from all sides.
We look forward to seeing the GEE’s next report, and express full appreciation of the dedication and hard work of its members. We sincerely hope that the GEE’s mandate will be extended and strengthened into a multi-year Commission of Inquiry, including a specific focus on threats to human rights defenders, journalists, and bloggers, and the closure of civic space.
Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture - ACAT Belgium
Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture - ACAT Germany
Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture - ACAT Luxembourg
Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture - ACAT-Switzerland
Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights
Al Manar News – Iraq
Al-Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Arab Foundation for Civil Society Support and Human Rights
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
Bahrain Press Association (BPA)
Bytes 4 All
Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights
Civic Space Studies Association - Turkey
Cultural Media Center – Yemen
Euro-Arab Organisation for Development and Human Rights
Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA)
Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI)
Front Lines Defenders
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
Gulf Forum for Civil Society Organisations
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR)
Hadiya Organisation for Human Rights (HOHR) – Iraq
Human Rights Concern - Eritrea (HRCE)
Human Rights First
Independent Journalism Center Moldova
Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey
Innovation for Change MENA
International Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL)
International Center for Supporting Rights and Freedoms, Switzerland
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)
International Press Centre (IPC)
Iraqi Al-Amal Association
Iraqi Journalists Rights Defence Association (IJRDA)
Journaliste en Danger (JED)
Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture
Lebanese Organization for Unity and Defending Equal Rights - LOUDER
Ligue Burundaise des Droits de l’homme ITEKA
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Zimbabwe)
MENA Media Monitoring
Metro Center For Journalists Rights & Advocacy
Muwatin Media Network
National Forum For Human Rights (NFHR) - Yemen
No Peace Without Justice
Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR)
Omani Center for Human Rights
Organisation Tchadienne Anti-Corruption (OTAC)
Palestinian Center For Development & Media Freedoms - MADA
Qarar Foundation for sustainable development (QRAR)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
Sisters Arab Foundation (SAF), Yemen
Sonoshad for welfare life organization
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
Syrian Organisation for Human Rights
Syrian Organisation for Rights and Public Freedoms
Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ)
Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social (UNITAS)
Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State
West African Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN) Togo
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
4 January 2019 – Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) said that Thai authorities are preventing the footballer refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi from calling his wife or other family members. GIDHR are putting question marks over this step of covering up the security and judicial procedures, saying that this step raises the concerns around Thai intentions of Al-Araibi’s arbitrary arrest.
GIDHR revealed that around 19k people from different countries signed the petition, which they started earlier previous month. The petition’s statistics are linked to the Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, and she is receiving regular updates.
Commenting, Yahya Alhadid the President of GIDHR, said “we appreciate the Foreign Minister’s visit to Thailand soon, and call on her to raise Hakeem’s case with her Thai counterpart, and put pressure on Thai authorities to allow Al-Araibi to return back to Melbourne and prevent his extradition to Bahrain, which are creating various kinds of torture to take revenge of their opponents.”
“During 39 days of Al-Araibi’s arrest, the Australian and international media outlets, including TV channels, newspapers, and websites, published more than 520 stories regarding Hakeem’s case. Despite the media pressure, we have not seen serious steps from the Australian authorities to grant Hakeem Australian citizenship. Moreover, we are yet to receive any explanation of the fault which resulted in Al-Araibi’s arrest in Thailand, or the reason behind not notifying him prior to his flight. Hakeem called the Australian Immigration before applying for Thai visa (on 4 November 2018) and enquired if he will be protected overseas. The Immigration officers assured he will be protected anywhere except in his home country Bahrain,” Alhadid continued.
“The Asian Cup, which is taking place in the United Arabic Emirates, is starting soon, we call on the Australian Football Federation to put maximum pressure on both the FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation, and urge them to take serious and immediate actions to save Hakeem and return him back home safely,” he added.
“The study we conducted on #SaveHakeem campaign, between 14 and 27 December, revealed huge engagement from people around the globe. 10,500 tweets; 9,100 retweets; and 230 comments were posted; 88% of the tweets are in English, 11% are in Arabic, and 1% are in different languages; 75% of the tweets were posted from Australia (45% from Melbourne, and 12% from Sydney). The campaign peak was on 22nd December with 2100 tweets were posted,” Alhadid concluded.
18 December 2018 – Latifa Al-Haouli of Sabelberg Morcos Lawyers, with cooperation of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), had lodged an urgent request for ministerial intervention to grant Hakeem Al-Araibi citizenship.
Al-Haouli had submitted the application on Monday 10 December 2018, she has yet to receive any response from the Ministry of Home Affairs until this moment.
Al-Haouli mentioned in her request that “this request requires emergency government intervention and marks Australia’s stance on protecting legitimate refugees.”
“This is a matter of National Interest, far exceeding the criteria of Public Interest used to assess ministerial interventions,” she continued.
“The applicant is seeking to be granted with Australian citizenship due to ongoing human rights atrocities surrounding his unlawful detention in Thailand, treatment of refugees and prospective extradition to Bahrain,” Al-Haouli added.
Commenting, Fatima Yazbek of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) said: “we urge the Australian government, especially the Minister of Home Affairs Mr Peter Dutton, to grant Hakeem Al-Araibi the Australian citizenship attempting to save his life from the imminent danger he will face if deported to Bahrain. Bahraini prisons lack the minimum standards of prisoners’ rights, and the political prisoners are suffering from miserable conditions and lack of their basic rights”.
“The repression against the opponents of the Gulf States, especially following the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the death penalties issued against Saudi human rights activists, gives a brief of what is awaiting Hakeem Al-Araibi in the Bahraini prisons,” she continued. “We call on all the sports and football community to demand granting Hakeem the Australian citizenship,” she added.
The request was made under section 21(1) of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, stipulating that “A person may make an application to the Minister to become an Australian citizen. General Eligibility is outlined in Subsection 21(2)-(8) of the Act listing the prerequisites needed to satisfy the statutory requirements.”
However, Subsection 22 of the aforementioned Act states:
(5A) The Minister may decide that subsection (1C) does not apply in relation to the person if, taking into account the circumstances that resulted in the person's confinement, the Minister is satisfied that it would be unreasonable for that subsection to apply in relation to the person.
Ministerial discretion--person in Australia would suffer significant hardship or disadvantage
(6) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(c), the Minister may treat a period as one in which the person was present in Australia as a permanent resident if:
(a) the person was present in Australia during that period (except as a permanent resident or an unlawful non-citizen); and
(b) the Minister is satisfied that the person will suffer significant hardship or disadvantage if that period were not treated as one during which the person was present in Australia as a permanent resident.
In November 2012, Hakeem Al-Araibi was arrested and tortured by the Bahraini authorities, allegedly due to the political activities of his brother. In January 2014, Bahraini authorities sentenced Al-Araibi to 10 years imprisonment in absentia on the charge of vandalising a police station, which he strongly denies. Due to this impending danger, Al-Araibi fled to Australia seeking protection in 2014.
After he fled to Australia, he has spoken publicly about his torture. “They blindfolded me,” he said. “They held me really tight, and one started to beat my legs really hard, saying: ‘You will not play soccer again. We will destroy your future.’” Al-Araibi was very critical of the current president of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman Al-Khalifa, especially during his candidacy for FIFA presidency in 2016. He conducted interviews with various international media outlets.
On 27 November 2018, Al-Araibi and his wife travelled from Melbourne for a holiday. Upon their arrival at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), he was detained under a “Red Notice”, issued upon Bahrain’s request due to his criminal conviction in 2014. This “Red Notice” was lifted later on 4 December 2018.
On 30 November 2018, Al-Araibi was told by the Thai immigration authorities that he would be able to fly back to Melbourne on 1 December 2018. A few hours before his scheduled departure, however, Al-Araibi was taken to Suan Phlu (Bangkok) Immigration Detention Center where he still remains at risk of extradition.
On the same day, the Bahraini Embassy in Thailand issued statements on Twitter stating that they are “following up with the relevant security authorities” and that “the suspect is wanted for security cases”.
Al-Araibi was transferred, then, to Suan Plu (Bangkok) Immigration Detention Centre, where he was kept in custody until Thai court approved (on 3 December 2018) a temporary remand to detain Al-Araibi for 12 more days in Bangkok.
On 11 December 2018, Al-Araibi was brought to Bangkok Criminal Court (Ratchadaphisek) which decided to extend his detention for 60 more days so Immigration Department can prepare his extradition to Bahrain.
So we urge all the communities, especially the sports and football communities, to strongly demand and call on the Minister of Home Affairs to grant Hakeem Al-Araibi Australian citizenship in order to get him back to his Australian home safely.
Australian refugee footballer remains in Thai detention despite lifting of Interpol red notice
4 December 2018 – Interpol red notice against the Australian resident footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi was lifted. However, Thai authorities continue to detain him until they decide whether to deport him to Bahrain or allow his return to Australia.
Yesterday, a Thai court approved a temporary remand to detain Al-Araibi for 12 more days in Bangkok. He has been detained since 27 November 2018, upon his arrival to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Al-Araibi is facing deportation to Bahrain, although returning registered refugees to territories where they would face a real risk of persecution, torture, or other ill-treatment violates Thailand’s obligations under international law.
Commenting, Yahya Alhadid, the President of Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), said: “there is no explanation for continuing to detain Hakeem Al-Araibi. Thai authorities said he was arrested on the basis of Interpol’s red notice, and that notice was lifted. He should be allowed to board the first flight to Australia. We call on the Thai government to do the right thing to protect its reputation in front of the international community.”
“We are working along with a number of human rights organisations and activists, including Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and Refugee Council, from the very first day of Hakeem’s arrest trying to put the maximum pressure on the Thai government to resolve this case,” he added.
On 27 November 2018, AlAraibi and his wife travelled from Melbourne for a holiday. Upon their arrival at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), he was detained under a “Red Notice”, issued upon Bahrain’s request due to his criminal conviction in 2014.
On 30 November 2018, Alaraibi was told by the Thai immigration authorities that he would be able to fly back to Melbourne on 1 December 2018. A few hours before his scheduled departure, however, AlAraibi was taken to Suan Phlu (Bangkok) Immigration Detention Center where he still remains at risk of extradition.
On 1 December 2018, the Bahraini Embassy in Thailand issued statements on Twitter stating that they are “following up with the relevant security authorities” and that “the suspect is wanted for security cases”.
In November 2012, AlAraibi was arrested and tortured by the Bahraini authorities, allegedly due to the political activities of his brother. He has since spoken publicly about his torture. “They blindfolded me,” he said. “They held me really tight, and one started to beat my legs really hard, saying: ‘You will not play soccer again. We will destroy your future.’ ”
In January 2014, Bahraini authorities sentenced AlAraibi to 10 years imprisonment in absentia on the charge of vandalising a police station, which he strongly deny.
Based on the aforementioned information, if Al-Araibi is returned to Bahrain, his safety is highly likely to be jeopardised.
It is noteworthy that the issuance of the Red Notice violates the formal policy of the Interpol Executive, which states that the processing of red notices “will not be allowed if… the status of refugee or asylum-seeker has been confirmed”.
2 December 2018 – A refugee football player from Melbourne who has been detained at Bangkok Airport since 27 November, has now been placed in Suan Plu (Bangkok) Immigration Detention Centre, and is facing deportation back to Bahrain, the country from which he sought refuge and where he fears torture and persecution.
On 27 November, Hakeem Al-Araibi had travelled from Australia to Thailand to with his wife. On arrival, he was detained at Bangkok Airport by Thai authorities on the basis of an Interpol Red Notice. The Notice relates to politically motivated charges issued in Bahrain against Al-Araibi. It is noted that, since 2015 Interpol has said it would not allow red notices against confirmed refugees and asylum seekers from the countries they fled from.
Human rights activists in both Australia and Thailand, campaigned for the release Al-Araibi and highlighted the responsibility of both Australia and Thailand to protect Al-Araibi, a refugee who fled Bahrain because of persecution and torture due to his peaceful involvement in protest against the ruling family during the Arab Spring of 2011.
The Australia Embassy in Bangkok advised Al-Araibi on 30 November 2018 that his situation is cleared with the Thai authorities and to book on the first flight back to Australia, however, Thai immigration authorities refused to hand him his travel document and insisted that he should book for a flight the following night. A few hours before his pre-booked flight to Melbourne last night, Thai immigration authorities transferred Al-Araibi to Suan Plu Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok, where he is now detained. Thai authorities advised Al-Araibi that the case is now between the Australian and the Bahraini Governments, and the decision is theirs.
Al-Araibi had arrived in Australia in 2014 and was granted refugee status and permanent residency. He has worked hard to build a future here in Australia. Last season he played for Pascoe Vale Football Club, taking the position of defence. He played at the National premium League for Victoria. He has been signed by the club for the upcoming season in 2019. The Chairman of Pascoe Vale Club, Lou Tona, told the ABC that Al-Araibi “was a respectful kid, a respectful person within the team mates…. He never got out of line, he’s just a quiet unassuming character. I just hope that him and his wife are ok”.
Activists are demanding to allow Hakeem to return back to his current country Australia to save him from the imminent danger if deported to Bahrain. Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, said “Under no circumstances can he be sent to Bahrain…. Interpol Red Notices do NOT apply to recognised refugees like Hakeem al-Araibi”. Mr Robertson added that “MFAThai should coordinate with dfat & Refugees to ensure that he is not forced back to Bahrain to face imprisonment and torture”.
Commenting, Yahya Alhadid, president of Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), said: “Al-Araibi had publicly criticized senior members of Bahraini royal family, he conducted interviews with media outlets and exposed the blatant violations which are committed in Bahrain. Deporting him to Bahrain puts him at significant risk and endangers his life. We call on the Australian Government to fight to get him back safe and save him from the imprisonment and torture he will face in Bahrain for unfounded and politically motivated charges.”
The human rights organizations that signed this statement express their condemnation of the violation of the rights of Hassan Mushaima, 70 years old, whose deprived from receiving medical treatment and proper care in Jau central prison. These organizations hold the Bahraini authorities responsible for Mushaima's health deterioration for its lack of commitment to the law; Mushaima suffers from chronic diseases.
The statements says: According to our information, Mushaima needs treatment of several chronic diseases in specialized hospitals and that he has previously undergone several operations for these diseases, but the prison administration has not completed the treatment and prevent the medicine.
According to previous information received in recent years, despite the high numbers of detainees, specifically in Jau central prison and the dry dock prison, only one doctor is available for one seizure per prison; As a result of this pressure on the doctor, testimonies from the detainees and their relatives says the doctor does not perform medical examinations in all cases, but only give painkillers. The doctor delays the transfer of detainees to hospitals and outpatient clinics, while some detainees are prevented from being transferred to these clinics as a result of the prison administration failing to take them to the medical appointments set by the external health center after the transfer of the prison doctor.
Also, convicted prisoners who wish to receive treatment at private health centers - at their expense - are not enabled to do so. Despite the powers of the prison administration to release prisoners whose life in prison poses a threat to their lives, it often does not work with these powers, except for limited cases of insurmountable diseases. It is clear that the prison authorities in Bahrain are failing to meet the minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners. Where Mushaima and his fellow imprisoned opposition leaders were recently subjected to humiliating inspection of and their personal items, such as books, notes, papers and pens, were arbitrarily confiscated.
The statement pointed out that the family of the political prisoner, Hassan Mushaima has called on the competent authorities and the prison administration to take into account his health status, but no response was ever recieved! It is a matter of concern that this act is deliberate and premeditated and is of acts of revenge. Mushaima has not accepted the family visit since February 2017 because of his refusal to place iron chains linking both his hands and feet which severely restricts his movement. Human rights activists considered this procedure to be humiliating, making prisoners refuse to go to the hospital and refuse to go to the visiting room.
The human rights organizations called upon the concerned authorities to take quick and urgent steps to end the suffering of Mushaima and to allow him to receive the necessary and appropriate treatment. They also urge the authorities to release all prisoners of conscience, especially those suffering from chronic diseases and persons with special needs.
The signatory human rights organizations are: Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
Bahraini human rights organisations welcomed the statement by four UN experts calling for full respect for the rights of the country’s top senior Shiite leader, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, 76 years old.
The organisations demand that Bahraini authorities respond to what the experts called for which is to ensure that medical staff could monitor Sheikh Qassim’s health condition without any kind of pressure, and allow him to receive visitors freely, as well as ensuring that he will continue to receive the medicines he needs after leaving the hospital.
The organizations also stressed on his right to freedom of movement that should not be violated and the house arrest is terminated.
The human rights organisations pointed out that the security authorities deliberately restricted the right to receive treatment, which, according to the expert statement, took three hours to allow the doctor to enter the house of Sheikh Isa Qassem for examination on 26 November 2017.
That is as well as the measures of house arrest (without a judicial ruling) which resulted in disabling his doctors from adequate access to him for more than 500 days. A clear violation of the right to adequate and necessary treatment.
The human rights organisations also stressed on the need to enable an independent, reliable and UN cooperating medical body to oversee the health condition of Sheikh Isa Qassim. They also called in the government to completely withdraw any security presence around his area and urged it to effectively remove all forms of police around his residence in Al Duraz.
They urged the government to lift the house arrest, and demanded the drop of all charges against him and restore his Bahraini citizenship and civil rights.
According to international reports, Bahrain’s majority Shiites are persecuted by the government’s policies, as patterns of persecution take place at various levels, affecting their political and religious rights.
The Supreme Court and Riyadh and the Specialized Court of Appeals upheld the death sentences against a number of citizens from Qatif, Al-Ahsa and Madinah AlMonawara in Saudi Arabia on the grounds of their conviction on political and malicious charges, bringing the total death sentences imminent to execution during these days to 36 death sentences against Shi'a citizens.
In contrast, the three signatory human rights organizations condemn the issuance of these judgments under trials not in conformity with international standards for fair trials, which target not only human rights activists and opponents, but also a specific religious nature. That is in the continuation of the systematic punishment policy practiced by the Saudi authorities against citizens belonging to certain regions on basis of reform demands and as an instrument of persecution and political revenge.
The signatories condemn in the strongest terms the continued use of the non-independent judiciary in Saudi Arabia for political and reprisal purposes and the manipulation of the right to life through the standardization and implementation of the death penalty, despite claims by international human rights organizations that such punishment should be suspended for the cases related to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
The signatory organizations also recall that most of the confessions on which the Saudi authorities base their unjustified death sentences upon are extracted under coercive conditions and under torture, including severe beatings, humiliating practices that degrades human dignity as well as prolonged incommunicado detention. Saudi Arabia's policy of turning a blind eye to the perpetration of its human rights abuses is due to the lack of international pressuring will.
As a result, we call on human rights organizations to freeze Saudi Arabia's membership in the Human Rights Council for the authorities' persistence in their transgressions and their implementation of the death penalty for retaliation in flagrant violation of the international human rights laws.
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights
SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
Bahrain Forum for Human Rights.
The Saudi Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday (July 11th, 2017) the execution of four activists; residents of the Qatif area, who it claims are 'convicted of terrorism'. The Victims are: Amjad Naji Al Mu'aybid, Zaher Abdul Rahim Al Basri, Yousuf Ali Al-Meshaishe and Mahdi Mohammad Hassan Al Sayegh.
Indeed, the Saudi Interior Ministry utilizes the 'Terrorism' charge to retaliate against a number of conscience activists and social equality advocates, which constitutes an extrajudicial killing, especially practiced in the aftermath of unfair trials.
Thus, the number of executions in Saudi Arabia has risen up to 48 cases, since the beginning of 2017. It is noteworthy that 153 people were executed in Saudi Arabia in 2016. Additionally, in the previous year, Saudi Arabia executed the same number of people, which is the highest rate in nearly 20 years.
Bahraini human rights organisations condemn this execution including: Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), Salam of Democracy and Human Rights(SALAM) and Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR).
The organisations define the execution as a part of the continuum repressive campaign by the Saudi authorities against all citizens and activists who oppose it, based on their demands for civil and political rights. Moreover, these executions for political reasons are not the first case, but they fall within the series of measures, particularly targeting the Qatif area, and its residents who led an opposition movement.
The organisations add, "The Saudi authorities exploit the charge of 'terrorism' against its opponents at any time, and without hesitation." The organisations stress that the 'Anti-Terrorism Legislation' can not serve as a pretext to justify this kind of illegal and unjust judgments, especially that this accusation is directed against activists and citizens, merely because they exercise their due rights for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, which are guaranteed by international covenants.
Further, the signatory organisations mention that the execution sentences in Saudi Arabia is strongly rejected by International Human Rights organizations; including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. These organisations consistently urge Saudi Arabia to halt the death penalty for its violation of human rights. They, in addition, point that what exacerbates the situation is the absence of judicial transparency. They state that this situation raises a lot of questions over the lack of justice and integrity, especially in terms of utilizing the judiciary, by the Saudi authorities, on political issues in a blatant violation of fair trials.
Besides, the signatory human rights organizations condemn the international silence over the deterioration of human rights in Saudi Arabia, and call upon the international community to act immediately to put pressure on Saudi Arabia government to halt the death penalty against political activists and opponents, and to reconsider the minimum standards of human rights and due freedoms, stipulated by various covenants and international conventions.
A Bahraini court has sentenced the prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, Head of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), to two years imprisonment over television interviews in 2015 and 2016, which the authorities claim it would "undermine its image."
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) condemns the unfair sentence against the human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, and considers it a political verdict; primarily aims at retaliating against a prominent human rights defender who is well known for consistently monitoring the human rights violations, and exposing the actual face of the government of Bahraini.
GIDHR considers Rajab's sentence to be an additional proof that the Bahraini authorities are not willing to accept any free opinion, and that the judiciary has been a tool utilised by the government, motivated by its will, and serves its agenda. GIDHR considers this verdict a crime against freedom of expression in Bahrain, particularly for trying Rajab on statements he made. GIDHR demands the immediate suspension of the verdict, and the release of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab.
GIDHR calls on the international community to act vigorously and immediately to enact international legislation to prevent the exposure of all human rights defenders, to put an end to the frequent and illegal campaigns by the authorities against human rights activists, and to urge the allies of Bahrain to pressure the regime to respect human rights and stop all types of persecution.
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights
Al-A'awameya is one of the villages of Al Kateef district, it is located in the eastern side of Saudi Arabia. The village has been tightly besieged by the Saudi Security Forces. Access points to the village have been blocked. Besides, Al-Maswara historical and tourist quarter has been destructed, and the residents have been displaced.
No doubt, the village which has been besieged since 3 days, has become a battle zone. The offensive campaign is targeting the civilians by shooting fire guns and attacking residential areas. Houses, shops, and cars have been burnt. Furthermore, medical teams are not allowed to reach the wounded.
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) expresses its utmost condemnation of the imposed siege by the Saudi Forces against the civilians of Al-A'awameya which violates basic standards of human rights and international conventions. The Institute considers this blockade as a collective sanction, systematically led by the security forces against the residents of the entire village. This orchestrated campaign aims at frightening civilians, isolating them and suspending their daily activities.
GIDHR slams these violations by the Saudi forces during its current offensive blockade, through targeting civilians and damaging their properties. These arbitrary violations are not but atrocities against humanity. It is worth mentioning that among the victims children and old people. GIDHR calls upon the secretary general of the United Nations, and the Human Rights council to take immediate and urgent measures to save the lives of civilians in Al-A'awameya, and to cease these heinous violations. In addition, it urges International Human Rights Organizations to fulfill its responsibilities, in order to put an end to the imposed aggressive siege against the village of Al-A'awameya.
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human rights (GIDHR)
May 12th 2017
To his Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres
Greetings to you and hope you are well.
We write to you on an urgent matter regarding the death penalties that have been issued by Bahrain’s courts after the February 2011, following the Arab Spring Uprising.
Numerous reports and cases have demonstrated that Bahrain’s courts have largely contravened Article 10 (fair hearing by impartial court) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 (right to not have life arbitrarily deprived) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The courts have continually ignored claims that the security apparatus caused the deaths, tortured prisoners, extracted false confessions and fired live rounds during the crackdown on peaceful protests.
We implore you, in light of the strong claims that these death penalties are being carried arbitrarily and discriminately, especially against political prisoners Sami Mushaima, Ali Al-Singace, and Abbas Al-Samea’, to urgently intervene in this matter, help release these prisoners, and oblige Bahrain to properly follow standards and laws set out by international human rights laws.
We thank his Excellency for his efforts and interests, and wish he would take these concerns with the upmost care and concern.
1. Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
2. Bahrain Forum for human Rights
3. Bahraini German Organization for Human Rights
4. Bahrain Human Rights Observatory
5. Bahrain Human Rights Society
6. Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights
7. SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
8. The European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights
Article 22 of the Bahraini Constitution states that “the State shall guarantee the sanctity of places of worship, freedom to practice religious rights, take out processions and hold religious congregations according to the custom observed in the country.” Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” In addition Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”
Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affair denied the presence of any practices or discrimination that target the Shiites, in the same time the security authorities in Bahrain tighten their grip and restrictions on the religious practices, attack Ashura commemoration rituals, and violate the sanctity of these rituals according to the Shiite sect. The security forces shot the citizens who were protesting against these measures, in addition to the continuous siege imposed on Duraz, and preventing the clerics from reaching the obsequies.
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) condemns the Bahraini authority targeting of the religious freedoms, and calls on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the international community and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt to press on the Bahraini Government to put an end to the violations that target the Shiite citizens.
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights in Australia
The Bahraini authorities have persistently insist on breaching the international covenants and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and violating the international standards for fair trial. Today, the Bahraini regime began the trial of the head of the largest religious body for Shiites in Bahrain Sayed Majeed Al-Meshal suddenly without any prior notice. This step is one of the severe clampdown on the Shiite clerics, the escalating sectarian persecution, and the continuous restrictions on the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
The Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) in Australia strongly condemns these practices which contradict with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that protects the freedom of religion and belief. These judicial proceedings are the sword of the Bahraini authority for revenge of its opponents. GIDHR calls for the United Nations and the international community for urgent action to take the necessary measures to put an end for the systematic targeting against one of the most important components of the Bahraini society.
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights in Australia
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) in Australia urges the United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban-Ki Moon, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mr. Michel Forst, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to take prompt actions in order to rescue the human rights activists Mr. Nabeel Rajab, the president of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR). Mr. Rajab was arrested over a tweet on the Social Media outlets.
Mr. Rajab’s health situation has deteriorated and he was transferred to the hospital. According to Mr. Rajab’s family, he is subjected to isolated detention in an attempt to isolate him from the outer world; which may has severe impacts on his heath.
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights