Letter from the Families of Imprisoned Political Leaders and Human Rights Activists

8 December 2012

Subject: Malicious Prosecution and Unfair Trials of Political and Human Rights Activists

Your Excellency ,

We, the families of imprisoned political and human rights activists in Bahrain, express our concerns towards the ill-treatment, continued malicious prosecution and imprisonment of political and human rights activists as well as protesters. We are worried of the escalation of security crackdown and systematic human rights violations in Bahrain.

8 December 2012

Subject: Malicious Prosecution and Unfair Trials of Political and Human Rights Activists

Your Excellency ,

We, the families of imprisoned political and human rights activists in Bahrain, express our concerns towards the ill-treatment, continued malicious prosecution and imprisonment of political and human rights activists as well as protesters. We are worried of the escalation of security crackdown and systematic human rights violations in Bahrain.

The international community and human rights organization have exerted remarkable efforts in highlighting the said abuses. This, however, has not deterred the local authorities from keeping its attacks against protest activities and all forms of freedom of expression and association. The Bahraini government (GoB) adopted a “deaf-ear policy” and persistent denial to repeated demands of genuine respect for human rights. The GoB continued the deception policy at the expense of truth, as well as circumventing of the recommendations of both the Bahrain Royal Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), recently convened in Geneva.

We would like to address the following issues of concerns, detailed in the attached Appendix which includes: the continuation of imprisonment and prosecution of political activists and human rights defenders, the intensification of the crackdown and excessive use of force, the recent unfair judicial proceedings and their verdicts, the failure to implement BICI recommendations, and the continued media attacks and smear campaigns against dissidents and protesters.

We appeal to your support to promote and uphold human rights values and the need for genuine measures to improve conditions in Bahrain. We, therefore, appreciate that you make serious efforts to address the following:

1) The immediate and unconditional nullification of all current trials, dropping all charges and releasing all prisoners of conscience, human rights activists and protesters. This, of course, involves rehabilitation, compensation and redress of victims of ill-treatment and torture.
2) The immediate and full execution of BICI recommendations, in addition to the recent recommendations of the UNHRC. Care should be taken to prevent further state procrastination and insist on neutral and independent prosecution of torturers and their superiors, at all levels of responsibility, as well as those involved in excessive use of force inside and outside prison.
3) Cease of all state-lead media campaigns which encourage sectarian sedition, smear and slander of all dissidents and human rights defenders including those in prison. This step also involves holding those responsible for the said programs and compensating its victims.
4) Encourage and support a UNHRC-led investigation through viable UN mechanisms, to investigate the ill-treatment and torture cases, as documented by BICI and other organizations. This will help eradicate the ill-treatment practices and ensure that such crimes are minimized, if not eliminated, in Bahrain.

We appreciate your efforts in supporting activities of promotion of human rights in Bahrain, and hope that your endeavors to accomplish the above will assist in that direction. Kindly do not hesitate to approach us for further information.

On behalf of families of imprisoned political activists and human rights defenders,

Cordially yours,

Farida Ismail ,Wife of Ebrahim Sharif

Contact information: Farida Ghulam , faridaghulam@gmail.com , +973 (36200086).

Members of the Group

1. Abdul Wahab Hussain Ahmed: Author and leader in Al-Wafa Current (a political group)
2. Hasan Ali Hasan Mushaima: General Secretary of HAQ Movement of Liberties and Democracy
3. Mohammed Habib Al-Megdad: President of Al-Zahra Orphan Care Society
4. Ebrahim Shareef Al-Sayyed: General Secretary of Waad (National Democratic Action Society)
5. Abduljalil Radhi Al-Megdad: Scholar and social activists
6. Abduljalil Abdulla Al-Singace: Academic, blogger and Head of Human Rights unit in HAQ
7. Saeed Mirza Ahmed Noori: Scholar and social activist
8. Abdulhadi Abdulla Al-Mokhader: Scholar and social activist
9. Abduall Esa Al-Mahroos: Scholar and social and political activist
10. Abdulhadi Abdulla Al-Khawaja: Human rights activist
11. Salah Abdulla Al-Khawaja: Consultant and expert in family affairs
12. Mohammed Ali Radhi: Educationalist and social activist
13. Mohammed Hasan Jawad: Political and social activist

Appendix: Issues of Concern

1. Continued imprisonment and prosecution of political and human rights activists. This act includes all those who exercised their legitimate rights to freedom of expression, gathering and association. The group of political leaders (as dubbed numerously in the BICI report) and the team of doctors and medics represent two typical examples of victims of repression and blatant violations of human rights carried out by different Bahraini security bodies during the suppression of the popular protests since March 17, 2011. Nevertheless, the two groups are not the exhaustive examples subject to various sorts of ill-treatment and human rights violations. Tens of other groups and hundreds of individuals, of different age and gender, were subject to torture and their basic civil liberties were violated because of their exercise of freedom of expression, gathering and association. The Bahraini authorities consider such exercise of rights unlawful crimes punishable by the law and part of a bigger scheme to overthrow the regime and change it by force.

The different sorts of abuses and ill-treatment of activists (political, social and human rights) were documented thoroughly by the BICI. The degrading treatment, carried out by security bodies (The Ministry of Interior, The National Security Apparatus – NSA, The National Guards, and the Bahrain Defense Force – BDF) include: home arrests at dawn, during interrogation, and incarceration, and during, as well as after, the unfair military trials by the army (BDF).

In an appendix at the end of the BICI report, brief statements were collected for all members of the political leaders and that of the medical team. The two groups were examined by a professional forensic team sponsored by the BICI. Moreover in the said report, the political leaders and human rights activists were exemplified and referred to in the nine situations and dubbed with names including “14 political leaders, 14 political detainees, and 14 top political opposition figures”. Such referral in the BICI report contradicts the rhetoric statements by representatives of the Bahraini authorities to the non-existence of political prisoners or prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

2. The judicial verdicts issued by the Bahrain courts against dissidents, human rights defenders and protestors, include the lack of latitude by the persecution and courts. They have proven to be prejudiced, politicalized and lacking impartiality, independence and the criteria of fair trials. The verdicts issued by the elementary as well as the appeal courts, against the political leaders and other groups were founded mainly on testimonies of “secret sources” of the NSA, whose members have been implicated in torture and ill-treatment of detainees to coerce them to confess on themselves and others. Such illegitimate confessions were used as the basis for indictment. These sorts of confessions were considered by the BICI and the international comenents, void and nullify any judicial ruling. In the case of political leaders and human rights activists, the verdicts were issued by the limitary elementary courts, was upheld by both military and civil appeal courts, contrary to the recommendation of the BICI report for cases to be reviewed, sentences commuted and charges dropped.

It is worth noting that the prisoners and the current prosecutions are based on the same laws denounced for noncompliance with international charters. The Bahraini authorities have repeatedly employed these laws to target dissidents and human rights activists. It includes the “Penal Code”, the counter terrorism code “Protecting the Society from Terror Acts”, and “Meetings, Processions and Gatherings Code”.

3. The BICI report documented the aforesaid and other abuses with conclusive remarks and recommendations, leading figures of the ruling family and the government have frequently declared, in public, their acceptance and adherence to all the conclusions and recommendations. However, local authorities and until this moment, exploited the report and its findings to deceive the international community. The authorities went on detaching itself from their commitments and pledges.
Moreover, and irrespective of the official declarations and statements about executing the BICI recommendations, the authorities worked on emptying many of these recommendations from their genuine contents, redefining some to lose its meaning and bypassed others, under the allegations of progression as well as compliance with the law.
The authorities did not upheld to the requirements to assert fair and just trials during the revision of the verdicts of the unfair military trials including the rejection of proofs based on confessions extracted under duress. Accordingly, hundreds of prisoners and groups, including the 14 political and human rights activists and the medical group, are imprisoned and under prosecution. No independent and neutral commission, formed according to the Istanbul Protocol, was made available to investigate into torture and ill-treatment.
4. The trials and prosecutions continued for political and human rights activists, amidst sustained media provocation and instigation of hatred and sectarian polarizing targeting the activists with slander and insults. The media outlets in Bahrain are state lead and are responsible for social tension and political stall. The authorities have not taken genuine step to ensure neutrality and professionally in the media outlets, as recommended by the BICI.