On July 18 each year, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of the African Leader and Rights Defender Nelson Mandela, in recognition of his contribution to the culture of peace and freedom, appreciation of his values, his dedication to humanity, human rights and anti-apartheid in South Africa. During his presidency he continued his fights against institutional racism, poverty, inequality and the promotion of ethnic reconciliation. The United Nations decided to extend Nelson Mandela’s international day to improve prison conditions because prisoners are part of society through United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners known as the Nelson Mandela Rules.
SALAM DHR believes that honoring of the great African leader Nelson Mandela is through continuing to work and fight for justice and freedom, combating racial discrimination, combating poverty, monitoring human rights violations, and building peace and reconciliation around the world.
On this occasion, SALAM DHR remind the international community that citizens in Bahrain are still fighting for freedom and equality. The ruling family continues to concur absolute power and national wealth. The people are deprived of their political and civil rights and been prevented of participation in decision-making, but in return have to pay the taxes imposed on them from their meager wages to cover the deficit in the state’s general budget due to widespread of corruption and failure of the state’s financial and economic policies. Those who oppose corruption, looting of wealth and theft, and criticize the government for its public and financial policies, are arrested. Thousands of citizens have chosen the dangerous path and raised their voices high to demand their basic rights. These include political activists and leaders such as Sheikh Ali Salman, Sheikh Abdul Jalil al-Miqdad, Abdul Wahab Hussain, Hasan al-Mushaima, Dr Abdul Jalil al-Singace and Abdel Hadi al-Khawaja, who have been sentenced to life imprisonment, and prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, who sentenced to five years in prison. These are examples of thousands behind bars because they expressed their views and raised their voices to demand full civil and political rights.
Activists in Bahrain strive for equal citizenship, equality before a just law, and the achievement of an independent judiciary. The laws and legislations that govern the citizens of the country are enacted by an outright will and the people are not entitled to participate drafting them. They are passed and ratified by a cosmetic “parliament”. In many cases, the king issues decrees individually and approves legislations contrary to international conventions and treaties ratified by the state. Therefore, it is impossible to claim equality before the law, and all privileges are reserved for the ruling family and its loyalists.
The people’s will and their right to direct representation in the governing bodies of the country is a sacred principle throughout the world and morally and legally binding. Therefore, Bahrainis are struggling to attain their internationally guaranteed and legitimate rights. The world should understand the demands of the people of Bahrain in the presence of legislations restricting public freedoms, including prohibiting individuals from expressing their views and depriving them of the right to political participation.
In addition, the Bahraini authorities exercise racial discrimination against Shi’a citizens at the level of recruitment, scholarships, promotions, appointed positions and diplomatic representation. These have been documented in several international reports, including USA 2018 Annual Report on Religious Freedoms in the World. “The Bahraini authorities continued to arrest and interrogate Shiite clerics and citizens, and prevented non-residents of the Duraz district from carrying out Friday prayers. On June 12, the Bahraini government enacted an amendment to the Law on the Exercise of Political Rights, former members of Al-Wefaq opposition political party dissolved by the authorities as well as other political activists who were prepared to run for municipal and parliamentary elections”. The US State Department indicated in its report that the representatives of the Shiite community complained about the high rate of unemployment and the decline of the social and economic situation of the Shiites because of the continued discrimination against them in the public and private sectors, including in education and the judicial system. Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, noted in its report in September 2018 that prisoners of Shi’a citizens were subject to intimidation, harassment, ill-treatment and lack of access to health care.
SALAM DHR is urging the authorities in Bahrain to start national reconciliation to achieve comprehensive political and human rights reform that began with the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, remedies for victims and stop targeting the opposition and the general activists because of their activities that reject injustice and tyranny and their civil, political and legal demands.