Posts Tagged ‘GCHR’

Elsa Saade talks about her work for “Gulf Centre for Human Rights”

July 28, 2015

On 26 June 2015 the ISHR (International service for Human Rights) featured a portrait of Elsa Saade, a woman human rights defender who works for the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), an independent, non-profit and non-governmental organisation that works to provide support and protection to human rights defenders in the Gulf region by promoting freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

Elsa, who has worked closely on the issue of women human rights defenders in the Gulf and neighboring countries, explained how women human rights defenders are at particular risk. E.g. she  received a message from a women defender stating that she could no longer talk, that she was going underground. ‘They are threatening to kill me’, she said. ‘They will arrest me. I need to disappear.’ Elsa confirmed that she could not mention the defender’s name or where she is from as it would endanger her life, however highlighted how women not only face pressures from the government or non-state actors when she stands up for human rights, but even faces societal and cultural clashes which could be reflected inside her home.

Elsa explained how States in the Gulf region are mostly patriarchal. The simplest example of patriarchy is the fact that women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive. Two women defenders in Saudi Arabia, Maysaa Al Amoudy and Lujain Al-Hathlol, who were caught driving as a statement to allow women to drive, were arrested and tried in the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh, which deals with cases of terrorism and State security. They currently await sentencing.

Elsa referred to the situation in Iran, KSA, and Syria, which she considers is especially bad. ‘If we hadn’t publicised certain cases, some of our human rights defenders would already be dead. If no-one knew their names, the government wouldn’t consider them, as if they didn’t exist. Those who exercise their right to freedom of expression face death threats, flogging and indefinite prison sentences.’..‘Some defenders fall silent but others gain confidence when bad things happen – it confirms the need to struggle for their rights. Although the conditions are depressing, it is inspiring to see how tragedies motivate women to raise their voice. Out of their misery they create something beautiful.’

At this point, Elsa further referred to cases of women Syrian refugees in Lebanon and how important their role in the house, family and society was. On that account she mentioned several challenges that humanitarian people who help Syrian refugees face. Having worked in the field she highlights that they are often at risk.

As a result of my work I have personally experienced challenges. I was put in a situation were I could have been beaten several times, just because I was helping the Syrian refugees.’ As a woman, and especially after having widened the scope of interest in the region’s several HRD cases, Elsa has begun to feel increasingly vulnerable. The greater the exposure, the greater the risk. In Lebanon the situation is not so bad for women. But on a recent trip to Egypt I felt incredibly paranoid. I was on the constant look out. That is why so many women defenders prefer to stay on the low.’

Elsa is adamant, however, on the necessity of continuing her work to support human rights defenders.

Without human rights defenders, the reality would remain hidden. There is a clash between three concepts: reality, delusion and myth. You have the myth, the image that the State wants to portray; the delusion, as people keep quiet to put bread on the table; and the reality on the ground. Human rights defenders, be they journalists, bloggers, lawyers, teachers or women defenders, portray this reality. They are the ones who ask for accountability, for independent judges, for basic human rights.’

[The Gulf Centre supports and protects human rights defenders in different ways to eventually create a community of strong and safe human rights defenders protected by international mechanisms. Firstly, it can mobilise a network of prominent human rights defenders to generate support amongst each other. Secondly, it runs UN advocacy projects and provides funding and technical assistance for HRDs to attend UN meetings. Thirdly, it allocates private funding for relocation, personal finance, appeals, and assisting with the provision of safe havens in case they are in danger. Fourthly, it runs training workshops on various issues HRDs are in need of and specifically on how to engage with UN mechanisms and protection mechanisms.]

For previous posts on the Gulf center:


Elsa Saade: Human rights defender from the Gulf Centre for Human Rights | ISHR.


June 13, 2013

On 10 June 2013 the Gulf Centre for Human Rights Centre (GCHR) issued a report alleging a widespread pattern of attacks on human rights defenders and journalists in Yemen.

Since Yemen has been engaged in a process of transition to full democracy, the security services have intimidated journalists, allowed the judicial system to be used as a means of attack against them, and failed to investigate violence against human rights defenders. The GCHR has documented multiple cases of attacks, some by the state security forces, but with many being perpetrated by non-state actors. The GCHR calls for an end to the harassment.

Prior to the overwhelmingly peaceful revolution in 2011, attacks were commonplace but easily identified as emanating from the oppressive government of former President Saleh, says the GCHR report. The present pattern of attacks is more unpredictable and their source much harder to identify. “This gives rise to the requirement of even greater vigilance by the authorities to investigate, prevent and punish this wrongdoing, yet the authorities in Yemen have failed to act to investigate the widespread pattern of attacks in the transitional period,” comments GCHR Advisory Board member Melanie Gingell, a British lawyer who carried out a mission to Yemen in April.

Mohamed Al-Absi is a blogger and journalist who specialises in publishing the documents leaked to him from government departments about corrupt practices. He is now on trial on defamation charges and faces many years in jail if convicted. He has exposed corruption at the highest levels over the years and there are now well-founded concerns for his well-being should he be convicted.

– Judge Ahmed Saif Hashid, currently a member of parliament, has fought for social justice in Yemen but was recently the victim of a brutal beating by security forces when he joined a protest of injured people campaigning for their rights outside parliament. There has been no investigation of this attack.

– A Yemen based organisation, Freedom Foundation, has catalogued 109 attacks on journalists by mid-April 2013, including an attempt to bomb the offices of a newspaper, an attempt to assassinate a local journalist in the south of the country, shots fired at the car of a journalist working for the Times newspaper, and threats to cut out the tongue of a local newspaper editor.

– The journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye remains in prison following his arrest and conviction in relation to an article he wrote exposing the aftermath of an US cluster bomb attack on a suspected Al-Qaeda target, thereby discrediting the previous claim of responsibility for that attack by the government of former President Saleh.

The full report is available online in English and Arabic at:

Emirates now start targeting families of detained human rights defenders

February 22, 2013

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) on 16 February 2013 reported that it had received information that authorities in the UAE are targeting family members of human rights defenders (pictured above) currently in detention. Read the rest of this entry »

Yemen undertakes campaign of threats and judicial harassment against HRD Samia Al-Agbry

January 15, 2013

On 12 January 2013 the Gulf Centre for Human Rights expressed its concern at the campaign of defamation, threats, and harassment against journalist and human rights defender Samia Al-Agbry. In addition complaint was lodged against her at the Department of Public Prosecution in the city of Damt. The complainant accused Samia Al-Agbry of allegedly insulting religion in an apparently orchestrated ‘multi-tools’ smear campaign against her. 

On 31 December 2012, Samia Al-Agbry gave a speech at a peaceful gathering in which she said something to the effect that the reason for the elimination of the dreams of people in Yemen to build a civil state is some corrupt individuals who holed up behind religion, military and tribes. The GCHR thinks it is clear that some persons – for political purposes – have twisted her speech in order to target and stop her human rights activities.
It believes that this fierce campaign against Samia Al-Agbry is part of an ongoing trend of harassment of human rights defenders working in Yemen to stop them from continuing their work in defense of human rights.

Number of human rights defenders in detention in Emirates reaches 77

January 7, 2013

On 26 October 2012 I referred in this blog to the controversy raised by a Arab blogger about the status of Human Rights Defenders in the Emirates (UAE) who were described as being in fact intolerant islamists. No enlightening comments were received, so I have to concluded that the attack was a politically motivated defense of government policy. That is this policy is far from HRD friendly is brought home again by a recent press release from the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) which claims that the number of human rights defenders and activists in detention has now reached 77 as the crackdown continues.

On 14 December 2012 an Egyptian journalist was arrested and three Egyptian doctors were arrested four days later (reportedly bringing the total number of Egyptian activists in detention in the UAE to 11).

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights GCHR has issued previous appeals concerning the deteriorating situation in the UAE  ( It is reported that approximately 200 people who are supporters or relatives of human rights defenders and activists are being prohibited from travelling.  For many of them it is only when they have attempted to leave the UAE, often having purchased tickets in advance, that they are informed of this restriction on their freedom of movement.

It is feared that more interrogations and arrest will take place in the near future.Some of the detained human rights defenders have had their detention extended, including prominent human rights lawyers Dr. Mohamed Al-Mansoori and Dr. Mohamed Al-Roken, who had their detention extended on 2 January 2013. It is reported that these extensions are granted as officials have, to date, failed to gather evidence to prosecute those detained. The GCHR call for urgent action, see:

Urgent Action: UAE- Number of human rights defenders & activists in detention reaches 77 as brutal crackdown continues.

Bedoon Human rights defenders arrested and detained in Kuwait

December 3, 2012

On 30 November the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) reports the arrest and detention of  Yousif Al- Zhairy and Khaled Al- Battah. GCHR believes that these arrests form part of on-going harassment of the Bedoon Community at the hands of State authorities. No grounds were provided for their arrest and no charges have been brought against them. The two human rights defenders are sharing a cell and it is reported that they will be detained for ten days as criminal investigations are carried out. Both Khaled Al-Battah and Yousif Al-Zhairy are peaceful human rights activists who have campaigned and protested for the rights of the Bedoon in Kuwait.

via Kuwait- Human rights defenders Yousif Al- Zhairy and Khaled Al- Battah arrested and detained as harassment of Bedoon community continues.