Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

February 03 2014

Human Rights Video: 2013 Year in Review

A video by WITNESS on the Human Rights Channel of YouTube wrapped up some of the most significant protests and human rights abuses of 2013. Dozens of clips shot by citizens worldwide are edited together to show efforts to withstand injustice and oppression, from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, Cambodia to Brazil.

A post on the WITNESS blog by Madeleine Bair from December 2013, celebrates the power of citizen activism using new technologies including video, while readers are reminded that the difficulty of verification and establishing authenticity remains a big obstacle.

“Citizen footage can and is throwing a spotlight on otherwise inaccessible places such as prisons, war zones, and homes,” says Bair. “But given the uncertainties inherent in such footage, reporters and investigators must use it with caution.”

Reposted byiranelection iranelection

December 20 2013

Bahrain Preacher: “Celebrating National Day is a Sin”

Google marked Bahrain's National Day with this Doodle

Google marked Bahrain's National Day with this Doodle. Photo credit: @JustJa3far

Bahraini blogger Manaf Al Muhandis tweets from a sermon before Friday prayers in Bahrain, in which the preacher declares that celebrating National Day is a sin.

He says:

During the Friday prayers sermon, the clergyman Adel Al Hamad, said that celebrating national day is a sin (haram)- as serious as drinking alcohol.

He adds:

Adel Al Hamad says that nationalism is an illusion and that people cannot be united on the love of the nation because Allah (God) doesn't unite the beleivers and the infidels under one cause

During the sermon, Al Hamad also touches on Bahrain's relationship with Iran. Al Muhandis tweets:

Adel Al Hamad says regarding the rule on the relationship with Iran is that it is a country which curses Prophet Muhammed's companions. And that any person who doesn't follow the Sunni sect of Islam, is a person who is crazy

Al Muhandis adds:

Many ask me why I pray at Al Nusuf (mosque). It's a free stand-up comedy show

He shares this video on Instagram, where the preacher says that dancing and drumming to mark National Day is haram.

Bahrain marks its National Day on December 16.

November 04 2013

PHOTOS: Shia Mourners Tear-Gassed in Bahrain

Shia mourners, commemorating the beginning of the Islamic month Muharram, have been tear-gassed in Bahrain, say activists, who accuse the Bahraini regime of attacking religious freedom in the restive Arab state.

Bahraini Human Rights activist Maryam Al Khawajah writes [ar]:

In a violation to religious freedom, the ruling regime attacks Shiites performing religious rituals in the village of Maameer.

The Month of Muharram is a month of mourning for Muslims of the Shia faith. The 10th day of Muharram, or Ashoora, commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussain bin Ali, Prophet Muhammed's grandson in the Battle of Karbala, which took place in the year 680, in Iraq. The occasion is marked by processions across towns and villages, as well as readings in congregation halls for members of the Shia faith. These rituals have been held for centuries, and passed down from one generation to the next.

Quiet Bahrain-i shares another photograph from the same “incident” saying:

And Ahmed Ali has another one:

Al Wefaq Society, the largest opposition group, posts another photograph:

October 29 2013

South Korean Tear Gas Being Used in Bahrain?

Bahrain interior ministry allegedly ordered 1.6 million teargas canisters to use against protesters, and South Korean company DaeKwang is believed to be one of the major suppliers. R. Elgin wrote in Marmot's Hole blog about the ironic history of tear gas– a notorious symbol of Korean government's clampdowns back in 70-80s becoming a money-maker nowadays. Earlier this month, net users tweeted photos of protesters outside the Korean embassy in London, calling Korean companies to stop selling toxic gas.

October 25 2013

Bahrain: More Tear Gas Than People

An apparent tender document leaked on 16 October 2013 shows that Bahrain is set to purchase more tear gas canisters than its entire population. But why should you care? Photocredit: Stoptheshipment.org

An apparent tender document leaked on 16 October 2013 shows that Bahrain is set to purchase more tear gas canisters than its entire population. But why should you care? Photocredit: Stoptheshipment.org

Over the past two weeks, an independent group called “Bahrain Watch” has been leading a strong campaign on social media networks against the import of tear gas in Bahrain. The group which defines itself as “an independent research and advocacy organisation that seeks to promote effective, transparent and accountable governance in Bahrain” initiated the campaign “Stop the Shipment” after obtaining a leaked document that reveals Bahrain's plans to purchase 1.6 million canisters of tear gas – that's more than it's 1.3m inhabitants.

The campaign calls on netizens to send emails to officials and companies to stop the shipment based on collected evidence that prove the dangerous use of tear gas in Bahrain. Besides its obvious health effects on protesters and passers-by, tear gas has caused the death of tens of Bahrainis since the February 2011 revolution.

The suggested message that the campaign includes in sent emails reads:

Since 2011, Bahrain's security forces have misused tear gas indiscriminately and inhumanely, causing injury, death, miscarriages, and possible long-term health complications. Tear gas is supposed to be ‘non-lethal', but Bahrain's police use large amounts of tear gas in residential areas, even when there are no protests, and sometimes shoot tear gas directly into houses. The police also fire the canisters directly at people's heads, which has caused serious injuries and deaths. Overall, 39 deaths in Bahrain have been attributed to tear gas, according to Physicians for Human Rights. The death toll includes both young and old, both men and women, and people with disabilities. Very few police have been punished for killing protesters.
Based on videos and images we have seen, the top suppliers of tear gas products used in Bahrain between 2011 and 2013 appear to be DaeKwang Chemical Corporation and CNO Tech of South Korea. Another company, Korea Defense Industry (KDI) may also export to Bahrain. The other major exporter is a South African/German company called Rheinmetall Denel. DaeKwang Chemical Corporation and CNO Tech have exported over 1.5 million pieces of tear gas to Bahrain between 2011 and 2012. This is more than the entire population of Bahrain, which is 1.2 million, of which 600,000 are citizens.
Please immediately stop exporting CS gas and other chemical agents to Bahrain, so no more peaceful protesters are killed with your products. Other countries, including the United States, have already stopped exporting tear gas to Bahrain. Companies that continue to export these products will be held liable under International Law on the grounds of contributing to the intentional abuse and misuse of chemical agents by the Bahrain security forces. You have a responsibility to prevent exports where tear gas is being misused.
Already, the issue of tear gas exports to Bahrain is being widely covered in the international media, including in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/23/world/middleeast/rights-group-warns-against-tear-gas-abuse-by-bahrain.html) and the Financial Times (http://ft.com/cms/s/0/67a619e2-397d-11e3-a3a4-00144feab7de.html). Members of Parliament in Europe are beginning to question relations with Korea, over the issue of their tear gas exports to Bahrain (http://www.marietjeschaake.eu/2013/10/mep-stop-the-export-of-teargas-to-bahrain/). The world is watching you.
Your family and friends are precious to you, and Bahrainis’ families and friends are precious to them. Stop killing Bahrainis’ lovely family and friends. Stop tear gas exports to Bahrain. Learn more at: http://bahrainwatch.org/arms/

Stories from victims
The campaign operates as a platform for victims of tear-gassing in Bahrain to share their stories. Two messages read:

I live in Sehla – Bahrain, Tear gas became a daily routine that we got used to, I would never dare open the window driving into town, knowing that i could suffocate and drive into a lamp post on the way, I am not sure what are the long term symptoms of exposure, but I am simply and honestly sick and tired of it all, my wife is pregnant and we bought gas masks and put them in our cars, as the few seconds between getting out of the car and into our place could have sever impact on our unborn baby. Give the people some rights, allow them to be part of the solution, accepting and admitting that we made mistakes, the Government & the Opposition is the first step to find a solution.

We Live in Bani Jamra, and we are exposed heavily and frequently to launch a toxic gas on the house, on the top and bottom roof of our house there is a large number of gas cans that have been launched on the house. Window of one of the rooms already broken by pack of tear gas, also one car in our house was damaged due the same reason. Especially in nights we are being more exposed to severe suffocate due to more shooting the tear gases . The children's are vulnerable to disease because of toxic gas . Next to the house there is a kitchen which has been subjected to partial combustion several times because of police firing tear gas. The combustion of this kitchen is a disaster for the home, as well as neighboring houses where this kitchen contains a large storage tank for cooking gas .

South Korean Deal
After the spread of the campaign, Amnesty Korea denounced the deal between the two countries. John Horne, a member of Bahrain Watch, published an op-ed in PolicyMic detailing the relations between both governments:

South Korea and Bahrain have been fostering closer ties since 2011, despite Bahrain’s internationally condemned human rights abuses. Four days after the start of the February uprising, a South Korean delegation visited Bahrain announcing plans to reopen their Embassy that had been closed since 1999. In May 2012, Bahrain’s crown prince led a delegation to South Korea. Several agreements were signed and the trip was reciprocated this August, when the South Korean prime minister travelled to Bahrain. More agreements were signed across multiple sectors, including the establishment of an “economic cooperation body” leading the South Korean Chargé d'Affaires to boast of $1 billion in trade between the two countries.

Cases and Victims
Bahraini activist Maryam Alkhawaja tweeted a link to a 2012 report by “Physicians for Human Rights” that is based on data and interviews with more than 100 Bahrainis who were victims of state-violence since the 2011 uprising:

@MARYAMALKHAWAJA:
Weaponizing Tear Gas: #Bahrain's Unprecedented Use of Toxic Chemical Agents Against Civilians http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library/reports/weaponizing-tear-gas.html #StopTheShipment

An Irish supporter of the campaign Eliane Masons tweeted about cases of victims killed by tear gas in Bahrain:

@ElaineMasons: Qassim Habib. Aged 8. Exposure to Tear Gas/Village attacked Severely with Tear Gas. DIED 26 JAN 2013 #bahrain #StopTheShipment R.I.P.

Anonymous Twitter user @BMine1 published a list of 78 names of victims killed by tear gas:

@BMine1:
Martyrs of #Bahrain who died by toxic gases used bythe government as a collective punishment :
1- Martyr Isa Mohammed ,71 years,Almaamer
2- Martyr( aborted fetus ) Hawraa Mohammed Saeed,six months ,Sanabis
3-Martyr Khadija Al A.Hai, Sanabis
4- Martyr Zainab Ali Altajer , 70 years ,Sanabis
5- Martyr Mohammed A.Husain
Farhan ,6years ,Sitra
6- Martyr S.Adnan S.Ahmed Almosawi ,44years,Almarkh
7-Martyr Isa Altaweel ,50years,Sites
8- Mart9yr Zainab Hasan All Jumaa ,47years,Sitra
9- Martyr Hadeel S.Mohammed Ahmed ,(aborted fetus)9 months ,Saar
10-Martyr Jaafer Lutfallah ,72years,Abusaiba
11- Martyr S.Jawad S.Ahmed ,36years,Sites
12- Martyr Mohammed Hasaneen Ali ,(aported fetus),3weeks,Aldeer
13- Martyr Fatima Abbas Alsameea ,(aported fetus),Jidhafs
14-Martyr A.ali Ali Ahmed,58years,Almoqshaa
15-Martyr Fakhria Jasim Moh'd Alsakran,55years,
Jid Ali
16- Martyr Moh'd Khamis Alkunaizi ,25years,Almoqshaa
17- Martyr Yaseen Jasim Mohsin Alasfoor,11years,Almaameer
18-Martyr Salma Mohsin Abbas ,80years,Bar bar
19- Martyr Saeed Ali
Hasan Alsekri ,65years,Aali
20- Martyr A.Ali Abdul LA Mohammed ,58years,Maameer
21- Martyr Zahraa Ali Hasan ,68years,Alnoaim
22- Martyr Fatima Salman Albasri ,Alnabeeh Saleh Island
23- Martyr Ali Isa
Abdul LA Alhaiki,48years,Samaheej
24- Martyr Habeeb Khadim Almullah ,63years,South Sihla
25- Martyr Alabda Hussain Isa ,68years,South Sihla
26- Martyr Mansoor Salman Hasan ,86years,Sites
27- Martyr Sukaina Ali Ahmed Maroon ,78years,Abosaibaa
28- Martyr Yahya Yousif Ahmed,45days,Ras Roman
29- Martyr Sabri Mahfood Yousif,27years,Shahrakan
30- Martyr Jaafar Jasim Almowali,41years,Almoqshaa
31- Martyr Hussain Majed Hasan Majed,70years,Dimistan
32- Martyr Ahmed A.
Nabi A.rasool,31years,Shah rakan 33- Martyr Abdat Ali A.Husain Saleh ,59years,Aali
34- Martyr Khadeeja Moh'd Ali All Abbas ,49years,Almaameer
35- Martyr Yaser Mahdi All Karaani ,(spotted fetus)Karranh
36-Martyr Ali Yousif Baddah ,(aported fetus)Sites
37- Martyr Batool Moh'd Sadiq A.Jalil (aported fetus) Sanad
38- Martyr Hussain Hamza Sabeel ,( aported fetud ) 9 months ,Sites
39- Martyr Reda Hani Moh'd (aported fetus ),5momths Almaameer
40- Martyr S.Hasan S.Isa S.Hashim 1&a half years,Alnabeeh Saleh Island
41- Martyr Moh'd Baqer A.Hussain ,(aported fetus) Tubli lives in Buried
42- Martyr Marian Naser Moh'd,80years,Sad ad
43-Martyr Ali Yousif A.wahab (aported fetus) Sites
44- Martyr Moh'd Yousif A.wahab (aported fetus),Sites
45- Martyr Kawther Ali Hasan ,(aported fetus) Karzakan
46- Martyr Moh'd Jaw ad Farhan (aported fetus),Sitra
47- Mohsin Ateya Alnakal ,(aported fetus) 4 months,Sites
48- Martyr Zainab Ebrahim Fateel,(aported fetus),Sites
49- Martyr Mohsin jaafar Ashoor ,(aported fetus) ,Dar Kuleeb
50- Martyr Has an Abdulla Ali Ahmed,59years,Sites
51- Martyr Ali Hasan Isa Alganem ,(aported fetus),Aldeer
52-Martyr Mahdi Marhoon ,84years,Almaameer
53- Martyr Huda S.Neama S.Hasan ,11 months ,Abu Qua
54- Martyr Basel Mansoor Ali Alqatan ,44years,Alshakoora
55- Martyr Asia Hasan Almadeh ,42years,Jidhafs
56- Martyr Fadak Mosaimaa, days ,Aldaih
57- Martyr Zainab A.Hadi Alfardan (aported fetus),Karzakan
58- Martyr Habeeb Ebrahim Abdulla,88 years,Almalkia
59- Martyr S.Hussain S.Ahmed ,1 & a half months,Alsanabis
60- Martyr Sajida Faisal Jawad ,5days ,Bilad Alqadeem
61- Martyr Ameena S.Mahdi ,36years,Abosaibaa
62- Martyr Qasim A.Mahdi ,(aported fetus) 5months,Sites
63- Martyr Qasim Habeeb Jaafar,8years,Kababad
64-Martyr Ali Osama A.Nabi,(aported fetys)Aldeer ,
65- Martyr Moh'd Osama A.Nabi (aported fetus) ,Aldeer
66- Martyr Moh'd A.Hadi Ali ,(aported fetus),Aldaih
67- Martyr Hawraa Yousif Omran ,(aported fetus) 8 months ,Sites,Nowaidrat
68- Martyr Wadeeaa Moanes Abbas ,(aported fetus)9months,Addari
69- Martyr Mohsin Jaafar Nusaif ,(aported fetus) 8months ,Alkawara
70- Martyr Haidar Ali Moh'd Hubail ,(aported fetus ) 8 months , Aleker
71- Martyr Jaafar Jasim Altaweel ,35years,Sites
72- Martyr S.Omran S.Hameed ,23years ,Karzakan
73- Martyr Ebrahim Hasan Salman ,60years,Samaheej
74- Martyr Jood Hussain Matrook ,(aported fetus) 9months,Bilad Alqadeem
75- Martyr Saeed Abdulla Marzooq ,55years,Aldiraz
76- Martyr Ali Jaafar Habeeb,10 years,Almalkia
77- Martyr Rose Nisha Nikaroto,28years,Indian ,Rays Roman
78- Martyr Naseer ,26years,Indian ,Sanad

…& still going on …The government intends to enter into a deal to buy more than a million & a half shell & ninety thousand grenade of solvents tears

Collected Videos
Using the hashtag #StoptheShipment, many Twitter users posted videos documenting the everyday practice of teargassing in Bahrain. “Bahrain Watch” put a good post on Buzzfeed showing 27 different ways of teargassing used by Bahrain's riot police:

A way to control the crowd:

A substitute to bullets

A killing tool:

and a “home delivery”!

October 03 2013

My Friend is Getting Tortured for Blogging

Since his arrest in late July, it has been hard for me and other bloggers to bring attention to the case of Mohammed Hassan (aka Safy) a Bahraini blogger detained by authorities for his online activities. In a country like Bahrain, the brutal regime has been successful in normalizing and silencing its crimes against those involved in the political struggle for freedom and equality. Doctors, journalists, human rights defenders, teachers, athletes, and protesters have been targeted in Bahrain with sanctions, surveillance, interrogations, arrests. Some have been tortured. Some have been killed. The horrors committed since the February 14 revolution (and years before) are too many to mention and the case of Safy is only one among many.

Illustration by Jafar al-Alawy

Illustration by Jafar al-Alawy

Many of you might not know Safy; he is not of the older generation of bloggers who enjoy much more visibility yet he is certainly from a generation that has been on the front line, facing high risks of arrest, torture, and perhaps being forgotten. Safy is a regular guy who has worked as an IT officer until he saw his friend get shot by riot police during the first weeks of the revolution. He could not be the ‘regular guy’ after this. After months of blogging anonymously, Safy decided to go with his real name and picture. He helped journalists move around, took them to villages where people breath tear gas more than oxygen, and spoke bluntly in front of the camera. He decided to join Global Voices despite the risks that face bloggers in Bahrain when contributing to a major international platform.

Safy is not alone in this struggle: Photographers Hussain Hubail and Qassim Zainaldeen were arrested in the same week, followed with the arrest of Safy’s own lawyer Abdulaziz Mousa who was accused of disclosing details of the interrogation without legal permission. Mousa stated before his arrest that Safy was beaten through the interrogation and has been charged “with being a member of the 14 February Media Network, calling for and participating in public demonstrations, inciting hatred against the government and being in contact with exiled members of the the Bahraini opposition.”

Safy was not allowed to sleep for four nights. They slapped him, punched him in the face, and kicked his stomach, shoulders, legs and back. In these four nights, he was handcuffed and not allowed to sit down. All this happens in a cold room like a freezing hell. Typical of Bahraini torturers, they insulted him all the time, called him a Shia traitor conspiring for Iran and a man with no honor. They threatened to rape him and rape his sisters. When Safy is freed, we will surely get to know more details of the nightmare he had to live in prison.

Last year, Safy appeared on Dan Rather’s report on Bahrain. When asked if he feared persecution for speaking openly against the regime, Safy replied, “I do not care anymore. My friends have been imprisoned. Some still in prison. Some in hiding and some are dead… at the end of the day if you don’t have your dignity, lots of things don’t really matter.” For this blogger, persecution is an expected result of his choice to resist the brutality of a dictatorship. His willingness to take the results should be a reason for us to make enough noise in his defense. In a country like Bahrain, free speech is a major crime in the eyes of the regime; this dictatorship is threatened by any effort that criminalizes its authoritarianism and violence.

Many bloggers have already shown support for Safy but many more are needed to fight for our imprisoned friend. We do not want Safy to be alone, we do not want to see death and torture normalized, we do not want to let it be believed that Bahrainis don’t matter, or that their bodies and souls are worthless. Thinking of Safy in prison getting beaten and tortured is enough of a reason for us to feel restless.

 

#FreeSafy Campaign

We urge readers to share this story widely. Use hashtag #FreeSafy and tweet links to this press release or recent reports by Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Use the campaign image above to highlight his case and read more about Safy and the campaign for his release below.

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather interviewed Safy in 2012. See a clip from the news program here:

September 29 2013

Bahrain jails 50 activists for up to 15 years

#Bahrain jails 50 activists for up to 15 years
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/bahrain-jails-50-activists-15-years

http://english.al-akhbar.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/4cols/leading_images/311296-01-08.jpg

A young Bahraini girl poses for a picture during an anti-government protest in the village of Jannusan, west of the capital Manama, on 17 September 2013. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed al-Shaikh)

A Bahraini court on Sunday sentenced 50 protest activists, many of whom were denied access to a lawyer and gave confessions under #Torture, to lengthy jail terms on terrorism-related charges, a rights group said. Separately, two police officers who were jailed for torturing a (...)

#February_14 #Prison #Top_News

September 03 2013

Press Release: Internet Activists Demand Release of Bahraini Blogger Mohammed Hassan

INTERNET ACTIVISTS DEMAND RELEASE OF BAHRAINI BLOGGER MOHAMMED HASSAN

Global Voices Advocacy and bloggers around the world are calling for the release of Mohammed Hassan (Safybh), a young Bahraini blogger and human rights advocate who has been held in detention in Bahrain since July.

Hassan was arrested and taken from his home in Sitra, Bahrain on the morning of July 31. Security agents seized Hassan's computer and other electronics. He was held at the Criminal Investigation Directorate in Manama until August 4, when he was reportedly transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center in the town of Hidd.

His lawyer, Abdulaziz Moosa, was arrested on August 7, allegedly for stating that Hassan had been exposed to torture while in prison.

Hassan reportedly has been charged with being a member of the 14 February Media Network, calling for and participating in public demonstrations, inciting hatred against the government and being in contact with exiled members of the the Bahraini opposition. Multiple sources have reported that he has been beaten while in prison, and forced to confess to charges against him.

Global Voices Advocacy, an international citizen media advocacy network, is calling for Hassan's release. Bahraini activist and Global Voices author Ali Abdulemam, who recently fled Bahrain after enduring years of persecution by authorities, has been active in pressing for Hassan's release. Currently living with political asylum in the UK, Abdulemam has urged international NGOs and foreign governments to intervene on Hassan's behalf:

We are asking for the release of Mohamed Hassan and all bloggers and activists who have been imprisoned because of their efforts to protect human rights and make our society more open. We should not have to sacrifice our rights to free expression and assembly for the safety and security of the state.

Authorities have harassed and detained Hassan several times since early 2012. He was previously summoned for interrogation in June 2012 in connection with his writing and involvement in supporting reforms in the country.

Hassan has long promoted democratic values, protections for human rights, and peace in Bahrain. In 2011, he played an active role in the first Bahraini dialogue, held in Manama. A blogger and author for Global Voices Online, Hassan often covered human rights and politics in Bahrain on his blog, Safybh. Hassan stopped blogging on April 29, 2013.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights both enshrine the right to freedom of expression. As party to both documents, the Kingdom of Bahrain has agreed to protect its citizens rights to speak freely. United Nations representatives have on multiple occasions stressed that these rights must be applied in traditional media as well as online.

We urge the government of Bahrain to release Hassan and call on international NGOs, foreign governments, and other powerful entities to join us in advocating for Hassan's freedom.

For more information or interviews, contact Hisham Almiraat (Director, Global Voices Advocacy) or Ellery Biddle (Editor, Global Voices Advocacy) at advocacy [at] globalvoicesonline [dot] org

 

SUPPORT SAFY

We urge readers to share this story widely. Use hashtag #FreeSafy and tweet links to this press release or recent reports by Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Use the campaign image below to highlight his case. We thank everyone for their support!

Illustration by Jafar al-Alawy

Illustration by Jafar al-Alawy

August 14 2013

Fifty Bloggers Demand the Release of Bahrain's Mohammed Hassan

“Tell them about how you're never really a whole person if you remain silent.” – Audre Lorde

On 31 July, our friend Mohammed Hassan (also known as Safy in the blogging sphere and social media) was arrested from his parents’ house in the Bahraini town of Sitra without an arrest warrant. According to Amnesty International, the twenty-six-year-old blogger is still at the Criminal Investigation Directorate in al-'Adliya located in the capital city of Manama.

Friends of Hassan and his lawyer stated that the blogger has been tortured by security officers. Hassan's lawyer Abdulaziz Mousa was also arrested on 7 August for disclosing names of detainees and details of the investigation without permission. Hassan is accused of “promoting a forced change of the  regime.” It is believed that the arrest of Hassan (and others) in the past few weeks is part of the regime's crackdown against the upcoming protests that are planned on 14 August to call for freedom, justice, and change.

As bloggers from all around the world, we issue this statement in solidarity with our friend Mohammed Hassan. Bahrain continues to expand its record of crimes against bloggers, journalists, and social media users, among others. As the country's press fails to escape state-censorship, the internet has become a powerful tool for oppressed Bahrainis to expose the crimes practiced against them on a daily basis. Collective efforts such as this have caused great embarrassment for the Bahraini regime, which subsequently hired public relations companies to troll activists and spread propaganda. The regime does not shy away from spying on internet users and hacking their accounts in order to find cause to arrest them. The regime's electronic war on Bahrainis is only a fraction of the widespread persecution they face.

We call on the international community and all organizations and bodies dedicated to defending freedoms to pressure the Bahraini regime and demand the release of Mohammed Hassan. We ask all journalists, bloggers, and activists to stand in solidarity with Mohammed Hassan and to highlight his case. Our blogging community cannot rest until our fellow blogger Mohammed Hassan, and others like him who have been arbitrarily jailed, are back with their family and friends.

Signatories:

1- Mona Kareem – Kuwait
2- Mahmoud Omar – Palestine
3- Joey Ayoub – Lebanon
4- Leila Nachawati – Spain
5- Mosa’ab Elshamy – Egypt
6- Imad Stitou- Morocco
7- Hayder Hamzoz – Iraq
8- Ali Abdulemam – Bahrain
9- Ali Alsaffar – Saudi Arabia
10- Ebaa Rezeq – Palestine
11- Youssef Cherif – Tunisia
12- Lilian Wagdy- Egypt
13- Sarah Naguib – Egypt
14- Mohammad Almutawa – Kuwait
15- Wael Abbas – Egypt
16- Mohamed ElGohary – Egypt
17- David Ferreira – United States
18- Ziad Dallal – Lebanon
19- Yusur Al Bahrani- Canada
20- Sara Salem – Egypt
21- Mehreen Kasana – Pakistan
22- Nasser Weddady – Mauritania
23- Tarek Amr – Egypt
24- Mohamed Ali Chebaane – Tunisia
25- Zeinab Mohamed -Egypt
26- Ellery Roberts Biddle – United States
27- Nada Akl – Lebanon
28- Sarah Carr – Egypt
29- Solana Larsen – United States
30- Elizabeth Rivera – Chile
31- Marc Owen Jones – United Kingdom
32- Dima Khatib – Palestine
33- Fazel Hawramy – Kurdistan
34- Samia Errazzouki – Morocco/D.C
35- Raafat Rahim – Egypt
36- Ahmed Mansoor – UAE
37- Anas Qtiesh – Syria
38- Ruslan Trad – Bulgaria/Syria
39- Nora Abdulkarim – Saudi Arabia
40- Afrah Nasser – Yemen
41- Salam (Pax) Abdulmunem – Iraq
42- Ahmed Awadalla – Egypt
43- Budour Hassan – Palestine
44- Yasser Al-Zaiat – Syria
45- Mohamed Mesrati – Libya
46- Hasna Ankal – Belgium/Morocco
47- Ghazi Gheblawi – Libya
48- Rebecca MacKinnon – United States
49 – Marcia Lynx Qualey – United States/Egypt
50 – Jillian C. York – United States

 

Read more about Mohammed Hassan's case:

#FreeSafy – Bahrain Arrests Blogger in Dawn Raid, Global Voices Online

Bahrain: Arrest of Lawyer after Tweeting about Torture of Detained Blogger, Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Bahrain: Urgent appeal in relation to the arrest and detention of Mr Mohammed Hassan, Mr Hussain Hubail and Mr Qassim Zain Aldeen, Article 19

 

July 31 2013

#FreeSafy – Bahrain Arrests Blogger in Dawn Raid

Bahraini blogger Mohamed Hassan was arrested from his home in an early morning raid today, July 31. According to reports, police raided his Sitra home and arrested him, confiscating his telephone and computer in the process. Reports also claim they had an arrest warrant.

The arrest of Mohammed, known as Safy, and who is a Global Voices Online author who has covered Bahrain, drew criticism from netizens. UAE commentator Sultan Al Qassemi tweets:

In a follow up comment, he says the arrest of bloggers was a sign of the times in the region:

And activist Alaa Al Shehabi replies:

This sentiment of an impending crackdown on netizens is a recurring theme this morning. Mohammed Al Maskati, who was previously arrested at the beginning of protests in Bahrain in March 2011, asks:

Like many, Maskati does not believe there needs to be a reason for people to be arrested in restive Bahrain:

Jalal Al Jazeeri salutes Safy for his stance:

Mohammed Al Daaysi says:

And Salma can't find a reason why a blogger like Safy would be arrested:

In April, Safy announced the closure of his blog:

All good things come to an end.

Though my message might have not ended I think my points were delivered, I think it is time now to put a period, close this notebook and start a new one.

He has also stopped tweeting since then. Thousands of people have been arrested since protests calling for political and economic reforms started in Bahrain on February 14, 2011. The witch hunt continues.

July 04 2013

Brazilian Weapons Firm Exports Arms to Arab Countries

[All links lead to sites in Portuguese unless specified otherwise.]

This post, written by Bruno Fonseca and Natalia Viana for Agência Pública, was originally published as a report entitled “Bomba brasileira na pele turca”  (Turks Feel a Brazilian Bomb Firsthand) and is part of the special coverage #IndústriaBrasileiraDeArmas (Brazilian Weapons Industry) on the weapons lobby and industry in Brazil. The story will be published in a series of three articles on Global Voices Online. This is the second part of the series.

Check out the first post: Brazilian Tear Gas Used Against Turkish Protesters

Stand of the firm Condor in the Brazilian pavilion in Turkey in May, 2013. Some of the items on exhibit are the same which would be used against the Turkish population less than one month later. /Agência Pública/Under Creative Commons license

Condor's stand in the Brazilian pavilion in Turkey in May 2013. Some of the items on display were the same which would be used against the Turkish population less than one month later. Agência Pública/Used under Creative Commons license

Less than one month before the beginning of recent anti-government protests in Turkey, the Brazilian government backed a meeting between national weapons firms and foreign buyers in Istanbul. During the International Defense Industry Fair 2013 in Turkey from May 7 and 10, the Brazilian Agency for the Promotion of Exports and Investment (Apex Brasil) and the Brazilian Defense and Security Industries Association (ABIMDE [en]) – whose vice-president, Carlos Frederico Queiroz de Aguiar, is president of Condor – set up an eye-catching display in the Brazilian pavilion.

In the area set aside for Condor, a showcase displayed a variety of metallic projectiles, grenades, and cans of colored sprays, the same as those which would be used a few weeks later in the streets of the same country. Beneath the name of the company in red were ballerina grenades and “diverse defense solutions” – according to the industry jargon – such as 13 types of 40 x 46mm incapacitating munitions for launchers.

Apex hadn't responded to questions about Condor and other Brazilian firms’ incentive in Turkey by the time of this report's publication. According to the Turkish newspaper Sozcu, Minister of Commerce Hayati Yazici stated that in the last 12 months, the country imported 628 tons of tear gas and pepper spray, mostly from Brazil and the United States. These imports were valued at 21 million US dollars.

Condor is the only Brazilian firm that sells weapons to the government of Turkey, according to a statement from their press secretary. In addition to long range projectiles and ballerina grenades, Condor also produces tear gas and pepper sprays, smoke bombs, rubber bullets and stun guns, known as Taser guns.

In 2011, the firm confirmed the sale of weapons to Arab countries, although they denied selling weapons directly to Bahrain, where police cracked down on protesters the following year. Among their clients was the government of the United Arab Emirates, which sent troops in support of the Bahraini government.

In April 2013, Condor signed yet another contract with the government of the UAE, valued at 12 million US dollars, to supply 600,000 units of non-lethal munitions. The agreement was announced during LAADEXPO 2013 [en], the largest defense and security exposition in Latin America, which took place at Riocentro in April.

In February 2013, ABIMDE participated in another weapons fair, this time in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Again, Condor participated in the event as the only Brazilian firm producing non-lethal weapons.

Use of non-lethal weapons questioned in Brazil

Last June 3, 2013, Brazil signed the Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations. According to the text, which aims for the elimination of weapons trade for genocide, terrorists, and international organized crime, “trade in conventional weapons would be regulated, establishing standards for their export and promoting more transparency in their transfer.” Considered a great advance for a country which avoids transparency regarding the sale of Brazilian weapons – the Minister of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade refuses to divulge the numbers of firms which export weapons, for example – the treaty doesn't have specific definitions about the trade of non-lethal weapons. Condor's products are sold to more than 40 countries.

The Ministry of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade refuses to divulge data on Brazilian companies which export arms/Agência Pública/Used under Creative Commons license

The Ministry of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade refuses to divulge data on Brazilian companies which export arms. Agência Pública/Used under Creative Commons license

July 03 2013

Brazilian Tear Gas Used Against Turkish Protesters

[All links lead to sites in Portuguese unless specified otherwise. At the time of writing, Condor's website was offline for maintenance.]

This post, written by Bruno Fonseca and Natalia Viana for Agência Pública, was originally published as a report entitled “Bomba brasileira na pele turca”  (Turks Feel a Brazilian Bomb Firsthandand is part of the special coverage #IndústriaBrasileiraDeArmas (Brazilian Weapons Industry) on the weapons lobby and industry in Brazil. The story will be published in a series of three articles on Global Voices Online. This is the first part of the series.

In 2012, when the inscription “Made in Brazil” marked canisters of tear gas used against pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain, allegedly causing the death of more than a dozen people including a five-day-old baby [en], the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations (Itamaraty) announced [en] that it would investigate whether there were any irregularities in the export of Brazilian tear gas.

However, one year later, Itamaraty states that it is simply observing the case without conducting investigations or taking measures.

In an indignant response, American-Saudi activist Rasheed Abou-Alsamh, the author of a news report from January 2012 denouncing the use of Brazilian tear gas against pro-democracy protesters in Bahrein, wrote [en]:

O Itamaraty deve achar que somos ingênuos.

Itamaraty must find us naive.

In the absence of restrictions [from the Brazilian government] on the exportation of non-lethal arms, the same tear gas, manufactured by the firm Condor SA in Rio de Janeiro, is now employed by the Turkish police in repressing the growing protests against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which have spread to more than 60 locations throughout the country, leaving hundreds wounded and estimates of 2,000 arrested.

Amnesty International confirms the use of Brazilian tear gas during the protests – which began after a peaceful protest against the removal of 600 trees in Taksim Square in Istanbul. American professor Suzette Grillot, who is in the capital city of Ankara, photographed one of the Brazilian canisters used by the police and told Agência Pública:

Um membro do nosso grupo encontrou a cápsula na noite de ontem (3 de junho) em Ankara.

A member of our group found the canister last night (June 3) in Ankara.

An American professor photographed one of the Brazilian tear gas projectiles used by the turkish police. Image: Suzette Grillot/ Under license from Creative Commons

An American professor photographed one of the Brazilian tear gas projectiles used by Turkish police. Image: Suzette Grillot/Used under Creative Commons license.

Brazilian tear gas has been used since the beginning of the protests in Istanbul on May 31. One participant of the Occupy Gezi movement, who preferred not to be identified for fear of reprisal, explains:

Naquele dia, havia apenas um grupo pequeno de ambientalistas. A polícia invadiu o parque às 5h da manhã enquanto essas pessoas dormiam nas barracas. Os policiais queimaram barracas e atacaram os manifestantes com gás lacrimogêneo. Os policiais deveriam atirar os projeteis de gás para cima, mas eles miram nas pessoas. Alguns perderam a visão por serem atingidos diretamente (pelos projeteis), outros são atingidos nos braços e pernas. Existem centenas de vídeos mostrando efeitos do gás: lágrimas, náusea, vômito, dificuldade em respirar.

That day, there was just a small group of environmentalists. The police invaded the park at five in the morning while these people were sleeping in their tents. The police burned tents and attacked the protesters with tear gas. The police should have shot the gas canisters up, but they were aiming at people. Some lost their sight by being directly hit [by the canisters], others were hit in the arms or legs. There are hundreds of videos showing the effects of the gas: tears, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing.

The UN Office on Human Rights asked Turkey to conduct an independent investigation into the conduct of its security forces regarding the protests. The spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Human Rights, Cecile Pouilly, stated:

Estamos preocupados com relatos de uso excessivo de força por agentes legais contra manifestantes.

We are concerned with reports of excessive use of force by law enforcement agents against the protesters.

“Non-lethal” weapons do kill

The shell photographed by the American Suzette Grillot is the remains of a long range tear gas canister (GL 202) produced by Condor, a leader in the production of this type of weapon in Latin America. The canister can reach an average distance of 120 meters (394 feet) and should be targeted before or above obstacles such as walls and barricades “in order to remove people and disperse groups of law-offenders,” according to the manufacturers own description. However, Condor states on its site that incorrect use of the canisters can cause serious damage to health — and even death.

Another photo taken by demonstrators shows a random movement tear gas grenade (GL 310), also known as the “ballerina.” Upon impact with the ground, the bomb bounces back up moving in various directions, spreading the gas over a greater area and avoiding the possibility of the “target” throwing it back in the direction of the police force. The company’s site states that the grenade can ignite fires when it comes in contact with flammable materials.

In a photo made public by the demonstrators, the weapons GL 310 and Gl 202 from Condor are shown (1st and 3rd items from left to right). The 2nd weapon from the left is from Nonlethal Technologies, a company from the United States, which is the principal exporter of non-lethal weapons to Turkey, alongside the Brazilian Condor/Under license from Creative Commons

In a photo made public by demonstrators, the weapons GL 310 and Gl 202 from Condor are shown (1st and 3rd items from left to right). The 2nd weapon from the left is from Nonlethal Technologies, a company from the United States, which is the principal exporter of non-lethal weapons to Turkey, alongside the Brazilian Condor/Used under Creative Commons license.

June 25 2013

New Regulations for Skype and Viber in Bahrain

“Security considerations” are being cited as reasons behind new regulations which could put an end to the use of popular services such as Skype, WhatsApp, Viber and Tango in Bahrain.

Newspapers quoted Minister of State for Communication Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa as saying new regulations were being introduced for Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications, which have become popular across the Gulf region, with millions of users exchanging news, views, photographs, and trivial jokes daily, as well as making free calls and connecting with friends and family.

Al Khalifa is quoted as saying:

“The measures are meant to guarantee there is no clash with traditions and customs in addition to security considerations. They are part of the efforts exerted by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to ensure the existence of regulations that preserve the rights of operators and that there is no abuse of communication applications.”

He said the move was to protect the country's communication sector, adding that a study showed that “100,000 people in Bahrain had used VoIP applications in four days.”

Bahrain seems to be taking the cue from Saudi Arabia, which has already banned the use of Viber in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia blocked the instant messaging application on June 5, 2013, after it threatened to block encrypted communication software, unless it was allowed to spy on users. Other services the Saudi authorities are threatening to block include Skype and mobile messaging service WhatsApp.

According to @Comms_BH, a verified Twitter account, which describes itself as the official account of the Ministry of State for Communications:

@CommsBH: Minister: MoSC is conducting a research study for the purpose of setting up controls over the usage of (VoIP) technology. #Bahrain

@CommsBH: The procedures comes in order to prevent any breaching of observable moral values and traditions as well as for security considerations.

@CommsBH: Legislations and regulations aim to ensure the protection of data and boost the security of international calls and telecom networks.

Online, netizens expressed dismay at the news.

Ahmedroid asks:

@albosta: Shall we kiss free VOiP goodbye #bahrain #skype #asterisk #previousTweet #viber

And Rasha Yousif adds:

@RshRsho: If @Comms_BH blocks viber, tango or Skype I’m burning tires #Bahrain

Burning tyres and blocking roads is a popular sign of protest in restive Bahrain, which has been witnessing almost daily protests since February 14, 2011.

On March 12, the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, Reporters Without Borders named Bahrain as one of five state Enemies of the Internet – “spy states that conduct ystematic online surveillance that results in serious human rights violations.” The other four are Syria, China, Iran and Vietnam.

May 30 2013

Interview: Ali Abdulemam on Human Rights in Bahrain

Bahraini blogger, political activist, and Global Voices author Ali Abdulemam, who had been living in hiding in Bahrain for two years, appeared in London in early May, where he has been granted political asylum by the British government. The founder of BahrainOnline.org, a leading website for political expression and opposition in the Gulf state, Abdulemam was an active organizer of uprisings in the country in 2011. While in hiding, he was tried in absentia by a military court and found guilty of charges related to terrorism and subversion. Readers can learn more about these issues through Global Voices’ Special Coverage of protests and human rights threats in Bahrain.

Global Voices Advocacy Director Hisham Almiraat interviewed Abdulemam in Oslo, shortly after his escape from the island nation.

Hisham Almiraat: Tell us your story in your words.

Ali Abdulemam: How did I get out? I don't want to talk about it because I still need to protect the people who helped me, who hosted me, so I prefer not to talk about this and instead [to] focus on the situation in Bahrain. This is what matters — now I'm free, I'm safe, but the people in Bahrain are still struggling with this [tyrannous] regime. What we all need is to help people in Bahrain get their universal rights. This is what matters. To expose this regime, to understand that it's not any more the Middle Ages, it's the 21st century where everything is open and the exchange of information is available everywhere.

 

HA: Can you say a word about the situation right now in Bahrain and what happens with activists who are there, who are struggling for their rights? How is the situation? Is it getting worse? Is it getting better?

AA: The situation is not developing…attacks on peaceful demonstrations continue. There is no moving forward for reforming, or giving the people their universal rights, there [are] no individual rights, there is no freedom of speech, there is no free press. So the situation is just like a state living 200 years back. The activists [are] struggling with this regime…they cannot move freely, they cannot speak freely, they cannot report what they see. Because [of] the law in Bahrain, the government can do [any]thing to change even a tweet to a criminal offense. But what you can see in the activists and the people in Bahrain is that they have…hope that they can bring change and they have an amount of dignity that no one can take. That's what makes you be sure that the change is coming from the hands of these youth.

 

HA: So you think that the actions of the government instead of breaking the spirit of the Bahraini activists and pro-democracy activists has encouraged them and injected more hope in their community?

AA: I believe the regime failed to reproduce fear inside the people. What the other Arab regimes continue to do in other regions the Bahrain government failed to deliver it to its people. People now, they are not afraid and they believe they are right. No one can break them. And instead as you say, instead of breaking them, it's just making them more and more believe that change is more necessary now than any other time. There is [a] point that everybody should understand: This generation is totally different than any other generation that Bahrain [has seen]. Most generations broke within 2-3 months or 2-3 years. This generation is unbreakable. So if the regime wants this battle to take such a long time, let it be, but I'm convinced that they will not give up until they make the change that they want.

 

HA: Do you think that the international support you had during your time in hiding within Bahrain, do you think that that support has helped your cause and the cause of pro-democracy activists in Bahrain?

AA: Yeah for sure, it's clear that the support that I got from NGOs especially help[ed] a lot in protecting other activists. [It's] clear now that they attacked me, they jailed me, they sentenced me to fifteen years….I wanna just mention something: During my hiding, yes the support from the NGOs had some effect on the government, but the big effect was on me personally, that they still remember[ed] me, that they [wrote] about me, so this cheer[ed] me up and the feeling that whatever I was doing wasn't wrong, that there are people who believe in me, even with the amount of attack by the regime. But still the officials of the NGOs believing that I'm innocent and that all the accusations by the government [were] not true. The effect on me personally was so high.

 

HA: What do you think should be done now that you are free? What do you think should be done now by NGOs and international supporters with regard to the situation in Bahrain? Would you have a word of advice for those international organizations or those individuals who are trying to help?

AA: The first thing I think anybody who wants to work for Bahrain people [should know], [is that] you shouldn't see them as Sunni or Shiite or something. They are human. They need basic human rights. What [is] mentioned in the [Universal] Declaration of Human Rights — we want it in Bahrain. We want equal citizenship, we don't want second class or third class citizenship. So anyone who wants to work for Bahrain, let me just look at them as a human being. And for the NGOs — because, I met with some NGOs, and they were kind of [saying] you have to decrease your demands [in order] for resolution to happen in Bahrain. Well, I believe that it's not my mistake if my universal rights [have] been stolen by the regime, that I should give it to the regime just for the safety and security of the state. I believe that to secure our country for the long term, it's better to have our rights completely without any [restriction]… In short, we are human, regardless of our [faith], and our demands [are] our universal human rights.

 

HA: And finally, would you have a word for the Global Voices community?

AA: Yes, Global Voices helped me so much and kept me remembered by the online activists in the community. I really thank them all. They were really true friends. I would really thank god for letting me work with them once and I'm always thanking my god for all these good friends including Global Voices. I love their work, I was following their website to know what's going on and I just wanted to say that your work…cheered me up and [made] my spirits so high, when I hear that you talk[ed] to this NGO or that EU member, thank you so much for all that you did for me.

HA: Thank you, Ali.

 

Previous Global Voices coverage of Ali Abdulemam:

After Two Years in Hiding, Bahraini Blogger Ali Abdulemam Flees to London

Remembering Ali Abdulemam

Alert: Ali Abdulemam goes missing in Bahrain

May 18 2013

Bahrain Jails Six Twitter Users for Insulting King

Six Twitter users were sentenced to a year in prison each by a Bahrain court on May 15 for allegedly insulting King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on the micro-blogging site.

According to the government-run Bahrain News Agency, the “six suspects” where charged in five different cases “related to the misuse of freedom of expression and defaming His Majesty the King on Twitter.” It added that the six were “charged [with] misusing freedoms of expression and opinion publicly and remanded…in custody ahead of their trial.”

King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain with US Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England. Released to the public domain.

King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain with US Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England. Released to the public domain.

According to the London-based Bahrain Press Association those sentenced are [ar]:

المحكمون بالسجن في بتهمة إهانة الملك في هم: المحامي مهدي البصري، محمود طارش، محسن عبدعلي، حسن عبدعلي، حسن عبدعلي، عمار مكي.

@BahrainPA: Those sentenced to prison with the charges of insulting the king on Twitter are: lawyer Mahdi Al Basri, Mahmood Taresh, Mohsin Abdali, Hassan Abdali, Hassan Abdali and Ammar Makki.

The name Hassan Abdali appears twice and Global Voices Online cannot verify whether it is two separate people or a mistake. A query by Global Voices remained unanswered at the time of writing this post.

The association added:

@BahrainPA: BPA: [we] consider these sentenc[es] unfair provisions that violate the freedom of Expression

Meanwhile, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said that five Twitter users have been sentenced to a year in prison – and called for their immediate release:

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) demands:

  1. the immediate release of those who were arrested due to freedom of opinion and expression and to drop all charges against them;
  2. put an end to the restrictions against social media in Bahrain;
  3. protect the free exchange of information on the Internet and not restrict it.

The sentencing sparked criticism online.

Bahraini Freedom Prayers sees the sentences as a threat to silence other dissidents:

@FreedomPrayers: Last year twitter users sentenced to 6months. This year the offering reached 1yr. If the rest didn't shut up, next it will be 5yrs. #Bahrain

From Cambridge, UK, author Toby Matthiesen tweets:

@TobyMatthiesen: Bahrain court jails 6 tweeters for a year for “insulting” the King. Another sign of GCC trying to limit Twitter impact

And researcher Marc Owen Jones challenges:

@marcowenjones: They couldn't arrest everyone if they all insulted the King on Twitter. Or could they…? #Bahrain

May 15 2013

Bahrain Jails Six Twitter Users for Insulting King

Six Twitter users have been sentenced to a year in prison each by a Bahrain court today for allegedly insulting King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on the micro-blogging site.

According to the government-run Bahrain News Agency, the “six suspects” where charged in five different cases “related to the misuse of freedom of expression and defaming His Majesty the King on twitter.” It added the six were “charged [with] misusing freedoms of expression and opinion publically and remanded .. in custody ahead of their trial.”

According to the London-based Bahrain Press Association those sentenced are [ar]:

المحكمون بالسجن في بتهمة إهانة الملك في هم: المحامي مهدي البصري، محمود طارش، محسن عبدعلي، حسن عبدعلي، حسن عبدعلي، عمار مكي.

@BahrainPA: Those sentenced to prison with the charges of insulting the king on Twitter are: lawyer Mahdi Al Basri, Mahmood Taresh, Mohsin Abdali, Hassan Abdali, Hassan Abdali and Ammar Makki.

Tweets that won't land you in trouble in Bahrain

Tweets that won't land you in trouble in Bahrain


The name Hassan Abdali appears twice and Global Voices Online cannot verfiy whether it is two separate people or a mistake. A query by Global Voices remained unanswered at the time of writing this post.

The association added:

@BahrainPA: BPA: consider these sentencing unfair provisions that violate the freedom of Expression

Meanwhile, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights says five Twitter usershave been sentenced to a year in prison – and calls for their immediate release:

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) demands:

  1. the immediate release of those who were arrested due to freedom of opinion and expression and to drop all charges against them;
  2. put an end to the restrictions against social media in Bahrain;
  3. protect the free exchange of information on the Internet and not restrict it.

The sentencing sparked criticism online.

Bahraini Freedom Prayers sees the sentences as a threat to silence other dissidents:

@FreedomPrayers: Last year twitter users sentenced to 6months. This year the offering reached 1yr. If the rest didn't shut up, next it will be 5yrs. #Bahrain

From Cambridge, the UK, author Toby Matthiesen tweets:

@TobyMatthiesen: Bahrain court jails 6 tweeters for a year for “insulting” the King. Another sign of GCC trying to limit Twitter impact

And researcher Marc Owen Jones challenges:

@marcowenjones: They couldn't arrest everyone if they all insulted the King on Twitter. Or could they…? #Bahrain

February 14 2013

Boy, 16, Killed on Second Anniversary of Bahrain Protests

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011/2013.

A 16-year-old boy was killed in Bahrain today (February 14, 2013), on the second anniversary of the start of widespread Arab Spring-style protests across the country. His death, reportedly from shotgun injuries, sparked anger online – and on the streets.

On Twitter, activist Maryam Alkhawaja shares a photograph of the victim's injuries, saying:


@MARYAMALKHAWAJA
: Graphic: Young protester Hussain AlJazeeri shot at close range with pellets died at the hospital RIP #bahrain #feb14 pic.twitter.com/vBFq2dgW

Al Jazeeri's death was acknowledged by the country's Ministry of Interior Twitter feed as follows:

@moi_bahrain: Operations Room received call from SMC [Salmaniya Medical Complex] reporting an injured individual pronounced dead.Public Prosecutor was informed

His death strikes a raw chord. Two years ago, another victim was killed by police in the same village – Al Daih.

Mohamed Hasan tweets:

@safybh: The place that witnessed the first death on #feb14 2011 is witnessing another today, same persons are still in charge of #bahrain

Alkhawaja adds:

@MARYAMALKHAWAJA: The child killed today is from the same village as Ali Mushaima, first person killed on #feb14 2011 #bahrain

Protesters block the road in Al Qadam, Bahrain, on the second anniversary of widespread protests. Photograph shared on Twitter by @MazenMahdi

Protesters block the road in Al Qadam, Bahrain, on the second anniversary of widespread protests. Photograph shared on Twitter by @MazenMahdi

Doctor Nabeel Tammam tweets [ar]:

يوجد لدينا نظام يقتل الأطفال في #البحرين_مقبرة_حقوق_الانسان واليوم #الشهيد_حسين_الجزيري

@ntammam: We have a regime which kills children in Bahrain, the cemetery of human rights. Today we have a martyr Hussain Al Jazeeri

Abu Omar Al Shafee comments [ar]:

سنتين و #البحرين تدور في حلقة مفرغة وكل متمسك بمطالبة ورؤاه #حسين_الجزيري رحمة الله جزء من هذه الحلقه التي لم تتوقف عن الدوران

@ALSHAF3EE: Two years and Bahrain is rotating in this vicious circle and everyone is holding firmly to his demands and opinions. Hussain Al Jazeeri, may his soul rest in peace, is part of this vicious circle than hasn't stopped rotating

Blogger Mahmood Al Yousif pleads to the authorities:

@mahmood: Today of all days, the regime in #bahrain should temper the use of violence and at least try to give people the freedom of expression #FEB14

And blogger Mohammed AlMaskati concludes:

@emoodz: Way too much anger and frustration in the air.. الله يحفظ البحرين وأهلها [May God protect Bahrain and its people]

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011/2013.

January 26 2013

Video Advocacy Races Forward: 2012’s Dangers & 2013’s Solutions

Video is increasingly at the nexus of opportunity and danger for human rights activists. Video helps activists to document, confront, circumvent, and lobby against oppressive authorities—but it also allows those authorities to stalk them. Here's what we think will happen in 2013.

Elisângela used video against forced evictions in Brazil.

Elisângela used video against forced evictions in Brazil.

Both those using video for good and for evil made big advances in 2012. Activists marshaled video in new ways to tell their stories, share their evidence, and form their communities online. Activists in Brazil told the story of forced evictions ahead of the World Cup. Activists documented military attacks on civilians in Syria. Activists in Burma documented large-scale attacks on the Rohingya minority.

Activists used video to tell their stories—and they succeeded in raising awareness of issues that risked being lost in the cacophony of world affairs. In return, repressive governments developed new ways to use video to target activists.

2013 will undoubtedly see the next stages of this video tech race—in fact, they’ve already taken shape. Activists and their allies are developing defensive security innovations, and we’ll soon see these tools protecting activists as they use video to advance their causes.

Top Video Security Threats of 2012

1. Video as Lure for Malware

Important new video’ popped up in many Syrian Skype chats in the spring and summer of 2012. The intriguing but unremarkable message seemed to contain an innocuous pdf file, but it also came with spyware called “Blackshades.” Using video as a lure, allies of the Syrian regime could now spy through the camera’s webcam, access any file they wanted, and watch every key that was pressed–including passwords. They could use what they learned to target the activist, or to infiltrate his network. The software developer has since suspended new sales, and BlackShades can now be found and removed. But in many cases, the damage was done. Similar attacks in 2012 were waged against Uyghur activists in China, and others in Bahrain, and a fake version of YouTube was created to target Syrian activists.

Video activist Abdel Karim al-Oqda, aka Abu Hassan, was killed by Syrian government forces in 2012

Video activist Abdel Karim al-Oqda, aka Abu Hassan, was killed by Syrian government forces in 2012

2. Identification through Video

Using online videos to identify and target individuals was not a new trend—but regimes rolled it out on a larger scale in 2012, with increased effectiveness and heightened consequences. Video activists often lack the capacity and resources to effectively protect their own identity, as well as the identities of individuals in the videos they’re filming. In 2012, individuals on both sides of the camera were identified and targeted. A prominent videographer was killed; another activist was arrested merely for having the live-streaming app Bambuser on his phone. As video becomes an increasingly central battlefield, anonymity can literally be a life-or-death issue.

3. Evidentiary Failings of Video

One of the biggest threats to activist video is one you might not think of. Activists worldwide are risking their lives to record video that documents atrocities. Both judicial and journalistic bodies may be unable to use videos if they can’t adequately establish the location, the date, and the civilian status of victims, among other things. Much of it lacks the supporting evidence to stand up in court—say, at the International Criminal Court or your newspaper of choice—and the risks these filmmakers take can be in vain.

Top Video Security Solutions for 2013

1. InformaCam

Video activists who want their video to have the credibility to stand up in a court room or a news room can follow a set of guidelines. Soon, those using Android cell phones can use InformaCam. This app automatically embeds data into the video file, such as location (from GPS sensors and wifi signals), and time (from internal clocks). It also creates a ‘digital fingerprint’ to tie a video to a specific camera. Because all of this can be used against activists by the repressive forces they’re fighting, everything is encrypted to keep it safe. WITNESS and our partners at the Guardian Project are developing InformaCam, and we recently received a Knight News Challenge grant to help support the project.

2. Anonymity via ObscuraCam & the YouTube Blurring Tool

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 5.33.14 PMYouTube’s facial blurring tool automatically detects faces in videos, and blurs them to protect the individuals’ identities. This is a huge development—activists use YouTube far more than any other platform to share their video, and this has the potential to save lives. It doesn’t protect video before it’s uploaded, though, which is one reason that WITNESS and the Guardian Project are developing ObscuraCam. ObscuraCam also removes all identifying data stored in photos, including GPS location, data, and phone make and model. These tools can protect individuals who may not even know they’re being filmed, let alone have given their consent.

3. Platform Alternatives

Although some platforms are making efforts to protect the activists who use them, like YouTube with its face-blurring tool, there are still many vulnerabilities that can be exploited with tragic consequences. Skype, a popular tool for video chatting and also sending videos from one activist to another, has recently come under fire. So why not try an alternative? In an impressively thorough article, Lifehacker suggests Jitsi as a safer alternative to Skype. Jitsi encrypts both ends of the conversation, stores nothing online, and uses more secure protocols so “you don't need to worry about that data falling into the wrong hands.” The article also suggests safer alternatives to Facebook (Glassboard) and Dropbox (SpiderOak).

For Better and for Worse: The Revolution Will be Televised

A photo shared by the Saudi Arabia Branch of the Union of Syrian Free Students.

A photo shared by the Saudi Arabia Branch of the Union of Syrian Free Students.

“Protecting Your Account = Protecting Your Friends

A different password for each account”

Videos spread through trusted networks that, like so many things involving human rights video, are a double-edged sword. The Saudi Arabia branch of the Union of Syrian Free Students shared this message because activists’ digital security is increasingly fragile and increasingly important. Video images, social networks, and threats of violence are colliding in very powerful, very dangerous ways.

Wherever human rights issues are being fought, both sides will seek to use video technology. WITNESS will be following these issues through 2013 and beyond.

January 20 2013

Bahrain Police Attack on Woman Stirs Anger

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011/2013.

As Bahrain was pretending to be secure enough to hold a regional sports event, its security men were attacking a woman protester in the middle of Manama, the capital. Last July, Zahra Al-Shaikh was released from prison after being detained and tortured. She stated, in an interview with Bahraini journalist in exile Lamees Dhaif, that the police wanted to force her to work for them. This time, Zahra was arrested in a protest during the football tournament for Gulf countries, which was won by the UAE team. News, pictures, and videos of her arrest were circulated online on the day of the final game, on January 18.

Mohammed, a Bahraini Twitter user, tweeted what he witnessed:

@ba7rainiDXB: A woman is being beaten right in the middle of the capital #Manama by #Bahrain gov merc[enarie]s. Youth and men confronting them.

Online, many refer to the Bahrain police forces as mercenaries - in reference to the foreign security forces and riot police from other countries brought in to crush the unrest in the country.

Later on, the video of her arrest was posted showing a big number of riot police men surrounding her and dragging her as she screams and cries bleeding from her mouth (video posted by Duraz14):

Another video from a different angel tried to show how police men stripped her off her hijab. Men around were trying to stop the riot police. At the end of the video, a man confronts the police about the Hijab and the police man replies that it was her fault (posted by Mr14change)

Many pictures of Zahra were posted on Twitter but within hours, users deleted her pictures - which showed her without the hijab, out of respect. Instead, pictures with her hair blackened out were posted:

“@SafaMohammed: woman being arrested in #Manama #bahrain her head cover was taken off and her mouth bleeding!!”

On Twitter, Zahra's sister tweeted her news:

تم توقيف #زهرة_الشيخ وستعرض غدا على النيابة بعد إتهامها باﻹعتداء على رجال أمن وقذف رموزهم والخروج في مسيرة غير مرخصة

@ZAlshaikh_BH: Zahra AlShaikh was arrested and will see the public prosecution tomorrow facing charges of attacking police men and insulting their symbols and protesting illegally.

AlShaikh was not the only woman arrested. The names of other women arrested were later posted online [ar]:

النساء المعتقلات: #حليمة_الصباغ #زهرة_الشيخ، #حرائر_السيتي: زينب دهيم. خديجة عبد الناصر. فاطمة الجشي.عقيلة المقابي. فاطمة عبدالجليل

@iProtestor: Women arrested are Halima AlSabagh, Zahra AlShaikh, Zainab Dhaim, Khadija Abdulnasser, Fatma Aljishi, Aqila AlMiqabi, and Fatma Abduljalil.

Poet Aayat Alqormozi, who was previously arrested for reciting an anti-government poem at a protest, tweeted:

اعتقال #زهرة_الشيخ بتلك الوحشية أوجع قلوبنا .. مؤلم أن تكون في بلد يتبجح بحقوق المرأة وفي الوقت ذاته يطأ كرامتها برجله #Bahrain

@AayatAlqormozi: The arrest of Zahra Al Shaikh in such a brutal manner breaks the heart. It us painful to live in a country which shows off about women's rights when at the same time it crushes the dignity of women

In reaction, protesters in Nuwaidrat village threw molotov cocktails and blocked the road against riot police to protest the arrest and attack on AlShaikh (video posted by Nuwaidrat Feb):

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011/2013.

January 02 2013

New Year and Old Habits in Bahrain

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011/2012.

While countries around the world ushered in the New Year with fireworks and celebrations, a special line-up of treats from the authorities was awaiting Bahraini protesters.

To mark the beginning of the new year, the Bahrain News Agency published a statement to celebrate the achievements of the previous year, saying:

The Kingdom's impeccable human rights record and bright image remain intact and undistorted by any futile false allegations propagated by hostile megaphones at international functions.

At the same time, Bahrainis experienced New Year's day with many twists. Luckily, some of them have been documented by netizens and found their way to the world wide web, showing the world “impeccable human rights record” and “false allegations” the government is talking about.

Blogger @chanadbh tweeted the link to a video and added a sarcastic comment:

@chanadbh: #Bahrain police officer attacks stationary car with bricks, in self-defense of course http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HraRTyuvpOY …

 

The video shows a riot policeman throwing a brick at a parked car in the village of Jurdab.

Dr Abdulhadi Khalaf, an academic professor who was recently stripped of his Bahraini nationality, shared another video and commented:

 بلطجية الداخلية تحاول كسرأحد أالأبواب****ألهذا السبب تكثر الإصابات بين البلطجية؟

@Abdulhadikhalaf: Ministry of Interior thugs try to break a door****is that why there are numerous injuries among thugs?

@AHRAR_MURQOBAN, a Twitter account dedicated to publishing news of a village in Sitra, published a video of a similar incident. The police forces in this video seem to be speaking in Urdu:

 فيديو : المرتزقة وهم يخططون لأقتحام منزل - سترة - ميادين اللؤلؤhttp://youtu.be/sqQp3BJpy7s  http://fb.me/2rcPUyfkP

@AHRAR_MURQOBAN: Mercenaries planning to raid a house - Sitra

The haziness in the video is not from fog - but as a result of the heavy teargas thrown on villages on a daily basis.

Human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja also shared a video which shows police forces macing women - reportedly - for no apparent reason:

@MARYAMALKHAWAJA: Security forces pepper spray women in their faces for no reason RT@: 1-1-13 http://youtu.be/0wokYBRrxpM  

Twitter user Mahmood Alshaikh tweeted yet another video which shows that no good dead goes unpunished in Bahrain:

#البحرين - سترة: مطاردة الشباب بعد محاولتهم انقاذ عائلة مختنقة 1 1 2013:http://youtu.be/0sTkwcQxxD0 

@M_Alshaikh: Bahrain - Sitra [An island in the east of Bahrain] : Youth chased after trying to rescue a family from suffocation 2013 1 1

Last year, Physicians for Human Rights [@P4HR] stated in their report

Injured protesters whom PHR investigators examined suffered from blunt force trauma and lacerations to
the head, torso, and limbs due to the impact of metal canisters being fired at them by law enforcement officials at close range.

A clear example of that was tweeted by 14 Feb Media Network, a network specialized in publishing news of Bahrain, on New Year's Day:

#المنامة: طلقة مباشرة تصيب أحد الثوار #ميادين_اللؤلؤ 01 01 2013:http://youtu.be/_I-HhhSz87s 

@Feb14Media: Bahrain | Manama : a straight shot hits a protester

Another very similar and clearer video was posted earlier by the same network:

#سترة #سفالة : طلقة مباشرة تصيب رأس أحد المتظاهرين 1/1/2013#البحرين

@Feb14Media:
Sitra - Sufala [A village in the island of Sitra] : a straight shot to the head of a protester 1/1/2013

Police forces must be trained not to discriminate, not even age discrimination as this small child (comments say he is four years old) was not excluded from the joy of celebrating New Year's - the Bahraini way. Moawen explains:

@Moawen: Riot police shoot tear gases that covered a small kid http://youtu.be/4eQmT_M7_is  continuous violations against children's rights:

Journalist Dima Khatib then shared a photo that clearly shows the incident:

@Dima_Khatib: Bahrain… again ! RT @mohmdashoor: any chance you saw this from yesterday? 4 y/o tear-gassed pic.twitter.com/DW7lD5Gl

Photo shows how a small child was teargassed, picture published by @14febonline

Using its Twitter account, the Ministry of Interior issued a formal reply on the events of New Year's day, saying:

@moi_bahrain: Assistant Undersecretary of Legal Affairs: calls in websites to hold gatherings at 3:30PM on Tuesday in various areas in Bahrain are illegal

 

@moi_bahrain: Public gatherings &freedom of expression are protected by the constitution & those who want to benefit from such right should follow the law

@moi_bahrain: Security and legal procedures would be taken against lawbreakers to protect security

At the end of the statement mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Bahrain News Agency stated:

The Kingdom of Bahrain is confidently and surely heading towards the brightest future in 2013.

Personally I hope that will be true.

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011/2012.

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl