Established in 2011, Shia Rights Watch (SRW) is the world’s first independent organization dedicated to define and protect the
rights of Shia Muslims around the world. SRW is a non- governmental, not-for-profit research entity and advocacy group headquartered in Washington D.C., U.S.A. Shia Rights Watch aims to draw the international attention where Shia rights are violated;
the aim is to give a voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. S.R.W. achieves its objectives
through strategic investigations supported by targeted advocacy in order to bring about informed action.
Freedom of religion for all
Shia Rights Watch envisions the world with peace for all humans, regardless of their religion, gender, race and origin. There
should be regulations in every country to support every religion. We believe Shia Muslim as religion should be recognized in
every country and any discrimination should be brought to light. God has given us all the freedom of religion and the rights to
live in peace.
No Shia above the law and no Shia Below the law
Shia Rights Watch is dedicated to protect the rights of Shia Muslims worldwide. We investigate violations against Shia communities in order to raise awareness against injustice. We promote the change through research and publications. Our reports
and articles are submitted to the governments and international organizations, and we continually monitor media outlets to
ensure coverage of Shia rights violations. Shia Rights Watch stands for victims of prejudice, and supports activism in order to
prevent discrimination, support political freedom, and protect people from inhumane conduct. We enlist the local public and
international communities to support the cause of human rights for all.
The Purpose of SRW
Shia Muslims face constant oppression throughout the world solely based on their faith. In some countries, Shia Muslims have
been the target of repeated persecution for centuries as evidenced in the well-documented expansion of extremism of the
Wahhabi movement. We believe the underrepresented Shia Muslim population need a human rights organization that highlights the violations against them, while giving their call for help a louder voice.
The organization began with the collaborative efforts of volunteers with a common interest in advocating international human
rights. The momentum created by the increasing number of volunteer and activism allowed for a formal development of the
foundation of Shia Rights Watch. Currently the organization has more than 100 active members working in various locations
worldwide. The responsibilities of members range from gathering news and information to publishing reports and articles in
order to advocate change. We are proud of the religiously and ethnically diverse group of activists who are working together
towards a common goal.
Methodology of SRW
We believe that information is the most valuable resource in the investigative process. From the organization’s inception, we
have focused on gathering information through various media: interviewing witnesses, family members of the victims and
victims themselves; on-site collection of resources; analyzing reports from various national and international organizations;
meeting with non-governmental and religious organizations, leaders, and journalists; and creating information networks in a
wide range of social sectors.
Based on the information collected from the above sources, different types of human rights violation have been identified.
These violations include but are certainly not limited to:
• Violation of right of living;
• Arbitrary arrest, unfair trial, and illegal detention;
• Psychical & psychological abuse: torture, rape, and sexual assault;
• Illegal confiscation of private property;
• Demolition of Religions centres;
• Employment discrimination;
• Education discrimination;
Reports, Publications, and Distribution
Whether it is terrorist bombings of sacred shrines, torture and unjust detention of people, discriminative legislation or intimation of school children for their sectarian beliefs, Shia have been victimized in most the world. In countries where the press is
tightly controlled, most of these cases go unnoticed. Shia Rights Watch tells the stories of injustices and atrocities in order to
give a voice to the marginalized Shia victims.
Journalists investigating topics regarding the Middle East will benefit from SRW’s focus on the Shia communities since they are
crucially important sectors in Middle Eastern society. For instance, In order to fully examine the ongoing atrocities committed
against protesters of the Arab spring, it is necessary to know about the embedded Shia struggle. In areas where Shia have
been formerly discriminated against more subtly, the Arab Spring opened a door for more blunt persecution. Cases reported in
other parts of the world, such as in South Asia, describe violence and intimidation which reflect fluctuating trends in sectarian
hostilities, fueled by various political issues, including terrorism. SRW’s aim is to be able to report the crimes affecting Shia in
every part of the globe.
SRW has investigators on the forefront who communicate directly with the victims and monitor multilingual news media
outlets. SRW networks with national committees, international human rights organizations, as well as religious scholars of
Shia communities. SRW’s members comprise of people with diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds united to defend the of
human rights. This international network provides invaluable information to commentators and journalists of the media who
are seeking to explore the impact of events on the Shia communities worldwide.
The Kingdom of Bahrain
The Kingdom of Bahrain is an archipelago of 33 islands off of the eastern shore of Saudi Arabia. It is a constitutional monarchy
currently ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa family. Though small, only about three and a half times the size of Washington, DC, it
hosts a population of almost 1.3 million people, centered primarily around its
capital, Manama. Similar to other gulf states, the Bahraini economy relies heavily on oil. In fact, petroleum products account for over 60% of Bahrain’s exports
and 70% of government revenues. Other important sectors include aluminum
production, finance, and construction. 1
Of these 1.3 million people, approximately 81% are Muslim, another 9% are
Christian, while the remaining 10% is made up of various other faiths.2 The
Muslim population consists primarily of Shia Muslims, making it one of only five
countries in the world whose population is majority Shia Muslims, though it is
the only country in which the Shia Majority is led exclusively by a Sunni minority. Ethnically, Bahraini Shias are composed of two main groups. The majority
are descendants of Arab tribes originally from the Arabian Peninsula while the
rest are a minority referred to as ‘Ajam of Persian descent.3 While most Shia
in Bahrain belong to the Ithna-‘Ashari – or Twelver – sect of Islam and follow
the Ja’fari School of jurisprudence, they adhere to the teachings of a broad range of religious guides of Grand Ayatollahs who
provide guidance and leadership on theological matters.4 For much of Bahrain’s history the Shia majority has been underrepresented and mistreated because of their faith, and they continue to be targets of discrimination.
The beginnings of modern day Bahrain began in 1783 when the Sunni Al-Khalifa family captured the island from the Persians.
Due to its vulnerability and small size, the Al-Khalifa family entered into a number of treaties with the United Kingdom that
established Bahrain as a British protectorate. The British Empire intervened numerous times in the 19th century to maintain
stability and influence in the region. However, when the United Kingdom decided to withdraw its forces from the gulf region
in 1968, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa declared Bahrain’s independence in 1971. They signed a treaty of friendship with the
United Kingdom, ending Bahrain’s status as a protectorate. Since then, the Al-Khalifa family has maintained control over the
Kingdom of Bahrain.5
However, the first four decades of Bahrain’s independence have seen many complications. There had always been tensions
between the Shia majority and the Sunni government, which were exacerbated by the 1979 revolution in Iran. These tensions
1- CIA World Fact book: Bahrain https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html
3- Mojtahed-Zadeh, Pirouz, Security and Territoriality in the Persian Gulf: A Maritime Political Geography, 119
4- For a general introduction to Shia history, though, and jurisprudence, see: Cyril Glassé, The Consise Encyclopaedia of Islam…
5- Crystal, J. A., & Smith, C. G. (2013). Bahrain. In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/49072/Bahrain
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 7
were coupled with economic hardships related to the decline in oil prices and large cuts in government spending, resulting
in political unrest. Tensions were alleviated slightly in 2001 when Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa assumed power upon the
death of his father. He released a number of detained Shia Muslims and held a referendum to establish a new constitution that
granted greater equality to its citizens. Unfortunately the economy continued to struggle with the highest unemployment rates
in the gulf region and tensions between Sunnis and Shias remained.6
The 201 Uprising
In the wake of the Arab Spring protests taking place in Tunisia and Egypt, the Shia population in Bahrain decided to act. On
February 14th, the 10th anniversary of the National Action Charter, protestors poured into the Pearl Roundabout in Manama
to call for political reform.7 Protestors did not attempt to overthrow the government; rather they sought a number of reforms
including a new constitution to be drawn up by a committee of both Sunnis and Shi’ites, the election of a prime minister, the
release of political prisoners, and investigations into allegations of torture.8 In response, the Bahraini government offered
monetary gifts to local families, promised to release minors arrested during a security crackdown a year earlier, and agreed
to invest more in social items like food subsidies. This was not enough, however, and protests continued. Consequently, riot
police moved in to break up the protests on February 18th, resulting in the deaths of five protestors.9
Under the guise of protecting essential facilities like oil refineries and financial institutions, troops from Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates entered Bahrain to crackdown on the protests and restore stability. The Saudi National Guard has historically acted as a second line of defense for the Bahraini government, which has a small defense force. With the help of these
forces, the government began a brutal crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations.10 Since that time, government oppression
of peaceful opposition has continued. The Bahraini security forces have frequently committed human rights violations against
the Shia majority, including the use of pellet shotguns and stun grenades to break up protests, the unlawful and arbitrary arrests of members in the Shia community, and the use of torture to obtain false confessions.
In an effort to appease the protestors, the government established the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI),
which was tasked with investigating allegations of human rights violations committed in the early months of 2011. It was to
report on alleged police brutality, the appropriateness of arrests, supposed disappearances and torture, violations of religious
freedom, and harassment of the media. The BICI presented their report in November of 2011, finding that the government
had committed a plethora of violations against the protestors. In the report the commission gave a number of recommendations for policy reform that would address these issues, which King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa agreed to implement. However,
the Bahraini leadership has thus far failed to effectively implement any of these reforms, and so human rights violations have
The following sections of this report will document the many human rights violations committed by the Bahraini government.
By calling attention to these violations, we hope to increase pressure on the government of Bahrain to institute real and meaningful reform.
7- Bahrain Center for Human Rights, “In Fear of Transmitting the Tunisian and Egyptian Demonstrations to Bahrain: Blocking a Facebook Group that Calls People to go Down the Streets and Demonstrate against the Authority’s Police.” http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/3721. 6 February 2011.
8- Richter, Frederik. "Protestors Killed in Bahrain "Day of Rage"." Reuters (London), February 14, 2011. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/02/14/uk-bahrain-protests-idUKTRE71D1G520110214 (accessed July 16, 2013).
10- Hawley, Caroline, “Gulf States Send Forces to Bahrain Following Protests.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12729786
11- "Government Inaction." Bahrain Watch. http://bahrainwatch.org/bici/about.php (accessed July 16, 2013).
12- Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, Accessed July 16, 2013. http://bici.org.bh
Violations Summary and
Documentation of Human
Rights Violations Committed by
The Right to Peaceful Assembly
Bahraini citizens are guaranteed the right of peaceful assembly not only by international law, but also by the Bahraini constitution. This right is guaranteed in the International Bill of Human Rights (IBHR), which is a declaration adopted by the United
Nations General Assembly in 1948 that sets out a series of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. Article 20
of this document guarantees that “everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”1 Moreover, the
Arab Charter of Human Rights, to which Bahrain is a member, establishes in Article 21 that:
“The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than
those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms
In addition to the IBHR and the Arab Charter of Human Rights, the Bahraini constitution guarantees this right in Article 28,
which states that “Public meetings, parades, and assemblies are permitted under the rules and conditions laid down by law,
but the purposes and means of the meeting must be peaceful and must not be prejudicial to public decency.”3
According to these laws, Bahraini citizens should be allowed to peacefully assemble to protest against the government. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The protests in Bahrain began peacefully; there were no weapons involved and no violence or
vandalism was witnessed. In fact, many protestors carried flowers as a symbol of their peaceful intentions, although this did
not stop the security forces from using violence to break up the protests. The police have continuously used brutal and
excessive force to suppress peaceful demonstrations.
Some of the methods used to suppress these protests include the use of tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets, and live ammunition. The police will often deploy tear gas into the streets or even shoot the canisters into private dwellings, filling homes
with the toxic gas. This gas can cause serious illness or even death to those that are exposed to it for too long. Using this
weapon to disperse peaceful and law-abiding crowds is one example of the many egregious human rights violations that the
Bahraini government is committing against its own citizens.
However, the security forces also use rubber bullets to suppress the peaceful demonstrations. The security forces use shotgun
shells with rubber pellets, typically used for hunting birds, which disperse pellets over a large area. Although not as lethal as
live ammunition, these pellets can cause severe bleeding, which has also led to the deaths of numerous protestors. There have
been many cases of innocent protestors being shot while expressing their right to peacefully assemble, and the security forces
will fire on the crowd without restraint. Many of those injured have been shot in the back, suggesting that the police will use
excessive force and shoot at the protestors as they run away. There is no evidence to suggest the police act in self-defense.
Aside from the tear gas and rubber bullets, the security forces will use stun grenades and brute force to scare off protestors.
The stun grenades release a loud bang and a bright light that disorients anyone nearby. In some cases this can cause hearing or
1- United Nations General Assembly. International Bill of Human Rights. 1948. Accessed August 1, 2012. http://www.undocuments.net/a3r217.htm
2- Arab Charter on Human Rights. Arab Commission on Human Rights, n.d. http://www.acihl.org/res/Arab_Charter_on_Human_Rights_2004.pdf
3- Kingdom of Bahrain. Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. n.d. Accessed August 1, 2013. http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=189442.
vision problems, and yet the police continue to utilize these tools to break up peaceful protests.
The Bahraini security forces continuously use harsh and excessive force to disperse peaceful and lawful demonstrations. The
use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades, coupled with the brutal beatings, has caused countless injuries and many
deaths. This has effectively violated the guaranteed right to peaceful assembly for the Bahraini citizens. The following section
will document just a few of the many cases in which this right has been violated.
• Case 1: Brutal Crackdown on Protests on 1-year Anniversary of Uprising
On February 14th, 2012, protestors were met with brutal resistance from the Bahraini security forces. In anticipation of the
protests, the police began patrolling with area with heavily armed
vehicles and they began closing many roads to block access to the
Pearl Roundabout, as seen below. As protestors gathered, riot
police began using excessive force in an attempt to suppress the
demonstrations. They shot tear gas into the street, deployed stun
grenades amongst the crowds, and shot at the protestors with
rubber bullets and shotgun pellets. There were also reports that
some members of the security forces threw protestors off of the
second floor roof in the village of Sanabis. As a result of this crackdown, many protestors were arrested, including notable human rights activists like Nabeel Rajab.4 &
Benjamin Medea, an international observer who was present during the protests, recounted his story. He described it as
“a state of siege” in which “police had set up roadblocks and checkpoints everywhere” with “armored tanks set up at
every major intersection” making it impossible to reach the Pearl Roundabout. Medea also described the methods used by the
security forces to suppress the crowds. He said that they “started shooting tear gas canisters – not in the air to disperse us, but
right at us, like bullets,” and then chased them through the streets.18
• Case 2: Mass Arrests Leading up to Formula 1 Race
In the weeks leading up to the Formula One Grand Prix race the Bahraini government instituted mass arrests in an attempt
to quiet protests amidst international attention. Many Bahraini citizens attempted to boycott the race, chanting slogans like
“Freedom not Formula” or “stop racing on our blood”. Consequently, the Bahraini security forces arrested approximately 80
prominent pro- democracy and human rights activists from a number of villages around Manama. These activists had been
organizing protests and demonstrations almost every day in order to raise awareness about the plight of the Shia majority in
Bahrain. These peaceful protests were continuously suppressed and many were arrested for “illegal gathering”.7
4- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "February 14: The Bahraini Authorities Brutally Suppress the Protests." Last modified February 16, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5056.
5- Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights. "Report: The Bahraini Authorities Brutally Suppress the Protests and Violate the Principles of Human Rights." Last modified February 15, 2012. http://byshr.org/?p=952.
6- Medea, Benjamin. "Occupied Bahrain One Year After the Uprising." Pink Tank. Last modified February 15, 2012.codepink.org/blog/?p=36240&preview=true.
7- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Wave of arrests ahead of Bahrain Grand Prix." Last modified April 18, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5196.
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 11
• Case 3: Bahraini Governments Attempts to Shut Down Political Opposition
On June 3rd, 2012, the Bahraini Ministry of Justice filed a lawsuit to dissolve the Islamic Action Society AMAL, which is the largest opposition party in Bahrain and that consists almost entirely of Shia Muslims. The government
has accused the party of “grave breaches of the provisions of Bahrain’s constitution” and of violating the principles and objectives of legitimate political work. It is clear that these charges are false
and that the regime is attempting to suppress any political opposition. In fact, this is not the first
time that the Bahraini government has tried to dissolve this party. A year earlier, in April 2011, the
Minister of Justice announced that it would attempt to dissolve AMAL through the courts, but then
retracted this decision after facing international pressure. AMAL has also faced severe discrimination
from the government, including the arrests of its General Secretary and over 200 of its members, the
destruction of property and a violation of privacy during a raid by government forces, blockage of
their website, and the prohibition of its publications. The government has no interest in forfeiting power and fears the collective power of the Shia majority.8
• Case 4: Security Forces Brutally Disperse Peaceful Protest
On June 22nd, 2012, a small group of only around 30 people began marching to protest the government. This demonstration
was put on by Al-Wefaq, one of the other major opposition parties, which is supported primarily by Bahrain’s Shia population.
Al-Wefaq had requested a permit to peacefully assembly, but the government denied their request. Despite this denial, protestors assembled anyways, carrying flowers as a sign of their peaceful intentions.
The group was then met by riot police, also numbering around 20. Without warning or provocation, the police began firing
stun grenades, shotgun pellets, and tear gas into the crowd, causing many to flee. A number of protestors were injured, including Hassan Marzooq, who was hit by shotgun pellets and suffered from hearing difficulties after a stun grenade exploded
nearby. Furthermore, five of the protestors were arrested and charged with “illegal gathering”. This is yet another example of
the government suppressing the rights of its citizens to peacefully assemble. It regularly denies permits to opposition groups
and brutally suppresses any protests that arise. As Jawad Fairooz, a leader of Al-Wefaq, said, “The purpose of the riot police
was not to disperse us, but to suppress us.”9
• Case 5: Riot Police Suppress Peaceful Protests on surrounding “National Day”
A number of opposition groups planned protests surrounding “National Day,” which marked the 13th anniversary of King
Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa’s rule, celebrated on December 16th. Many Bahrainis also mark December 17th as “Bahrain’s Martyrs
Day,” commemorating the killing of two Bahrainis in the uprising in the 1990s. Due to the significance of these days, major protests were planned; including an event called “Cycling for Freedom” organized by the 14th February Youth Coalition. However,
protestors once again faced excessive use of force. They were bombarded with teargas, pellet shotguns and stun grenades,
causing severe injuries. Two protestors even loss sight after being shot in the face with a pellet shotgun. Many others were
arrested for “illegal gathering”. 10
8- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Bahrain: Right to Association under Attack as Ministry of Justice Moves to Dissolve Islamic Action Society “AMAL”." Last modified June 20, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/
9- Human Rights Watch. "Bahrain: Police Attack Peaceful Protest." Last modified June 27, 2012. http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/06/27/bahrain-police-attack-peaceful-protest.
10- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "As Hamad bin Isa AlKhalifa Celebrates Sitting on the Throne, Serious Injuries amongst Protesters
Since the beginning of the uprising in 2011, thousands of innocent people have been unlawfully arrested by the Bahraini
government. This is a clear violation of their human rights and the government must immediately work to protect these rights
guaranteed to them by international and domestic law.
Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest,
detention or exile.”11The Bahraini Constitution also dictates in Article 19 that “A person cannot be arrested, detained, imprisoned or searched, or his place of residence specified or his freedom of residence or movement restricted, except under the
provisions of the law and under judicial supervision.”12 These two articles very explicitly prohibit the arbitrary arrest of
innocent civilians. Despite this, the Bahraini security forces have consistently been violating this right, detaining thousands of
peaceful protestors for false crimes.
These arrests often take place during the suppression of peaceful protests. Riot police move in, deploy teargas and stun
grenades, and arrest any protestors that remain. These peaceful protestors, who posed no threat to the police or to public
order, are arrested under false accusations of “illegal gathering.” This essentially forbids any peaceful demonstrations and puts
all protestors at risk of being arbitrarily arrested.
There have also been reports of security forces arresting human rights activists, journalists and opposition leaders. These
arrests often involve torture and beatings, and those that are arrested are rarely given adequate legal aid or a fair trial. As a
result, the Shia Muslims in Bahrain live in a constant state a fear, afraid of speaking out against the government or expressing
their faith. These actions put innocent people at risk of being arbitrary arrested, tortured and forced into confession. Here are
a few examples of the unlawful detainment many Shia in Bahrain face.
• Case 1: Medical Professional Detained for Treating Injured Protestors
On January 26th, 2012, Dental Assistant Halima Abdulaziz Al-Sabag was arrested in connection to the treatment of injured
protestors. She had used her medical expertise to help treat injuries sustained during peaceful protests, which is a common
11- United Nations General Assembly. International Bill of Human Rights. 1948. Accessed August 1, 2012. http://www.undocuments.net/a3r217.htm.
12- Kingdom of Bahrain. Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. n.d. Accessed August 1, 2013. http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=189442.
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 13
need because protestors often refuse to go to the hospital out of fear that they will be reported to the police. The government
accused Al- Sabag of stealing first-aid kits from the Salmaniya Hospital where she works, although they were unable to provide
any evidence. Regardless, at her hearing the following morning the public
prosecutor ruled to keep her in custody until an investigation could be completed. While in prison, Al-Sabag complained of acts
of coercion and psychological pressure in an attempt to force a confession. This type of treatment is typical in Bahrain, especially in cases such as this, in which citizens are unlawfully detained and there is no evidence to support their accusations.
This is only one example of the ongoing trend in which the Bahraini government has targeted medical staff that assist in
treating protestors. At least 48 other medics have also been detained for their involvement in treating wounded protestors.
This includes a group of 20 medical professionals that were sentenced to between 5 and 15 years in prison for helping to treat
wounded activists that were injured in an anti-government demonstration.13
• Case 2: Man Arrested and Beaten without Evidence
Ayman Abdulshaheed was arrested on June 11th when masked men broke into his apartment and violently beat him in front of his wife and daughter. He was accused of “illegal gathering, rioting, arson
and attempted murder” even though there was no evidence. In fact, there were photographs, videos and
witnesses that proved he was not present at the crime scene. But, this was ignored by the prosecution
and he was sentenced to 60 days in prison. While in custody he was reportedly subjected to torture which
resulted in severe bleeding and a rapid deterioration in his mental health.14
• Case 3: Men Arrested for Tweets Defaming the King
Four men were arrested during home raids on October 16th, 2012 for defaming the king via Twitter. Abdullah Alhashemi was
sentenced to 6 months in prison, Salman Darwish was sentenced to 1 month in prison, and Ali Mohamed Watheqi was sentenced to four months in prison. Ali Alhayki, the fourth man arrested, received the same verdict. These arrests came a month
after the Minister of Justice announced new legislation meant to restrict the use of the Internet, specifically social networking
sites. These arrests are unlawful and these men should not have been detained. They were exercising their right to the freedom of expression and the government arbitrarily arrested them because of their opposition to the King. These arrests illustrate the systematic oppression of the freedom of expression as well as the unlawful detainment of innocent civilians. Others
have also been arrested because of comments made on social media sites, including Nabeel Rajab, a leading human rights
defender, and Ali Abduleman, a prominent blogger sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for his words.15 - 16
• Case 4: Violent Suppression of Protests Results in 27 Arbitrary Arrests
During the mass protests commemorating “Bahrain’s Martyrs Day”, Bahraini security forces arbitrarily
arrested 27 peaceful demonstrators. As is typical of the Bahraini security forces, as soon as protests broke
out they moved in and used excessive force to suppress the demonstrations. Many were injured and 27 were
detained for their involvement. Among these 27 people was Sayed yousif Al- Muhafdha, the Acting Vice
President and head of the Documentation Unit at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Riot police will often
13- Gulf Center for Human Rights. "The continued harassment, intimidation, and persecution of the Medics by the government." Last modified January 29, 2012. http://gc4hr.org/news/view/62.
14- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Serious concerns over the Deterioration of Physical and Mental health of a Prisoner of Conscience." Last modified November 17, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5517.
15- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Twitter users sentenced to prison as authorities seek to extend their crack-down on social media websites." Last modified November 8, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/
16- 28 Bahrain News Agency. "Six-month jail term for Bahraini man convicted of defaming HM the King on Twitter." Last modified November 1, 2012. http://www.bna.bh/portal/en/news/531377#.UJKaKnzJl-E.twitter.
unlawfully arrest peaceful protestors who are exercising their right to peaceful assembly.17
• Case 5: Seize of Mhazzah Leads to 14 Unlawful Arrests
On Novemeber 22, 2012, government forces surrounded the city of Mhazzah. Throughout the night they raided nearly 100
homes resulting in massive damages to private properties as well as the arrests of 14 innocent people. These raids were
conducted without search warrants and the arrests made without arrest warrants. Many residents gave testimonies about
the events, detailing the excessive force and the invasion of privacy. The sister of Jalal Jassem Ahmed Farhan, one of the men
arrested, claimed that masked civilians came into their home at 4am at which time they locked the women in a room while
arresting Jalal and confiscating phones. They did not inform Jalal’s family of the charge made against Jalal or where he was to
be held. The government of Bahrain had no right to arrest these innocent individuals without warrants and without cause to
17- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Peaceful Protests Violently Disrupted by Police, 27 Arbitrary Arrests." Last modified December 18, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5572.
18- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Undeclared State of Emergency and Sweeping Violations." Last modified November 30, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5536.
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 15
Torture and Mistreatment
One of the most widespread and egregious violations committed by the Bahraini government is the torture and severe mistreatment of its prisoners. As stated in the previous section, the government arrests many innocent civilians and therefore
attempts to coerce a confession through threats and torture. Moreover, the government does not hold police accountable for
crimes committed against the people, and so police are free to beat, torture, harass and threaten whomever they wish. This is
in clear violation of numerous international and domestic laws.
Firstly, Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. 1 The Constitution of Bahrain also prohibits this activity in Article 19, part d,
which states that:
“No personal shall be subjected to physical or mental torture, or inducement, or undignified treatment, and the penalty
for so doing shall be specified by law. Any statement or confession proved to have been made under torture, inducement,
or such treatment, or the threat thereof, shall be null and void.” 2
It is quite clear that the Kingdom of Bahraini is violating both international law as well as its very own constitution, which it set
up only a decade ago. Police have utilized horrific methods of torture to coerce confessions and to inspire fear. These methods
include food and water deprivation, denial of access to restrooms, denial of medical treatment, beatings, sexual assault, verbal
abuse and electrocution. Innocent men and women have been faced with these horrible conditions on the basis of their religion and their opposition to the government. Many of those who are arrested must endure this horrible treatment, and forced
confessions are often used against them in court. This cannot be allowed to continue. The following section will document a
few examples of the ongoing torture and mistreatment of political prisoners in Bahrain.
• Case 1: Student Tortured for Reporting Police Brutality
In early January Hassan ‘Oun, an 18 year old student in Bahrain, was arrested and violently tortured for speaking out against
police brutality. He had been brutally beaten and tortured by police during a prior arrest in 2011 in connection to his involvement in anti-government protests. He then reported the police brutality and was targeted for doing so. He was once against
detained and the police forced him to stand for about 11 hours, he was beaten with a hose and was threatened with rape.
Both his lawyer as well as other witnesses saw signs of torture on his body including a swollen leg. This case is rife with human
rights violations as the Bahraini government took away his right to peaceful assembly, unlawfully detained him for peaceful
acts, and then tortured him while imprisoned. 3
• Case 2: Man Severely Tortured for Housing Opposition Leader
Ahmed Al-Muqabi was arrested in 2011 for providing refuge to Mohammed Al-Moqdad, a leader of the political opposition.
He was sentenced to over 3 years in prison, where he continues to be tortured. He has been subjected to very severe physical
torture including horrific acts of sexual assaults. Police forcibly inserted a hose into his anus on multiple occasions, electrocut1- United Nations General Assembly. International Bill of Human Rights. 1948. Accessed August 1, 2012. http://www.undocuments.net/a3r217.htm.
2- Kingdom of Bahrain. Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. n.d. Accessed August 1, 2013. http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=189442.
3- Amnesty International. "Bahrain student alleges torture in detention." Accessed July 25, 2013. http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/bahrainstudent-alleges-torture-detention-2012-01-06.
ed his genital area, and conducted severe whippings. Due to this torture, Al-Muqabi now suffers from serious health issues. He
has severe pain from anal hemorrhage, bleeding hemorrhoids and a serious infection. He also suffers from high blood pressure, pain in his back, dental problems and has trouble seeing. He has been awaiting an operation to correct these issues but
the government has repeated delayed his treatment without cause. Government authorities will often deny medical treatment to political prisoners. 4
• Case 3: U.S./Bahraini Citizen Unlawfully Arrested and Tortured
Taqi Abdulla, a 24-year-old Bahraini and American citizen was arrested on October 7th, 2012. His home was raided by seven
men who arrested him without a warrant. The authorities refused to tell his family where he had been taken, although he
called from Dry Dock prison the following day. While on the phone he told his mother that the police had forced him into
confessing that he burned a police vehicle, even though he was at home when it occurred. He told his mother that the police
tortured him, threatened to rape him, and threatened to rape his mother if he did not confess to the crime. Taqi also had
previous medical conditions that require special treatment, and yet the authorities refused to provide it, causing his health to
• Case 4: Political Prisoners Attacked After Releasing a Statement Highlight Abuses
The prisoners of section 3 of the Dry Dock prison in Bahrain were attacked on November 29th. Many of the political prisoners
had formed the Prisoners of Conscience Coalition (PCCB) which was meant to highlight the injustices taking place within the
Bahraini prisons. They had released a statement on the 27th asking for support from political
groups and human rights organizations and promised more details in the following days. After releasing this statement, section 3 of the prison was stormed by riot police who proceeded to beat many of the prisoners. This is only one example of the systematic abuse of political
prisoners taking place within the Bahraini prisons, and especially within Dry Dock prison, the
largest in Bahrain. 6
• Case 5: 25-year-old Man Tortured and Forced to Sign Confession
On November 2nd, 2012, Hussain Shamsan was sitting outside his house when people began to gather. Riot police arrived and
attacked the crowd using pellet shotguns, hitting Shamsan in the eye, chest, waist and legs. When he
went to the hospital the following day, he was handcuffed and transferred to a police station. He did not
receive treatment for his wounds and was eventually transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center where he
was tortured. Hussain was electrocuted and beaten with an iron rod until he agreed to sign a confession
stating that he had attacked a police officer. However, he had been refereeing a football match on the
dates recorded on the confession. When he told the police officer, the officer came back with another
copy of the confession with different dates and forced him to sign that one a well. The officer that conducted the torture was Officer Nawaf Al-Hashel, who calls himself “the butcher”. The government did nothing to hold Officer
Al-Hashel accountable for his actions. 7
4- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Authorities Deny Medical Treatment for Prisoner of Conscience Ahmed Al-Mugabi." Last modified November 19, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5519.
5- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "US citizen detained for over a month without a trial." Last modified November 30, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5538.
6- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Reports of Abuse, Threats & Beatings of Political Prisoners at the Dry Dock prison." Last modified December 2, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5539.
7- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Concern for Well-Being and Safety of Hussain Shamsan; Arrested from Hospital and Reportedly Tortured." Last modified November 17, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 17
The Right to Life
The Bahraini government has consistently failed to protect the lives of its citizens. Bahraini security forces have continuously taken the lives of innocent civilians through their excessive use of force and blatant disregard for the health and safety of
peaceful protestors. Many people have also died in custody due to mistreatment and a lack of medical care. The Bahraini
government cannot continue to take the lives of its own people.
Of course, killing innocent civilians violates both international and domestic law. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights guarantees that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”8 Although the right to life is not
explicitly stated in the Bahraini Constitution, it does state in Article 20, part d, that “It is forbidden to harm an accused person
physically or mentally”. 9 It can be assumed that the killing of innocent civilians is illegal both because you cannot harm a person accused of a crime either physically or mentally, meaning that everyone is guaranteed the right to a fair trial, and because
Islam forbids murder and “The religion of the State is Islam. The Islamic Shari’a is a principal source for legislation.” 10
Despite this, the Bahraini government continues to disregard the lives of its citizens. During the suppression of peaceful protests, riot police will often target demonstrators with pellet shotguns. By shooting these at close range, aiming at the face or
upper body, the security forces cause severe bleeding and bruising. Many protestors have died due to these injuries. Security
forces also often use tear gas to disperse the crowds. Inhaling too much toxic tear gas can cause people to suffocate, especially
if they have preexisting conditions that inhibit their breathing. This is made worse when riot police release these canisters into
private dwellings, filling homes with the toxic gas. During these protests the police also beat demonstrators, which has also led
Other innocent civilians die while being detained by the government. Authorities often deny adequate healthcare to its prisoners, causing some prisoners to pass away from their wounds and illnesses.
All men and women, regardless of their race, sex, religion or political affiliation, have the right to life. Unfortunately, in Bahrain
this is not always the case as Shia men and women lose their loved ones every day due solely to political beliefs and religious
differences. The following section will illustrate just a few of the innocent civilians who lost their lives at the hands of the Bahraini government.
• Case 1: 30-year-old Man Suffocates from Tear Gas
Ahmed Abdulnabi AbdulRasool died on March 24th, 2012 after inhaling excessive amounts of tear gas. He
had never had breathing difficulties in the past and had only developed symptoms in the week prior to his
death. He had been exposed to tear gas twice in that week because the security forces shot the gas almost
every night. The second time Ahmed was exposed to the gas was when police shot the canister through
his window and into his home. The gas filled his home and he began to have difficulty breathing and was
coughing uncontrollably. Although his family insisted he go to the hospital, he refused out of fear of being
8- United Nations General Assembly. International Bill of Human Rights. 1948. Accessed August 1, 2012. http://www.undocuments.net/a3r217.htm.
9- Kingdom of Bahrain. Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. n.d. Accessed August 1, 2013. http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp? file_id=189442.
arrested. Civilians that go to the hospital showing signs that they were part of a protest are often reported to the authorities
and subsequently arrested. Consequently, Ahmed refused medical aid and he died shortly after.
• Case 2: Man Dies after Being Tortured While in Custody
Muntadher Saeed Fakhar, a 37-year-old man from Sanabis died after being tortured by police in the Hoora police station. On
January 25th, Muntadher was taking part in a protest, during which a police officer ran him down
using his police car. After hitting Muntadhar, the police got out and began beating him in the street.
After arresting him, they took him back to the Hoora police station where they tortured him, most
likely to illicit a confession. Within 24 hours of his arrest, he died. The Bahrain Center of Human Rights
was able to confirm the marks of torture on the body of Muntadher befor he was buried. It appears
that a police officer had kicked or stomped on Muntadher’s head, judging by the marks of a shoe on the side of his face. He is
just one example of the many innocent Shia who died after being tortured. 12
• Case 3: Man Dies in Custody Due to Lack of Medical Care
Mohammed Musahima, a 22-year-old prisoner, died at the Salmaniya hospital in early October. He had been arrested a year
earlier after seeking medical treatment for wounds sustained while participating in a peaceful demonstration. The security
forces discovered this and sentenced him to 7 years in prison for “illegal gathering,” even though his lawyers presented evidence that proved he was in the hospital during the time he was accused of committing a crime. Musahima suffered from sickle cell anemia, which requires extensive medical care. He told his lawyer that if he was not given immediate medical treatment
he would die, and his lawyer submitted numerous requests for him to receive medical attention, but every request was denied.
The Bahraini government should immediately begin to provide healthcare for its sick and injured prisoners. 13
• Case 4: Man Found Dead in River after Being Tortured
Yousef Mowali, a 23-year-old man who had suffered from schizophrenia, was found dead in the water on January 13th, 2012. A
state doctor conducted an autopsy and ruled the cause of death as drowning. However, a second autopsy was performed by an
independent forensic pathologist who found that Yousef was tortured and was already unconscious when he drowned. He had
been taken into custody two days earlier and his family was not allowed to see him. When his father was notified of his son’s
death, the family went to the police station to see the body and confirm his death; however the police refused to let the family
see the body. With the help of a lawyer, the family was finally allowed to see the body, which displayed numerous signs of torture. So, the family called the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims to send a specialist to conduct a second
autopsy. Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci arrived in Bahrain a week later and conducted the autopsy in secrecy, as their request for
a second inspection were declined. Dr. Fincanci determined that there were clear signs of torture, specifically of electrocution
typical of the Bahraini police. This makes Yousef Mowali the 6th man to die in Bahrain from torture, and the first since the
government’s promises of reform following the publication of the BICI report. 14
11- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Death, kidnapping, dismissals and more tear gas." Last modified March 30, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5133.
12- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Four deaths in Bahrain on the 25th of January, situation rapidly deteriorating." Last modified January 27, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/4999.
13- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Prisoner of conscience dies due to lack of adequate health care." Last modified October 2, 2012. http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5449.
14- Al Jazeera English. "Autopsy finds torture behind Bahrain drowning." Last modified May 18, 2012. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/05/2012515155335968439.html.
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 19
The Right to Freedom of Religion
Under both international and national law, religious freedom is guaranteed to the citizens of Bahrain. According to Article 18 of
the International Bill of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” which includes
“freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching,
practice, worship and observance.” 15 Moreover, the Bahraini Constitution states in Article 22 that the “freedom of conscience
is absolute” and that “the State guarantees the inviolability of worship, and the freedom to perform religious rites and hold religious parades and meetings in accordance with the customs observed in the country.”16 Thus, the Shia population in Bahrain
should be allowed to peacefully practice their religion without fear of government interference.
However, this is not the case. The Al-Khalifa government has on numerous occasions taken action to inhibit freedom of religion. For example, in late March, 2012, during clashes between security forces and peaceful protestors, the Bahraini authorities intentionally set a Shia place of worship on fire, and witnesses claim they prevented firefighters from entering the area
to combat the flames.17 Also, Bahraini police arrested two prominent Shia clerics prior to the Ashura festival to prevent them
from addressing sensitive political issues in Bahrain during the month of Muharram.18 In another case, the government demolished four Shia mosques after having been reconstructed following their previous destruction in the 2011 uprising. Bahraini
law requires that mosques obtain building permits and a royal deed, and even in the case that a mosque cannot produce these
documents, prior notice must be given before demolishing the building. However, all four mosques had obtained the necessary documents, and none were given a warning.19
Acts like these have made it difficult for Shia Muslims to practice their faith. Shia mosques are constantly harassed, targeted
and destroyed, and prominent Shia leaders are often targeted by the government. These acts cannot be allowed to continue,
and the Shia community must be allowed to practice their religion in peace.
Right to a Fair Trial
There are numerous international and Bahraini laws that protect citizens against injustice by guaranteeing a fair trial. Article
10 of the International Bill of Human Rights dictates that “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by
an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against
him.”20 Article 11 also states “everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty
according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.” 21 The Bahraini Constitution,
in Article 20 that “An accused person is innocent until proved guilty in a legal trial in which he is assured of the necessary guarantees to exercise the right of defense at all stages of the investigation and trial in accordance with the law” and that “Every
15- United Nations General Assembly. International Bill of Human Rights. 1948. Accessed August 1, 2012. http://www.undocuments.net/a3r217.htm.
16- Kingdom of Bahrain. Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. n.d. Accessed August 1, 2013. http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=189442
17- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. “Bahrain mourns another victim of toxic gases used by security forces.” Last modified March, 24, 2012. http://bahraincenter.blogspot.com/2012/03/march-24-bahrain-mournes-another-victim.html.
18- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. “Targeting Freedom of Belief in Order to Create a Sectarian Conflict to Control Public Protests.” Last modified November 20, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5521.
19- Boston.com. “Battle to rebuild razed Shiite mosques in Bahrain.” Last modified June 15, 2012. http:www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2012/06/15/battle_to_rebuild_razed_shiite_mosques_in_bahrain/.
20- United Nations General Assembly. International Bill of Human Rights. 1948. Accessed August 1, 2012. http://www.undocuments.net/a3r217.htm.
person accused of an offence must have a lawyer to defend him with his consent.”22 These laws clearly guarantee a fair trial to
all persons accused of committing a crime.
Despite this, many Shia in Bahrain are arbitrary arrested and then denied access to a fair trial. Firstly, many detainees are coerced into signing false confessions for crimes they played no part in. This is often done through threats or through the use of
torture. These prisoners are then convicted and imprisoned unjustly.
The Bahraini government also denies access to fair trials by detaining Shia for long periods of time before trial or by delaying
appeals, forcing those that were unjustly convicted to remain in prison for an extended period of time.
Lastly, the courts are not independent from the government and thus do not rule fairly. Reports have shown that the courts
often ignore very clear evidence such as eyewitness reports, photographs, videos and signs of physical injuries, and will then
convict the accused even when there is no evidence to suggest he or she actually committed the crime. These people are generally arrested for trumped up charges like “illegal gathering” that can be viewed very broadly to detain peaceful, law-abiding
One such case involves well-known human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab. He had been arrested and sentenced to three months
in prison solely for posting a tweet that was critical of the Al-Khalifa regime. His sentence was then extended to three years in
prison for advocating for peaceful demonstrations. He had always used only peaceful means to oppose the government, and
yet in his trial international experts that were to be used as defense witnesses were denied entry to Bahrain, the defense team
was denied access to evidence, and the prosecution used altered video against him. Unfair trials like these must be stopped,
and all citizens of Bahrain must be given proper representation and an independent court system. 23
Arbitrary Interference with Privacy
The Constitution of Bahrain prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence. According to the
law, the government is required to obtain a court order before monitoring telephone calls, e-mail, and personal correspondence. However, many Shia citizens believed there were extensive police informer networks. Even though according to the law,
citizens may bring civil suits before the court seeking cessation of or damages for these acts, in many cases the law prevents
citizens from filing civil suits against security agencies. 24
Bahraini authorities have also raided hundreds of homes without obtaining proper search warrants. For example, in late
October of 2012, security forces besieged the village of Al-Eker. During this siege the security forces raided 36 homes without
a single search warrant, often destroying private property and making arbitrary arrests. Similarly, in early November Bahraini
authorities surrounded the village of Mahazza, which is almost entirely Shia. During this siege, security forces raided over 160
homes without search warrants, confiscated money and property off-the-record, and arrested 25 people without cause or
These acts clearly contradict the Bahraini Constitution, which states, “Dwellings are inviolate. They cannot be entered or
searched without the permission of their occupants except in cases of maximum necessity as laid down and in the manner
provided by law.” It also specifies that “The freedom of postal, telegraphic and electronic communication is safeguarded and
its confidentiality is guaranteed,” meaning that “Communications shall not be censored or their confidentiality breached
22- Kingdom of Bahrain. Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. n.d. Accessed August 1, 2013. http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp? file_id=189442.
23- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Ruling by Court of Appeal passes a two-year in prison sentence on leading human rights activistNabeel Rajab." Last modified December 12, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/
24- “2010 Human Rights Report: Bahrain.” U.S. Department of State 2011, 7.Print. <http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/nea/154459.htm
25- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Medical supplies and food needed in AlEker, three human rights defenders arrested." Last modified October 21, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5487.
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 21
except in exigencies specified by law and in accordance with procedures and under guarantees prescribed by the law.” Acts
committed by the Bahraini authorities are explicitly forbidden by the constitution and put innocent Shia Muslims at risk.26
Right to Citizenship
Many critics claim that the government regularly ignores naturalization rules in order to manipulate voting demographics and
maintain the Sunni domination over the Shia majority. The 2010 International Religious Freedom Report suggests that the
government intentionally delayed or denied Shia applicants’ naturalization applications in an attempt to limit the non-Sunni
The laws governing naturalization have been inconsistently enforced. The law grants citizenship to Arab applicants after 15
years of living in the country, while it takes 25 years for non-Arab applicants. However, there have been cases where foreign
Sunni employees of the security forces have been granted citizenship in under 15 years, while Arab Shia who have resided in
Bahrain for over 15 years were denied citizenship.28
Furthermore, the Bahraini government revoked the citizenship of 31 Shia Muslims living in Manama, including 3 influential
clerics. These 31 members of the Shia community were major leaders of the opposition movement, and they were all charged
with “undermining state security.”29 This occurs despite Article 17 of the Bahraini Constitution, which states, “A person inherently enjoying his Bahraini nationality cannot be stripped of his nationality except in case of treason.”30 The International Bill
of Human Rights also forbids this in Article 15, which states “Everyone has the right to a nationality” and that “No one shall be
arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.” 31
The government of Bahrain cannot be allowed to continue to manipulate Shia citizenship in order to undermine the opposition
Right to Visitation
The Bahraini government has been prohibiting family members from visiting their loved ones in prison. The authorities will
often not disclose the location of detainees, failing to inform their families of where they are being held. It often takes days or
even weeks for them to be allowed to visit. This violates a fundamental right guaranteed to all prisoners or detainees. 32
Right to Equal Employment Opportunities
The Bahraini law provides that Shia and Sunni citizens have equal rights before the law; however, the Bahrain Independent
Commission of Inquiry’s report clearly states that Sunnis dominate political life. According to the U.S. Department of State,
government and societal discrimination against the Shia population remains a problem. Sunnis receive preference for employment in sensitive government positions and in the managerial ranks of the civil service. The defense and internal security
forces are also predominantly Sunni, and few Shia members attained high-ranking positions. The Shia are not represented in
civil service, police or security forces.33
26- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Undeclared State of Emergency and Sweeping Violations." Last modified November 30, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5536.
27- Kingdom of Bahrain. Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. n.d. Accessed August 1, 2013. http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=189442.
28- “2010 International Religious Freedom Report.” US. Department of State 2011, www.state.gov/g/drl/irf/rpt.
29- The Telegraph. "Bahrain revokes citizenship of Shia activists." Last modified November 7, 2012. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/bahrain/9660985/Bahrain-revokes-citizenship-of-Shia-activists.
30- Kingdom of Bahrain. Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. n.d. Accessed August 1, 2013. http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=189442.
31- United Nations General Assembly. International Bill of Human Rights. 1948. Accessed August 1, 2012. http://www.un documents.net/a3r217.htm.
32- “2010 Human Rights Report: Bahrain.” US. Department of State 2011, n. page. Print. <http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/nea/154459.htm
33- “2010 International Religious Freedom Report.” US. Department of State 2011, www.state.gov/g/drl/irf/rpt.
For example, leading up to the Formula 1 races in Bahrain, 29 Shia employees were laid off because of their opposition to the
Al-Khalifa regime. The government then offered to rehire 19 of those employees, although at least 12 of those refused because
the new terms in their contracts were extremely unfair. These 29 employees represent a minuscule portion of the over 1,600
Shia Bahrainis that were laid off from their jobs within the first year of the uprising. 34
Right to Adequate Healthcare
Both Bahraini and International law guarantees that all citizens have access to adequate healthcare. Article 8 of the Bahraini
Constitution states “every citizen is entitled to health care. The State cares for public health and the State ensures the means
of prevention and treatment by establishing a variety of hospitals and healthcare institutions.”35 In addition, Article 25 of the
International Bill of Human Rights declares, “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.”36 Despite these provisions, many innocent
Shia do not have access to professional medical care, resorting instead to homemade treatments.
When members of the Shia community are injured during the protests, they often cannot go to the hospitals. If they do, the
hospital staff is required to report them to the government, which will often arrest the victim for his or her involvement in the
demonstrations. Consequently, many injured protests will avoid hospitals in fear of being arrested or harassed. In many cases
access to professional healthcare could have saved the lives of innocent Shia who died because they did not properly treat
Furthermore, the government targets medical professionals that treat pro-democracy protestors to deny access to healthcare
to those that oppose the regime. For example, a group of 20 medical professionals were arrested and convicted in the military
court. Among these professionals was Dr. Nada Dhaif, who was tortured and coerced into making a false confession, and was
thus sentence to 15 years in prison.38
All members of Bahraini society must be allowed access to healthcare, regardless of their religion or political opinions.
Freedom of Expression
Since the uprising began in early 2011, the government of Bahrain has severely suppressed the media. National and international news agencies began covering the unrest, which was tarnishing Bahrain’s reputation. As the security forces began to
crackdown on the protests, human rights activists worked to expose the abuses that were taking place. More and more people
began openly opposing the government, and so the Al-Khalifa regime has tried to restrict freedom of expression in order to
limit political opposition. Of course, this primarily affects the Shia population, who make up the vast majority of the opposition.
This was an especially important issue in the first 3 months of 2012 leading up to the Formula 1 race in early April. This race
draws international attention, and the Bahraini government was very careful to not allow journalists to cover the political
unrest or the oppression of the Shia population. In the days leading up to the race, 7 journalists were arrested and all of their
equipment was confiscated. 39
34- BBC News. “Sacked Bahrain F1 staff stay out.” Last modified January 20, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16628942
35- Kingdom of Bahrain. Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. n.d. Accessed August 1, 2013. http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=189442.
36- United Nations General Assembly. International Bill of Human Rights. 1948. Accessed August 1, 2012. http://www.un documents.net/a3r217.htm.
37- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. “MSF concerned at healthcare access.” Last modified April 12, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5169
38- Human Rights First. “Monday Offers Bahrain Regime Chance to Free Targeted Medics.” Last modified January 26, 2012. http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/2012/01/26/monay-offers-bahrain-regime-chance-to-free-targeted- medics/.
39- Committee to Protect Journalists. “Bahrain cracks down on news around Formula One races.” Last Modified April 23, 2012. http://cpj.org/2012/04/bahrain-cracks-down-on-news-around-formula-one-rac.php
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 23
The government also suppresses the use of social media to express political opposition or to expose government abuses. In
November alone, 4 men were arrested for “demoing the king” over Twitter. All four were convicted and sentenced to between
1 and 6 months in prison. Security forces have also arrested prominent bloggers or social media users that have used the
Internet to highlight the ongoing oppression of the Shia community. These intimidation tactics are used to prevent others from
using social media to spreading information and expressing their views to other.40
It is now extremely risky for Bahraini citizens to express their beliefs and to expose government actions because of a number
of new laws instituted by the government that restrict the use of the Internet. In their report, “Freedom on the Net,” Freedom
House classified the use of the Internet in Bahrain as “not free,” which is the worst classification a country can receive. On
a scale of 0 to 100, in which 0 represents completely free use of the internet and in which 100 represents the least possible
Internet freedom, Bahrain received a 62 in 2011 and a 71 in 2012.41
Bahraini citizens are left with very few options to express themselves. Journalists are arrested, Internet access is limited, and
severe restrictions can land a person in jail for expressing opposition to the regime in any way. All citizens are guaranteed the
right to free expression, according to both the International Bill of Human Rights and the Bahraini Constitution. In Article 19
of the IBHR states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions
without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”42
Moreover, in Article 23 of the Bahraini Constitution, the “freedom of opinion and scientific research is guaranteed” and “everyone has the right to express and publish it by word of mouth, in writing or otherwise.” Article 24 expands on this, declaring
that “freedom of the press, printing, and publishing is guaranteed under the rules and conditions laid down by law.”43 Bahraini
citizens, and specifically the Shia community, must be granted these rights and given a voice in Bahraini society.
As shown by the preceding cases, the Shia population in Bahrain faces a constant struggle against the Sunni dominated government. The government systematically oppresses the Shia majority due to fear of political opposition. The Sunni government
has committed constant discrimination against Shia in Bahrain, causing the widespread unrest that eventually turned into the
uprising in 2011.
The uprising began, and remains, a peaceful call for reform. The Shia majority simply wants their rights to be respected and to
be treated fairly under national law. However, the Bahraini government sees these calls for reforms as a threat to their rule,
and thus does everything within its power to suppress the opposition.
To do so, the government has tasked security forces with severely limiting the right to peaceful assembly. Requests for peaceful demonstrations are generally denied, and any public gathering is quickly dispersed. The riot police and security forces move
in and use excessive force to thwart the protests, including the use of tear gas, pellet shotguns, stun grenades and brute force.
When doing so, the security forces will often arrests protestors, even though they committed no crimes and who simply were
exercising their freedom of expression and right to assemble peacefully with others. These arrests are entirely arbitrary and
illegal. The security forces will also arrest opposition leaders, human rights activists, or other members of the Shia community
40- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. “Twitter users sentenced to prison as authorities seek to extend their crack-down on social media websites.” Last modified November 8, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/
41- Freedom House. “Freedom on the Net 2012.” Accessed August 1, 2013. http://www.fredomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/freedom-net-2012.
42- United Nations General Assembly. International Bill of Human Rights. 1948. Accessed August 1, 2012. http://www.un documents.net/a3r217.htm.
43- Kingdom of Bahrain. Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. n.d. Accessed August 1, 2013. http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=189442.
that it feels poses a threat to the regime. There have also been reports of security forces carrying out unlawful home raids
causing extensive property damage. These acts are often done without warrants and should not be allowed.
Once arrested, protestors face extremely unfair trials. In fact, the trials will often be delayed, allowing the government to
detain protestors for long periods of time without being convicted of a crime. However, even if the prisoners go to trial right
away, the courts are not independent from the government and are thus extremely biased. The courts will often ignore blatant
evidence and convict the detainees despite a complete lack of evidence. Prisoners are also coerced into signing false confessions, landing them in prison for crimes they did not commit.
While imprisoned, members of the Shia community often face severe torture and mistreatment. Police will torture detainees
in order to coerce false confessions for crimes that the prisoners had nothing to do with. Many detainees are also not given
adequate medical care, oftentimes for wounds sustained during the crackdown of peaceful protests. Moreover, their families
are not informed of their location and are rarely allowed to visit. These conditions are unacceptable and no person should be
subjected to such abuse for any reason, but especially not because of their religious beliefs.
But perhaps the most appalling human rights violations taking place in Bahrain are the killings of dozens of innocent Shia Muslims. Many Shia in Bahrain have lost their lives, whether it be due to excessive inhalation of tear gas, blood loss resulting from
wounds sustained during protests, or the brutal torture techniques employed by the security forces. The Bahraini government
cannot be allowed to continue to take the lives of its own citizens without consequence.
But, the violations do not end here. The government has committed many other human rights violations against the Shia
community, making the lives of innocent Shia extremely difficult and traumatic. For example, many Shia find it hard to practice their faith without facing persecution. The government has also destroyed numerous Shia religious buildings as well as
arrested a number of prominent Shia clerics. These acts represent a violation of the religious freedom that is guaranteed to all
citizens. Moreover, many Shia have a hard time finding a stable job because of societal discrimination. The powerful jobs, as
well as most government jobs, are given only to Sunni Muslims.
In all, the situation in Bahrain is dire. The Shia are constantly oppressed, restricted from expressing any opposition toward the
regime, and faced with severe consequences if they do.
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 25
Violations against Children
Summary and Documentation
of Human Rights Violations
Committed against Children by
International Convention for the Rights of the Child
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most comprehensive document on the rights of children.
Based purely on the number of substantive rights it sets forth, as distinct from implementation measures, it is the longest U.S.
human rights treaty in force and unusual in that it not only addresses the granting and implementation of rights in peacetime,
but also the treatment of children in situations of armed conflict. The CRC is also significant because it enshrines, “for the first
time in binding international law, the principles upon which adoption is based, viewed from the child’s perspective.” The CRC
is primarily concerned with four aspects of children’s rights: participation by children indecisions affecting them, protection of
children against discrimination and all forms of neglect and exploitation, prevention of harm to them, and provision of assistance to children for their basic needs. For the purposes of the CRC, a child is defined as “every human being below the age of
eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.”1
Bahrain acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in February of 1992. The government of Bahrain has established
organizations such as the National Committee on Childhood to further the rights of children. In 2002, the Bahraini government,
along with the local telecommunications network, set up Bahrain’s first helpline for children. This helpline, called “Be Free,”
aims to promote awareness of child rights among children and to protect them from abuse.2
According to the CRC law, countries that approved the Convention on the Rights of the Child are responsible to take action
and protect children within their governments. Bahrain has been a member of the CRC since 1992, only three years after the
establishment of the CRC. However, the actions of the Bahraini government have not been in line with its agreement with the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This has never been more apparent than in the events following the Bahraini uprising of February 14, 2011. Bahraini children have suffered from heavy discrimination as their basic human rights were
violated by government forces. This report highlights some of the violations to the CRC’s agreement. The aim of this report is
to generate attention from children’s rights organizations such as UNICEF, and ask them to take action towards protecting the
children in Bahrain.
Summary of Violations
Despite Bahrain’s participation in the International Convention for the Rights of the Child, the government has repeatedly
violated the provisions laid out in the CRC. Children in Bahrain face the same discrimination that adults do, being subjected to
numerous human rights violations. Children, just like adults, have been unfairly arrested, tortured, and killed by the Bahraini
While the government itself is a signatory to the CRC and the ministry of human rights prides itself on abiding by the rules
and regulations of the convention, basic rights of children in Bahrain are being brutally violated by security forces without any
action from the authorities to end these violations. Dozens of children remain imprisoned for crimes related to freedom of
expression and assembly, while others have died at the hands of the security forces.
1- Library of Congress. Children’s Rights: International Laws. 2011. Print. <http://www.loc.gov/law/help/child-rights/international-law.php>
2- Bahrain. RCW. Representing Chilren Worldwide. 2006. Print. <http://www.law.yale.edu/rcw/rcw/jurisdictions/asw/bahrian/frontpage.htm>
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 27
Based on our research, we found the government of Bahrain to have violated six different articles of the International Convention for the Rights of Child. These are:
• Article 2: “Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all
forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs
of the child’s parents, legal guardians, or family members.”
• Article 6: “Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life. States Parties shall ensure to
the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.”
• Article 15: “Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.”
• Article 19: “Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal
guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of child.”3
• Article 37: “Parties shall ensure that:
• (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for
offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;
• (b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort
and for the shortest appropriate period of time;
• (c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity
of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In
particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child’s
best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances;
• (d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other
appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty
before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any
• Article 28: “Parties recognize the rights of the child to education, and with a view to achieving these
rights progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity.”
According to the six laws, children must be protected against arbitrary arrest and torture. They have a right to life, freedom of
peaceful assembly, and also freedom of expression. Equally as important, the right to education is among the protected laws
that are meant to help children acquire a better standard of living in society. In many cases, Shia children in Bahrain do not
have access to these rights. Their rights are being violated by the government and no action is being taken by international
organizations to put a stop to these violations and to protect the children of Bahrain.
The following pages present only a few of many cases of the arbitrary arrests, torture and killings of children in Bahrain, as well
as the denial of education.
3- International Convention on the Rights of the Child. <http://www.unicef.org/crc/>
Arbitrary Arrest and Torture
• Case 1: 16-year-old Kidnapped and Beaten
On March 21st, 2012, 16 year old Ali Abdalshaheed Al-Singace was kidnapped by members of the secret police for the third
time in a month. He was taken to a garage in the Sanabis area where the men beat him and tortured him with a knife. He was
also sexually harassed by the men as they removed his clothes, touched him, and put a black plastic on his genitalia. He resisted, resulting in further beatings.
He had been kidnapped earlier in the month and was asked to be an informant for the security forces, and his father believes
that this beating was in retaliation for his refusal to work with the police.
The next day, his father filed a complaint against the secret police, but the complaint was not taken seriously. The police
dismissed his claims and did not hold the secret police accountable for their crimes. In fact, the child was warned that if he
accused the government of any wrongdoing, he would be implicated in a crime he did not commit. He was also forced to sign
a statement claiming that a specific activist was the perpetrator of his kidnapping, and was threatened to be detained and
torture if he did not sign.
Rather than holding those responsible accountable for these horrible crimes against an innocent child, the government
released a statement claiming his injuries were self-inflicted and that he was accused of reporting a false crime, effectively
making Al-Singace a criminal rather than a victim.4
• Case 2: Two Children Arrested During Protests
On April 27th, a 13-year-old boy by the name of Sayed Yaseen Sayed Abduljaleel Shubber was arrested by riot police during a
protest in his neighborhood in Hamad Town. As evidence by the photo, there were signs of torture on his back and face. The
courts ignored this evidence and sentenced him to over a week in prison. He was charged with beating a police officer in addition to the typical charges of rioting and illegal gathering. These charges are entirely false and it is unreasonable to think an
unarmed 13-year-old boy beat an armed police officer during a protest.
Another 13-year-old boy by the name of AbdulKarim Hassan was accused of illegal gathering and of throwing a Molotov cocktail at the riot police. This boy was not involved in the protests; rather he was walking to his uncle’s house when a group of
police breaking up a nearby riot ran in his direction. Out of fear, he ran, but the officers caught him. He was beaten with batons
before being arrested. At the police station, he was verbally abused and they threatened to blind him. At his court hearing, he
could barely speak as he began crying, and despite evidence of the beatings, his sentence was extended a week, in addition to
the 5 days he had already been detained.5
• Case 3: 11-year-old boy Detained for “Illegal Gathering”
On May 13th, 2012, Ali Hasan Alqudaihi (11) was arrested in Bilad Alqadeem on charges of “illegal gathering”. Security forces driving a civilian car arrested him on the street and took him to the
Nabeeh Saleh police station. He was detained for over 20 days in a juvenile detention center with4- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Another victim in the series kidnapping, torture and sexual harassment by the security services." Last modified April 1, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5137.
5- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Children at age of 13 arrested, torture and prosecuted on arbitrary charges." Last modified May 3,2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5235.
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 29
out ever being formally convicted of committing a crime. Ali Hasan Alqudaihi also reported being beaten and verbally abused
during his arrest. 6
• Case 4: 16-year-old Prisoner Denied Medical Care
Sayed Ali Al Muhafdha, a 16-year-old boy, was detained for nearly four months under horrible conditions. He was arrested
on June 14th and kept in ward 7 at the Dry Dock Prison. This ward houses inmates of all ages, and he was later moved to the
children’s ward. During his time at Dry Dock, he was severely beaten and deprived of water for an entire day. His medical condition deteriorated while in prison as he developed a high fever and abdominal pain. He was in such pain that he was unable to
move or speak clearly, and could not urinate for 10 days. After he was finally taken to the hospital, he was given pain killers but
immediately returned to prison. His condition did not improve, and so he was taken yet again to the hospital. On his second
visit, the doctor determined that he might have had kidney stones and recommended that he be treated at the hospital. Despite this, he was taken back to the prison until he was release a few weeks later. 7
• Case 5: Two Children Sentenced to 45 Days in Prison
Ahmed Hilal (15) and Ali Al-Aradi (16) were both arrested on July 13th, 2012 on charges of “illegal gathering”. Ahmed Hilal had
been walking in the town of Mussala when he saw a group of peaceful demonstrators being chased by security forces during a
crackdown on a nearby protest. Unaware of what was going on, Ahmed continued walking and was subsequently arrested and
beaten by the riot police. Despite a complete lack of evidence against him, he was sentenced to 45 days in an adult prison for
his alleged crimes. Similarly, Ali Al-Aradi had just left his grandfather’s house and was on his way to a car shop while the riot
police were breaking up a nearby protest. A police car nearly ran him over and he fell to the ground, after which he was arrested. Once again, despite a lack of evidence and claims of police brutality, Ali was charged with illegal gathering and sentenced
to 45 days in an adult prison. 8
Right to Life
• Case 1: Infant Dies Due to Tear Gas
A one and a half month old infant by the name of Yahya Yousif Ahmed died in early March. The infant suffered from the effects of the toxic tear gas. The mother had been subjected to tear gas 8 times during her
pregnancy, resulting in abdominal inflammation and a high level of acids the infant’s bloodstream. The security forces should not be allowed to deploy tear gas into private dwellings as it poses a very serious threat
to the elderly, children, pregnant mothers, and those with respiratory problems.9
• Case 2: Boy Killed During Protest
A 16-year-old boy by the name of Hussam Al-Haddad was killed by government forces in Muharraq on August 17th, 2012.
Hussam was reportedly shot with a pellet shotgun during a peaceful protest, which knocked him to the ground. He was then
kicked repeatedly, causing extensive blood loss. The Ministry of the Interior claimed that security forces were only defending
themselves, fully abiding by the law. However, autopsy photos show that he was shot in the back and on the left side of his
6- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Ongoing detention of 11 Year old child without a crime | Bahrain Center for Human Rights." Last modified June 7, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5304.
7- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "16 years old child Ali Al Muhafdha detained and deprived from proper medical care." Last modifiedSeptember 7, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5412.
8- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Public Prosecution Jail Two Children for 45 Days." Last modified July 30, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5363.
9- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Two more deaths caused by tear gas." Last modified March 9, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5103.
body, most likely from very close range. This suggests that the riot police did not act out of self-defense, as then his injuries
would be on the front. This killing appears to be intentional, yet those involved were not held accountable.10
• Case 3: 17-year-old Shot by Security Forces
On September 28th Ali Hussain Neamah, a 17-year-old boy was shot and killed by security forces during a protest in Saddad.
Once again, evidence shows he was shot in the back at close range, suggesting the attack was intentional and not done out of
self-defense. In spite of the evidence, the Ministry of the Interior released a statement that claims the “police responded using
only necessary and proportionate force to restore order.” Eyewitnesses claim that security forces continued to target his family
members with tear gas and stun grenades while they were trying to check on his condition.11
Due to the government crackdown on public education, many Shia children do not have access to the quality of education that
they are entitled to. Due to conflicts between pro-government and pro-reform students as well as calls for reform initiated by
students, the government began raiding schools and cracking down on anti-government sentiment in the education system.
The government focuses almost exclusively on institutions hosting primarily Shia Muslim students, as Shia Muslims make up
the vast majority of the opposition.
For example, over 12 girls’ schools were repeatedly raided by Bahraini authorities, where they arrested students from their
class rooms, beat them, took them to detention centers where they were detained for days without cause or legal representation. Schools like the Yathreb Intermediate School for Girls, the Al-Ahd Al-Zaher Secondary School for Girls, and the Saar
Secondary school for boys have seen continuous raids that interrupt the education process and prevent children from fully
benefiting from their education. Parents are often fearful of sending their children to school, for they could face arrests or
beatings for showing any anti-government sentiments.
The government has also temporarily or permanently expelled students from school because of their sectarian or political
beliefs. For example, multiple students at the Al-Dair Primary School for Boys were expelled for chanting remarks against the
King. 11 students were expelled from Al-Hora Secondary School for Girls, while another 8 were expelled from the Hamad Town
Secondary School for Girls. Other schools that issued expulsions include the Shahrakan Primary School for Boys, the Isa Town
Intermediate School for Girls, the Ahmed Al-Omran Secondary School for Boys and Al-Estiqlal Secondary School for Girls.
Despite being a signatory to the International Convention for the Rights of the Child, the government of Bahrain continues to
deny children the right to an education. The repeated raids, the lack of security and the arbitrary expulsions make it difficult
for children to receive the education they are entitled to.12
Since the uprising of February 14th, 2011, Shia children have not been spared from the discrimination, oppression, and abuses
that the Shia population faces. Children, much like adults, have been unlawfully detained, beaten, tortured, and even killed.
Innocent children, even those not involved in anti-government protests, have repeatedly been targeted by government forces.
While these actions are inexcusable in and of themselves, they are even more outrageous when committed against innocent
10- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Culture of impunity leads to another death of a child by the security forces." Last modified August 18, 2012. http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5391.
11- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Summary executions of protesters continue with western arms and under the impunity policy." Last modified September 29, 2012. http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5447.
12- Bahrain Center for Human Rights. "Students paid the price of belonging to the majority sect and were targeted along with their teachers in a vengeance campaign." Last modified July 30, 2012. http://bahrainrights.
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 31
Moreover, the government must ensure that all children, regardless of their faith, have access to an education. Shia students
currently face the threat of beatings, arrests, and expulsion for any signs of anti-government mentality. Parents are afraid to
send their children to school, and it is difficult for students to learn in this hostile environment.
The government cannot be allowed to continue denying children the right to an education, nor can they continue to indiscriminately harm children in their systematic oppression of the Shia community.
For over two years, the government has carried out systematic persecution of the Shia community in Bahrain. The Sunni dominated government views the Shia majority as a threat to the continued power and control held by the Al-Khalifa family. Consequently, the government has worked tirelessly to suppress Shia Muslims who have exercised their right to peaceful assembly
and expression to call for reforms.
Rather than instituting these reforms, Bahraini authorities have brutally broken up peaceful demonstrations, arbitrarily arrested hundreds of Shia Muslims, and ruthless killed dozens more. Political prisoners face torture and mistreatment in prison,
while being denied access to a fair trial in court. Shia Muslims and those who oppose the Al-Khalifa regime live in fear of being
attacked, detained, or killed.
Furthermore, life has been made extremely difficult for the Shia community. Employment discrimination in both the public
and private sector has made it difficult for Shia to obtain stable jobs with reasonable pay. Because the hospitals are run by
the military, it is also risky for Shia to go to the hospital for any reasons related to the peaceful protests. Medical professionals
will often report any injuries sustained during the demonstrations to the authorities, leading to the arrests of victims of police
Shia Muslims cannot even express their opinions without fear. Anyone openly opposing the King, even on social media, may be
arrested and detained. The government has also interfered with the right to practice their own religion, often denying building
permits to Shia Mosques, arresting Shia religious leaders, and disrupting religious gatherings.
Just as concerning is the treatment of Shia children in Bahraini society. Innocent children have been arrested, tortured, and
killed because of their religious beliefs. It is difficult for Shia children to receive an adequate education in Bahrain due to government intervention in the schools.
These violations cannot be allowed to continue. The government of Bahrain must be held accountable for these atrocious acts
and immediate action must be taken to encourage meaningful reform. As a member of the United Nations, the Kingdom of
Bahrain must begin complying with international law, as well as with their own constitution.
Failure to Comply with BICI Reforms
Amidst the growing violence following the February 14th uprising, the government of Bahrain was under extreme pressure
to amend its immoral practices. As a result, King Hamad appointed the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) to
investigate possible human rights violations that occurred in the early months of the uprising. In November the BICI release a
report that documented a plethora of violations including systematic torture, the destruction of Shia religious sites and widespread employment discrimination. This report also established a set of recommended reforms that King Hamad promised to
implement. Despite the King publicly announcing his success in instituting these reforms, the government has done little to
address these issues.
Even if the government had successfully implemented these reforms, the BICI report has critical limitations. For example, the
report failed to address the role of various individuals and groups that played a major part in the violations. It did not question
the role of the King, the Crown Prince, the Prime Minister, the Bahraini Army, or Saudi forces brought in to regain stability. It
also failed to recommend significant steps that must be taken, such as the release of political prisoners, the excessive use of
tear gas, or the employment discrimination perpetrated by public and private employers. The report also failed to address
systematic injustices that allow these violations to occur. For example, it does not address the need for an independent judiciary, it does not solve the sectarian tensions between the Sunni minority and the Shia majority, and it does not investigate the
army’s control over the medical system.
Unfortunately, even if the BICI had addressed these limitations, the government shows no intention of instituting real reform.
Since the report was published in November of 2011, the government has continued to carry out human rights violations
against the Shia community. The systematic torture, the brutal suppression of peaceful demonstrations, the arbitrary arrests,
and the ruthless killings have not stopped.
The government has clearly failed to implement the following BICI reforms: It has failed to establish an independent and
impartial national commission to implement BICI recommendations, a national independent and impartial mechanism to
punish those responsible for deaths, torture, and mistreatment, or an independent body to examine all complaints of torture,
excessive use of force, or other abuses by authorities. It has not required the Attorney General to investigate instances of torture or to use independent forensic experts. It also has not worked to reconcile the nation by rebuilding demolished religious
structures, developing a national reconciliation program, relaxing censorship of the media, ensuring those that were unfairly
dismissed are rehired and integrating personnel from all communities in Bahrain into the security forces.
King Hamad’s promise to institute these reforms have proven false, and any claims that the government has corrected its practices are utterly incorrect. For any real progress to be made, the Bahraini government must immediately fulfill their promise to
implement the reforms laid out in the BICI report.
SPOTLIGHT, SPECIAL EDITION . 35
To bring peace to this divided nation and to ensure the rights of all people in Bahrain, Shia Rights Watch recommends the
The government of Bahrain must:
1. Allow for greater transparency by
a. Allowing international human rights organizations to send in prominent monitors to investigate and monitor the situation in
b. Relaxing censorship and allowing opposition greater access to TV, radio, and print media
c. Immediately releasing all human rights activists currently detained in Bahrain
2. Hold those responsible for violations accountable by
a. Sending the names of murderers and violent officers to the International Criminal Court (ICC)
b. Establishing independent and impartial bodies to investigate and punish those responsible for deaths, torture, and mistreatment
c. Begin conducting effective investigations of all deaths attributed to security forces, and all allegations of torture and similar
3. Begin to reconcile all parts of Bahraini society by
a. Rebuilding all destroyed mosques and Islamic centers
b. Engaging in respectful and peaceful dialogue with opposition and religious groups
c. Integrating members from all communities into the security forces and into the government
d. Developing educational programs to promote tolerance, human rights, and the rule of law
e. Immediately release all prisoners of conscience
f. Reevaluating naturalization and citizenship laws
4. End all unfair and discriminatory practices by
a. Establishing an independent judiciary system
b. Requiring the Attorney General to investigate allegations of torture and to use independent forensic experts.
c. Reviewing convictions and commuting sentences of those unfairly convicted of crimes involving free expression, peaceful
assembly, and other guaranteed rights.
d. Guaranteeing the right to legal representation and a fair trial
This report is a compilation of research conducted to highlight the continued, systematic violence and human rights violations
conducted against Shia communities in the eight countries where most Shia Muslim rights violations took place in 2012. By
publishing this report, Shia Rights Watch hopes that readers, journalists, and politicians learn about these human rights violations and work toward action-oriented solutions that will promote accountability on the part of the governments of Bahrain,
Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt and Iraq.
Shia Rights Watch’s concern regarding the health and rights of the Shia population is increasing as human rights violations
are escalating in Middle East. As the violations sclated in 2011, the organization stood up for the oppressed Shia Muslims and
aimed to give a voice to the voiceless. The organization began by conducting field research, by interviewing victims and witnesses of the violations, and by reading about the Shia rights violations in various media. The research was published in the
form of annual reports and these reports are accessible through the organization’s website. So far five reports have been
published by the SRW.
The organization categorized the countries with violations into two categories; similar to the U.S Department of State classifications. The first category(I) includes countries in which Shia rights are being severely violated, and the second category
consists of countries that SRW is concerned about. This report will address each of the eight category (I) countries, providing
general background information, a summary of recent human rights abuses and an analysis of various types of violations that
are being committed in each country.
The list of countries and their classification can be found on the next page.