High- Level Forum on Combating Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Hatred

On January 17, the Permanent Missions of the United States and Canada to the United Nations, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the United Nations, and the European Union Delegation to the United Nations jointly hosted the High- Level Forum on Combating Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Hatred.

Mustafa Akhwand, Shia Rights Watch’s director, alongside more than hundred activists, civil society representative, and human rights organization’s representative attended the forum to participate in gathering all tools possible to combat Anti-Muslim discrimination, nationally and internationally.

The day-long event at the United Nations examines the rise of anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred globally from the perspective of governmental, nongovernmental, and private sector representatives. It will also focus on best practices to combat anti-Muslim discrimination and highlight strategies that promote positive narratives of pluralism. Forum participants will provide recommendations on effective responses by all sectors of society to address the continued challenge of all forms of discrimination and hatred on the basis of religion or belief in all parts of the world.

After the UN Secretary-General António Guterres offered a video message to open the Forum, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein, addressed the issue of violence against minorities such as Shia Muslims in different countries indicating the rise of hate and discrimination toward minorities and issue of violence against minorities from state and non-state actors. Saperstein urged the governments and Human rights organization to work hand in hand to address the issue finding ways to prevent violence through dialogue and peace building.

Three interactive panels considered necessary and complementary tools to combat anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred in anti-discrimination law enforcement, civil society coalition-building and positive narratives to promote pluralism and inclusion.

They assessed the scope of rising anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred worldwide, compare government and private sector responses, share best practices, and provide concrete recommendations for combating anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred.

 




Peace Day Youth Summit at the United Nations Headquarters

Representative of Shia Rights Watch attended an event sponsored by UNDPI, titled Peace Day. The Peace Day Youth Summit focuses on Youth engagement for peace. Today %50 of the world population is under 30 and 1.8 billion are ages of 11-24. We currently have the largest Youth population in history. Youth Summit event places a global spotlight on sustainable peace and the SDGs and the role of youth in achieving tangible results in eradicating poverty globally and also taking steps forward towards restoring Peace.




Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2016

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2016

This monthly report will analyze the data compiled on Shia deaths, injuries, and arrests that occurred between August 1st and 31st, 2016. This month there were 334 deaths, and 67 wounded in the Shia community. Also 47 to 50 cases of arrest were reported.  Anti-Shia violations were reported in 9 countries during this month, however the reporters are aware that violations are not limited to what is being reported here.

As usual Iraqi Shia face the highest number of casualty and fatality due to bombing and explosions.

Bahrain has highest number of arrest as 31 Shia, including 16 clerics, were arrested.

In August, Shia Muslims were targeted in 9 countries; Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan, Madagascar, Kuwait, Egypt, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

The data for this report was gathered from a variety of different sources. The most well-known incidents of anti-Shiism were retrieved from stories that are reported to Shia Rights Watch by eyewitnesses, each incident is thoroughly evaluated for both authenticity and relevance. For an incident to be included in this report it has to show clear intent to target Shia Muslims and their communities.

Increasing pressure to Shia clerics in different countries such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan worries human right activists as they are the leaders of their communities.

Shia Rights Watch_Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2016

Afghanistan

Three Shia killed and One arrested in Afghanistan during August. Beside historically high violation toward Hazarah community, violation to Shia clerics has increased in Afghanistan. A Shia cleric, Yonus Alawi, was shot to death while returning from daily prayer at local mosque in Herat, And according to local Afghan media sources Taliban beheaded a Hazara, Khair Mohammad, student of Faryab College on August 21, 2016. He was travelling by bus when Taliban stopped the bus near Shirin Tagab, and after identifying him as Shia, dragged him out and beheaded him on spot.

In addition, Sheikh Ghorban Gholampour was arrested by Afghan authorities on August 22nd. No detail is available on his case yet.

A mass arrest happened on August 31st, as authorities arrested 12 to 15 activists and journalist from Hazara community during a protest about a major power transmission line during a visit to the area by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Witnesses report forces assaulted reports and arbitrarily detained them for 24 hours.

Bahrain

Systematic oppression of the Bahraini Shia continues on in the month of August but mostly in a form of arrest and pressure to Shia clerics. 30 Shia, including 16 Shia clerics, were arrested, one center attacked and 47 clerics summoned during this month.

On August 2nd, a Bahraini court postponed activist Nabeel Rajab’s trial until the 5th of September and denied his request for bail. Rajab’s defense team had requested his release over concerns about his health, but the court denied the petition.

On August 4th, a Bahraini court arrested and sentenced 2 Shia clerics to 15 days for participating in peaceful assembly in the neighborhood of Addar.

Bahraini police have arrested four Shia clerics. Sheikh Issa Momen, the Friday prayers leader of Khayf Mosque in the village of Dair, east of the capital Manama, was taken into custody on Saturday.  According to the report, police forces also detained Sheikh Ali al-Hamli, Seyyed Mohsen Qarifi and Sheikh Fazil Zaki in eastern Manama for questioning.

On August 8th, 12 people have been detained and charged with unlawful assembly over demonstrations near the home of a Shia cleric. They were arrested in Diraz in a sit-in in support of Sheikh Isa Qassim, who lost his citizenship in June.

On August 14th, Hani Basira was detained after being summoned for interrogation as the result of his participation in campaign that advocates for Shia clerics.

On August 15 Bahrain court charged Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman and activist and medic Dr. Taha Al-Derazi with illegal gathering accusation. Al-Salman has been released on bail, while Al-Derazi is remanded in custody. Numbers of other activists were arrested following the sit-in of August 14th, however no detailed information is available on their cases.

In another violation, Ra’as Roman, a Shia center was attacked and the management access to the center was limited  since the locks on the door was changed.

  • Sayed Majeed Al-Mashaal
  • Sheikh Mohammad Jawad Al-Shahabi
  •  Sheikh Mounir Al-Maatouk
  • Sheikh Ali Hmaidan
  •  Sheikh Ali Al-Jufairi
  •  Sheikh Imad Al-Shaala
  • Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Khidran
  • Sheikh Hussein Al-Mahrous
  • Sayed Yassine Al-Mosawi

Increased pressure of Shia clerics in Bahrain is threatening the leadership among Bahraini Shia. SRW believe such leaders could be helpful resources to bring peace back to Bahrain only if this kingdom stops violating their rights.

Shia Rights Watch_Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2016_1

Iraq

On average 8 Shia were killed in Iraq as this country continues to have highest number of casualty rate among all countries with Shia rights violation.  Explosion and gunfire are mostly used methods of killing Shia civilians.

Iraq suffered 44 attacks in different cities this month alone. Most of the attacks occurred in Baghdad. Besides Baghdad, Mahmudiyah, Yousefye, Karbala, and Madaen were also highly targeted. 251 Shia were killed as the result of explosions and another 12 wounded. As many as 19 bodies also found mainly in Baghdad worrying Shia community even more.

The deadliest suicide bombing killed 23 in Ain al- Tamur, a town 40 kilometers west of the city of Karbala on August 30th. According to sources four suicide bombers had planned to explode their vest in different areas of the city; however officials arrested three of them after one bomb exploded.

Also, thousands of bodies found in more than 72 mass graves throughout Iraq on August 31st. Graves are located in different areas such as isolated mountains. Human rights activists believe ISIS is only group capable of such crime and victims belong to minority groups such as Shia Muslims. In addition to violation toward Iraqi Shia in their country, they are subject to violation elsewhere too. Shia Iraqi pilgrims were subject to verbal abuse, humiliation and unnecessary search in Medina airport, Saudi Arabia.  Saudi authorities also arrested number of group counselors because they found The Rules of The Pilgrimage book in their belongings. In some cases their luggage were ripped to be searched for Shia prayer books.

Saudi Arabia

Reportedly 9 Shia minors that are threatened currently on death row. They are:

  • Ali al-Nimir
  • Abdullah alZaher
  • Dawood al-Marhoon
  • Hussein Ali alBata
  • Saeed Mohammed alSkafi
  • Salman Amin al-Koraysh
  • Mojtaba alSuwaiket
  • Abdullah Salman Al Surih
  • Hassan Abdul Wahab Al Jazer

On August 31st, two Shia clerics were arrested in Qatif, Saudi Arabia. Mohammad Zain Alhdon and Jaafar Alawi were arrested, no explanation is given yet.

Shia rights violation is expected to increase in Saudi Arabia during Hajj season. In number of cases Saudi Shia were not give permission to participate in Hajj pilgrimage as Saudi authorities denies and limits their right to religion.

Shia Rights Watch_Incidents of Anti-Shiism in August, 2016

Pakistan

79 Pakistani Shia killed and 55 wounded in 4 separate attacks to Shia community in Pakistan.

On August 1st, a targeted attack killed Ghulam Nabi and Mohammad Nabi, two Hazara community members. No group or individual has claimed responsibility as of now.

August 4th, another attack to a bus, in Balochistan, carrying Shia pilgrims to Iran wounded 5 people.

The deadliest attack was on August 8th, as 76 people have been killed and over 50 others injured when a bomb exploded near Civil Hospital in Quetta on Monday. The blast, followed by firing was heard after president of Balochistan Bar Association Advocate Bilal Anwar Kasi was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Quetta

August 13th, Pakistani Shia residence of Dera Ismail Khan reported receiving a threat letter signed by ISIS demanding them to convert to Islam or be killed.

August 22nd, Targeted shooting in Pakistan claimed another Shia life as a 32 year old man was shot and killed on August 22nd.

Egypt

According to number of news outlets, The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) issued a report on July 21 showing that there were 70 incidents of assault against Egyptian Shia during the period from January 2011 to May 2016. However no detailed report is available to activists. SRW contacted EIPR to obtain a copy of the report but received no response yet. Activists believe the agency is not willing to publish the report due to increased anti-Shia activities in Egypt and elsewhere. It is believed such report will endanger Shia population and the agency even more.

Kuwait

Kuwait court has sentenced a Shia Muslim lawmaker, Dashti, to 14 and half years in prison for criticizing the ruling families in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. He strongly criticized the Bahraini regime’s repression of the opposition and Saudi Arabia’s deployment of troops in 2011 to Bahrain to assist the Al Khalifah regime in its crackdown on the peaceful anti-regime protests.

In May 2015, the Dashti called for the foreign minister to be questioned over Kuwait’s involvement in the Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, which he said violated the constitution.

Madagascar

Madagascar has reported its first Shia killing as 19 year old was killed on August 9th.  No group has claimed responsibility yet.  Investigations are still underway.

Another Shia man, Eric Daya, was kidnapped on August 30th. There is no update on his case.

Shia community has lost members due to kidnapping previously. Oun Alac, another Shia man, was kidnapped last year and war never found. His family believe he is dead.

Malaysia

Anti-Shia cleric and a member of Kedah Deputy Mufti Sheikh Marwazi Dziyauddin suggested based on the Security Offences Act (Special Measures) 2012 (Sosma) law must be improved in order to stop spread of Shia teachings in the country. “Generally, we know even the police could not take action against individuals involved in the Shia teaching due to the legal constraints, therefore it is more appropriate that Sosma be amended to enable the authorities to do so” he stated in the National Security Dialogue Session at the Home Ministry Hall in Alor Setar. Anti-Shia activities have increased dramatically in Malaysia although freedom of religion is observed for all other minorities in this country.

Shia Rights Watch_Trend of Violations against Shia Muslims in 2016

Conclusion

As many as 334 Shia killed, 67 wounded and, 47 to 50 arrested and 47 summoned during the month of August in 9 different countries. Anti-Shia violations also included attack to Shia centers, threat to be killed and call for more pressure on Shia communities.

Anti Shi’ism is on the rise in many countries. Shia Rights Watch condemns these acts of violence and urges the international community to put pressure on these governments who are violating these human rights. We must ensure that minorities are able to live a safe, fair, and just life within the communities they live all over the world.
*Note:

Shia Rights Watch has issued a Hajj 2016 Advisory to help Shia pilgrimage during their visit to Saudi Arabia as Shia rights violation increases during Hajj every year.




International Youth Day 2016

As most other International days, International Youth Day is to celebrate youth, talk about its importance and pay more attention to issues concerning this group. August 12 is recognized as International Youth Day by the United Nations.  As a human rights NGO, Shia Rights Watch would like to use this opportunity to focus on Bahrain’s minors.  Although the country has signed the Convention of Rights of Children it has the highest number of children imprisonment.  Many times, the Bahraini government arrests and detains minors for no certain cause and keep them away from their families and  lawyers while in prison.  Most of these minors are pre-teen to teenage citizens.

Children are being detained as they play in the streets, or express their opinions or participate in pro- democracy assemblies. The authorities see them as enemies or a tool to pressure their active parents.  

The narration of Bahraini youth is full of sufferings and terrible conditions in prison.  Many face torture until they confess to accusations and are forced to live in adult detention centers with other adults.  While in prison, youth are being neglected and missing out on education which is detrimental to a child’s development.  Once a child misses an opportunity to education, it is harder to re-enroll in school once released.  Therefore, a vicious cycle evolves.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has documented 237 cases of detained children since 2015.

Under the Convention of Rights of Children, no child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily.  No child should be subject to torture, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults, every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect, and every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance.

Bahrain is clearly not respecting the laws of the Convention.  Human rights are being violated daily.

Shia Rights Watch strongly urges the government of Bahrain and its allies to provide fair treatment to its underage citizens.  We call on Bahrain to give equal rights and liberties to its youth while providing a safe environment for everyone to live.  Bahrain must be held accountable for their crimes against humanity as well as the prison authorities who are torturing these children.  The government must give its youth adequate education even while detained.  Moreover, we call on the government to re-evaluate all allegations against the detained minors.  The children of Bahrain have rights to civil liberties and desire to live in peace, without fear, while having an education to ensure a successful future.

We wish to celebrate International Youth Day of 2017 with zero minor in Bahrain prisons. 




International Day of the World’s Indigenous People “The Case of HAZARA”

Shia Rights Watch believes that all human beings are entitled to equal rights and liberties. Unfortunately, the indigenous Hazara people of Afghanistan are currently being restricted from their full liberties as a persecuted minority. Rather than facing oppression, these indigenous and minority groups should be embraced for the diversity and culture they bring to their home nations. A recent bombing which killed 80 innocent Hazara Shia in Kabul, Afghanistan has heightened our organization’s concern for their safety and protection of rights. Today, August 9th, The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People recognizes that all human beings are equal under the law, and that minority groups are essential to political processes and global discourse.  

The Afghan Hazara minorities who are frequently persecuted as a result of anti-Shia extremism are a priority concern for Shia Rights Watch. This incident reversed the progress made by current Hazara reformists, mostly targeting young leaders who hoped to lead future generations. There are approximately 2.7 million Hazaras in Afghanistan. They were once the largest ethnic group in the country before the 1893 massacre as a result of loss of political autonomy. Today they only make up 9 percent of the Afghan population and according to the World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples the Hazara life expectancy is 47.  The increasing ethnic tensions in the country under extremists and terrorist organizations such as the Taliban have instilled great fear to  Hazara.

Shia Rights Watch has noted the Constitution of Afghanistan has several clauses which provide protection to minorities, including the Shia Hazara. SRW would like to reiterate that according to article twenty-two,  “any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan shall be forbidden. The citizens of Afghanistan, man and woman, have equal rights and duties before the law”

Additionally, the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples articles one and two guarantee indigenous groups these same liberties, stating  “Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law” and  “Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind “

Shia Rights Watch urges the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan government to abide by their constitutions and UN declarations to protect the rights of minorities and encourage its citizens to appreciate its rich diversity.




Interactive dialogue with Candidates for 71st General Assembly Presidency

Shia Rights Watch‘s representative to the United Nations in New York attends an interactive dialogue with candidates for the Presidency of the 71st General Assembly.

Hosted by the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), H.E. Andreas Mavroyiannis, nominated by the Government of Cyprus and H.E. Peter Thomson, nominated by the Government of Fiji addressed important topics related to framework of the General Assembly and answered question by State delegates and Civil Society organization moderated by WFUNA’s Secretary-General, Bonian Golmohammadi.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation. Its powers are to oversee the budget of the United Nations, appoint the non-permanent members to the Security Council, receive reports from other parts of the United Nations and make recommendations in the form of General Assembly Resolutions.

The General Assembly plays a key role in mechanism of the United Nations, and its reliability is directly effective on the outcome of the projects promoted by the United Nations and its bodies. The president of the General Assembly can be an enabler of positive policy adoption for the UN entity at large and by including minorities in the mechanisms of the UN, and standing firm for the Rights of Minorities reassures the civil society, State Delegates, and NGOs of the advancement of UN aims and goals.




Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education

Shia Rights Watch, New York/June; In the Middle East and other countries where violent extremism has effected the stability and growth; violent groups continue targeting educated professionals and continue to promote isolation and radicalization.

The UNSG Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) advocates global citizenship education (GCED) as one of its 3 priority areas. As a GEFI partner, UNESCO leads the technical work in GCED at the global level and seeks to equip learners with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that are based on and instill respect for human rights and diversity, and contribute to building young people’s resilience to violent extremist messaging. On 15 January 2016, the UN Secretary-General presented his Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism to the General Assembly. On 12 February 2016, the General Assembly adopted the resolution which “welcomes the initiative by the Secretary-General, and takes note of his Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism”.

Our expert in De-Radicalization attended a roundtable debate focusing on Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education in the Trusteeship Council Chamber in New York

The roundtable Debate on the Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education will provide a platform for policy-makers, practitioners and researchers to exchange ideas and share their perspectives, innovative solutions and initiatives in the prevention of violent extremism and the role education can play in the different contexts where young people might be susceptible to movements and organizations promoting violent extremism.

 




Shia Rights Watch Engagement at the 31st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council “Recognition of Minorities in Malaysia the case of Shia Muslims”

Recognition of Minorities in Malaysia the case of Shia Muslims

On March 15, 2016 Shia Rights Watch’s UN representative Mujtaba Akhwand  with cooperation with Freemuslim association participated in an item 3 Interactive Dialogue on Minority Issue regarding discrimination against Shia Muslims in Malaysia at 31st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Click here to download a PDF.

Mr. President

Shia Rights Watch and Freemuslim Association would like to thank you and UN bodies for their work. We admire the endless effort of Human Rights advocates around the globe, and like to bring your attention towards Malaysia.  Malaysia’s violation of its own constitution in regards to minorities, and in particular Shia Muslim is alarming to us. According to articles 3(a) and 11 of Malaysian Constitution, shia muslims are not recognized as a religious entity, nor their rights are protected  when terror attacks happen.

Like many other countries, Malaysia is enriched by minorities, culturally and religiously, but unfortunately since they are not included in the country’s constitution,  Shia Muslims have no legal way to address the human rights violations terrorizing their family members, and loved ones. As citizens of Malaysia, they are contributors to Malaysia’s social, cultural, and economical betterment, but their faith is not recognized and are banned to practice their faith.

Since 1996, National Fatwa Committee (CFC) refrained it’s previously recognition of Shia Muslims as Muslims. Furthermore all educational materials that is different from the doctrine of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah, such as Shia doctrine, are recognized as unlawful.  This fatwa was a turning point, lead to increasing amount of discrimination, hate speech, and denial of rights regarding freedom of religion. Currently, four Shia Muslims face trials in court under Shariah Criminal Offences Enactment of 1997 in the state of Johore  based on Malaysia’s constitution, Section 9 and 12.During a court trial in this regard, on January 21st, 2016 the judge orders no public, nor media allowance to the court.   The lack of legal recognition leads to discrimination in all levels of legal system

Fatwas based on Sharia Law address followers of that religious sect, and faith of other citizens in  Malaysia are not considered in the implementation of law. All-inclusiveness in many other countries has led to their stability and ability to coexist, the Fatwa by National Fatwa Committee of Malaysia, decreases the ability of Malaysians to  peacefully pursue their daily lives, without fear of random attacks empowered by Fatwas or  hate speeches by extremists.

 

Thank you




Special Rapporteur Report in the Field of Cultural Rights and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief- Case of Saudi Arabia

March, 2016

Summary of Special Rapporteur report in the field of cultural rights and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief- Case of Saudi Arabia

Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion, Heiner Bielefeldt, and Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on cultural rights stated receiving concerning alleged patterns of continuous demolition of Saudi Arabia’s historical sites and cultural heritages.

Following is a summary of the report:

Mosques, Shrines, and various other sites of religious, historic, and cultural importance in Saudi Arabia have been allegedly destroyed in order to promote a Wahhabi interpretation of Islam in which visitation of the holy sites is prohibited. Saudi Arabia is home to Islam’s two holiest sites; Mecca and Medina.

In fact, it is estimated that over 90% of Saudi Arabia’s historical and archeological heritage has already been destroyed, and that more is planned by the government. The mosques being destroyed includes ones visited by the prophet Muhammad himself and, since 2014, there have been talks to destroy the mosque where the prophet’s body is buried and to move him to an anonymous location at Al-Baqi cemetery. The government has also destroyed the remains of his close friends and family in order to prevent people from seeking out these holy sites.

The government has destroyed many buildings of religious and historical significance under the guise of expansion of the grand mosque; this included tearing down an ancient library in order to add toilets for visitors.

In 2012, the government even demolished the first place the prophet ever taught Islam.

Thousands of years of history have been covered up by hotels, parking lots, and other modern amenities. By January 2015 the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Endowments set 10,000 pieces of property up for demolition.

In order to trivialize their historic or religious significance, many signs were posted stating the places may not have been actually important and that certain prayer was banned in these locations.  The government claimed that destroying such religious things actually helps religiously because it prevents idol worship; a religious sin in their eyes.

A response has been requested within 60 days in which the full threat is laid out, how if effects certain Islamic religious groups and targets them, how potential people affected have been consulted concerning these demolitions, etc.

Read full Report here.




Summary of Special Rapporteur report on Discrimination against Shia in Bahrain

March, 2016

Summary of Special Rapporteur report on Discrimination against Shia in Bahrain

Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, and Heiner Bielefeldt, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, stated receiving concerning alleged patterns of continuous discrimination against Shia citizens (mainly Baharna and Ajam), which have been taking place since 2011 and are undermining their rights to freedom of religion, expression, and culture.

Shia Rights Watch has compiled summaries of each of these cases; you may find them below:

At the United Nations Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteurs reported discrimination against Shia in Bahrain such as…

  • Violence including arrest, torture, use of force
  • Destruction of places of worship
  • Destruction of signs of the presence of Shia citizens in the country
  • Shia marginalization
  • Misinformation regarding their religious and cultural identity through the educational system and the media
  • Citizenship revocation
  • Education and employment violations

Violence

In the immediate aftermath of the 2011 protest movement, the Bahraini authorities have targeted influential leaders of the political opposition as well as citizen protesters, in addition to the excessive use of force against political opposition and protestors.  It is alleged that repressive actions have been particularly aimed at, or were used specifically against Baharna and Ajam citizens; distinct ethnical groups whose members predominantly belong to the Shia faith.

Shia Heritage and Identity:

  • According to the report, Bahraini government has demolished or restricted access to several Shia mosques that were religiously and culturally significant. This included the three centuries old Abu Dharr Mosque and Al Khamis, one of the oldest Shia mosques in the peninsula.
  • Bahraini authorities censor education and historical narratives to marginalize the history of Shia’s, specifically Baharana’s, existence in the country for centuries. Increasing effort after 2011 is to associate Shia with Safavid loyalists who are foreign led and therefore do not share historical background with the rest of the population.

Media and Communication:

  • Numerous journalists and independent communication activists have been arrested, fined, and pressured to close protest and civil unrest coverage.
  • State media and information services use their outlets to spread hate speeches.
  • The Cyber Safety Directorate created in November 2013, blocks access in Bahrain to numerous websites expressing views about the Shia belief.

Employment and Housing:

  • Shia are excluded in almost all governmental positions. Although the government hires foreigners at department of education, Shia cannot be employed by the departments. Limitation in employment resulted in unemployment and therefore many Shia have to live in underprivileged areas that often lack clean water and other important services.

Citizenship:

As of 2008, 2,000 people are stateless and majority of them belong to Shia groups such as Ajam and Bahrainis. Such status oppresses Shia furthermore as they cannot access social welfare, education, and employment. As the result this population often ends up living in poverty.

Based on presented report, the following articles were violated by the Bahraini government…

  • Articles 2, 18, 19, 20, 26, and 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR)
  • Article 2, 6, 9, 11, 13, and 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),
  • Articles 5 and 7 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD),
  • Article 29 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

SRW, along with other human rights NGOs, has been reporting such violations and this recent report by Special Rapporteurs is further evidence that the Bahraini government is violating many international laws including its own constitution in some cases and must be hold responsible for its actions by international committees.

Read original report here: