The Absence of Accountability in Bahrain

The Absence of Accountability in Bahrain

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Bahraini regime continues to suppress people and denies their rights amid silence of international community.

The Bahraini authorities have been carrying out an ongoing crackdown on opposition figures, political dissent, journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders since the beginning of the popular uprising in February 2011, against the Al Khalifa ruling regime. Those parties are solely targeted for their peaceful exercise of the right of expression, assembly, and association.
Since the beginning of 2017, the Bahraini regime has dramatically intensified its brutal measures and excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators. A constitutional amendment was approved allowing civilians to be tried before military courts. Hundreds of citizens were illegally revoked of their citizenship, thousands were detained, and scores were executed. Indeed, these arbitrary measures were taken to punish civilians for demanding their inalienable rights, and to silence the critics from speaking out about the deterioration of the political and humanitarian crisis in the country.

The security forces continues to confront the protesters on daily basis, firing fission bullets and tear gas. Various cases of impunity are documented, and many trails are being held, unfairly, based on confessions extracted under torture. The detainees are not allowed to access their lawyers. They are subjected to severe torture, ill-treatment, medical negligence, defamation, electric shocks, sexual harassments and sectarian assaults. Human rights activists are summoned into investigations, they are severely beaten, forced to suspend and resign from their activities. All of this takes place in Bahrain without any regard to the human rights mechanisms and international laws, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the right to freedom of opinion.

Occasionally, the Bahraini government claims promoting religious tolerance and countering sectarianism. However, facts on the ground reveal the opposite, as 65 to 70% of the Shia majority are subjected to a systematic policy of repression. Foreign troops from Saudi Arabia and UAE are deployed in Bahrain to assist the security forces, in its raids on the peaceful protesters. In the wake of the US President Donald Trump's meeting with the Bahraini king Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, during the last summit in Riyadh, the authorities have stepped up its crackdown.

Sheikh Isa Qasim, the spiritual leader of Shia majority was revoked of his citizenship in June 2016. This action incurred the rage of his followers who staged in the square facing Qasim's residence, in Diraz village. The village was besieged, and the largest Friday prayer at Imam Sadiq mosque was banned. In May 27, 2017, Sheikh Qasim was sentenced to one year imprisonment, suspended to three years, and he was ordered to pay 100 thousand BHD, in fines. Later, the Interior Ministry stormed into the residence, it arrested all the protesters and executed at least 5 martyrs. The martyrs were forcibly buried, without the permission of their families, by the regime, which is regarded as an act of violation against all religious, constitutional and humanitarian norms.

Sheikh Isa Qasim is a prominent figure in Bahrain. He is a preacher of national and Islamic unity. He stresses in his speeches on encountering the "Sectarian conflict scheme'. He firmly directs his followers to peaceful methods saying: "Peaceful methods have been our choice since the first day". The charges against Sheikh Qasim are related to the practice of the Shia religious ritual "Al Khums", which is, to Shia, a ritual of collecting funds. The duty of Khums has been practiced by Shia for centuries. The government insults this ritual, claiming that it is an act of "laundering money". Today, Sheikh Isa Qasim is in serious danger, and his fate is unknown. People are concerned about the possibility of exiling him  outside the country.

In its blatant campaign, the government dissolved two major political opposition group, Al Wefaq Islamic Society and The Secular National Democratic Action Society (Wa'ad). The reason behind this banning was solely their criticism of the escalating of human rights violation, and their determination on political reforms. Observers believe that "Bahrain is heading toward total suppression of human rights".

Amid the absence of accountability and the silence of the international community, the regime's prisons have become overcrowded with prisoners of conscience. For instance, Sheikh Ali Salman, the Secretary General of Al Wefaq is behind bars, although he, repeatedly, used to call for peaceful means and dialogue. The Bahraini people are determined to proceed their way to building a liberal constitutional monarchy.

Consequently, it is the time to put an end to the suffering of the Bahraini people, to resume earnest dialogue, and to end all forms of reprisals against human rights and political activists.

The international community must stop the bloody calculated campaign by the Bahraini regime, which in fact adopt local laws in order to restrict the civil rights.

[Written by Sondoss Al Asaad]


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