Sad Refrain from Bahrain

The media and world bodies have generally ignored the Bahrain protests, making it difficult to know what is happening. Emails from an activist in Bahrain illuminate some of the occurrences and highlight how the struggle has grown from seeking equality in life to receiving a punishing death. It’s a sad and captivating story.

Apr 6
Dear Friends,

Hope this email finds you well.
To update you on recent events in Bahrain:

Report by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights: Thousands are subjected to dismissal of work as part of severe clampdown on all who joined or openly supported the protest movement. King’s son says: No escape for opponents of his father:

ILO Director-General sounds alarm on situation of workers in Bahrain:

“Policemen Murder Suspects Go On Trial before the Lower State Safety Court”

“Bahrain University Fires College Dean, 7 Teachers, 25Administrators and 62 Students”

“It has also sacked 25 administrators, 62 students and suspended 8 others for a whole academic year. Five other students enrolled at foreign universities for their PhD degrees had their state scholarships stopped.” It is important to note that the incident of the University of Bahrain was mentioned in the BCHR report on “Unfounded stories of sectarian clashes and violence by protesters”:

“Ministry of Social Affairs has decided to dissolve the Bahrain Teacher’s Society and suspend the Bahrain Medical Society today.” President of the Bahrain Teacher’s Society, was arrested today.

“The US officials expressed thanks and respect to HRH the Crown Prince praising the kingdom’s ongoing development march for the past tenors as well as Bahrain’s pioneering regional and international role.”

Apr 8
Dear Friends,
A prominent human rights defender and former Mena director at Frontline defenders, Abdulhadi Alhkawaja has just been arrested along with two of his son-in-laws- Wafi Almajid and Hussein Ahmed. They broke the front door to the house and then beat them severely along with Mohammad Almasqati, the president of the Bahrain youth society of human rights. But they through Mohammad into a room and told him not to come out and then closed the door. Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was beaten so severely that the blood stain is still visible on the stair case. And when his oldest daughter, Zainab, tried to intervene she was beaten as well.

On their search for Abdulhadi Alkhawaja they went to his apartment first and didn’t find him there. They then went to his cousin’s house and he wasn’t there either but his cousin, Habib Alhalwachi, was and they arrested him. They finally went to the home of his daughter, Zainab Alkhawaja, and found him, arrested him and two others as mentioned above. Urgent pleas for intervention as all three are under arrest, high risk of torture, and their lives may be in danger.

Apr 9
Dear Friends,
Today the Ministry of Interior released news that two detainees died while in custody. The first, Ali Isa Saqer, who was charged with allegedly running over a policeman and killing him, was said to have “created chaos at the detention center and that led to the interference of security forces to bring situation to normal, but he resisted them and sustained various injuries in the process. He was referred to the hospital and died later.”

The second man, Zakariya Rashid Hassan, was allegedly “found dead on Saturday morning at the Detention Center.” The MOI alleges that he died due to sickle cell anemia. This is the second case of death allegedly due to sickle cell anemia in detention centers by Bahraini Authorities.All detainees (currently numbered at around 600, amongst them 25 women two of whom are pregnant) are at very high risk of torture, and their lives are at threat. I will be sending the updated list as soon as it is translated in English.

In an update on the Al-Khawaja case, Minister of foreign affairs wrote on twitter: “He (Alkhawaja) was arrested for charges to be brought against him legally . He violently resisted the arrest and had to be subdued” and then went on to say: “He (Alkhawaja) is not a reformer. He called for the overthrow of the legitimate regime”

You can read the details of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja’s arrest as told by his daughter who was present at the time to Human Rights Watch:

There are still ongoing protests and candlelit vigils which get attacked every night in different villages in Bahrain causing more injuries. Tens of people are staying at home despite serious injuries, some with shrapnel in their eyes, out of fear of going to the hospitals which are still under the control of the security forces.

Again, we call for urgent intervention as many lives are under threat.

Apr 10
Dear Friends,

I am writing to you in urgency as we have pictures which now show that Isa Saqer, who’s death the Ministry of Interior announced yesterday, show torture marks on his body. The pictures are graphic. It is important to note that Zakaria alAsheri, who’s death was also announced yesterday, is a blogger who was arrested. Al Asheri’s family has informed us that Zakaria never had sickle cell anemia, which the authorities said was the cause of death. Again, all detainees are under high risk of torture and their lives are at threat.

There is still no news about Abdulhadi Alkhawaja or his sons-in-law. Their whereabouts are still unknown and lawyers have not been able to reach them. There is grave concern for his well-being and and his life. There is concern for Abdulhadi’s eldest daughter, Zainab, who has been talking to the media about her father’s arrest and has been working on documenting cases. She has already received death threats and threats of arrest from members of the royal family due to her speaking out. Zahra Alsingace, Abduljalil AlSingace’s 23 year old daughter, was arrested and interrogated today for a few hours then released. They made her open her facebook page and went through it. Her older brother Hussain remains in detainment as does her father, and her brother Hassan is in hiding as the authorities are looking for him.

Apr 10
Dear Friends,
After broadcasting the pictures I sent you of Isa Saqer and a video of him, the Ministry of Interior put news on their formal website that Nabeel Rajab was to be referred to the Military Public Prosecutor for allegedly having “published in his twitter account a fabricated image of “Ali Isa Saqer” who died on 9 April 2011″ We have reason to believe that he is at high risk of arrest. If Nabeel does get arrested, and after the arrest of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Mohammed AlMasqati and Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdah (who is in hiding) will be the only human rights activists left inside Bahrain.

Apr 17
Dear Friends,
Hope this email finds you well.
Defense lawyer Mohammed AlTajer was arrested by Bahraini authorities on the 15th of April. You can read the Human Rights Watch report about it here.

Zainab Alkhawaja’s health has deteriorated immensely and she was moved to a hospital where her family was told that if they give her IV they would have to inform the Ministry of Interior. She went home without receiving the IV. Thereabouts of her father Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and her family members are still unknown. Groups are launching a mass hunger strike starting tomorrow in Bahrain. There are also people around the world who have said that they will join the hunger strike as well.

# 30 women are being detained, 3 of them are reportedly pregnant;
# 571 men have been detained;
# An estimated 20-25% of those detained are under the age of 18 years old, with the youngest being 12 years old, Ahmed Ali Abbas Yahya Thamer;
# 40 people are listed as “missing” and not included in the numbers above;
# 17 doctors have been detained;
# Some of those detained were taken from their hospital beds worthy were being treated for injuries received;# Others were taken in the pre-dawn hours from their homes by masked and armed security forces who produced no ID’s, warrants or official charges;
# Most of those detained have been without contact with their familiar with legal counsel of any sort;
# At least 4 people have died during detention, and the govt claims they died from kidney failure or sickle cell disease, but families deny health conditions and clear indications of torture are present on their bodies; and
# The whereabouts of most of the detainees are not known.

Mr Fadhel Abbasof the National Democratic Assembly was not allowed to travel on the 15thof April when he tried to leave to Tunisia for a conference. No reason was given for his travel ban. I have attached copy of the letter sent to the Oxford Aviation Academy asking them to immediately send back certain Bahraini students.

Apr 20
Dear Friends,
Abdulhadi Alkhawaja called his wife today to let her know that he will be appearing before a military court tomorrow (21st April) at 8am (Bahrain time). He also asked for some clothes. No official charges have been declared against him yet. His sons in law also requested clothes to be brought to what is known as the “Qala’a”, the ministry of interior. His daughter Zainab ended her hunger strike today. Yesterday: “Seven people accused of murdering policemen Kashef Ahmed Mandhour and Mohammed Farooq Abdulsamad have today appeared before the Lower National Safety Court.”

University of Bahrain dismisses 200 students, academicians, admins, employees and security guards:

Amnesty International puts out an urgent appeal on detained defense lawyer Mohammed AlTajer who’s brother has now also been detained, Mohsin AlTajer. Several more arrests have taken place, amongst them a few women. The number of detainees until yesterday was 802, amongst them 52 women, not counting the arrests that took place today. There is still an ongoing campaign of demolishing Shiaa mosques and vandalizing “Matams” which belong to the Shia’a sect.

Apr 23
Dear Friends,
Hope this email finds you well.
Amnesty International: Ebrahim Sharif feared tortured

OMCT: Ongoing incommunicado and arbitrary detention of Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja.

Alkhawaja’s family fears he is being subjected to torture as his voice was very weak when he called and he kept repeating “the oppression is great“. There is fear that Alkhawaja may be undergoing military trial without allowing him lawyers or contact with his family.

Important report by Physicians for Human Rights

A group of female students and teachers were rounded up at a governmental high school, interrogated and beaten, please read more at the bottom of this email. After Nasser bin Hamad promised on national television that “a wall will fall on the heads of all those who called for the fall of the regime”, and that they knew who was with them and who was against them; a loyalty campaign was started under his patronage telling people to sign a pledge of allegiance for the King.

Presence of security forces inside villages to terrorize residents.

27 Shia’a mosques have been demolished by security forces in Bahrain. Some of these mosques have important historical and religious context.

This is a video someone put together documenting the demolitions and some of the vandalizing acts against other religious Shia’a institutions .

More than 100 “Mudhayefat” (stands that are built usually for distribution of food and drink during Shia’a religious events) have also been taken down.

Video documenting some of the human rights violations in Bahrain:

I am alarmed that many governments around the world continue to stay silent about the massive human rights violations taking place in Bahrain. It is especially alarming to see those considered allies to Bahrain to continue to say nothing to their ally which is terrorizing it’s own people on a daily basis, and with 800+ detainees under high risk of torture. I urge all of you to do what you can to pressure your governments to take a stronger stand on the violations taking place in Bahrain. Silence about the violations in Bahrain will also give a green light to other oppressive regimes in far they can go in suppressing protests in their countries before international community will take a strong stand.

Apr 27
Dear Friends,

In alarming news, the military general prosecutor has called for the death sentence for 7 men charged with killing police officers.

More arrests are taking place on an almost daily basis. Authorities have announced today that they will be releasing 312 detainees, updated list of detainees will be sent out as soon as it is ready.

Apr 28
Dear Friends,
Death Sentence:
Ali Hassan AlSingace: 19 years old
Qasim Hasan Matar: 20 years old
Saeed Abduljalil Saeed: 19 years old
AbdulAziz AbdulRidha: 24 years old

Life Sentences:
Isa Abdulla Kadhem: 19 years old
Sayed Sadiq Ali: 19 years old
Hussain Jaffar: 19 years old
As taken from the Bahrain News Agency:
On the website (video 2) the “confessions” have been broadcasted, which seem to be the only “evidence” provided by the prosecution.

Manama, April 28 (BNA) — The National Safety Lower Court on Thursday condemned Ali Abdullah Hassan Al Singees, Qasim Hasan Matar Ahmad, Saeed Abduljalil Saeed and Abdulaziz Abdulridha Ibrahim Husain to death for their role in the killing of Policemen Kashef Ahmed Madhoor and Mohammed Farooq Abdulsamad.

The court also condemned Isa Abdullah Kadhem Ali, Sayyed Sadiq Ali Mahdi and Husain Jaafar Abdulkareem to life in prison for their role in the twin murders.The case of the murders by the seven men was referred to the court following an intensive investigation by the competent authorities.Lawyers have the right to appeal the verdict before the National Safety Court of Appeals.Present at the session during which the verdict was pronounced were journalists from the local media, representative from human rights organisations, relatives of the defendants, lawyers and the defendants.Kashef Ahmed Mandhoor and Mohammed Farooq Abdulsamad were murdered last month when they were deliberately hit by vans and run over in one of the most gruesome murders in Bahrain. The killing was captured on camera and displayed on TV networks and on social networks Facebook and You Tube.The defendants had all their legal rights in line with human rights standards and had lawyers representing them during the trial. They were also allowed to contact their families. The trial sessions were attended by representative from human rights organisations and relatives of the defendants.

Dan Lieberman publishes commentaries on foreign policy, economics, and politics at  He is author of the non-fiction books A Third Party Can Succeed in America, Not until They Were Gone, Think Tanks of DC, The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name, David L. McWellan). Read other articles by Dan.