In the West, people spend the holiday season taking action to promote their communities- they pay-off layaways and convene to share the spirit of compassion with those less fortunate.
This year, however, amidst congratulatory Christmas and New Years’ messages, concerns of human rights violations loom. While the holiday season is renowned for prosociality and giving, Shia advocates worry about the detrimental loss of life in detainees in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Mohammad Ramadhan, a pro-democracy activist currently under arbitrary detention in Bahrain, faces the death penalty on Christmas day along with his co-defendant Hussain Moosa.
Ramadhan was a security officer on night-shift when authorities took him to the Criminal Investigation Directorate. Once inside the building, he was blindfolded, stripped of his clothing, and beaten with metal rods. Officers labeled him a traitor and threatened to assault his family members if he did not confess to crimes against the State, crimes he did not commit. Ramadhan was charged and not granted access to a lawyer until only after a death sentence was passed against him.
A final decision was supposed to be announced on November 27, 2019. Authorities postponed the verdict to Christmas Day.
Advocates note that the postponing of Ramadhan’s hearing to Christmas will reduce international oversight on the case. Some note an increased prevalence of verdict executions on dates with limited foreign correspondence. One supporting case (among others) is that of the execution of Ali Mohamed Hakeem al-Arab, Ahmed Isa Ahmed Isa al-Malali, and another in July 2019 while critical British MPs were in the summer holiday. Numerous activists have reported deliberate planning to be a means of avoiding foreign involvement.
Bahrain’s authorities are using Christmas, a holiday centered around love and community, to sway criticism against the execution of Mohammad Ramadhan and Hussain Moosa.
This year, let’s spend our Christmas in the application of the values that make this season so grand. The holiday season is an opportunity to spread values of civil and social responsibility and to raise awareness for those less fortunate.
Shia Rights Watch asks all members of the international community to make the oversight of cases such that of Ramadhan and Moosa a part of their Christmas rituals. Voice concerns and prayers publicly to communicate that although the holidays are a “break” from the every-day, conditions related to human rights are always monitored.
The coalition for human rights is restless, Christmas and all.