Bahraini Activists Ask for Probe By UN Human Rights Commission

Bahraini human rights activists called upon the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to halt "ongoing repression" and investigate the detention of activists and others who participated in protests over the past few months, As-Safir reports.

al-monitor UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addresses a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Oct. 18, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Denis Balibouse.

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Nov 5, 2012

Deputy Secretary-General of Bahrain Human Right Society (BHRS) Issa Ghaeb urged the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights [Navi Pillay] to visit Manama as soon as possible in order to check on the situation of Bahraini jurists, as authorities have been harassing all those working in the field of human rights since protests erupted in Bahrain over six months ago.

In a Nov. 4 statement to As-Safir, Ghaeb said: “Last year, authorities began arresting jurists. Abdul Jalil al-Sanqis and Abdel Hadi al-Khawaja were placed under arrest, brought to military trial and were sentenced to life prison for defending the people’s right to democracy and their right to claim their rights in peaceful means.

“Since then, the police have made numerous arrests, including the arrest of Nabil Rajab and Zainab al-Khawaja, and most recently Yusuf al-Mouhafaza, the monitor and follow-up responsible in Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). Mouhafaza has been remanded in custody for seven days on riot charges.

“These detained jurists are prisoners of conscience as confirmed in the report of the Bahraini Fact-Finding Commission, which also demanded their immediate release, as well as a full periodic review of the Human Rights in Geneva. This is not to mention the calls by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights demanding their release,” he added.

Ghaeb also called on the authorities to stop the arrest of jurists and activists and to put an end to the harassment and threats being made against them and to let them carry out their duties of monitoring and documenting violations taking place in Bahrain and sending them to international organizations.

The opposition al-Wefaq National Islamic Society and the National Democratic Action Society [better known as Wa’ad (promise)] demanded the immediate and unconditional release of human rights activist Yusuf al-Mouhafaza since “he is a prisoner of conscience.”

The two groups condemned and denounced his arrest.

This came in the wake of a series of arrests and security prosecutions of Bahraini activists, who participated in a number of daily protests in different areas of Bahrain against the decision of the Minister of Interior to prevent demonstrations and public gatherings.

According to the opposition, this “decision is a restriction on the freedom of speech, which is a flagrant violation of the constitution, covenant and commitments that were ratified by Bahrain and considered as part of the domestic law.”

In a statement, Wa’ad expressed its deep concern “over the ongoing setbacks on the part of the authorities in the field of human rights, disclaiming all their international commitments and arresting activist jurists, who are monitoring and documenting flagrant violations against human rights.”

It continued, “This situation necessitates taking urgent measures on the part of local, regional and international human rights organizations, in order to halt the ongoing repression operations carried out by the authorities in a bid to gag activists and keep an iron security grip on the entire country.”

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