Bahrainís Activists under Pressure: Either Work as Informants for Regime or Face Retaliation

2017-05-30 - 5:27 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): It's no wonder that Bahrain's name was mentioned in the international campaign launched by Amnesty International aimed at recognizing human rights defenders and protecting them. Information circulating inside Bahrain reveals that human rights defenders and activists in general are facing a difficult stage; as they are being summoned, harassed and their properties and houses raided.

The regime aims at turning human rights activists and defenders into informants by intimidating them. This is the aim of the endless pressure the human rights activists are being subjected to.

According to information given by HR defenders, with whom Bahrain Mirror spoke, the state's security apparatus, in particular, officer Jihad Al-Majed and another from Al-Daen family among others are blackmailing human rights activists and threatening them for the purpose of recruiting them.

Places of summoning vary; as defenders are sometimes being summoned to Al-Muharraq station and at other times to Al-Nabih Saleh. One of the activists stated that officers offered amounts of money for the activists and defenders in the last wave of summoning in return for releasing them to spy on their colleges and provide the state's security apparatus with information. One of the officers mentioned a figure who was summoned and said since that "he did not accept our offer, he is now rotting behind bars now."

The money and bribes offered by the security apparatus vary between one figure and another. Human rights activists and opposers got the message when three cars belonging to figures were set to fire.  The car of the Secretary General of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions, Sayed Salman Al-Mahfouz was set to fire and so was the case with the political assistant of Al-Wefaq Secretary General Khalil Al-Marzooq. Human rights activist Ibtisam Al-Saegh's vehicle was also burnt after a media campaign in which a number of pro-government writers like Said Al-Hamad and others took part in. Activists considered this act to be the most dangerous threat made by the authorities who wanted to send a message stating that the house or family of any activist has become a target.

Families of human rights activists and defenders are being targeted as well. The regime targeted the mother and sister-in-law of the UK-based activist Ahmed Al-Wedaei and arrested them over claims of engaging in activities under terrorism law. Father of activist Yousif Al-Houri, who resides in Germany, was also targeted and so was the father of the UK-based activist Isa Al-A'ali. The families of the activists were targeted after their sons were willing to stage a protest against the King's attendance at a royal horse show in Windsor, Britain.

Activists outside Bahrain also confirmed to Bahrain Mirror receiving direct threats. They said that they received calls threatening them that their families inside Bahrain will be targeted, as these activists live abroad.

This is how the regime with a mafia and killing mentality is managing things now. An activist who was threatened says that the regime wants to put us under its control by force and that if it fails to recruit any, it seeks revenge against him or his family. A few hours before writing this report, a Bahraini citizen and his wife were summoned, beaten and insulted just because this citizen is a relative of an opposition figure whom the state's security apparatus failed to recruit.

Amnesty's Secretary-General Salil Shetty said in a worldwide campaign to recognize human rights defenders and protect them: "Those who dare to make a stand for human rights are coming under attack in more and more places, on an alarming scale. They are facing an onslaught of harassment, intimidation, smear campaigns, ill-treatment, and unlawful detention. They are even being killed - just for standing up for what is right."

The organization's report classified the types of attacks and assaults against human rights defenders in the world, mentioning statistics and examples on the most important attacks in the countries characterized in the report by the increase of these attacks.

Bahrain's name was mentioned among the names of a small number of countries characterized by the report for the increase of attacks and assaults against human rights defenders.

As for the inclusive surveillance on the human rights defenders through the Internet or other means, the report stated that "Bahraini activists in exile have been tracked by their government using spyware," highlighting that surveillance laws and practices have a widespread damaging effect on communities and societies, causing human rights defenders to self-censor out of fear, and refrain from exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

A human rights activist highlights that those who turned into informants have become known to the international organizations and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) and notes that "the official delegation affiliated to the UNCHR in Geneva recorded all his conversations and sent them to security officials in the Ministry of Interior. This is a shameful act that wouldn't be committed by any independent activist."

Arabic Version



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