Bahrain, hell for human rights defenders

April 11, 2011

Human Rights Watch and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies reported on Wednesday 6 April that hundreds of people have been detained or arbitrarily arrested in Bahrain, activists barred from traveling abroad and several protesters killed as security forces in balaclavas and military fatigues resort to excessive force and storm villages, hospitals and news organizations. They called on the UN to hold an emergency session on Bahrain.

The same day Mohammad al-Maskati, the head of Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, said in an interview with Press TV that the “Bahraini authorities are not only arresting the opposition leaders, but also human rights defenders, doctors, a lot of religious figures … anyone who may affect the situation in Bahrain”.

Bahrain’s leading opposition group, al-Wefaq, also says over 450 opposition activists, including 14 women, have been arrested since the uprising began in the tiny Persian Gulf state in mid-February.

On Thursday 14 April Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain center for Human Rights added during an interview with the Voice of America that the situation is ‘very critical’. “You have approximately one for every 1,000 citizens detained right now for political reasons”. The interviewer, Hilleary, asked what Rajab believed the detained persons are going through “I am afraid that many bloggers and [those] who are active in the net – on Twitter and Facebook – are facing very hard times at this point in time”. 
The interview then turned to his own risk (“are you fearful of speaking out?”). 
Rajab’s reply is worth quoting in full as it shows the uncompromising dedication that many Human Rights Defenders share: “Arrests, harassments and intimidation will never stop an activist who believes in his work and believes in the importance of his work. I do believe in my work very much. I was arrested, as I told you, and I was beaten up, but that has encouraged me to do more activism, believing [that] this situation cannot continue. And this activism that we are doing – it has a cost. The cost might reach – it might be our life – but, you know, once we believe in our work, once I believe in my work, I am willing to see [through] the changes that I am fighting for.

The international human rights movement should ensure that it does not have to come to such sacrifices and that is what this little blog is about.


One Response to “Bahrain, hell for human rights defenders”

  1. Alexandra Bisia Says:

    Will this madness ever stop?

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