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Bahraini photographer among 29 jailed for up to 10 years

Al-Akhbar | March 26, 2014

A Bahraini court on Wednesday jailed 29 people, including an award winning photographer, for up to 10 years for an alleged attack on a police center in April 2012.

A judicial source and activists said the verdicts were based on defendants’ confessions that were extracted under torture.

Twenty-six of those convicted were handed 10-year prison terms and three others jailed for three years, a source told AFP.

Among those sentenced to 10 years was Ahmed Humaidan, a 26-year-old photojournalist abducted by plainclothes police in late-2012.

Humaidan’s lawyer said the court presented no evidence to suggest that he was involved in any attack against police aside from a confession he made under torture.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has documented cases of torture against the young photojournalist in prison, which included being blind-folded and told to hold an object for hours that police claimed was a bomb.

The prosecution accused the defendants of attacking a police center in the village of Sitra, south of Manama, with petrol bombs and iron rods, wounding a policeman.

The other defendants also told the court that they were tortured and their confessions obtained under duress, according to the judicial source.

Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet, remains in a constant state of turmoil since authorities launched a bloody crackdown on a popular uprising three years ago, with hundreds of protesters and activists jailed on “terror” charges.

Authorities in the Gulf dictatorship last year increased the penalties for those convicted of violence, introducing the death penalty or life sentences in certain cases.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

March 26, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bahrain sentences nine activists to life in prison

Al-Akhbar | October 7, 2013

A Bahraini court jailed nine activists for life Monday after alleging that they made bombs for “terrorist” purposes, a judicial source said.

Four of the defendants were in court for the verdict and the remaining five, tried in absentia, were handed an 10 additional years in jail for failing to hand themselves in. Life imprisonment in Bahrain is a 25-year-sentence.

Human rights groups have slammed the Bahraini dictatorship’s persecution of activists and political opponents since a pro-democracy movement swept the tiny Gulf kingdom two and a half years ago.

The courts, whose judges are appointed by the Bahraini king, have jailed hundreds of peace activists and human rights leaders on terrorism-related charges in recent months.

Monday’s ruling brings to 104 the number of activists jailed since September 29 over terrorism-related charges in the western and Saudi-backed Gulf kingdom.

The four men told the court that they were tortured, mistreated and held in solitary confinement – a routine procedure in country to force confessions, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).

The defendants were found guilty of “joining a group with the intention of disturbing public order and using terrorism to endanger Bahrain’s security,” the charge sheet said.

They were also convicted of making bombs and training others how to produce them, and “owning and using explosives for a terrorist purpose and carrying out bombings to terrorize citizens.”

BCHR says at least 89 people have been killed by Bahraini police and a Saudi-led Gulf force since the a popular, anti-government uprising erupted in February 2011.

Bahrain is the home base of the US Fifth Fleet and Washington is a long-standing ally of the Al-Khalifa ruling family.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

October 7, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prominent Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab goes missing

Al-Akhbar | May 16, 2013

Prominent Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab has been removed from his cell to an unknown location, losing all contact with his family and lawyer, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights reported Wednesday.

In an appeal sent out by the human rights group, Rajab had reportedly witnessed prisoners at the central Jaw prison being tortured.

Rajab’s wife had received a phonecall from Rajab testifying on what he had witnessed in the prison. Shortly after, Rajab’s wife was told that her husband had been removed from his prison cell.

His lawyer, family and fellow activists have not been in contact with him since.

On Wednesday, six Bahraini tweeters were sentenced to one year in jail each for insulting the King and “misusing the right of free expression.”

Torture in Bahraini prisons is very commonly used to force prisoners to sign confessions. In February of last year, leading political prisoners began refusing food after reporting systematic abuses in Bahrain’s jails, including beatings, torture and the use of tear gas.

Nabeel Rajab, who founded the Bahrain Center for Human Rights in 2002, has been in custody since June 6 on charges of “public insults against plaintiffs,” the prosecution said in a statement at the time of his rearrest in June 2012.

The avid Twitter user has been charged with insulting the security forces, posting comments on Twitter deemed insulting to a government body and organizing peaceful protests.

His activism has given him the largest Twitter following in Bahrain, and the fourth largest in the Arab world.

The BHCR appeal calls for the immediate release of Rajab “as it is believed that he has been targeted solely due to his legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights.”

May 16, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

US shuns Bahrain condemnation at UN

Al Akhbar | June 28, 2012

The United States and the United Kingdom on Thursday declined to sign a UN document condemning the ongoing human rights abuses in Bahrain.

The UN Human Rights Council document, which was signed by major European countries including Germany and France, calls on the Gulf state to do more to protect civil liberties in the country.

“We express our concern over the human rights situation in Bahrain, both the violations that took place in February and March 2011 as well as the related ongoing ones,” the document said.

“We are particularly concerned about the consequences faced by those who protested for democratic change in a peaceful manner,” it adds.

Bahraini forces, backed by Saudi troops, crushed a pro-democracy uprising in early 2011, but protests have reemerged in recent months despite repression.

The US has remained quiet on the human rights situation in the country, which is the host of its Fifth Fleet, while condemning government crackdowns in Syria and elsewhere.

Bahraini activists have accused global bodies such as the Human Rights Council of being pressured into silence on the issue.

Maryam Al-Khawaja, acting head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, welcomed the ruling.

“This is the first step in showing that the Human Rights Council will not allow the implementation of double standards, although they have allowed it this long,” she said.

However she condemned the decision by the US and Britain to not sign the treaty as evidence of “double standards” on human rights.

“The thing that disappoints us most is the fact that the United Kingdom and the United States decided not to sign, which to us says a lot more about how they are insisting on implementing double standards when it comes to supporting or standing against human rights violations in different countries.”

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | 3 Comments