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Summary of Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor 2015 Report

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor has released its 2015 report on the human rights issues around the world. The report details the most serious of human rights problems in the world. Although SRW welcomes this report, we believe justice was not done to Shia Muslims in some country reports such as Azerbaijan.

Shia minority are citizen of most countries around the world, in many of which they face discrimination. Bureau of Democracy collected detailed report on most countries, yet failed to cover discrimination that Shia face on daily bases due to their religion. Even in secular, Muslims led societies where non-Muslims have freedom to practice their religion, Shia Muslims face multiple layers of human rights violations that are not reported. SRW believes such under representation is due to lack of enough awareness about this population. Therefore this NGO aims to increase awareness and educate governments and public about Shia minority by its own publications and adding to already published reports such as 2015 report done by Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Following report intends to summarize what the State Department reported and also add issues that was noted by SRW but was not reported by the State Department.

Bahrain

Bahraini Shia have seen continued discrimination in society through such as arrests, travel bans, and cases of revoked citizenship for a large number of political activists.

Women and children are often subjected to violence. Meanwhile, foreign and domestic workers are often treated inhumanely compared with people of more substantial jobs.

Prison guards were found beating up inmates, public humiliating them, depriving prisoners sleep, denying their right to prayer, and subjecting them to various forms of sexual harassment including the removal of clothing and the threat of rape.

Shia Muslims were found to be tortured more than any other group while in prison, according to the report.

Shia Muslims face high employment discrimination. This discrimination starts with lower educational opportunities as many Shia are denied scholarships as well as admittance into colleges and universities.

Also Shia are statistically more likely to get fired in comparison to their Sunni counterparts.

Shia Muslims are also denied government jobs based on their religion.

Citizenship is another place of high religious discrimination. There have been many reports of Sunnis living in Bahrain less than fifteen years and getting citizenship. On the other hand Shia Muslims living in Bahrain for over fifteen years, and non-Muslims living in Bahrain for over twenty-five years are often denied citizenship.

Religious education is also very limited. For a short time women were banned from entering mosques to prevent bombers from dressing up as women to do a surprise attack. In schools up until the age fourteen only the Sunni doctrine is taught, and is a required class for all students no matter their religion.

Pakistan

The Pakistani police force often fail to protect religious minorities in their country, including Shia. This often helps to account for the large number of suicide bombings that target Shia Muslims.

On February 13 militants attacked a Shia mosque in Peshawar’s Hayatabad district resulting in the deaths of twenty worshipers.

In January a suicide bomber claimed the lives of sixty-two Shia Muslims at a religious center in Shikarpur, Sindh. Hazara Shias have faced continuing attacks by violent extremist groups resulting in the loss of 146 of their lives to date. According to reports, assailants killed at least sixteen people each year in anti-Hazara Shia attacks each year.

On July 6th, gunmen killed two Hazara Muslims as well as a police officer in front of a passport office in Quetta.

On July 17th, a suicide bomber attempting to enter a Hazara neighborhood in Quetta blew himself up, killing two people and on July 28th, gunmen on a motorcycle killed two Hazaras in Quetta. Members of the Hazara ethnic minority, who are Shia, continue to face discrimination and threats of violence in Quetta, Baluchistan. According to press reports and other sources, they were unable to move freely outside of Quetta’s two Hazara-populated enclaves. The targeting of Hazara is dangerous to all Pakistani Shia as authorities confined all Shia religious processions to Hazara enclaves; this means non-Hazara are likely to get hurt or killed in attacks against this group.

Lej was one group responsible for several anti-Shia attack: this includes a bombing on a Shia Muharram procession in Jacobabad, Sindh on October 23 resulting in the deaths of twenty-seven people and another attack on October 22, 2016 when LeJ bombed a mosque and killed eleven Shia Muslims in a rural Kacchi district of Baluchistan.

Saudi Arabia

Many of the anti-Shia attacks in Saudi Arabia have been carried out by ISIS (or Daesh). Two such attacks occurred on May 22 and 29th of 2015 when suicide bombers carried out attacks against Shia worshippers at mosques in Dammam and Qatif resulting in the deaths of twenty-five people and the wounding of several others.

August 6, 2015, a suicide bomber killed fifteen people at a security services’ mosque in Abha. On October 16, 2015 a gunman opened fire outside a Shia hussainia, or congregation hall, in the suburb of Qatif, killing five and injuring several more.

On October 26, a suicide bomber killed two persons at a Shia mosque in Najran. ISIS has claimed responsibility for four attacks on Shia mosques.

Anti-Shia sentiment in Saudi Arabia is not only due to ISIS; in fact government run courts have also been found to discriminate unfairly against Shia Muslims numerous times. Back in September and October a group of Shia Muslims including Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaher were given the death sentence by the Saudi Supreme Court for claiming unlawful treatment by authorities including sleep deprivation and torture.

On October 2016 Sheikh Nimr-al Nimr was sentenced to death on charges of inciting terrorism, meeting with wanted criminals, interfering in the affairs of other countries, and attacking security personnel during arrest. However, according to reports he had only peacefully spoke against the regime. He was not given a transparent arrest or trial as he was prohibited from having a lawyer or seeing any evidence that was used against him. Meanwhile, his nephew was given the death sentence for crimes he had committed as a minor. The punishments given by the Saudi governments are often much too extreme for the “crimes” they coincide with; for example, in November 2014 the Khobar Criminal Court sentenced human rights activist Mekhlef al-Shammary to two years in prison and 200 lashes simply for commenting on twitter that he supported Shia-Sunni reconciliation and because he attended a Shia religious gathering.

Azerbaijan

The Republic of Azerbaijan has displayed a lack of tolerance for any criticism or freedom of speech. Dozens of activists in the area of human rights, politics, journalists, bloggers, and even participants in religious events have been arrested and detained.

The area of Nadaran, Baku has been under special pressure as it has been blockaded off from the rest of the city and has been deprived of electricity and power.

In 2015, nine Shia were killed and thirty-five were arrested.

In November, the police killed four people during a daytime raid at the north part of the capital, Baku.

Several outspoken members of the community were arrested, as well. Since then, there have been ongoing cycles of assault against the Shia of Azerbaijan.

Iraq

According to State Department, Iraq faces severe human rights problems as Da’esh(ISIS) committed the overwhelming number of serious human rights abuses, including attacks against civilians, especially Shia.

ISIS members committed acts of violence on a mass scale, including killing by suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices, execution-style shootings, public beheading, and other forms of executions.

ISIS also engaged in kidnapping, rape, enslavement, forced marriage, sexual violence, committing such acts against civilians from a wide variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds, including Shia, Sunni, Kurds, Christians, and members of other religious and ethnic groups, as well as religious pilgrims.

This group frequently employed suicide attacks and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices . Some attacks targeted government buildings or checkpoints staffed by security forces, while others targeted civilians.

Indonesia

This year in Indonesia 300 of the Shia who were displaced from their homes in 2012 are still living on the outskirts of the community. Shia Muslims are often subjected to societal discrimination including violence.

Conclusion

Shia Rights Watch hopes State Government and human rights NGOs use mentioned information and report to build practical policies to end human rights violations toward all, in this case Shia Muslims. Reports without actions to follow will not improve the quality of life of and experience for any citizen and government.