Syria: Free Prominent Rights Defenders
Armed Groups Should End Harassment, Abductions
27 May, 2014
(New York, May 27, 2014) – A prominent human rights defender and three of her colleagues believed to be in the custody of an armed opposition group should immediately be freed, 45 civil society organizations said today. Razan Zeitouneh
, Wael Hamada
, Samira Khalil
, and Nazem Hammadi
were abducted on December 9, 2013, in Douma, a city outside Damascus under the control of a number of armed opposition groups.
The armed groups exercising de facto control over Douma should release the activists if they are in their custody, or investigate their abduction and work for their release, the organizations said. The armed groups in Douma include the Army of Islam, headed by Zahran Alloush, which maintains a large armed presence in the area. Countries supportive of these groups, and religious leaders who can influence them, should also press for the immediate and unconditional release of the activists and for an end to abductions, the organizations said.
For nearly six months Zeitouneh and her colleagues have been deprived of their freedom while their families worry about their fate and their communities suffer from the absence of their important work and leadership, the organizations said. The fighters exercising control over Douma have a responsibility to them and to their communities to secure their release.”
A group of armed men abducted Zeitouneh; Hamada, who is Zeitouneh’s husband; Khalil and Hammadi from their office at the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) in Douma. A statement by the VDC said that “an unknown armed group” had stormed into the office, confiscated laptops and documents, and abducted the rights defenders on December 9. Since then, there has been no information on the health, status or whereabouts of Zeitouneh and her team, and no group has claimed responsibility for their abduction or made requests in return for their release.
A few months before her abduction, Zeitounehan had been receiving threats, which she wrote
about in the online news outlet Now Lebanon. She had also informed human rights activists outside Syria
in September that she was being threatened by local armed groups in Douma. In April 2014, Zeitouneh’s family issued a statement
holding Alloush responsible for her and her colleagues’ wellbeing, given the large presence his group maintains in the area.
Zeitouneh, a lawyer who founded the VDC and co-founded the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), a network of civilian local groups that organizes and reports on protests, had been threatened by the government and by anti-government groups over her human rights work.
Zeitouneh and the others are among a number of journalists and human rights defenders believed to have been abducted at the hands of non-state armed opposition groups in areas under their control. Their ongoing detention is a part of a wider campaign of threats and harassment against people seeking to expose abuses by armed opposition groups in Syria, the groups said.
The organizations urged both government and armed opposition groups to stop arbitrarily arresting, abducting and detaining people for their peaceful, journalistic, and humanitarian activities – in line with United Nations Security Council resolution 2139, which demands the release of all arbitrarily detained people in Syria.
Armed groups exercising de facto control in Douma should do all they can to facilitate the release of peaceful activists and journalists, including by mediating with groups both in and outside Douma, and end abductions in areas under their control.
Abductions of human rights defenders by armed groups in Syria are an assault on the very freedoms the armed opposition groups claim to be fighting for, the organizations said.
Co-signing organizations in alphabetical order:
1. Amnesty International
2. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
3. Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates (AFTD)
4. Dawlaty Foundation
5. Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies
6. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
7. Center for civil society and democracy in Syria (CCSDS)
8. Collectif des Familles de Disparus en Algérie (CFDA)
9. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network
10. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
11. Etana Syria
12. Fraternity Center for Democracy and Civil Society
13. Free Syrian Lawyers
14. Front Line Defenders
15. Freedom Days
16. Friends for a NonViolent World
17. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
18. Human Rights Watch
19. Human Rights Association of Turkey (Insan Haklari D. (IHD)
20. ICSFT (International Council Supporting Fair Trial & HR), Geneva
21. Institute for War and Peace Reporting
22. International Media Support (IMS)
23. KISA Action for Equality
24. Kvinna till Kvinna
25. Kurdish Organization
for Defending Human Rights
and Public Freedoms (DAD)
26. Lawyers for Lawyers
27. Ligue Algérienne pour la défense des droits de l’Homme (LADDH)
28. Reporters Without Borders
29. Right to Nonviolence
30. Samir Kassir Foundation
31. Syrian Network for Human Rights
32. Syria Justice & Accountability Center
33. Syrian Nonviolence Movement
34. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
35. Solicitors International Human Rights Group
36. Syrian Observatory For
Organization for Human Rights (Sawasyah
38. Syrian Kurdish Center (S.K.C)
39. The Day After (TDA)
40. The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH)
41. The Syrian Center for Democracy and Dev. Rights (SCDR)
42. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
43. Violations Documentation Center (VDC)
44. World Organization against Torture (OMCT)
45. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
37 Bahraini protestors sentenced to between 5 and 15 years old and a religious singer imprisoned on charges of insulting the king
Kuwait Al-Qabas newspaper, 1 October 2013, Issue No. 14490
Bahraini criminal court yesterday sentenced 37 Bahraini opponents between 5 and 15 years on charges of involvement in the bombing of two cans in Duraz village near Manama, wounding four policemen, according to a judicial source said.
The source said that the court sentenced 27 defendants for five years, while sentenced four defendants to 15 years, and punished six others to 10 years in prison. The court acquitted two other defendants in the case. Among the group of 18 people were tried in absentia.
This comes in the wake of issuance of the same court Sunday of sentences between five and 15 years against 50 other opponents, on charges belonging to the 14 February opposition group accused of terrorism.
Religious Singer Denny
In a related development, a Bahraini court sentenced a religious singer: Mehdi Sehwan for a year and 3 months in prison for insulting the king and the calling for a march. The website of the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat stated that a micro Criminal Court Third, ordered the imprisonment of the (religious singer/ Alradud) Mehdi Sehwan accused of insulting the king, at which time Sehwan denied the charge when it has tell it in two cases.
A Bahraini court has sentenced 50 people to between five and 15 years in jail
Al Jazeera, 30 September, 2013
A Bahraini court has sentenced 50 people to between five and 15 years in jail for setting up a group that organizes anti-government protests, and that authorities say is working to topple the government by force, activists say.
Bahrain has seen almost daily protests by members of the Shia Muslim majority since February 2011, when it crushed a Shia-led uprising demanding that the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty give up power.
Activists said the government had accused those convicted on Sunday of membership of the February 14 movement, which has been organizing protests against the government since 2011.
Bahrain's head of public prosecution had described the group as a terrorist organization.
This was a sham trial with a political verdict, they should be released immediately
Opposition activist Maryam al-Khawaja
Asked for comment, an official said a government statement on the matter was being prepared.
The main Shia opposition party Al Wefaq called it a "black day for justice".
Yousif al-Muhafda from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said that "a group of February 14 activists were sentenced to between five and 15 years in jail".
The group said there were human rights campaigners among those convicted "under the internationally criticised and vague terrorism law", and that the sentences added up to more than 400 years in jail.
"This was a sham trial with a political verdict, they should be released immediately," the group's acting president, Maryam Al-Khawaja, said in a statement.
Mohammed al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, which describes itself as a local rights group, said a member of the society's board had been given a 15-year sentence.
Some of the suspects were convicted in absentia.
Bahrain's Shia Muslims have long complained of entrenched discrimination in areas such as employment and public services, allegations that the Sunni-led government denies.
The persistent unrest has placed Bahrain on the front line of a struggle for regional influence between Sunni Saudi Arabia, Bahrain's close ally, and Shia Iran, which denies Bahraini accusations of fomenting Shia protests.
Iranian human rights activist Sotoudeh: 'Free forever'
By Shirzad Bozorgmehr,
Tehran, Iran (CNN) --
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent Iranian human rights advocate, was among several prisoners released Wednesday from a Tehran prison where she had been jailed since 2010.
"I'm glad, but I'm worried for my friends in prison," she told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in a telephone interview soon after her release, citing other political and human rights activists who remain in prison.
Sotoudeh said authorities at the notorious Evin Prison initially told her she would be allowed out on a short break. They then put her into a car.
It was only after she had been driven out of the gates that one of the prison heads told her, "No, you are free forever, and that's why we're taking you home," she said.
The prison in the capital's northwest section had been her home since she was convicted of acting against national security and other charges related to her work in defending Iranians who were detained after the 2009 elections, which returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency. She was reunited with her husband, Reza Khandan, and her two children.
As a prisoner, Sotoudeh had gone on a hunger strike to express her anger over the effect that her 11-year sentence was having on her family, she said. The term included five years for "acting against national security;" another five years for not wearing a hijab -- a head covering worn by Muslim women -- during a videotaped message; and an additional year for "propaganda against the regime," the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iranreported.
Sotoudeh's release comes just days before world leaders, including Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, attend the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had urged Iran to free jailed opposition leaders, journalists and human rights activists in 2012.
In 2011, a U.S. State Department spokesman called Sotoudeh "a strong voice for rule of law and justice in Iran." Washington praised her release and challenged Rouhani to follow up on it by freeing "all prisoners of conscience," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
"President Rouhani pledged repeatedly during his campaign to restore and expand freedoms for all Iranians, and called for expanded political and social freedoms, including freedom of expression," Harf said in a written statement. "In the months ahead, we hope he will continue to keep his promises to the Iranian people."
Sotoudeh told CNN she expected to be allowed to continue practicing as a lawyer after her release. Asked if she considered it to be a new day for Iran, she noted that "many political prisoners" remain in jail. "But I hope that this will be a new day," she said.
In an earlier telephone interview, Khandan said his wife, who is a lawyer, had another three years of her sentence remaining and he had not been told whether her release was final. But Sotoudeh said that her freedom was not temporary. "Free forever," she said.
Sotoudeh was the attorney for Arash Rahmanipour, one of two men executed by the Islamic republic in early 2010. He was accused of being an enemy of God and belonging to a banned opposition group.
In 2012, she shared the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Human Rights.
Nobel Women’s Initiative No Military Intervention in Syria
16 September, 2013
The Nobel Women’s Initiative Calls for The Nonviolent Resolution of the Crisis over Chemical Weapons Use in Syria: No Military Intervention.
The use of chemical weapons in Syria is a crime that cannot be ignored but bombing Syria is not the answer. Military intervention in Syria can only lead to more death and destruction, and further fuel the volatile situation in the region.
We applaud the vote of the UK’s Parliament against endorsing British involvement in attacks on Syria, and call upon the United States to step back from the brink of attacking yet another country in the Middle East/North Africa region. Such a move can only result in more hatred, more violence and more retaliation.
We call upon the UN Security Council to accept its responsibility to act in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria instead of the ongoing posturing of its members based on their own self-interest instead of concern about the people of Syria.
We urge the Security Council to ensure the nonviolent resolution of this crisis within the ongoing crisis of the civil war in Syria. We call upon the Security Council to refer the matter to the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
We also call on the International Community to urgently convene the Syria Peace Conference, known as Geneva II, and to ensure women meaningfully participate.
The use of chemical weapons is a war crime that should be addressed by the international legal system created precisely for such events. More bombs, more violence, more war will only undercut the ICC and further weaken international humanitarian law.
We call for justice through the Court not through cruise missiles.
Yemen: The death of human rights defender Ibrahim Mothana
| 8 August 2013
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the International Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights (ICSFT) have sadly received reports from Yemen confirming that on 05 September 2013, human rights defender, Ibrahim Mothana died suddenly at home.
Ibrahim Mothanna was born in 1988. He worked successfully in the launch of several initiatives and projects, and implemented many programs to raise awareness in communities throughout Yemen.
He gained considerable experience as a volunteer through his work with many local and international organizations, including UNESCO, the World Bank, the Arab Thought Foundation, and Human Rights Watch.
He was the youngest international for the 2006 local and presidential elections in Yemen, in addition to the 2012 presidential elections in Egypt, the election of the National Congress in Libya, and had also worked as a volunteer in Ethiopia, India, Japan, Germany, and other countries.
In 2010 he became the youngest member of the Advisory Committee for the Arab Thought Foundation, which consists of a group of intellectuals, academics and businessmen of the Arab world. His work was to provide guidelines for the organization to deal with important issues.
The late Ibrahim Mothana also served as the ambassador of the Youth of Arab Thought and Global Change-Makers. He was a business supporter of Oxfam, a graduate of a Swedish nstitute, and one of the young Voices of the UNESCO Education project for Sustainable Development.
The GCHR and the ICSFT express their deep condolences to Ibrahim Mothana's family and friends on this painful and sad loss.
Iraq – Violation of right to peaceful assembly and targeting of human rights defenders
2 September 2013
On 31 August 2013, despite attempts by authorities to block peaceful demonstrations, thousands of protestors took to the streets in Baghdad and many provinces in the country. The demonstrators called for an end to the granting of significant pensions to members of parliament and other senior officials, within a few months or years of service. They also called for better social justice and an end to corruption.
In Baghdad, two groups applied for permits to protest on 31 August, but were refused by Interior Ministry officials, who failed to provide any legitimate reason for refusing the application. It is reported, that an organizer of one of the demonstrations was asked by ministry officials to confirm his home address after he submitted the request, which he viewed as an attempt to intimidate him. In anticipation of the demonstrations, security officials closed many main roads and bridges in Baghdad. Prior to the demonstrations, security forces carried out raids late at night, at the homes of human rights defenders during which they were warned not to participate in the protests. However, despite these attempts to hinder the demonstrations and intimidate the participants, thousands of citizens took to the streets in Baghdad.
In the city of Nasiriyah, even though a licence had been granted for the demonstration, the riot police moved in on the protestors, using stun grenades and water cannons to disperse them. A number of protestors and members of the local police were injured in the process. According to information received, the police arrested four wounded protesters while they were receiving treatment in hospital.
Khalid Ibrahim, co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), who witnessed the demonstrations in Baghdad, said, "the Iraqi government has to respect the right to peaceful demonstration and stop targeting human rights defenders." He added, " Preventing citizens from peacefully protesting and targeting human rights activists happens only in countries that do not respect the civil and human rights of its citizens."
The GCHR and ICSFT express serious concern at the flagrant violation by authorities of the right to freedom of assembly on 31 August 2013. It views this as a serious infringement on the human rights of the citizens of Iraq and an attempt to hinder the work of and intimidate the peaceful human rights defenders in the country.
The GCHR and ICSFT urge the Iraqi government to:
1. Protect and guarantee the right to demonstrate peacefully and stop the targeting of human rights defenders and activists and the obstruction of their various human rights activities;
2. Release all those arrested for their participation in the peaceful demonstrations, which took place on 31 August 2013 immediately and unconditionally;
3.Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Iraq are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR and ICSFT respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to article 5 (a): “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels to meet or assemble peacefully”.
His Majesty King Hamad Congratulated on Arab Honour
The Kingdom of Bahrain will Officially Host the Headquarters of the Arab Human Rights Court
Manama, Sep 1 (BNA) –The Kingdom of Bahrain will officially host the headquarters of the Arab Human Rights Court. The Arab League Council today approved in its evening session the Kingdom Bahrain to host the permanent HQ of the pan-Arab rights tribunal.
Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa congratulated His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa on the Arab honour. Shaikh Khalid paid tribute to HM the King for his farsighted initiative which keeps pace with the aspirations of the Arab peoples. He hailed the pan-Arab court as a quantum leap forward and major step for human rights in the region and the Arab World.
He underscored the importance of the Royal initiative in promoting human rights to keep pace with other developed nations which boast major strides in this field.
"The initiative to establish the court stems from HM the King's firm belief in the importance of human rights and basic human liberties", Shaikh Khalid said. He described the endorsement of Bahrain to host the permanent HQ as a positive step on the right path to disseminate and protect human rights in the Arab World. He stressed Bahrain's firm resolve to spare no effort for the court to achieve its goals and promote the protection of human rights in the Arab World.
UAE- Two human rights defenders
sentenced under new Cyber Crime Law
as delivery of verdict in the case of UAE94 approaches
23 May 2013
The crackdown against human rights defenders in the UAE is continuing as two human rights defenders were sentenced under the new Cyber Crime Law.
On 22 May 2013 the Court of Appeal in Abu Dhabi upheld the sentence of Abdullah Al-Hadidi, sentenced to 10 months in prison for tweeting about the case of the UAE94, of which his father, Abdulrahman Al-Hadidi, is one. He expressed in his tweets concern as to why allegations of torture of the defendants had not been investigated. He was the first person to be sentenced under the new legislation, which severely punishes the right to freedom of expression.
The ICSFT has received information that on 18 May Waleed Al-Shehhi, who was originally arrested on 11 May 2013 and brought to an undisclosed location, was transferred to the central jail in Abu Dhabi, Al-Wathba.
It has been confirmed that he has been charged under Article 28 of the new Cyber Crime Law for disrupting public order. This broad legal provision provides for up to fifteen years in prison for using the Internet to post anything with the intent of inciting to actions, or publishing or disseminating any information, news, caricatures, or other images liable to endanger security and its higher interests or infringe on the public order. This new offence is considered to be a state security crime and as such is not subject to appeal.
These sentences against the human rights defenders come against the backdrop of the trial of the UAE 94. The verdict is scheduled to be handed down at a court session on 2 July 2013. The 13th hearing of the trial took place on 2 May, at which the presentation of both sides’ arguments were concluded. Prominent human rights lawyer Mohammed Al- Roken, argued strongly against the detention and charges against the defendants. He outlined several grounds as to why their prosecution should fail, including the lack of evidence and distortion of records on which to base the charges. He outlined also the lack of fair procedures followed including the failure to produce arrest warrants or to extend the length of detention in accordance with law, the detention of some of the defendants for a period of time in secret prisons and solitary confinement, the lack of access to lawyers for extended periods of up to eight months and the use of torture and ill-treatment.
The ICSFT expresses concern over the sentencing of Abdullah Al-Hadidi and Waleed Al-Shehhi and fears that this new legislation may be used against other human rights defenders who peacefully and legitimately exercise their right to freedom of expression on line. The ICSFT expresses further concern at the on-going detention of the UAE94 and urges the authorities to release them and Abdullah Al-Hadidi and Waleed Al-Shehhi immediately.
The ICSFT urges the authorities in UAE to:
The ICSFT respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration."
- Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against and release Abdullah Al-Hadidi, Waleed Al-Shehhi and the UAE94 detained as a result of their peaceful and legitimate human rights work;
- Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Abdullah Al-Hadidi, Waleed Al-Shehhi and the UAE94 and all others in detention in the UAE;
- Carry out an immediate thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture and breach of fair trial procedures in the case of the UAE 94;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
Bahraini political activist: Hassan Ali Mishaima of Age: 63 ys has been arrested despite his deteriorating Medical Status
Mr. Hassan Ali Mishaima is a Bahraini political activist who has been subjected to detention since the sixties of the last century and was jailed for 6 years and still there in detention.
Medical tests showed he is suffering from cancer in the Lymph nodes. He was sent to London in 2010 but his treatment was stopped due to his refusal to give up his legal requests. He was tortured despite his sickness and old age. Doctors advised that he should receive additional doses for 2 years to guarantee non-return of the disease. But after being detained he was injected by unknown material when his head covered. He was told after the second injection that cancer is still active in his body.
His family supported by a lawyer tried to get a report about his status for further follow up with his doctors in London. But their request was denied despite the Bahrain Committee told that he will be seen by another doctor. Moreover the military court refused to provide them with his medical report.
Lately he was taken with head covered and injected the 3rd dose of unknown material which was alleged as a treatment.
The International Council Supporting Fair Trial considers that all what is going on with Mr. Hassan is in grieve violation to the simplest human rights in getting due medical care. The ICSFT requests the Human Community and all its organizations concerned with HR to stand beside this protester and to do its best to stop all suspicious acts committed by Bahraini Authorities which could be considered as clear attempt to kill him slowly. The ICSFT calls on all of live consciences to act immediately for his release and re-sending him back to London for completion of his treatment.
Please write to the UN Human Rights High Commissioner at: