On the Occasion of the 33rd Session Five Bahraini NGOs Dispatch Joint Letter to UN Human Rights Council Members

With the third UPR Process commencing in 2017, and the UN Human Rights Council’s 33rd Session starting in September, five NGOs have articulated a joint letter intended for UNHRC members regarding the pressing issues facing Bahrain. SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahraini German Organization for Human Rights and Democracy, and European Bahraini Organization for Human Rights, all inputted their concerns that they have identified and verified, in the joint letter.
The letter stressed that since the second UPR review in 2012, the Government of Bahrain has committed to introduce reforms recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in 2011, whilst opting to carry out no meaningful reforms, and also accepting recommendations but choosing not to properly implement them. Instead, repression remains the norm, and torture and mistreatment of human rights activists is rife. The signatory organizations confirmed their fear that there is a whitewashing of the true picture of what is happening in Bahrain. Not only is information about the real situation being withheld, but also those who do dare to speak out are being punished for doing so, and face torture, mistreatment and imprisonment.
The serious issue of nationality revocation was detailed in the letter, informing the members that the number of Bahrainis that have been victim to unlawful nationality revocation has surpassed more than 300 citizens, whilst others have further been deported, including lawyer Taimoor Karimi, religious scholar Sheikh Khojistah, and academic Dr Masaud Jahromi. While use of criminal charges and restrictive legislation to silence Shia sholars, activists, civil societies and media outlets in the country remain the norm. Sheikh Ali Salman, GS of Al-Wefaq party now serves a nine-year sentence after appealing against a four-year sentence, and the prominent human rights activists Nabeel Rajab, who is suffering from a serious medical condition, is back in prison for a Tweet that has been found to allegedly warrant prosecution. The human rights activists Sheikh Maythem Al-Salman and the consultant neurosurgeon Dr Taha Alderazi have been summoned and detained, pending charges.
Moreover, 70 Shia scholars have been summoned or arrested since 20 June 2016, and worshippers have been prevented from going to mosque in the Duraz area to attend Friday prayers.
The letter also referred to the Duraz siege that commenced on 20 June 2016, after protesters commenced a peaceful sit-in around Sheikh Qassim’s home, who recently fell victim to arbitrary nationality revocation.
The recent dissolution of political party al-Wefaq and along with the termination of long-established societies like Shia Scholar Council, Tow’iya and Al-Risala have been mentioned in the joint letter.
Moreover, Hasan Al-Hayki, a Bahraini citizen that died in police custody recently, was also cited in the joint letter as serious case of concern, demonstrating the direction the human rights situation is going.
The different stakeholders taking part in the letter, along with other human rights groups believe that the Human Rights Council should take meaningful action at the 33st Session in order to contribute to providing justice to the victims of the grave human rights situation in Bahrain. For this purpose they proposed 15 recommendations which to be addressed to the Government of Bahrain, the members of the Human Rights Council, and to the Special Procedures mandate holders of the Human Rights Council.