Bahrain’s New Year of Oppression
The Bahraini authorities are starting 2017 with more oppression and practising human rights violations against the people, as indicated by cases documented by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).
In the last week of 2016, BCHR has recorded the arrests of 48 persons, including eight children and two women. On 1 January 2017, the Ministry of Interior announced the escape of 10 prisoners from the central prison at Jau following what it referred to as a “terrorist attack” that resulted in the death of a security guard. Since then, mass house raids and arrests were conducted in several areas of Bahrain. In Bani Jamra alone, the home village of several of the escaped prisoners, over 23 persons were arrested in the first three days of the year, including Sayed Jawad Sayed Ridha and his four sons who were arrested on 1 January 2017 during a house raid at dawn. Other areas including Daih, Karzakan, and Samaheej were targeted with mass arrests and the total number of people arrested in the first four days of the year is 44 persons. Additionally, security checkpoints were established across the country resulting in traffic jams and some arrests.
On 30 December 2016, Bahraini security forces raided the house of Abdulla Yousif Ahmed at dawn with more than 40 security officers in civilian clothes, and arrested Ahmed without presenting any warrant. Additionally, his wife, Anwar Shubbar Sayed Nasser (21 years old), was also arrested and kept in detention for over 48 hours for refusing to hand over her husband’s phone to the security forces. Her two children, a two-year-old girl and a 13-month-old infant who is fully reliant on his mother for feeding, were left in a poor health situation until their mother was released on bail on 2 January 2017.
Two men continue to be detained incommunicado in Bahrain. For over three months, since his arrest, Sayed Fadhel Abbas Radhi has been detained without access to family or lawyer. Similarly, Sayed Alawi Hussain has spent over two months in detention without access to his family or lawyer and without being informed of the official charges against him.
On 1 January 2017, the president of BCHR, Nabeel Rajab, completed 200 days of detention on free expression related charges, despite the fact that the court ordered his release on 28 December. He was ordered immediately to be detained for a week on new charges. On 5 January 2017 the public prosecution renewed his detention to 15 days.
Attacks on Peaceful Assembly
On 1 Jan 2017, the security forces attacked a peaceful demonstration in Sitra with tear gas, and arrested some of the participants. The practice of using excessive force, including the shooting of a single person, are repeated scenes that date back to 2011 and prove the absence of reform of unlawful police practices. (Video)
On 3 January 2017, shotgun injuries were reported after the security forces attacked a protest in AbuSaiba.
200 Days of Duraz Siege
As the siege on the area of Duraz hits 200 days, new reports came on the eve of the new year that the security forces have been shooting in the area of the open-ended sit-in near prominent religious cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim’s house. Such a threat of using force against the protestors is not the first. On 21 December 2016, the security forces attempted an attack on the peaceful protesters.
Instead of putting an end to the mass punishment for the over 20,000 residents of Duraz, the authorities have complicated the sige by placing new barriers on the road leading to the medical center.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights reiterates its calls on the Bahraini government to put an end to the oppression of rights, to stop the arbitrary arrests, to immediately release all political prisoners and allow the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.