Incidents of Anti-Shiism in April, 2019
Anti-Shiism in the form of direct violence, discrimination, and marginalization, was reported in number of nations during this month.
Extreme violations carried by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain shucked the international committees even more after both authorities promised reform and more freedom to their people. Pakistani and Iraq also remain unsafe for Shia communities as many violations are reported from these places.
It is important to note that cases of violence noted in this report are in fact only a sample of the incidents of anti-Shiism faces by the worlds Shia minority. Shia Rights Watch recognizes that incidents of violence are in large part not reported as many religious minorities live in fear of further persecution on the basis of their religious identity.
The condition of Bahrain prisons continue to be concerning as more detainees’ health has declined. Families of Hassan Mushaima and Hajer Mansoor Hassan have reported that their doctor appointments are canceled and their right to access medical help is deliberately being denied. Lack of access to medical need, withholding medication and depriving prisoners of medical treatment has been an ongoing problem in Bahrain to the point that two prisoners, Ali Al-Hajji and Mohamed Mirza started hunger strike to bring more attention to such violations.
In addition to bad prison condition, assaults and search inside the prison has left number of detainees injured. Detainees at Bahrain’s Jaw Prison sustained injuries after being assaulted by the guards at the facility. The detainees reported that the guards unexpectedly and violently search the prison cells.
Violation to Freedom of Religion
It has been 156th consecutive weeks that Shia community is banned from performing congregation prayer on Fridays. Shia community state this is direct violation to their right to perform prayers at their own mosque, yet the local authorities have not commented on the issue.
Massive trial ended with revocation of citizenship of 139 people and sentencing all of them to jail on April 16th. The High Criminal Court sentenced 69 suspects to life in prison, thirty-nine of the defendants received sentences up to 10 years, while 23 received 7-year terms. The remainder received up to 5 years.
The detention of Bahraini female detainee, Hadeer Abadi, was extended by an additional 30 days for a fourth consecutive time on April 13th. Although she was not charged of any crime, she is held in detention without any explanations. Her family reported that they have not been able to visit her since her detention started.
The violation and arbitrary arrest of Shia and pro-democracy protests continue in April as unknown number of people was arrested from different Shia populated cities in Bahrain.
Assaults to Shia Scholar
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa insulted an Iraqi Shia scholar and called him “dog” in a tweet posted according to Al Jazeera.
Bahraini authorities dehumanize Shia inside and outside of the jurisdiction and that needs to be addressed, says SRW.
Saudi Arabia‘s record breaking executions is making new history. This Kingdom mass executed another 37 people on its death toll on April 23rd. At least 33 of the victims including Sheikh Mohamed Al-Attiyah belong to oppressed Shia Community of the Saudi Arabia. Although this is not the first time this Kingdom has carried such mass execution, leaving two of the executed men’s bodies publicly hanging from a pole for several hours has sparked controversy for its horrifying display. The families and activists stated that the government used their loved ones’ body to infuse more fear in the society.
Between 2015 and 2017, Saudi Arabia has executed about 150 prisoners each year, according to rights groups. Some of the people were minor at the age of their sentencing.
Furthermore, Saudi forces have reportedly surrounded the Shia populated city of Qatif after the mass execution and prohibited any mourning ceremony for the victims.
The Saudi Kingdom repeatedly demonstrates no interest in bringing peace to its citizen. In fact Saudi uses any opportunity to degrade human life and suppress the voice of democracy.
Saudi Arabia detained eight people, during first week of the April, including two dual U.S.-Saudi citizens, in a new round of arrests in the kingdom targeting individuals supportive of women’s rights. Most of the arrested individuals are women and one is reported to be pregnant. Activists reported that arrestees were placed under travel bans since February 2019.
Saudi court continues to postpone hearings or trials of alleged female activists without any explanations. The court official informed some of the women’s relatives that the session would not take place, citing the judge’s “private reasons” and that he could not provide a new date. Activists believe the authorities postpone trials as a mean to create more mental on the prisoners and their families.
Torture and Abuse
The activists accused the authority of torture however the authorities denied the accusations. Some female activists reported being subjected to electric shocks, sexual abuse and lashings in custody. Pressure on Saudi Arabia over the detention and treatment of political prisoners has resulted in some internal investigation, according to The Guardian. This news outlet stated that according to leaked evidence based medical reports political prisoners in Saudi Arabia are suffering from malnutrition, cuts, bruises and burns.
Bahraini rights campaigner Ebtisam al-Saegh reported that she was denied entry into Saudi Arabia over the weekend. Al-Saegh said in a post on social media that she was “shocked” by the move from Saudi authorities, arguing that there was no legal justification for denying her entry into the kingdom.
On April 12th, an attack hit the city’s Hazarganji district, which is home to a large community from the Hazara Shia Muslim minority, claimed 20 lives and wounded at least 48 others. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, claimed the responsibility and in an statement their spokesman, Qari Saifullah, said “We targeted the Hazara community”.
A Shia scholar, Seyed Hassan Reza Naqavi, was kidnapped by unknown men after his lecture at a local mosque in Karachi.
Another Shia man, Syed Mohammad Mansoor, was arrested in Karachi on April 1st. The family report that they are not aware of his whereabouts and authorities refuse to comment on his charges.
Shia activists state that the government systematically arrests or “kidnaps” Shia. There are number of Shia who are missing and their families blame the government for it. Number of sit-ins was organized throughout the month and some community members started hunger strike and demanded update from local authorities.
At least 15 people were killed in different individual assassinations. Numbers of individuals are attacked every month by unknown masked people mainly in Baghdad.
The government remains unable to protect Shia.
A Shia scholar was assassinated in Hamadan city by unknown killer. Although Shia scholars are constantly limited by the government, it is not clear what the motive behind this violation is.
Although some mass violations, such as ones done by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain during this month receive some international committees attention, these committees remain unable to prevent such violation or to find these governments guilty for their crimes.