February 2011, mass protests began in Bahrain, calling for reform and rights. The monarchy responded with force and arrests to suppress the demonstrations, backed by a Saudi military intervention in March. The tactics succeeded in breaking up large gatherings, as human rights activists were given sentences including life in prison — a notable example is Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, the co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights — others were repeatedly detained and warned against dissent, and more than 80 people were killed by security forces. The head of the official opposition party al-Wefaq, Sheikh Ali Salman, was given a four-year prison sentence in June 2015. Small protests continue in Bahrain’s villages, but attention has long moved away from the kingdom, with little sign of a change in the political and social situation. Arrests and loss of citizenship, a punishment that leaves the recipient free but without the means either to leave or to support himself, have been far more effective at quelling street demonstrations than beatings, which have diminished. There are still small protests in the villages, but the big demonstrations of two or three years ago are largely over. More than three years after Bahrain’s government committed to introduce the reforms recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), an investigation commissioned by the King of Bahrain into the conflict and human rights violations following widespread protests beginning in early 2011, there has been little fundamental change. A police code of conduct has been introduced, ombudsmans’ offices have been set up, and some junior officers have been prosecuted for some of the torture that took place in custody in 2011, but no senior official has been brought to account for torture or killings since 2011. Five years of human rights violation in Bahrain resulted in: 10505 arrests cases, among them 330 women, 668 children, 3318 torture cases, 4907 injured, 253 citizens had their nationality stripped and deported, and as we speak 3000 activists remain in detention.
Timeline of Key Events
Inspired by the protests in Tunisia and Egypt in December 2010 and January 2011, calls were made on social media to stage pro-democracy protests, appealing to take to the streets on Monday 14 February in a peaceful and orderly manner in order to rewrite the constitution and to establish a body with a full popular mandate.
Over 6,000 people participated in many demonstrations and political rallies throughout Bahrain. The protesters’ demands varied, and included constitutional reform, political reform, and socio-economic justice. thirty protesters were reportedly injured and one was killed as Bahraini government forces used tear gas, rubber bullets and birdshot to break up demonstrations.
17 “Bloody Thursday”
At 3:00 am, around 1,000 police were dispatched to clear the Pearl Roundabout of an estimated 1,500 individuals staying overnight in tents. 3 people were killed and 300 were injured during the raid.
18 King Hamad declares a three month state of emergency. Hundreds of peaceful dissidents, opposition leaders and medics are arrested and many tortured.
14– The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) agrees to send troops at the request of the Bahraini Government. Saudi Arabian troops arrive and are joined by security forces from the UAE.
16 Secretary Clinton: “We find what’s happening in Bahrain alarming. We think that there is no security answer to the aspirations and demands of the demonstrators.”
17 Security forces arrest six key opposition members 18 Government forces demolish the Pearl Roundabout Monument. January 2011 February 2011 14
18 Government forces demolish the Pearl Roundabout Monument.
1-11 At least four individuals are tortured to death while in custody
4 Military trials begin for civilians who participated in the uprisings. Hundreds of Bahrainis are tried and sentenced in these “National Safety Courts.”
22 Medical workers are attacked and arrested The government destroys dozens of Shi’a mosques and religious sites
6 47 doctors and nurses go on trial
29 Bahain’s king orders fact-finding mission
24 Parliamentary elections held to replace the seats vacated by Al-Wefaq. Al-Wefaq and the rest of the opposition societies boycott the election.
29 Twenty Bahraini medical professionals arrested on felony charges after treating protesters at the Salmaniya Medical Complex are handed jail terms of up to twenty years on charges of anti-government activity.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report is released confirming the torture of detainees, the lethal force by public security forces on civilians, and the lack of accountability of officials within the security system. June 2012 14 Bahraini court confirms the convictions against eleven of the twenty medics arrested on felony charges and acquits nine.
7 Authorities re-arrest Nabeel Rajab. Rajab is tried ,retried, and receives two years in prison.
6 31 Bahraini nationals denaturalised, all political opposition activists February 2013 10 A new round of “reconciliation talks”, The Bahrain National Dialogue” begins, excluding key opposition figures still in prison. The talks officially collapse in 2014.
A coalition of Bahrain’s opposition parties, including Al-Wefaq, boycott the country’s parliamentary elections, citing the country’s failure to reform and disappointment with its national dialogue.
4 Activist Zainab Al-Khawaja is sentenced to three years in prison for peaceful dissent. 28 General Secretary of Al Wefaq, Sheikh Ali Salman, is arrested for speech related offenses January 2015 20 Court sentences Nabeel Rajab to 6 months in prison for online comments made in 2014
21 71 people denaturalized, including human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, academic, bloggers and medical workers June 2015 11 56 denaturalised, including students, clerics and juveniles 16 Sheikh Ali Salman is sentenced to four years in prison.
19 After four years in prison, activist and former leader of the secular opposition society Wa’ad, Ibrahim Sharif, is released, but rearrested three weeks afterwards
September- December 2015
Bahraini authorities made over 400 arrests. Police officials consistently acted in contravention of international law. In the vast majority of cases, arresting officers failed to provide a warrREant or a reason for detention; and arrestees reported having been subjected to excessive force, ill treatment, and torture.
31 23 denaturalised, including juveniles and people sentenced to death or life
Increase in raids and arrests prior to the five-year anniversary of February 14th.
- 1- For the Bahraini Government to withdraw the revocation decision due to its breach of the Constitution, the laws governing citizenship in Bahrain, and its contravention of international treaties and declarations that Bahrain has signed and ratified.
- 2- That the Bahraini Government takes swift steps to reverse decisions and procedures the Bahraini authorities have already taken to pass the unlawful revocation decision.
- 3- Commence international proceedings to push for the rescission of the decision, and to compensate the victims of this decision. Consideration of compensation should be taken retrospectively from the time of passing of the decision.
- 4- Demand of the Bahraini authorities to rescind and compensate the victims urgently and expeditiously; and in the event such is not done, a case would be submitted to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.
- 5- Demand of the Bahraini authorities to accept and allow the visits of the UN Special Rapporteurs to meet with those that have been victims of the stripping of nationality.
- SALAM report: Stripping of Nationality a Weapon for Political Suppression; February 2015: http://bahrainsalam.org/?p=651
- HRW: Bahrain Citizenship Rights Stripped Away, Authorities Take New Powers to Arbitrarily Revoke Nationality; August 2014: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/08/21/bahrain-citizenship-rights-stripped-away
- Amnesty: Halt deportation of individuals arbitrarily stripped of nationality; October 2014: https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/news/2014/10/bahrain-halt-deportation-individuals-arbitrarily- stripped-nationality/
- BCHR: http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/7719