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Shia Rights Watch Illuminates Time Square, NYC

SRW celebrates Eid al- Adha in Times Square, NYC

Shia Rights Watch illuminated New York streets in preparation for Eid al- Adha. On Sunday, August 11, 2019, Shia Rights Watch congratulated Muslims and non-Muslims alike on the auspicious occasion of Eid al-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice, through a never – before televised broadcast in Times Square, New York, one of the busiest locations in the United States. The Shia-based broadcast was the first of its kind.

SRW celebrates Eid al- Adha in Times Square, NYC

The broadcast came parallel to the airing of words from the Shia Theologian, Sayed Sadiq Shirazi who stated, “Peaceful coexistence comes from mutual understanding and forgiveness; thrive to achieve the peace you seek.” 

Sayed Sadiq Shirazi is a prominent leader of Shia Islam both in the West and in the East. He is a leading voice in the study of theology and one of the most prominent independent religious leaders in the world. His call for global Shia unity void of cultural and political attachments has led to substantial growth in his followership in the United States and Europe in the past decade. 

Shia Rights Watch believes the televised broadcasts are a direct counter to anti-Islamic rhetoric. The message of peace supports the image of an inclusive Islam as a religion of mutual understanding and nonviolence. It serves as a message for both Muslims and non-Muslims. For members of the Islamic faith, the promotion of Eid serves as a reminder of their role as advocates of non-violence. And for those who are not of the Muslim community, Eid promotions highlight the values of their Muslim brothers and sisters and serve as a reminder of their multicultural nation. 

Moreover, public broadcast communicates prosocial expectations across cultures. By promoting religious celebrations, not only can non-Muslims become aware of religious traditions of the Muslim community members, Muslims themselves can be empowered to share their religious heritage with the larger society in which they live. 

Similar efforts have taken place in other areas of the United States. Advocacy for religious freedom has led to the recognition of Islamic traditions in schools and work-places. Schools in many counties in states such as New York and Virginia grant leave in addition to congratulating their students with custom Eid messages. Companies and corporations allow their Muslim employees time off to attend Eid prayers. 

Shia Rights Watch continues its efforts to pioneer the promotion of diversity through education at local and international levels. The organization strives to advance peace-efforts in hopes of building a world in which minority groups can support each other’s wellbeing. 

On the occasion of Eid al-Adha

Shia Rights Watch expresses its best wishes on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, to not just members of the Muslim nation, but to the international community.

Eid al-Adha, regarded by some as the Festival of Sacrifice,  calls for the honoring of Abrahams sacrifice, an occasion recognized in Abrahamic religions. While the event is marked by varying names across cultures and religions, observation of this day serves as a recollection of the basis of humanity: altruism.

Traditionally, communities spend al-Adha in celebration of their immediate communities. This year, Shia Rights Watch calls on the observance of the sacrifices made by Shia Muslims all over the world. 

In July 2019 alone, 453 violations were reported against Shia Muslims, of which 53 were civilian deaths and 198 injuries resulting from bombings and police brutality in pro-equal rights protests. 

In Bahrain, activists are denaturalized, and in a number of cases, executed, for pro-democracy activities. In Nigeria, protesters who stand in the face of state discrimination and limitations in the expression are treated with the utmost violence. In Saudi Arabia, residents of Shia majority towns face the constant threat of raids and shootings by State officers. Yet, all over the world, Shia Muslims still cite prosociality as the basis for their actions. 

This eid, in addition to congratulating everyone on the auspicious event of al-Adha, Shia Rights Watch calls on the international community to recognize the lives lost in aims of obtaining human rights. 

Let this day serve as a reminder that we are all members of a singular global community. Shia Rights Watch wishes everyone an Eid filled with humanity. 

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in July, 2019

Incidents of Anti-Shiism, July 2019

Anti-Shiism events have been witnessed in many countries, such as Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Most violation reports are from Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Bahrain. Anti-Shia violations include but are not limited to, imprisonment, physical and emotional torture, limited or no access to medical assistance, hate speech, explosion, and executions. 

The violations include the following:

  • 53 civilians killed during explosions and protests, 
  • 198 wounded during bomb attacks, by police brutality in demonstrations, and explosions,
  • 159 arrested and 39 received sentences,
  • Four damages to properties, such as cars, mosques, houses, and markets by terrorist attacks,
  • In total, 453 violations against Shia were reported. 

 

It is important to reinforce that the reports are only a sample of anti-Shiism violations. Any violations not cataloged in this report are still valid and deserve to be recognized. Shia Rights Watch notes that violence against Shia Muslims is underreported by victims and by media outlets since many religious minorities live in fear of further persecution. 

AFGHANISTAN

The main form of violation in Afghanistan was explosions by terrorist groups; 27 people were killed and 94 were injured during three separate attacks. Two of the attacks occurred early in the month in Khwaja Sabz Posh and Ghazni, and the last one in the Khakhriz district.

The first attack on July 6, carried out by the Taliban, killed 14 people, among them four were children and wounded 40 others. The explosion occurred in a market near a very populated Shia area. The second attack was also very alarming to the Muslim and Shia community. The Islamic State carried out a bomb attack on a Shia Mosque, leaving two dead and 20 wounded. It is not the first time the attacks on the worship site occurs. The attacks represent the increasing violence against all Muslims. Attacking any holy ground is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that states on Article 18 that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.” 

Therefore, the attack on the Shia Mosque should not be tolerated.

On July 17th, another incident in Afghanistan left 11 people killed and around 34 others injured. Many of those injured were children. The attack was accomplished by a landmine explosion that injured and killed visitors of the minority religious site. 

The attacks on the Shia population in Afghanistan have been happening throughout history, and the month of July shows no exception. The violations are extreme and must be contained in many ways as possible, by advocacy and dialogues. Therefore, it is essential to continue with the efforts to always advocate for minority rights in this country.

BAHRAIN 

Anti-Shiism varies in nature in Bahrain, but no matter the violation, the country continues to be unsafe for the Shia majority. The violations are constant, ongoing, and non-stop. Anti-Shiism during July was expressed in the forms of executions, medical negligence in prisons, contaminated food, and prohibition to pray in individual religious sites.

Activists suffered from a tremendous amount of torture during the years they were arrested and confessed to crimes also while under extreme torture.

During July, another hunger strike was seen in the Jaw Prison. A cancer survival teen, Ahmad Al-Arab went on a hunger strike after being put into solitary. Al-Arab was also denied medical treatment for his injuries. Many detained Shias are denied essential health and medical treatments. 

Other  prisoners have reported food contamination, and one of them stated that “either you die of hunger or poisoned by the food.” The jaw prison administration has refused to comment on allegations of lacking prison conditions. 

The situation in this Kingdom is extremely worrisome to the Shia community. Authorities are once again depriving Shia of their rights to practice their faith. 

In an incident this month, “people were summoned by the police and ordered to sign a pledge not to organize congregational prayers at mosques.” Congregational prayers are opportunities for the community to join together under a singular identity. By denying the right to gather, authorities aim to dispel Shia traditions and identities. 

Later in the month in the Kingdom of Bahrain, three Shia activists were executed. The charges were under “terrorist crimes,” and Bahrain described the allegedly attacks as “orchestrated by Iran-based ringleaders.” Labeling Bahraini activists as foreign agents is outrageous and extremely bad for, not only the government of Bahrain but also for activists. First, this action marginalizes and discredits the work that activists were doing in the country. Secondly, by labeling, the government opened doors for foreign influence, since the activists can no longer rely on its government, they may begin relying on others. Shia activists have expressed a lack of connections to foreign influences, yet they continue to be labeled as outsiders in their nation-state. 

Moreover, following the execution, a jailed Bahraini Shiite Cleric, Sheikh Isa Al-Qaffas, was assaulted by an officer at Jaw Prison for mourning the death of the two activists.   

The United Nations strongly condemned the executions of these activists, yet the government took no action to release other activists or engage in peacebuilding dialogue.  

Meanwhile, international rights groups have repeatedly criticized the regime for marginalizing Bahrain’s Shia majority. These violations should not be tolerated, and more efforts to eradicate and prevent violations should be established, not only by the government but also by the international community. 

IRAQ

Similar to June, another attack on a Shiite mosque occurred. The attacks on mosques are becoming more frequent and violent, a demonstration that the violations against the Shia majority are still very present in Iraq. 

Two suicide bombers detonated their vests near a Shia mosque on July 15th in Baghdad, killing five and leaving more than 14 injured. Later on, ISIS claimed responsibility for the atrocious and violent attack. 

Although Iraq went through a period of relative calmness, attacks on Shia civilians continue and, before July, other suicide bombings took place in the capital. 

NIGERIA

The situation in this specific country during July was extremely troublesome. The detention of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife continue to be the main focus for turbulence in the country, and the health of the Sheikh continues to deteriorate. Toxic elements, such as lead and cadmium were found in his blood. Those substances are elements that are associated with neurological impairment, and the consumption of it can cause a burden of heavy metals in the body.

While the Sheikh’s health continues to deteriorate and even with all the protests, the Nigerian court ruled out an extraordinary application for bail on medical grounds, leaving it almost impossible for the Sheikh to be released. 

Due to the extreme circumstances of the Sheikh, a wave of protests took place in July in Nigeria. The first wave of demonstrations was turned from peaceful to violent after the police opened fire and killed two when protesters tried to enter the assembly; 40 Shiites were arrested, and three were wounded because of the tear gas. 

On the second wave of protests to free Sheikh Zakzaky, 65 were arrested, and 38 members of the Shiite Islamic Movement were brought before the court to answer to a criminal charge, where all pledged not guilty. 

During another protest in Abuja, the Nigerian Army opened fire and killed one supporter and injured two others.

On July 22nd, there was another deadly attack in Abuja. The protests in Nigeria continued to escalate in the hands of the authorities. The police fired tear gas and opened fire against members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, which led to a confrontation between protesters and the police; 13 Shias were killed, including a journalist; many were injured. 

After these protests, other incidents occurred. First, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria accused the Nigerian Police of holding on to at least 15 corpses of protesters that died during the manifestations. Secondly, after arresting some of the protesters, 3 of them died in custody due to wounds inflicted during the violent protests. 

Also, after the deadly protests, the Nigerian Court declared the Shiite movement as a terrorist group, stating that “Any person engaged or associating, in any manner that could advance the activities of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), shall be treated as a terrorist, enemy of the state, and a subversive element and shall be brought to justice.” This statement can lead to many implications, such as labeling because it impacts the perception of others on what the group is.

Conflict in Nigeria is still escalating, and yet the international community continues to monitor conditions passively. Nothing has been done to protect the Shia community against all the violations, and the terms in this country are far from improving. 

It is imperative that the violations are addressed in Nigeria, through advocacy for human rights to protect the rights of all Shia minority, and prevent future violence. 

PAKISTAN

The security forces of the country put in place in the city of Quetta stringent security measures in the form of inspections and checkpoints. The measures were claimed to be as a means of protection for Shia Muslims. 

Unfortunately, the actions intended to protect the lives of Shia only increased the separation between the Hazara Shiites and society. The measures did not solve the anti-Shiism violations that the Shia community is going through in the country of Pakistan. 

Violations of anti-Shiism in the nation of Pakistan are directly sourced from the extremist organization and culturally reinforced by State agents. Recent efforts much like that of increased security measures have been taken in response to local protest. Yet, the measures put in place have to lead to reduced mobility of Shia and non-Shia residences in the area.

SAUDI ARABIA

On July 2nd, Saudi Arabia’s forces attacked the province of al-Qatif and raided the area. According to locals, the security forces opened fire near an apartment complex in town, and many residents reported having their houses invaded. Later in the month, the Specialized Criminal Court of Saudi Arabia handed down a death sentence to the Shia anti-regime activist, Ali Al-Rabie, from Qatif. The report came as Saudi authorities executed two brothers, Ahmad and Hossein, on April 23 over their political activism.

Saudi Arabia is known for subjecting its violations towards the Shia community, especially by exposing prisoners to various forms of extreme torture. These apparent violations, as well as the blatant disregard for human rights displayed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, cannot continue if we wish to foster hope for a more equitable world. Measures should be taken to prevent incidents from happening again and to continue to advocate for human rights for all, precisely the Shia community.  

OTHER CASES:

Far from countries with Shia majority in the Middle East, violations against this population exist. 

This month, the violations occurred in London, where islamophobic protesters expressed opposition against all Muslims. Many carried out phrases saying, “no more mosques.” 

Last month, cities in Germany and again in the city of London, violations against the Muslim community were reported, including attacks on mosques and the Quran, an action that should not be tolerated by the International community. 

CONCLUSION

Trends in anti-Shiism in July point to continued violence against Shia Muslims. It is essential that strict measures are taken and advocacy is increased to prevent any anti-Shiism from happening, and an increase in security for this population should be established in all countries were violations were reported. The international and regional communities must work in solidarity against these violations if any change is to be seen.

Shia Rights Watch promotes actions aimed at increasing tolerance and reform for human rights all over the world. Shia Rights Watch invites all countries to respect the rights of not only Shia Muslims, but all minority groups. 

 

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in June, 2019

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in June 2019

Shia rights violations continue in June, with Anti-Shia incidents witnessed in some countries. Most violation reports are from Bahrain, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Anti-Shia violations, including but not limited to, imprisonment, physical and emotional torture, limited or no access to medical assistance, hate speech, explosion, and executions. 

The violation included the following:

  • More than 23 Shia suffered from medical negligence. 
  • 68 Shia Muslims died or were injured in explosions or slaughtering. 
  • 6 Shia were summoned for questioning or were illegally imprisoned. 
  • 167 Shia received unjust prison sentences. 
  • 2 Shia Muslims had their rights to rent a property revoked.
  • 1 Shia was abducted. 

 

It is important to reinforce that the reports are only a sample of anti-Shiism violations faced by the Shia minority. Any violations not cataloged in this report are still valid and deserve to be recognized as well. Shia Rights Watch notes that violence against Shia Muslims is under-reported by victims and unreported by media outlets since many religious minorities live in fear of further persecution. 

 

AFGHANISTAN

The situation in Afghanistan was particularly worrisome, and just like previous reports, the main focus of violation occurred in Kabul in the forms of explosions. More than 30 Shias and members of the Afghan security forces were attacked earlier in June. Members of the Islamic State claimed the attack that was responsible for the death and injury of many Shia civilians. The attacks were carried out in two stages, first was the detonation of an explosion near a bus with over 25 Shia, and the second when security personal gathered around the bus. 

The attacks on the Shia population in Afghanistan have been happening throughout history, and they are extreme and must be addressed in different ways as possible. Therefore, it is essential to continue with the efforts to advocate for minority rights in this country.

 

BAHRAIN

Anti-Shiism varies in nature in Bahrain, and,  the country continues to be unsafe for the Shia majority. In the past, the Shia population was faced with many violations, in and out of prison, even after arrests. The violations are constant, ongoing, and non-stop. Anti-Shiism is expressed in the forms of medical negligence in jails, detention of religious figures, and trials against Shia for many different reasons. 

Early this month, a journalist was summoned for questioning by Manama’s security services for criticizing the kingdom’s interior ministry on social media. The arrest comes after the ministry threatened social media users with legal action. The harassment of journalists by authorities is not new and continues to grow in different forms. 

Within days, a Shia cleric was interrogated by the security service after being summoned for questioning and spending a month in detention. The reasons for the interrogation were not released. After this incident, another cleric was on trial for “allegedly” insulting the Rashidun Caliphate. 

The violations continue throughout the month, taking different forms. A Bahraini rights campaigner reported many cases of medical negligence in the Jaw Prison of Bahrain. Among the reports, there are cases where treatment was “delayed.” It was also reported that more than 20 detainees are suffering from sickle cell anemia and are receiving no treatment. Due to the lack of medical treatment, detainees decided to go on a hunger strike over their extreme situation in Jaw Prison. Later on, a detainee developed a mental illness after many years of being denied medical treatment, suffering from amnesia and another psychological disorder.  

Bahrain’s Shia majority has certainly been marginalized for years and continue to be. Not much has been done to prevent violations from happening. 

Later in June, a court in the Kingdom of Bahrain handed 167 prison sentences against Shia pro-democracy protesters. Fifty-six of the defendants received ten years in jail and were accused of “attacking police officers,” and the remaining accepted one-year terms. Once more, the prosecutor of Bahrain orders the detention of another Shia religious figure.

Again, the violation of rights is present and ongoing. Meanwhile, international rights groups have repeatedly critiqued the regime for marginalizing Bahrain’s Shia majority.

 

IRAQ

Incidents in Baghdad against Shia population have not been reported lately, but the event later in June is troublesome. On June 21st, a suicide bomb occurs in a mosque in eastern Baghdad, in Baladiyat, killing 7 and injuring more than 20 Shia civilians. Although Iraq was going through a period of relative calm, attacks on Shia civilians continued. Before June, another suicide bombing occurs in the capital.

 

LEBANON

The violations in Lebanon differ from the ones elsewhere. Lebanon has long established itself as a multicultural nation. On June 26, on the town of Hadath, which is southeast of Beirut, a Shia Muslim couple was denied their right to rent a property. The property owner told the couple that the law was established by Hadath’s officials, prohibiting Muslims to rent or buy from a Christian property. Orders are that only Christians are allowed to buy or rent those properties. It is important to note that Hadath is on the edge of an area known as Dahiyeh, Beirut’s densely populated Shia area, and those who seek to reside in Hadath are Shia.  

This incident was the only one publicly announced, but it has become more and more common for that to happen in other Lebanese cities, which should not be tolerated. 

 

NIGERIA

Just like in Bahrain, Shia religious figures have been subject to terrible treatment. The Nigerian Shia Sheikh and his wife were wrongly imprisoned four years ago and had no access to medical treatment. The supreme court released him long ago, but they continue to keep him in jail, which is extremely illegal. A lack of medical treatment led the Sheikh to lose an eye and almost the other, aggravated by a heart condition that needs immediate treatment.

Later in June, according to members of the Islamic Movement, the same spiritual leader was poisoned. An investigation revealed that high concentrations of lead and cadmium were found in his blood. It is atrocious that his health was allowed to deteriorate in this manner. The activists believe that the administration aimed to “covertly assassinate him while in custody.”  

It is imperative that measures are taken to, not only prevent these incidents from happening but also to bring justice to the cleric and his family.  

 

PAKISTAN

Pakistan violations were not much different from other countries and in previous years.

At the beginning of June, radicals slaughtered a Shia civilian. Two men were arrested and the government, according to Shia Waves, claims to respond to Shia demands for security. Although, many Pakistani Shia have been a target with assassinations and terrorist bombings. Following this incident, a few days later, two other Shia were killed in an explosion, and many were injured. Later that day, another explosion took place, and three others were killed in the same city of Ziarat.

Later in June, an elderly Shia, while returning from a pilgrimage, was subjected to forced disappearance and taken into custody by the police for no apparent reason. 

 

SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia has been a hotbed of contentious points and violations against the Shia community, especially considering the execution of nearly 37 Shia individuals back in April. June proves to serve no exception to this, with the execution of 18-year-old Murtaja Qureiris being the primary topic of concern. Qureiris was charged on various counts of “terrorism,” “anti-governmental” speech, throwing Molotov cocktails at police stations, firing at security forces, and one for attending his brother’s funeral who died in a protest dating back to 2011. 

The majority of these allegations occurred when Qureiris was just ten years old. Qureiris was detained with his family in 2014 en-route to Bahrain. Since then, he’s been arrested and held in a juvenile detention center in the city of Dammam where he was then subsequently denied access to a lawyer until August of 2018.

During his arrest, his interrogators beat him senseless and promised to release him on the grounds that he confessed to the “crimes” he committed. He is not slated to be executed any time soon due to the overturning of the death sentence, but the fact that he could’ve been executed on the basis of activities he “partook” in at just ten years old goes to show the glaring flaws and biases present in Saudi Arabia’s penal system. 

Detentions still seem to be prevalent throughout the land. Female Shia political activist Nassimah Al-Sadeh remains behind bars despite not having a single charge to her name, much less one worth an arrest. Al-Sadeh is being subjected to solitary confinement after a protest organized with other activists back in December of 2018 in an attempt to raise prisoner morale. 

Saudi Arabia is known for subjecting its detainees and prisoners to various forms of torture. By detaining Al-Sadeh for this period of time, Saudi Arabia violates its penal code which dictates that one cannot be held in pre-trial detention for more than six months. Al-Sadeh has been detained for nearly nine months and is still lacking access to a fair trial. 

These apparent violations of both international and domestic laws, as well as the blatant disregard for human rights displayed by Saudi Arabia, cannot continue if we wish to foster hope for a more equitable world. 

CONCLUSION

SRW invites all countries to respect human rights of Shia Muslims as this population has proven to only participate in peaceful activities. We also urge all governments to free all prisoners and return any seized belongings.

612 Reasons to Flare Brightly Against Shia Rights Violation on #IntShiaDay

612 Reasons to Flare Brightly Against Shia Rights Violation on #IntShiaDay

Honoring International Shia Day, 2019 Campaign 

June 12th is known to the Shia Rights Watch as International Shia Day which beckons governmental bodies, NGOs, and communities across the globe to stand together in remembrance of the sacrifices all minority groups make in the name of advocacy.

The day itself was observed in 2015 in honor of the 2014 massacre that occurred at Camp Speicher, where more than 1,700 Shia soldiers were executed by firing squad merely on the basis of differences in beliefs.

Ever since, the Shia Rights Watch has labored tirelessly to be the voice to those stripped of their voices and to promote the avocation against these injustices committed in order to bring about a world where Shia Muslims, alongside other minorities, can live peacefully and in harmony with the others around them.

2019 sees this through a different light in honor of hope for a brighter tomorrow. There are often many children throughout the world who dream of lighter days and long for a chance to soar freely.

On this International Shia Day, in order to shine a familiar light upon the injustices committed against Shia minorities throughout the globe, we encourage you to come visit the Foggy Bottom metro station outside George Washington University on June 12th at noon as we share a way to continue to look towards the sun. Sunglasses will be given out alongside a poem or two to allow you to see through the eyes of two cultures separated by a world of difference, but brought together through a universal experience.

Shia Rights Watch invites all activists, human rights defenders, NGOs and governmental entities to join its effort in restoring the rights of all minorities, including Shia Muslims.

To learn more visit http://shiarightswatch.org/ and http://internationalshiaday.com/

#IntShiaDay

SRW Calling for Immediate Intervention in Saudi Arabia

Open Letter to all governments and rights groups, calling for immediate intervention in Saudi Arabia.

Activist and members of Shia Rights Watch condemn Saudi Arabia’s brutal violation of human and international law as Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty against a teenager based on unsupported allegations.

Murtaja Qureiris, now 18, faces several charges stemming from his participation in pro-democracy bicycle protests, including some that date to when he was ten years old. Qureiris was arrested at the age of 13 and has been detained since. According to rights activists, “Qureiris was held in solitary confinement for a month, and subjected to beatings and intimidation during his interrogation,” “His interrogators promised to release him if he confessed the charges against him.” Amnesty International confirmed the details of violations against Qureiris.

Saudi Arabia proudly utilizes execution and beheading as a means to suppress its citizen, says SRW.

This Kingdom has reportedly executed at least 100 people since the beginning of the year, 37 of which were accused and charged with “terrorism” in April.

The Saudi’s abuse of the “terror” charges and “terrorist “ definition has been reported to the United Nations by SRW. The organization asks all human rights entities to be united in pressuring Saudi Arabia in ending human rights abuse under the umbrella of “terrorism.”

This Kingdom charges all anti-governments with terror intentions. Furthermore, most of the victims of such accusations are Saud Shia. The long history of Anti-Shiism, human rights violations, and aggression toward minorities in Saudi needs to be stopped.

SRW urges all to stand up for human values and contact King Salman asking him to withdraw the charges against Murtaja Qureiris and others who are unfairly being denied their right to life and dignity.

SRW believes with a united front, more freedom can be brought to the oppressed Shia in Saudi Arabia. Your call on the Saudi King’s violations will send a powerful message to not only this Kingdom but to other violators.

Sincerely,

Shia Rights Watch

 

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in May, 2019

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in May 2019                                                                                      

Anti-Shiism, in the form of direct violence, discrimination, and marginalization, was reported in a 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 stated in this report are 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 based on their religious identity.

Bahrain

Prison’s Condition and inmate rights

As SRW reported last month, assault to prisoners has been a form of violation carried by the Bahraini authorities. During April assaults and search inside the prison has left a number of detainees injured. Detainees at Bahrain’s Jaw Prison sustained injuries after being assaulted by the guards at the facility. This month, media reports that twelve correctional officers have been charged with physically assaulting inmates, the authorities. Although such a move is essential and necessary, the fact that the affected and injured inmates are denied treatment and care proves that the government is not fully helping the situation.

On May 22nd, activist and inmates’ family members reported that their loved ones are denied any communication with the outside world.

Nabeel Rajab, a well-known Shai activist, was denied an opportunity to access “alternative punishment law.” The motion that was filled by Nabeel’s lawyer was denied, and the court did not agree even to hear the motion. In Bahrain, criminals have the right to ask for alternative punishment law that could change their sentences; however, activists are denied such right.  

Right groups expressed their sadness over the execution of Ahmed Al-Mullali and Ali Hakim Al-Arab, two Shia inmates on death row since January 2018. In February of the same year, activists reported that the two were subjected to severe beatings and other forms of torture each night. Ahmed Al-Mullali and Ali Hakim Al-Arab were sentenced to death over ‘terrorism’ related accusations and convicted during a mass trial along with 58 other defendants.

Sheikh Yassin al-Jamri, a Shia cleric, is back in detention after questioning by Manama’s security services on May 29th. There is no official explanation for his arrest.

May 23rd, marks second anniversary of an attack, by Manama’s security forces, to a peaceful sit-in outside the home of Sheikh Isa Qassim when five Shia dies and hundred were arrested. Although human rights entities have been demanding investigations, no action was taken in that regards.

Bahrain continues to have the highest violation of its Shia majority population.  

Saudi Arabia

Saudi security forces have killed eight people during an operation in the predominantly Shia populated of Al-Qatif. The authorities claim they targeted “terrorist cell.” Saudi security services regularly carry out activities in the area violating the rights of the residents.

Saudi executes oppositions and accuse them of terror activities yet fails to prove the accusations. Most executions take place without prior notifications to family members. Even the victims are not apparent on their execution date.  

Pakistan

An explosion near a Shia mosque in Quetta, Pakistan kills four and wounded ten others. The violations in Pakistan are mainly due to the government’s lack of protection for this population. Shia has reported that they have requested more protection from their local authorities, yet they are not granted any.   

Region of Africa

Nigerian activists reported that the local authorities in Kaduna attacked their peaceful protestors on May 31st injuring the Shia.

Africa has become the new home for Shia rights violations as the population and activities of this population is rising.  

SRW welcome’s Canada’s decision to remove specific religion affiliation from it’s threat reports

SRW welcome’s Canada’s decision to remove specific religion affiliation from its threat reports.

The Canadian government revised its terror threat report that was published in December 2018, to remove all mentions of “Sunni” and “Shia” extremism from its terror report.

As Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale stated, he wants the terrorist threat report to use language that “did not impugn or condemn an entire religion.”

We, at Shia Rights Watch, have long asked governments to disassociated specific religion and nationality from terror groups. Such associations can harm more than they can help. In the case of Shia Muslims, false association with the Iranian government has lead to the undermining of violence against the group.

Others can adopt this initiative of the Canadian government.  SRW encourages all other governments and human rights entities to adopt bias-free and depoliticized reporting in which the act of terror is condemned, but no specific religion, nationality, gender, ethnicity are affected.

This NGO also calls on media outlets, human rights entities, research centers, and publishers to revise their wordings, as words matter.

Summary of Shia Rights Violations in 2018 as Reported by USCIRF

USCIRF 2019 Report

This is the selected summary of the violations toward Shia Muslims as it is reported  by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

Afghanistan

The ongoing operation of terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), threaten the country’s overall security but particularly endanger the nation’s Shi’a Muslim population who have faced increased attacks in recent years.

In fact, 2018 was one of the most fatal in Afghanistan for all civilians—and particularly religious minorities—due to terrorist activity, and the government often was unable to protect civilians from attacks.

Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, a few historically disadvantaged ethnic and religious minority groups have overcome generations of discrimination to hold prominent positions in the public and private sectors.

This is especially true for the Shi’a Muslim community, whose socio political influence has grown over the last two decades as its members increasingly hold leading positions in the government, media, and private industry.

There are now more than 10,000 Shi’a mosques in the country, 400 of which are in the capital city of Kabul. There are also several prosperous neighborhoods and enclaves throughout the country that are predominantly inhabited by the Shi’a Muslim community. Shi’a Muslims’ sociopolitical ascendance has been one of the reasons some extremist groups have continued to target the community, whom they consider to be apostates. Yet, a superficial division has formed between extremists allied with the ISKP and those working for the Taliban. For example, in the aftermath of an attack in November 2018, the Taliban’s website explained that its aim was not to target any “specific race, ethnicity or sect” but rather to attack anyone abetting the government.

On the other hand, extremists affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have intentionally escalated their attacks and increased their public hate speech dehumanizing Afghanistan’s Shi’a Muslims. This is, in part, due to the fact that some of Afghanistan’s Shi’a Muslim population fought against ISIS in Syria. As a result, many ISIS leaders who fled from Syria to Afghanistan to establish bases have exported their intent to exact revenge against all Shi’a Muslims in the country. This is especially significant because an increased number of local Taliban fighters have started to switch their allegiance to the ISKP.

In 2018, this culminated in an increasingly lethal series of ISKP attacks against Shi’a mosques, such as an attack in March 2018 that left one dead and eight wounded and another in August that resulted in the deaths of 29. While the ISKP carried out attacks that targeted all civilians in general, its attacks targeting the Shi’a Muslim community have been more lethal, with nearly 300 fatalities from almost two dozen attacks in 2018 alone. Such attacks often have coincided with Shi’a religious festivals like Ashura or Muharram.

In response to this threat, the Afghan government has attempted to provide additional security and offered weapons to civilians living near Shi’a mosques.

In 2018, extremist groups, including the ISKP, continued targeting one specific ethnic group in particular: the overwhelmingly Shi’a Hazaras. Some examples include the ISKP’s twin bombings on September 5 of a Shi’a Hazara enclave that resulted in the deaths of 20 and injuries to 70, along with an attack on August 15 that resulted in 48 young Shi’a Muslims being killed and 67 injured.

These kinds of attacks were not limited in 2018 to major cities like Kabul, but increasingly occurred at the provincial level, such as a series of attacks in Ghazni Province.

Hazara advocates have complained that the government has failed to provide proper security to the community and that Hazara political leaders were granted limited influence over the government’s policy-making process.

Elections remain a point of conflict in Afghanistan. During the leadup to the October 2018 parliamentary elections, the ISKP carried out several attacks on religious minorities—such as Shi’a Muslims—at voter registration or polling centers. For example, an April 22 attack in Kabul left 57 people dead and 117 wounded.

Azerbaijan

By the end of 2018, Sardar Babayev, an Iranian-educated Shi’a Muslim imam, remained imprisoned for violating a law that prohibited individuals with foreign religious education from performing religious ceremonies

In February 2018, MUM leader and Shi’a Muslim theologian Taleh Bagirov (also known by the surname Bagirzade) received an additional five-month sentence for allegedly possessing micro-discs containing the text and audio recordings of the Qur’an.

In December 2018, Telman Shiraliyev, a Shi’a Muslim man originally sentenced to six years in prison for participating in an October 2012 protest against a ban on headscarves in schools, was sentenced to an additional six months in prison.

Bahrain

USCIRF visit to Bahrain in March 2019 found that the government continued its discrimination and repression of the Shi’a Muslim community on the basis of their religious identity in certain areas. In 2018, the government arrested some Shi’a Muslim clerics during Ashura religious observances, allegedly for “inciting hatred.” In the November 2018 local and parliamentary elections, some Shi’a Bahraini candidates were prevented from participating, and several party leaders were arrested or remained in jail. Some human rights defenders who advocated for greater religious freedom remained in prison. Furthermore, discrimination against Shi’a Muslims in government employment and some public and social services also continued, even though Bahrain’s laws affirm principles of nondiscrimination.

Bahraini government has sometimes used this pretext to crack down on some Shi’a opposition leaders, clerics, and activists without substantiating charges of subversion or criminal activity.

In 2018, Bahrain’s government continued its targeting of some Shi’a Muslims in the country. While government officials discouraged sectarian language in media outlets, progovernment and private media at times used inflammatory, sectarian rhetoric. Sheikh Isa Qasim, Bahrain’s leading Shi’a cleric, had his citizenship revoked by administrative order in June 2016; such orders are usually unappealable, but past removals of citizenship required a royal decree or an order from the Ministry of Interior, both of which are subject to an extra layer of appeals.

Bahrain also continued to arrest and detain Shi’a clerics on the basis of their religious identity. Shi’a cleric Sayyed Adnan al-Sayed Hashim was arrested in Diraz in January 2018 and held incognito for two weeks. This arrest contravened the BICI report’s recommendation not to detain individuals “without access to the outside world for more than two or three days.” A Bahraini appeals court also upheld a verdict against the imam of the Shi’a al-Kheif mosque, Sheikh Isa al-Moemen, for “inciting hatred” in a July 2017 sermon. Moemen served a three-month sentence and was released in May 2018.

In September 2018, during Ashura, three Shi’a clerics—Sheikh Yassin al-Harami, Sheikh Hani al-Bana’, and Sheikh Mohammed al-Sahlawi—were arrested for allegedly “encouraging acts of terrorism” and “inciting hatred against the regime”; according to groups that monitor religious freedom in Bahrain, these charges were unsubstantiated.

In November 2018, Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior arrested leading Shi’a cleric Sheikh Khalid Fadhil al-Zaki during security raids in Shakhura and Abu Saiba and held him until mid-December 2018.

As in previous years, in September 2018 Bahraini security officials clamped down on peaceful Shi’a Muslim religious rituals during Ashura observances. While Bahrain is the only Gulf state to recognize Ashura as a public holiday, authorities restricted celebrations in some areas. More than 15 Shi’a clerics, chanters, and lay assistants reportedly were summoned and interrogated over their sermons. Bahraini authorities claimed 13 preachers were arrested in 2018 for violating sermon laws, seven of whom were Sunni Muslim and six of whom were Shi’a Muslim, and that all offenders were suspended from preaching. Bahraini security forces destroyed banners and signs advertising Ashura rituals claiming that the displaying of banners across streets posed a safety hazard.

In April 2018, Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior demolished a temporary building meant to replace the Shi’a Imam al-Askari mosque in Hamad Town, northern Bahrain, for the second time and without prior notice, claiming it was subject to demolition under the Building Regulations Code Law No. 13 of 1977 and the Road Works Law No. 2 of 1996.

In August, the Ministry of Interior demolished the fence and the foundation marking the outline of the al-Alawiyat mosque in al-Zinj, which had been destroyed in 2011. Since 2011, Bahraini authorities have destroyed more than 38 mosques and Shi’a religious institutions. The Bahraini government has stated that the mosques it destroyed did not comply with safety and zoning laws, and that a small number of mosque destructions in a country with 608 places of Shi’a worship is not evidence of a religious freedom violation. Members of Bahrain’s Shi’a Muslim community reportedly still cannot serve in the active military, only in administrative positions, and there are no Shi’a Muslims in the upper levels of the Bahraini government security apparatus, Members of Bahrain’s Shi’a community reportedly still cannot serve in the active military including the military and police, with the exception of a Shi’a Muslim who holds the rank of brigadier general.

Many Shi’a public sector employees who were dismissed from their jobs because of participating in the 2011 protests were reinstated in lower-level jobs, positions outside of their specialty, or positions without actual responsibilities.

The Bahraini government continued to deny any discrimination against the Shi’a Muslim community in government employment, and has asserted there has been progress to diversify the military and security apparatus, for example, by recruiting from all segments of society—including the Shi’a Muslim community—into its community policing program.

Activists informed USCIRF during its March 2019 visit that the government refused to track the exclusion of Shi’a Muslims from employment in the military and government on the grounds that keeping such records would be a violation of privacy. Several activists noted that while there is no formal hiring discrimination against Shi’a Muslims, many employers ask questions that indirectly reveal an applicant’s religious affiliation.

Discrimination against Shi’a Muslims in the November Elections The Bahraini government continued its discrimination against Shi’a electoral candidates in 2018. No candidates were allowed to run from the Shi’a al-Wefaq party, which the government dissolved in 2016 after accusing it of providing “a nourishing environment for terrorism, extremism, and violence.” A 2016 amendment by King Al Khalifa to Law 14 of 2002 banned anyone who had received a prison sentence of six months or longer from participating in elections, disqualifying hundreds of Shi’a activists and opposition figures who had previously protested mistreatment.

Ahead of the elections, Sheikh Ali Salman, the former secretary-general of the banned al-Wefaq party, and Sheikh Hassan Sultan, a senior Shi’a cleric, were sentenced to life in prison on spurious national security charges. Ali Salman had his sentence extended from four years to life in prison three weeks before the elections took place.

Prior to the elections, Bahraini authorities arrested former Shi’a al-Wefaq parliament minister Ali Rashed al-Asheeri for a tweet expressing his intent to boycott the November 2018 elections.

In 2016, King Al Khalifa amended a 2005 law banning religious parties from political participation to also preclude anyone engaged in politics from giving religious speeches, sermons, or spiritual guidance. Bahrain’s government continued to use this amendment to prevent Shi’a Muslim religious figures from running for and holding political office, while allowing Sunni religious figures to do so.

In the 2018 elections, six candidates affiliated with the Sunni Salafist Asalah Islamic Society ran for office, three of whom were elected to parliament. Candidates linked to the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Al Menbar Islamic Society also ran, but did not win any seats.

Iran

According to the report,  “Shi’a Muslim reformers and dissenters faced prolonged detention and the threat of execution”:

In March 2018, the Iranian Intelligence Services (Itila’aat) arrested cleric Hossein Shirazi, the son of detained senior cleric Ayatollah Sadegh Shirazi. Iran’s Special Clergy Court charged him with criticizing Iran’s leadership and its system of rule of a single jurist.

The SRW annual report derails more cases of violations. Click here to read

Indonisia

The quasi-governmental Indonesian Council of Ulema has issued fatwas declaring certain religious groups, including Ahmadiyya Muslims, Shi’a Muslims, and Gafatar, to be “deviant” and heretical to Islam

In 2018, public harassment of Indonesia’s one to three million Shi’a Muslims continued. For years, authorities in certain localities, such as the city of Makassar, have prohibited them from commemorating Ashura in public.

USCIRF’s October 2018 visit to Surabaya, the Commission learned that 346 Shi’a Muslims—or 83 households—remain internally displaced. Moreover, USCIRF heard that these displaced persons do not have access to a mosque qualified to conduct Shi’a Muslim religious rituals and cannot bury their dead in accord with their customs.

The Indonesian government requires all citizens to list their religious affiliation on ID cards. This has made it more difficult for individuals who do not follow one of the country’s six officially recognized faiths to obtain licenses and permits, access education and government jobs, and complete financial transactions.

Malaysia

federal and state-level religious authorities have banned a number of so-called “deviant” minority religious groups including Shi’a Muslims

While the constitution makes no distinction between Sunni and Shi’a Islam, in practice, Shi’a Muslims experience various forms of discrimination, Shi’a Muslims experience various forms of discrimination. Malaysian authorities surveil and harass Shi’a Muslims, ban literature that promotes non-Sunni Islamic beliefs, prohibit public worship or assembly, and threaten arrests for observing Shi’a Muslim holidays.

Nigintia

The IMN, the country’s largest Shi’a Muslim group, was formed by Sheikh Zakzaky in the northern city of Zaria in Kaduna State in the 1980s and 1990s. The IMN has since become the target of violence by the Nigerian government, which classifies the IMN as a “violent group” and uses excessive force to repress IMN members and activities. More than three years since the most violent crackdown on the IMN—the December 2015 mass killing and burial of 347 IMN members by the Nigerian Army in Zaria—and despite the 2016 Kaduna State COI finding the army responsible and recommending prosecutions, no Nigerian Army officers have been held to account. In 2018, Nigerian police continued to detain hundreds of IMN members—including, most prominently, Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Malama Zeenah Ibrahim, who have been held without charges since December 2015, despite an order from the Federal High Court in Abuja on December 2, 2016, that they be released within 45 days. Authorities arrested at least 15 IMN members in 2018.

Throughout 2018, IMN members staged protests around the country advocating for Sheikh Zakzaky’s release. In Kaduna and Sokoto, state-level officials maintained bans on IMN activities, including religious processions. The IMN and news sources reported that force used to disperse protests was at times excessive, causing both injuries and deaths.

Between October 28 and November 1, Shi’a Muslims marched around the country for Arbaeen—an annual religious procession observed by Shi’a Muslims globally to commemorate the death of Imam Hussein in the seventh century. Hundreds of IMN followers reportedly marched in Abuja both to honor the religious occasion and to protest for Sheikh Zakzaky’s release.

Although the Nigerian Army said protestors threw rocks at security services, there was no evidence of any violent provocation by the IMN. The Nigerian Army fired indiscriminately into crowds, killing at least 45 people, according to human rights groups. The Nigerian Army fired indiscriminately into [IMN] crowds, killing at least 45 people, according to human rights groups. Statement from the Nigerian government condemning this excessive use of force on peaceful protestors. The Nigerian Army initially tweeted a defense of soldiers’ actions, but then deleted it.

SRW reported arrest of 230 people in April, Click to read here

Pakistan

A Shi’a Muslim store manager, Mazhar Sipra, was sentenced to five years on terrorism charges.

Extremists targeted a Shi’a Muslim seminary with a terrorist attack, leaving nearly 30 people dead and 50 injured.

Groups like the Islamic State, LeJ, and the TTP have particularly targeted Hazara Shi’a Muslims. T

In April 2018, two young Hazara men were shot dead; no arrests were made. Responding to the government’s failure to act, leaders in the Hazara community launched a sit-in protest to demand action by the government to protect them.

During a special case hearing in May 2018, the chief justice of Pakistan stated that attacks on the Hazara Shi’a Muslims in Balochistan Province were tantamount to wiping out an entire generation and that the state must “protect lives and property of the Hazara community.”

The persecution of the Shi’a Muslim community in Pakistan has continued not only at the hands of extremist groups, but in some instances also by the government itself. In May 2018, the BBC exposed the “story of Pakistan’s ‘disappeared Shias,’” which detailed the harassment, arrest, and torture of nearly 140 Shi’a Muslims at the hands of Pakistan’s security agencies.

These individuals were often kept in secret detention without trial or any formal charge.

Saudi Arabia

The Saudi government continued to violate the rights of Shi’a Muslims.

The government restricted the observance of religious holidays by the Shi’a Muslim minorit.y

Shi’a Muslims Shi’a Muslims in Saudi Arabia continue to face discrimination in education, employment, and the judiciary, and lack access to senior positions in the government and military. The building of Shi’a mosques is restricted outside majority-Shi’a Muslim areas in the Eastern Province, and Saudi authorities often prohibit use of the Shi’a Muslim call to prayer in these areas.

Authorities arrest and imprison Shi’a Muslims for holding religious gatherings in private homes without permits and reading religious materials in husseiniyas (prayer halls). Saudi Arabia also restricts as a practice the establishment of Shi’a Muslim cemeteries.

During a USCIRF visit to the Eastern Province, certain Shi’a Muslims reported harassment by local police and invasions of privacy by the General Intelligence Directorate (GID). Shi’a Muslims who do not comply with GID instructions have their national identification blocked, restricting access to bank accounts and social services. Authorities also continued to target certain Shia’ religious leaders. In early 2018, the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh opened a second case against Sheikh Mohammed al-Habib for “encouraging protests intended to destabilize the kingdom.” Al-Habib, a Shi’a cleric and close associate of executed Shi’a Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, was detained in 2016 for “creating dissent.”

The Saudi government has continued rebuilding the predominantly Shi’a Muslim town of Awamiya, which the government’s security forces largely destroyed following violent clashes with Shi’a Muslim protesters and armed Shi’a Muslims in Saudi Arabia continue to face discrimination in education, employment, and the judiciary.

During these clashes, security forces sealed off the town, occupied a boys’ secondary school near the town of al-Musawara, closed the town’s clinics and pharmacies, and prevented essential services such as ambulances from reaching the area.

The government plans to invest nearly 64 million dollars (239 million Saudi riyals) into the Awamiya reconstruction project, which includes a park, market, library, conference center, and recreational facilities. Local residents expressed concern to USCIRF in September 2018 that the government’s plans for the neighborhood do not address the area’s lack of roads, schools, and adequate hospital facilities. The government also has not expanded and modernized the local sewage system, citing security concerns. A total of 488 houses were demolished as part of the Awamiya development project, although the Saudi government provided compensation and new housing to residents of these domiciles. Residents also expressed fear that violence would re-erupt after completion of the project.

In September 2018, the Saudi government reportedly restricted the observance of Ashura in Qatif and limited the performance of public mourning rituals to specific hours. Restrictions included bans on Shi’a Muslims broadcasting their rituals via loudspeakers and the destruction of food shelters where marchers are offered free meals because authorities claimed they lacked proper permits.

Municipal police also removed kiosks selling religious and cultural books, and took down celebratory signs on the grounds that they constituted “visual pollution.”

In 2018, USCIRF met with and received information about multiple individuals charged with apostasy for expressing theological views that differ from the government’s preferred interpretation, particularly members of minority Muslim communities. Government officials were reluctant to acknowledge the presence of Shi’a Islam in the country, viewed Shi’a communities through a geopolitical lens as enmeshed with Iran, and infringed on their freedom of religion.

SRW detailed the arrest and sentencing of the first female advocate in 2018 and its importance. Click here to read

Tajikistan

The small Shi’a Muslim minority in Tajikistan is generally tolerated by the government, although subject to the same level of official scrutiny given to the Sunni majority. Nevertheless, there were some signs of tension in 2018. During the summer, a senior member of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan published an article In January 2018, amendments to the 2009 law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Unions set rigorous new requirements for reporting mosque income, property, staff, salaries, and worshippers’ personal data alleging that the membership of IRPT had converted to Shi’a Islam, which he labeled an ‘alien religion’. On July 2, the article, which also alleged intense IRPT interest in Iran and its Islamic revolution, was re-published by the Tajikistani government news agency, Khovar.

Turkmenistan

The government has recently restricted registration of some minority group such as Shia.

In some cases the registration was rejected.

Uzbekistan

Jahongir Kulijanov, a member of Uzbekistan’s Shi’a Muslim minority community, also remained imprisoned throughout 2018 for his conviction for allegedly participating in an illegal religious organization and the possession and dissemination of extremist religious materials. Kulijanov was one of 20 Shi’a Muslims originally detained in Bukhara in February 2017 for holding an illegal religious meeting in a local café and sharing Shi’a Muslim literature.

According to Forum 18, Kulijanov’s peers believe he was targeted after he was tapped to replace the imam of a local Shi’a mosque.

Incidents of Anti-Shiism in April, 2019

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.

Bahrain

Prison’s Condition

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.   

Mass Trials

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.

Unlawful Detentions  

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

Mass Execution

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.

More Detentions

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.

Postponed Trials

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.

Travel Ban

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.

Pakistan

Attack

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”.

Systematic Kidnaps

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.

Iraq

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.

Iran

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

UN Complaint