Attack on 3 Bahraini activists in London- BCHR calls the British government for an urgent investigation in the attacks
The Attack on Two of the Bahraini H R defenders in London and an Attempt to Burn the House of a political activist After a Campaign Accusing the Current Bahraini Ambassador in London of Violations during his Presidency of the National Security BCHR calls upon the British government for urgent investigation in the attacks
22-07-2009 In a serious and particular progress which may represent a new phase of targeting Bahraini activists outside their country, both Mr. Abbas Al-Omran – board member in the BCHR – and Mr. Ali Mushaima – administrative member in the Committee of Unemployed and Low-income – were subjected to physical abuse in the evening of 2 July 2009 in one of the streets of London, they then received a call warning them from continuing their protests in front of the Bahraini embassy. On 6 July 2009, the house of the Bahraini political opponent Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi was exposed to a deliberate attempt of fire where the house's front and the car of Al-Shehabi's daughter were burnt. Police investigations showed that the fire was deliberate. It is to mention that Since the last 2 years a group of Bahraini activists obtained the right to political asylum in UK, and it has witnessed as well the escalation of protest acts especially after appointing an intelligence officer accused of Human Rights Violation as an ambassador for the Bahraini government in the UK.
According to the testimonies of Ali Mushaima and Abbas Al-Omran, in the evening of 2 July 2009 and when they were returning from an educational activity heading towards their place of residence in London, they were subjected to physical abuse by people who seemed to have been waiting for them in of the street corners. The group was made up of three people in their mid twenties and who were of African origins, and who were wearing head masks. Both Al-Omran and Mushaima attempted to escape the attack, but the attackers continued to chase them until Al-Omran fell to the ground due to the severity of the beating he was subjected to. His falling on the ground, the rise of screams and the attention of some of the people passing by or the residents of the same neighborhood made the attackers escape. Mushaima suffered from injuries in different parts of the body and a bulge in the upper forehead. Abbas Al-Omran suffered from a swelling at top of the right eyebrow, and a swelling in the lower right shoulder with some wounds in both knees and elbow. After the escape of the attackers, Mushaima and Al-Omran hurried to inform the police who came after 10 minutes to the site of the attack and initiated an investigation in the incident. Apparently, the cameras installed in the streets recorded the attack that the defenders were exposed to.
At 2:30 pm on Sunday 5 July 2009, Mushaima received an unknown call on his mobile phone from an unnumbered call and from a person whose accent seems of African origins, saying, "Do you remember the beating you and your partner got a couple of nights ago? Next time, you will get killed if you continue your demonstrations and protests against the Bahraini government or in front of its embassy in London. You better stay away from the embassy or else you will face the same attack you were subjected to", the call ended in less than a minute. The next day, Mushaima conveyed the updates of the attack and the unknown call to the same security body.
Ali Mushaima and Abbas Al-Omran with a group of Bahraini activists living in London were all known for their continuous weekly peaceful protests, sometimes in front of the Bahrain embassy in London, and sometimes in Hyde Park Speakers' Corner. The aim of their activities and events was to draw attention to the human rights violations that are taking place in Bahrain. Mr. Abbas Al-Omran is a human rights activist who participated in establishing several human rights committees and groups in Bahrain. He was arrested more than once and was subjected to several physical abuses in the past due to his human rights activities before traveling to London in December 2008, where he was surprised to see his name among the list of those involved in the "terrorist plot", and which later the charges against them were suspended with a Royal decision. Mr. Ali Mushaima, who obtained political refugee, had been an administrative member in the Committee of the Unemployed and Low-income before leaving Bahrain, and he is known for his human rights activity amidst the other demand committees. He had been subjected to physical abuses by the Special Security men and sometimes men with civilian clothes. This is the first time that both of them get subjected to abuses outside their country Bahrain.
In another incident and at around 3:30 am on Monday 6 July 2009, an anonymous person attempted to set fire to the house of the well-known political opponent and who is living in London Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi, who was fast asleep with his family and children during the incident. According to the testimony of Al-Shehabi and his family, the fire was brought under control after the housewife took notice of it, and then they rushed to wake up the rest of the family members who worked on putting out the fire. The fire destroyed the front of the house and the car of Al-Shehabi's daughter and boxes for gathering paper in front of the house. The statements of witnesses and the spread of the smell of kerosene around the house confirm that the incident was deliberate. Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi had received a warning less than a week before the incident about the Bahraini security apparatuses intention in carrying out imminent attacks against some of the opposition's activists abroad and human rights defenders. Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi is one of the figures of the Bahraini opposition living in the UK and is heading the Bahrain Freedom Movement.
The Bahraini embassy in London is the only embassy apart from all other Bahraini embassies abroad which is closely linked to the National Security Apparatuses rather than ministry of foreign affairs. The current National Security Apparatuses is headed by Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, the former ambassador in London. The current ambassador there is Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali bin Rashid Al-Khalifa and he is the former president of the same Apparatuses. During the presidency of the former and current ambassador to this apparatus, it became infamous for the increasing attacks against human rights defenders or the political activists opposing the government. The majority of those obtaining political asylum in Britain are victims of these attacks, however this is the first time where human rights defenders and political activists get subjected to attacks in a European capital.
The Bahraini authorities had consistently pressurized the British government to put an end to the Bahraini opposition's activity in London, or to stop providing refuge for the human rights defenders, but without any significant result. In the same context, during his visit to the British capital last year, the King of Bahrain met both Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi, head of the Bahrain Freedom Movement, and Hasan Mushaima, president of Haq Movement who was at that time on a visit to the British capital. The King asked Dr. Saeed Al-Shehabi to return to Bahrain, and he even spoke of opening serious dialogue with the the Bahraini opposition, however this dialogue never started and Hasan Mushaima was later imprisoned with dozens of political activists and human rights defenders on charges relating to terrorism. They were later released after the escalation of people's protests and mounting criticism of international organizations and Bahrain's friendly countries. Among those attempts, the Colonel Isa Meselam also met the former president of the Committee of Martyrs and Torture Victims Mr. Abdul-Raoof Al-Shayeb urging him to return to his home country and to work from the inside, however those attempts also failed due to doubting promises that have no confirmations on the ground, especially that the Authorities had tried to put Al-Shayeb in jail on ethical charges which forced him to seek refuge in the British capital.
While the Bahrain Center for Human Rights recognizes and values the positive and humane approach of the British authorities for providing refuge for the activists and human rights defenders that are fleeing the Human Rights violations in Bahrain, it calls upon it for initiating an urgent investigation in the circumstances of the attacks and the relation of the security authorities in Bahrain to those attacks as well, and to reveal the results of those investigations. The BCHR also calls the British Authorities to provide protection to those activists and defenders who chose peaceful work as a means to fulfill their human rights demands. The BCHR demands the Bahraini Authorities to stop targeting the human rights defenders and political opponents, and to open the door for dialogue in order to reach solutions that address all the unresolved human rights files.