By SANDEEP SINGH GREWAL , Posted on » Friday, October 08, 2010

FORMER board members of the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) denied yesterday that they refused to co-operate with the Social Development Ministry. They said that they were surprised to read in newspapers yesterday that the ministry announced it would take them to court.

The ministry issued a statement on Wednesday saying that it had decided to take to court BHRS former board members over financial, administrative and penal violations.

BHRS director Abdulla Al Jowder, who had been appointed by the ministry, said that the former board members had denied him access to society premises.

He claimed that the former members also refused to hand over all documents and funds, which was against the law regulating societies.

"All we asked the interim director was to give us a written agreement, something like a memorandum of understanding between us and the ministry, regarding conditions both parties had agreed upon," former BHRS secretary-general Abdulla Al Derazi told the GDN.

He said that on Wednesday they sent a letter to the officials concerned at the ministry requesting the written agreement.

Mr Al Derazi said that they wanted it to state the terms and conditions they agreed on based on a series of meetings they had since the ministry took control of the society on September 8.

"We had, in fact, stated in the letter that if we receive a document in writing from them, we would drop the court case we had filed against the ministry for their illegal and baseless decision to suspend the board," he said.

Following the suspension of the BHRS board last month, the ministry appointed Mr Al Jowder from its Legal Department to take control of the human rights group.

The decision also included opening membership in the society to all Bahrainis, who would then elect a new board after an annual general meeting.

Mr Al Jowder could not be reached for comments yesterday.

"We met the interim director and submitted our financial report audited by an external company, which the official refused to accept," claimed Mr Al Derazi.

Society members faced criticism after they organised a Press conference on August 28 at its premises in Adliya.

Members of the Press claimed they were insulted when they asked why the society did not condemn the escalating violence on the streets, arson attacks and firebomb attacks on innocent victims - claims that are all denied by the society.

The ministry then intervened and dissolved the board and took control of the society.

It said that the action against the BHRS was taken according to Article 50 of the Civil Societies Law for 1981.

The ministry also found that several legal and administrative violations were proved and that the BHRS had steered away from objectivity.