URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
BHR 002 / 1008 / OBS 171
October 28, 2008
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about a media campaign waged against Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Dr. Abduljalil Al-Sengais, Head of the Human Rights Unit of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy in Bahrain, and Ms. Maryam Al-Khawaja, former leader of the student organisation AIESEC-Bahrain (Association internationale des étudiants en sciences économiques et commerciales - International Association of Students in Economic and Business Sciences).
According to the information received, on October 16, 2008, a media campaign was launched by members of the elected house of representatives, writers, columnists, and some editors-in-chief of national newspapers as well as regional ones, following the participation of the three human rights defenders in a briefing in Washington held on October 15, 2008 about the “Impact of Political Reform on Religious Freedom in Bahrain”.
The above-mentioned media as well as some preachers have been qualifying Mr. Nabeel Rajab, Dr. Abduljalil Al-Sengais and Ms. Maryam Al-Khawaja as “traitors”, “not loyalists to Bahrain” and “stooges of the United States”. The media further considered the briefing as “a call for foreigners to intrude in local affairs”, stigmatised the briefing as a call for sectarian sedition, and have been encouraging the authorities to take action against the three activists.
This briefing was organised by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission - recently created within the United States’ Congress - and the Congressional Task Force on International Religious Freedom. In the course of this event, Mr. Rajab insisted on the systematic discrimination faced by Shia citizens in high-ranking Government and public offices, as well as in the police and security forces. He also pointed out the unequal access of Shia to education. Dr. Al-Sengais addressed the religious discrimination in Bahrain, focusing on problems faced by Shia as regards the allocation of worship premises, education and access to public media. Ms. Al-Khawaja addressed the discriminatory practices suffered by Shia in Bahrain.
Recommendations were put forward at the end of the briefing, demanding the end of discriminations against Shia in Bahrain.
The Observatory is highly preoccupied with this hostile campaign targeting Mr. Nabeel Rajab, Dr. Abduljalil Al-Sengais and Ms. Maryam Al-Khawaja, and urges the Bahraini authorities to ensure that an end be put to the harassment against them, in line with Article 12.2 of the of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.
Actions requested :
Please write to the authorities of Bahrain urging them to :
i. Ensure that the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, Dr. Al-Sengais and Ms. Al-Khawaja be guaranteed in all circumstances;
ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against them as well as against all human rights defenders in Bahrain;
iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as Article 12(1) that provides “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, and Article 12(2) mentioned above;
iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bahrain.
· Cheikh Hamad bin Issa AL KHALIFA , King of Bahrain, Fax: +973 176 64 587
· Cheikh Khaled Bin Ahmad AL KHALIFA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tel: +973 172 27 555; Fax : +973 172 12 6032
· Cheikh Khalid bin Ali AL KHALIFA, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Tel: +973 175 31 333; Fax: +973 175 31 284
· Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 chemin Jacques-Attenville, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paris-Geneva, October 28, 2008
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29