Ms. Navanethem Pillay
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.
Manama, 13 August 2013
Dear High Commissioner,
Many activists, clerics and politicians have called for protests on 14 August – the day of independence from the British colonialism – this call has been adopted by a movement that names itself ‘Bahrain Rebellion’, this political movement stresses that it calls for peaceful demonstration on 14 August in order to achieve self-determination for the people of Bahrain and to protect the civil and political rights especially in relation to freedom of opinion, assembly, political participation and the right to choose the government.
The National Assembly (80 members from the Council of Representatives and Shura Council) held on Sunday – 28 July – an extraordinary session in order to discuss giving extensive powers to the Executive Authority in the area of counter-terrorism, the session was attended by 12 ministers, among them was the Minister of Interior and Minister of Justice. The Assembly endorsed 22 recommendations which are submitted to the King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa; the King later issued a statement in which he agreed to all the recommendations (recommendations attached).
Since the King of Bahrain endorsed the recommendations of the National Assembly, the security bodies have started to practice the extensive powers it was granted, and according to the BYSHR documentation, the Bahraini Authorities have during the period (29 July – 11 August) arrested approximately 120 people and raided almost 283 houses from various villages.
The Bahraini Authorities arrested the blogger Mohammed Hasan Safy (@safybh)- his lawyer Abdul Aziz Moussa was detained on 8 August 2013 after he reported on Twitter the visible signs of torture he had seen on Mohamed Hassan- as well as the two photographers Hussein Hubail and Qassim Zen-el-deen, and according to information they were subjected to mistreatment in the Criminal Investigation Department.
The Ministry of Communication had also blogged several electronic websites.
The Bahraini Ministry of Interior issued a warning that it will take the necessary legal action against anyone who participates or calls for demonstrating on 14 August.
Many journalists have been barred from entering Bahrain and the Bahraini authorities had threatened employees in the public and private sectors.
The Bahraini Authorities had amended the Bahraini Anti-terrorism law in order to limit public liberties and restrict freedom of opinion and assembly and to hold accountable those responsible for peaceful protests.
On 30 July 2013, the BYSHR addressed the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism and on 1 August the BYSHR addressed the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression about the on-going human rights violations.
The BYSHR called on the Bahraini Authorities to allow freedom of opinion and assembly, and especially on 14 August, and it called on all the political parties that called for the protests to take on a peaceful approach and not use violence.
The BYSHR asks you to address the Bahraini Authorities to stop the arbitrary measures against freedom of opinion and assembly and especially in relation to the expected protests on 14 August, and it also calls for monitoring the serious violations that will happen on 14 August, whether by the riot police or protestors.
Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights