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Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2019

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2019

During August, Shia Rights Watch celebrated the Eid al-Adha by illuminating Time Square, New York. The organization called for solidarity against intolerance and injustice. SRW Eid al- Adha activity can be found here and here

Analysis of anti-Shiism in the first six months of 2019 was published as well. Within the report, SRW researchers shed light on 375 imprisonments, 190 cases of denaturalization, 275 deaths, 77 sentencings, and 143 injuries as a result of anti-Shiism. The report can be viewed here

On the occasion of the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Faith on August 22, 2019, Shia Rights raised awareness on the case of Shia Muslims and vowed advocacy against religious minorities all over the world. 

On the final days of August, Shia Rights Watch released its annual Muharram Advisory. The report notes measures that Shia communities and local and national authorities can take to prevent violence against anti-Shia violence. The report can be found here

Bahrain

Early this month, Osama al-Tamimi, a former member of the Bahrain Council of Representatives, was taken from his home. Al-Tamimi has faced endless harassment. In 2012, al-Tamimi called for the resignation of Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, the Bahraini Prime Minister in a speech. 

Activism is quelled all over Bahrain, regardless of age. Seven minors were detained in house raids at dawn on the 19th. No warrants were presented at the time of the arrest. 

Hunger strikes in Bahrain have gained over 600 partakers within the month of August. The hunger strike began with a hand full of prisoners, and within a few weeks, has grown by 500%. Prisoners in Jaws Prison expressed grievance over inhumane restrictions, lacking conditions and torture. The movement has also gained traction on an international level. Ali Mushaima, son of Hasan Mushaima, resumed his hunger strike in protest of medical negligence in the prison in which his father is being held. Hassan Moushaima was the founding member of a-Wefaq and an active campaigner for democracy in Bahrain. Ali Musahima expresses concern for his father’s health as he suffers from, among others,  diabetes and high blood pressure. Hasan Mushaima is also a lung cancer survivor. His family worries about the relapse of his cancer under lacking conditions of the prison. 

Ali Mushaima held a first hunger strike in summer 2018 during which he held protests outside the Bahraini Embassy in London. In an open letter, Ali asked the  intervention, 

“I would like to ask your majesty to use the influence and strong friendship with the king of Bahrain to help me save my father. All I ask for is for him to be treated humanely, including access to adequate medical treatment, books, and family visitation without subjecting him to humiliating measures.”

The Bahraini government subsequently allowed PET cancer scans for his father and gave Hasan Mushaima access to medical attention as per Ali Mushaima’s requests.  

Mohammad al-Singace is another prisoner whose family has expressed immense worry for. Voice recordings from al-Singace tell tales of deteriorating health. Al-Singace is serving a 10-year prison sentence. He has demanded a fair trial and investigations into torture as conditions to end his hunger strike. 

Activists express concerns about increased violence in the hands of Bahraini authorities in the 2019 hunger strike. Late this month, sources within Jaws prison reported raids and beatings by correctional officers over participation in the hunger strikes. A number of prisoners have fainted as a result of the abuse; 20 others have been thrown into solitary confinement on accusations of inciting the hunger strikes. Visitation rights for many have been revoked raising questions of possible torture and deteriorations of health. 

Hassan al-Ghassra, a prisoner at Jaws, reports unjustified targeting of prisoners by guards. It must be mentioned that Jaws prison does not have a system in which prisoners can report the abuse of power and arbitrary violence in the hands of guards and prison authorities. An example of a lack of accountability is the case of Ali Hassan Daoud, who was granted medical treatment by a judge. Prison authorities have ignored the judge’s orders and have refused Daoud medical attention.  Daoud is serving a 15-year sentence (since 2015) and currently suffering from sharp drops in blood pressure, high fever and severe pains in various parts of his body. 

Shia Rights Watch sources report prisoners are not allowed to congregate in peaceful gatherings, nor are they allowed access to religious texts. 

The Bahrain Interfaith Center called for an end to limitations in access to religious texts and religious practice. Authorities have yet to respond to requests. 

Despite the ongoing conditions of human rights in Bahrain, Shia Rights Watch expresses hope for the release of activists unjustly detained. Najah Yusuf was released amidst other prisoners on an Eid al-Adha pardon  Yusuf was arrested for social media criticism of F1 races in Bahrain; In April 2017, she was arrested after posting a note on Facebook where she wrote “no to F1 race on occupied Bahraini land … the race is nothing more than a way for the Al Khalifa ruling family to whitewash their criminal record of human rights abuses.” 

A number of other prisoners were released under the Alternative Punishment Law. Amira Al-Qashaami, Faten Hussein, Hamida Joumaa and Mona Habib served two and a half of their three-year prison sentences and were freed early in August. 

The release of the activists above and the growing rate of activism for reform in the Kingdom of Bahrain support hope for change. Shia Rights Watch continues to advocate for democracy and human rights and encourages peaceful reform. 

Saudi Arabia

In August, two have passed away as a result of inhumane conditions in Tarfia Prison located in the Qassim region of Saudi Arabia. 

On August 3rd, Sheikh Saleh Abdulaziz al-Dumari died of health complications he had developed at Tarfia prison. Dumairi suffered from heart conditions and was being kept in solitary confinement.

Within days, on the 9th of August, Ahmed Abdullah Abdulrahman Shaa’yi passed away. Shaa’yi was a pro-democracy activist. Circumstances surrounding his death are unknown. His family reports torture and medical negligence.  

Conditions in Saudi prisons are alarming. Leaked medical reports to King Salman indicate severe physical abuse, malnutrition, cuts, bruises, and burns on the bodies of prisoners. Among reports are the following: severe weightloss, continuous vomiting, lacerations on back, chest, abdomen, and thighs, facial pallor (change in skin color as a result of ailment) and reduced mobility as a result of torture. 

Sources report being tied to chairs lashed with cords and electrocuted as forms of torture and coercion to denounce their activism. 

Sources within the Saudi government report multiple advisories to the Saudi King to release ill prisoners to medical centers. Authorities have since ignored calls for medical attention to detainees. 

Shia Rights Watch expresses immense concern for detainees in Saudi Arabian prisons and calls upon authorities within the kingdom to stand consistent with diplomatic statements which state, “Saudi Arabia takes any and all allegations of ill-treatment of defendants awaiting trial or prisoners serving their sentences very seriously.”

Nigeria

Early in the month of August, the Kaduna State High Court granted release of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife on bail, allowing to couple to travel to India for medical treatment. Zakzaky himself suffers from shrapnel fragments in his eyes, hands, and right thigh from previous attacks. Medical reports released show toxins within his system that were linked to multiple strokes in his time in detainment. His wife, Malama Zeenah, has a bullet lodged in her body that should long ago have been removed. 

The couple was allowed treatment given the following conditions: 

  • They would have to accept their costs of treatment and travel, 
  • They would travel only with national security guards in whose hands were permission for any treatment and travel plan, 
  • They would sign an agreement which stated they would not apply for asylum in India. 

Human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana criticized the conditions. He stated, “The so-called agreement is alien to the penal code and the administration of criminal justice law of Kaduna State.” 

None-the-less the couple traveled to India on August 12th. Upon arrival, Zakzaky released a statement stating,

 “We saw that we were practically brought to another detention facility which is even stricter than the one we were in back in Nigeria. They came here with police armed with guns and a lot of staff from the Nigerian embassy. And we also noticed we were brought into another detention that we only came based on trust. I see here that even when I was in Kiri Kiri prison, it wasn’t as constricting as in this situation. So I feel that it is not reasonable to leave detention to seek medical help and we are placed in different detention, and on top of that, we are handed over to be treated by people we do not trust. So based on this we think that Insha Allah by all apparent indications that there is a need for us to return home since we were allowed to travel abroad for medical care and India doesn’t appear to be a safe place for us. ”

Within two days, on the 14th of August, the couple returned from India with grievances of restrictions on their medical treatments. Upon arrival at the airport, the pair were taken in by Nigerian security agents to an unknown location. 

Exact whereabouts of the Zakzaky couple remain undisclosed. 

Afghanistan 

At 10:40 p.m local time on August 17,  a bomb detonated at a wedding in Kabul killing 80 and wounding 160 others; 60 of those dead died on-site, and the other 20 died during recovery- 14 of those deaths were from the family of the bride. A suicide bomber detonated a bomb-laden vehicle placed near the men’s section of the wedding hall located in west Quetta. The area is an area of the city densely populated by Shia Muslims, a fact well known by ISIS militants behind the attack. 

Shia Muslims are frequently targets of violence in the hands of extremist groups rampant in the immediate region.   

Pakistan

On August 16, an improvised explosive device placed under a wooden chair specific to the leader of the prayer in a mosque in Quetta’s Kuchlak area killed four and wounded 20 others on site. 

Quetta is home to a large population of Shia Muslims. The city has also been home to a high rate of bombings such that of the aforementioned incident which targets Shia congregation sites. Residents of Quetta express worry for the safety of their families and have stated that they feel that their local authorities fail to ensure their safety by stopping violence in the hands of violent extremists.

Conclusion 

In addition to presenting anti-Shia incidents in August, Shia Rights Watch expresses worry for the upcoming month of September as it falls coincidental to the holy month of Muharram. 

Congregation and expression of religion are critical parts of Muharram rituals for the Shia. Shia Rights Watch expresses concern for the safety of Shia Muslims in light of increased publicity. 

The organization continues to prioritize human rights and continues to monitor incidents of anti-Shiism. 

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