Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Bahrain’

Tweet To Jail In Bahrain

Dear Gabriel,

Is tweeting a crime in Bahrain?

Ask @NabeelRajab. After tweeting a sentence shorter than the one you’re reading right now to Bahrain’s Prime Minister demanding political change, Nabeel Rajab was arrested.

Is protesting a crime in Bahrain?

For taking that same message to the streets through organized protests, Nabeel was once again charged and this time, sentenced to 3 years in prison. In fact, since May of this year, Nabeel – a prominent leader of the human rights movement in Bahrain – has been kept in a small, dark cell.

Tell Bahraini authorities to free Nabeel Rajab now! Send a message by Tuesday and we’ll amplify your voice during our upcoming demonstration in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, we know that Bahraini authorities aren’t just after Nabeel Rajab. They want to tear down everything he stands for. They want to intimidate others so that no one will stand with him. They want Nabeel Rajab to sit in that small, dark cell and feel alone.

But that won’t happen. Nabeel Rajab will never sit alone in darkness because Amnesty International will always be there to shine a light. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.

Nabeel’s peaceful actions for freedom in Bahrain — from tweets to marching in the streets — exemplify why he is a signature case for Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights event. That is because whether you show solidarity by writing and mailing letters, updating your Facebook status, organizing rallies or taking any solidarity action in between, you can make a difference in the lives of this year’s 10 Write for Rights cases.

Mark your calendars, because from December 5 – 16, we will build upon Amnesty’s 51-year tradition and incredible history of writing letters to save lives. Thousands will gather in classrooms, coffee shops, community centers and more; united by the power of the letter and for the cause of writing for human rights.

But we start building momentum today. Your action for Nabeel Rajab right now will fuel our special demonstration in D.C. on Tuesday to draw attention to Bahrain’s disgraceful treatment of Nabeel Rajab and its crackdown on human rights. For every 100 actions taken, we will hold a special place so that we can represent our full force — that means you! — when we hit the streets.

You’ll just have to stay tuned to see how your actions will add power to our work to free Nabeel. Take action to free Nabeel Rajab now so that we can add your voice to Tuesday’s special demonstration.

The spark for this year’s Write for Rights begins with you, but the flame that burns for Nabeel Rajab and others who defend human rights will last forever.

In Solidarity,

Beth Ann Toupin
Country Specialist, Bahrain
Amnesty International USA

11-year-old Arrested

Dear Gabriel,

One minute, 11-year-old Ali Hassan was playing outside with his friends, like any other kid his age anywhere in the world.

The next minute, Ali was under arrest.

This actually happened: An 11-year-old child is on trial for “illegal gathering” and “disturbing security” in Bahrain.

On July 5, he’ll be sentenced for his “crimes” — and could be imprisoned.

We only have a week left to make an impact on Ali’s case, so we have to be loud. Call on the Bahraini authorities to drop the charges against 11-year-old Ali Hassan. Then be sure to share this action with your friends.

On the day of his arrest, Ali was held for hours and interrogated. Tired, hungry, and scared, Ali finally “confessed.” He was detained for 23 days without access to a lawyer.

Ali’s case is part of a wider crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly in Bahrain. Since mass protests began in the country in February 2011, Bahrain’s security forces have responded brutally with disproportionate violence. And there’s been little accountability for the ongoing human rights violations committed by the Bahraini government, including acts of torture, unjust imprisonment, and even killings.

Things have to change.

The Bahraini government’s crackdown on nonviolent critics is ugly enough. Now with Ali’s arrest and trial, the government’s behavior has become even more shocking.

Ali and his friends found themselves on the wrong side of the law when their playtime coincided with protests in the area. Bahraini police officers stopped them, allegedly threatening to shoot the children if they didn’t do as they were told, and accusing them of purposely blocking the street with trash bins.

The other children got away. Ali was not so lucky. And now he could face jail for being a child in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Playtime should never lead to prison time. Demand that Bahrain respect the right to free speech and assembly, protect the rights of children, and drop the ludicrous charges against 11-year-old Ali Hassan immediately.

For justice,

Sanjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East & North Africa
Amnesty International USA

Help Family In Bahrain

Dear Gabriel,

No one wanted it to come to this, but it has.

My father, prominent Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is on a 9-week hunger strike protesting the life sentence he received for peaceful protest.

In prison, security forces broke his jaw in four places and subjected him to severe physical, psychological and sexual torture. Since his arrest last year, my mother was fired from her job, my sister was arrested five times, and my brothers-in-law were arrested and tortured.

Authorities decide when to let anyone from my family see him. The human rights of my family and of thousands of peaceful Bahrainis like us have been deeply violated by the government.

My father doesn’t want to end his life. He wants to end injustice and violence against the Bahraini people.

Help me break through now, to save his life. Demand the immediate and unconditional release of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

Many governments have shamefully ignored the daily and widespread human rights violations in my country. As controversy swirls around Bahrain’s plans to host the Grand Prix auto race this month, Bahraini authorities desperately try to assure the world that all is back to “business as usual.” But the people of Bahrain continue to call for change, and my father may pay for that goal with his life. Pressure from people like you may force action.

As one activist to another, I ask for your help securing the release of my father and of all of the unjustly imprisoned activists in Bahrain. Delay could mean death.

Please take action for my father today. I am forever grateful for your support.

In solidarity,

Maryam al-Khawaja
Head of Foreign Relations, Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Daughter of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja

Teachers In Bahrain

Dear Gabriel,

Boiling with civic unrest, yesterday marked a dangerous flash point in Bahrain.

Feb. 14 was the first anniversary of widespread protests against the government. The violent crackdown that followed those 2011 protests caused the country to slide into a crisis that still festers with human rights abuses. Yesterday, Bahraini protesters took to the streets to demand that the government keep its promises to make much needed political reforms.

The coming week will bring an appeal hearing for two teacher leaders — Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb — who were punished for organizing a peaceful teacher strike during last year’s protests.

Tell Bahrain’s government: Don’t jail teachers for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Tortured, denied due process, and unfairly convicted of “inciting hatred” and “attempting to overthrow the ruling system by force,” Jalila and Mahdi were sentenced to three and 10 years, respectively. Their next appeal hearing takes place on Feb. 19.

During a December hearing, Mahdi showed obvious signs of being beaten. Our sources say he remains in poor health, yet his lawyer’s request for release on bail was denied. Mahdi may die in prison, and the Bahrain government will have more blood on its hands.

Bahrain’s leaders have pledged reform, yet abuses continue. Protesters like Jalila and Mahdi brave violence day in and day out in their march for basic freedoms.

Show Bahrain’s human rights defenders that we have their back.

Demand justice for Jalila and Mahdi.

In solidarity,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Director, Individuals at Risk Campaign
Amnesty International USA

Support Bahraini People

Dear Gabriel,

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the start of protests in Bahrain. Tens of thousands are expected to take to the streets to protest a government that has committed terrible violence against its own citizens.

When Bahrain’s streets awaken in protest tomorrow, will government forces crack down on peaceful demonstrators again? Will there be more tear gas, torture, killings?

We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. But we do know that tragedy is not inevitable.

Take action for a better tomorrow in Bahrain. Call on the Bahraini government and security forces to respect peaceful protest and assembly — today, tomorrow, and for all the days to come.

As protests enter their second year, the Middle East and North Africa remain in turmoil. As I wrote you over the weekend, the crisis in Syria is escalating. Civil society is under attack in Egypt. We can’t let violence against peaceful protesters rekindle anew in Bahrain.

If the Bahraini government keeps its promises — to end torture and excessive force, to release peaceful protesters from prison, and to hold those responsible for abuses accountable — it should have nothing to fear from nonviolent protests demanding political reforms.

Under pressure, Bahrain’s government has taken some positive steps forward — but human rights violations continue in the country. Scores of people sentenced to prison terms for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly during last year’s protests are still facing criminal charges.

Two of those prisoners, leaders of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association, face a critical hearing this coming weekend that could grant them their freedom — or keep them jailed for years.

The situation in Bahrain is dire, but it is not hopeless — and we can have tremendous influence. Bahrain takes its international image seriously. And since Bahrain is a country with such close ties to the U.S., the Bahraini government is uniquely susceptible to pressure from the U.S. government and U.S.-based activists.

Your action today could mean peace in Bahrain tomorrow. Tell the Bahraini government that you are watching closely — and that when tomorrow comes, you expect them to do the right thing for human rights.

With hope for tomorrow,

Sanjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East and North Africa
Amnesty International USA

Teachers In Bahrain

The nightmare faced by two teachers in Bahrain. It’s why we Write for Rights.

Dear Gabriel,

The terrifying threats. “We can do anything to you. Anything.” Mocked, tortured, threatened. Forced to sign a confession, without even being allowed to read it. Civilians subject to an unjust military trial.

This is the story of two former leaders of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association, Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, who were arrested and ill-treated during this spring’s protests in Bahrain. Jalila and Mahdi are among the 15 cases featured in Amnesty’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon this year.

Write a letter for Jalila and Mahdi, and other urgent human rights cases — join thousands of others worldwide to Write for Rights this December.

Your letters are urgently needed. Next week marks a key milestone in Jalila and Mahdi’s case. One day after International Human Rights Day on December 10th, Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb face an appeal hearing.

Why are these two teachers considered so “dangerous”? Because their trade union called for a teachers strike during Bahraini protests this spring — protests seeking reform of a government that has used torture and excessive force against its own citizens.

Jalila and Mahdi have seen the horrific behavior of Bahrain’s government firsthand. Mahdi spent 64 days in solitary confinement, where he says he was tortured. And when Jalila demanded a lawyer after her arrest, she says the authorities rebuffed her with the chilling words: “Who said you would have a lawyer in here? It’s us, only us. And we have the permission to do anything to you to [get] the testimony we want.”

After unfair trials before a military court, Jalila was sentenced to three years in prison, and Mahdi was sentenced to ten years. It’s clear that Bahrain’s authorities have no regard for human rights.

Don’t let Jalila and Mahdi face their appeal hearing alone. Be there by writing a letter. It’s not too late — join us to Write for Rights.

Thank You,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Director, Individuals at Risk Campaign
Amnesty International USA

No Arms to Bahrain

The U.S. State Department is coming under fire for considering a $53 million arms sale.

Why? Because since February of this year, the military, security and police forces of the prospective buyer — Bahrain — have used such weapons and military equipment to inflict deaths and injuries on protestors demanding greater political freedom.

Moving forward with this arms sale would provide more weapons and equipment to the very Bahraini security forces who have already shot protestors. It would also cross a clear line of U.S. responsibility to protect human rights.

That’s why right now members of Congress, led by Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Jim McGovern, are drawing a sharp line with a resolution aimed at blocking this arms sale.

Urge your Senators and Representatives to join the call to stop the U.S. arms sale to Bahrain!

Bahrain’s horrible record on human rights continues to this day. At the peak of the crackdown, President Obama condemned the “mass arrests and brute force” used by the Bahraini government.

So why is the State Department even considering selling Bahrain more weapons?

Fortunately, the U.S. State Department is showing some signs of responsiveness. Just last week, it agreed to delay the weapons sale until a commission in Bahrain finishes investigating the government’s human rights abuses.

This temporary delay gives us the space we need to break through with a larger message of protecting human rights in Bahrain.

Add your voice — help stop the U.S. arms sale to Bahrain!

In Solidarity,

Sanjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East & North Africa
Amnesty International USA

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