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Bahrain Finishes up 2015 by Sentencing Shia, Revoking Citizenship and Penalizing Them

On the final hours of 2015, a Shia Bahraini citizen was sentenced to death and 22 others were detained in the Sunni-ruled nation. Further, their citizenship were revoked in addition to being forced to pay 200,000 dinars in fines.

The unjust prosecution of the Bahraini government continue and even escalate in extent. Shia Rights Watch (SRW) condemn the inhumane actions of the gulf nation and demand a just examination of the aforementioned cases, along with others still on trial. SRW also calls on the international community to shed light on the happenings of Bahrain and demands equal rights for all Bahraini citizens, Shia and Sunni alike.

Shia News Wire #47


Over the past week the Shia community has continued to reel from the news about the mass killing of Shia Muslims in Zaria city in Nigeria. Although the Nigerian military is maintaining its innocence, new reports and evidence are showing the malicious actions of the Nigerian armed forces. The military spokesman claimed that no people were killed by the army but that has been categorically proven false. Africa director for Human Rights Watch states that for the military “at best it was a brutal overreaction and at worst it was a planned attack on the minority Shia group”.

On December 21, the Nigerian army bulldozed an Islamic center, Hussainiyyah Baqeeyatollah, belonging to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN). The demolition was with hopes to reduce congregation of IMN members and to reduce the spread of Shia beliefs in the area. In recent years, shia Islam has seen a fast expansion, reaching a population of 4 million. This expansion has been under the leadership of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, an open critic of Nigerians corruption and human rights violations. Since his abduction, Sheikh Zakzaky has yet to be heard from. However, the governor of Kundana State has announced that the Sheikh will be “prosecuted for any crimes that he may have committed”.

Rallies and protests have continued to emerge around the world from New York to Karachi. A Nigerian military attempt to investigate the situation has been denounced by the international community, including Shia Rights Watch. As details emerge surrounding the atrocity, Shia Rights Watch urges a fair and impartial investigation by an independent body.


A recently released report by the Bahrain Human Rights Society provided new details on aggression by Bahraini security forces in the first week of December. According to the group there were 23 sit-ins by protestors, and 25 peaceful protests. These actions were met with 18 incidents of violence by security forces in 14 villages. A total of thirteen citizens were arrested this week. Shia Rights Watch condemns the actions of the Bahraini Security Forces and calls for an independent review into the actions of these forces.

Saudi Arabia

This past week the Saudi Judiciary issued a decree to release Iranian Hajj pilgrim Gholam-Reza Momayez after they unjustly detained him for 75 days. Momayez was detained by Saudi authorities for criticizing the Saudi government’s handling of the hajj stampede that occurred earlier this year in which anywhere between one and five thousand people were killed, including almost 500 Iranians. While Momayez will be released soon, this governmental overreach is clearly designed to clamp down on dissent by both citizens and visitors.


Pakistani security forces claimed that they arrested 24 militants connected with the systematic murder of Shia Muslims throughout the country. Most of the arrests occurred in Karachi, where terrorist groups have carried out targeted assassinations against Shia shopkeepers and intellectuals. Shia Rights Watch recognizes this a start to restoring justice to Shia communities however much more needs to be done.


As the year closes on the country with the largest number of violations against Shia Muslims, Iraq has witnessed yet another attack on a Shrine. As mortar shells were fired upon the Imam Hassan al- Askari Shrine in Samarra. This attack would injure seven people in the area. ISIS claimed responsibility for this attack yet nobody has been taken into custody in connection with this attack. Shia Rights Watch continues to call for greater protection for the Shia community in the country in their communities and their places of worship.

Three of the shells hit the al-Qalah area, and one shell detonated 700 meters from the Shrine.

In must be mentioned that the shrine was also attacked in 2006, resulting in the shrines demolition but no injuries. It took until 2009 to repair the collapsed golden dome; however until today tourism has been limited due to possible dangers.


Shia Weekly News #46


The casualties of Iraq in the past week have been over 60 deaths, explosions ranging in location from Diyala, Nahrawan, Abu Ghraib, Madain, Latifiya, Al-Amin, and Al-Obaidi neighborhoods of Baghdad. The bombings have been consequent, killing civilians daily.
Bombings have been prominently in popular civilian hubs, targeting people women, children and noncompetitive populations.

It is worth noting that up to December 16, a total of 410 civilians have been killed in Iraq.


On December 13, a bomb placed in an oil tin in a crowded market located in Parachinar, a predominantly shia populated town in northwest Pakistan resulting in the death of 23.  While no responsibilities have been claimed, security agencies do believe this attack to be a continuum of anti-Shia violence present in Pakistan.


Gunfire targets Ab- Abd Al-Saleh Mosque in southwest neighborhood of Al-Hemla in Manama Bahrain on December 16, 2015. despite not having exact reports of injured worshippers, the Jaafaria Endowment Administration (WAQF) have said they have in their possession surveillance of the perpetrators and their vehicle.

In addition, Bahraini security forces have continued their violent anti-Shia arrest rampage this week when they arrested Layla Abdulnabi after she was sentenced to six months in the Jaw prison. Abdulnabi’s sentence was for her participation in demonstrations against police assault after one of her family members was attacked by them. This raises the number of detained Bahraini women to five. Shia Rights Watch calls for the immediate release of Layla Abdulnabi as she was only exercising the right to voice her opinion. On the other hand, and investigation should be carried out to uncover the culture of brutality rampant within the Bahraini security forces.


On Saturday December 12, armed Nigerian soldiers opened fire in the Hussainiyyah Baqeeyatollah of Zaria, Nigeria. In the same weekend, raids and crackdowns on the Shia community in the same area killed hundreds of innocent civilians. In addition, a total of seven notables in the community were abducted by the armed forces, included Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzaky. Associated Press has confirmed a total of 1000 deaths in this atrocious act.

Three days after attack, the bodies of the dead were taken from the mortuary of the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital and buried in a mass grave by the Nigerian army. Access to the graves and the deceased has been highly limited by the army to the public and families, thus limiting an exact death count. The Nigerian government is depriving its Shia citizens the right to commemorate their loved ones.

The whereabouts of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky remains unknown after his detainment. It has been however reported that while detained, Zakzaky suffered a total of four bullet wounds.

In response to the mentioned atrocious events, the African Union and the United Nations were called upon to question the Nigerian membership and asked to push for release of detainees.

In addition, Shia Rights Watch (SRW) has expressed its concern for the Nigerian Shia populations after said attacks, as shia comprise a minority population in the nation and have called upon General Ban Ki-Moon of the United Nations to call personally assign and oversee an investigation committee to the events of Nigeria.

Through participation in a political briefings in regards to Nigeria on the 18th of December at the UMAA national headquarters, and presentation in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC and the Nigerian consulate of New York City, SRW is working to demand information in regards to the mass graves as well  as working to implement justice and rights for all minority groups in the region.

Saudi Arabia

The human rights violations committed by the Saudi government continue to rise as the year comes to a close. This time the Saudi judicial system has called for the beheading of 19 year old Abdullah al-Zaher. The 19 year old was arrested in March 2012 when he was 15 for participating in a protest in the Shia-majority Qatif province. Zaher was charged with harboring protestors, participating in demonstrations, setting fire to a car, and throwing Moltov cocktails. While the courts said they received a confession from Zaher, his father noted that this statement came under the threat of torture.

The trial and sentencing of Abdullah al-Zaher is a violation of due process and would constitute as cruel and unusual punishment. What is occurring in Saudi Arabia should stand out to the world as a shortcoming of human rights. With 151 executions so far this year, Saudi Arabia is only behind Iran and China as countries with the most executions. For a young man to endure this punishment is appalling and Shia Rights Watch calls for Zaher’s release.

The human rights violations committed by the Saudi government continue to rise as the year comes to a close. This time the Saudi judicial system has called for the beheading of 19 year old Abdullah al-Zaher. The 19 year old was arrested in March 2012 when he was 15 for participating in a protest in the Shia-majority Qatif province. Zaher was charged with harboring protestors, participating in demonstrations, setting fire to a car, and throwing Moltov cocktails. While the courts said they received a confession from Zaher, his father noted that this statement came under the threat of torture.


In four videos released by ISIS, the group threatened to carry out attacks against Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. In addition to this, the group urged all of its members to kill all Shia Muslims in the two countries. In addition to denouncing Shia Muslims as unbelievers, the video denounced the Saudi regime stating that they are loyal to the west and do not follow the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab. It called on all Saudi soldiers to quit military service and carry out the group’s message. Shia Rights Watch calls for the protection of Shia Muslims in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia from potential attacks by this terrorist group.


Nigeria Mass Killing, Example of Ongoing Anti-Shiism

Shia Rights Watch expresses its deep concern for Shia population after brutal Shia mass killing in Nigeria by state army.

According to local activists approximately 1,000 people were killed and hundreds were arrested by the army. The Shia leader Ibraheem Zakzaky was also shot and taken to an unknown place. The military has said Zakzaky is in its “safe custody,” but his followers are not sure he is receiving medical care he needs after he was wounded.

On Wednesday the government alleged mass burial of number of the victims to “cover up its crime and hide the death toll” as local Shia stated.

“Shia are minority in Nigeria and such brutal violation requires outsider evaluation since this government has lost its credibility after this mass killing” says Mustafa Akhwand, founder of SRW. Therefore SRW asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, to personally assign and oversee an investigation committee.

Mustafa continued “We the Shia Muslims, ask Ban Ki Moon to use his position to bring justice to the Shia community of Nigeria by a detailed investigation and fair punishment of the violators.”

SRW also participates in Political Briefing on Nigeria to discuss the recent attacks on Shia Muslims in Nigeria, and the arrest and torture of Sheikh Ibrahim Yaqoub el-Zakzaky on Friday, December 18th. The briefing will take place at UMAA’s National Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Mustafa Akhwand will share SRW’s view on the issue at the rally in front of Nigerian Embassy and at the briefing.


Speak UP to STOP Shia Mass Killings


Join SRW, and number of other NGOs today as they speak up

Nigerian Embassy 3519 International Ct NW, Washington, DC 20008 at 2:00

Social Development and the Promotion of Religious Freedom for Shia Muslims

Social Development and the Promotion of Religious Freedom for Shia Muslims

Shia Rights Watch, Inc (SRW)

Statement for the 54th Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD54)

Greetings esteemed colleagues and member states,
On behalf of Shia Muslims around the world it is a pleasure to be able to present this address to the commission. Social development is an important tool in lifting nations out of poverty as it attempts to put the individual at the center of development operations. By developing a greater understanding of how individuals influence development processes, we can work to craft more inclusive and socially conscious programs going forward. Shia Rights Watch would like to emphasize the importance of guaranteeing the uninhibited assess of religious minorities to development programs.
Please note: This statement uses the Shia minority as an example and this model can be applied for all groups. We use this population because our NGO’s specialty is focused on this group.
By putting individuals at the center of development, you establish a basis for tolerance and diversity, and you ensure that change comes from the bottom up rather than from the top down. The International Institute for Social Studies compiled a list of indices of social development which measure informal institutions across nations in an attempt to conceptualize the progress of social development around the world. These indices are: civil activism, clubs and associations, intergroup cohesion, interpersonal safety and trust, and gender equality. Shia Rights Watch argues that in places around the world with sizeable Shia populations, improvements in these areas are stifled are neglected by authorities.
Civic activism has been high in many Shia communities around the world, and this has only increased since 2011. While this activism could have been harnessed to facilitate greater dialogue between the state and its citizens, in many places these displays of activism were severely repressed. Currently many Shia Muslims are facing jail time and execution due to their involvement with the wave of protests that emerged in 2011. Despite the repression, civil activism has continued and Shia Muslims have worked to remain mobilized. It is time that repression of civic activism is called out by the international community.
In regards to clubs and associations, Shia groups have been subject to arbitrary censorship and even prohibition. This restriction of the free expression of Shia Muslims further removes them from the development process.
Intergroup cohesion has been suffering in many states where significant Shia populations are located. Sermons and school curriculums have been documented as containing hate speech that incites violence against Shia Muslims. Some of these materials contain language similar to that displayed by terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. In many respects, efforts at development and countering extremism will fail unless greater intergroup cohesion is reached. Efforts at greater intergroup cohesion cannot only be implement from the top down, they must also permeate the smaller networks of people such as religious communities and individual families.
As a result of the hate speech that has been directed towards Shia Muslims, there have been numerous manifestations of physical violence against the group. Shootings and bombings have become regular practices for extremist groups against Shia Muslims, whom they belive are heretics. This has taken an immense human toll on Shia communities. This toll has been even more significant as militant groups have systematically targeted Shia intellectuals and business owners. The targeting exemplified here shows the desire to both violently and economically cripple Shia communities. Significant social development will not be able to occur in countries with sizeable Shia populations if the threat of physical violence persists.
This threat of physical violence has, in no small way, been aided by officials who have done little to investigate and prosecute crimes against Shia. Bombings and shootings against Shia Muslims largely occur without retribution either on the individuals committing the acts or the organizations facilitating the acts. This slow response by governing authorities has significantly reduced trust for the institutions designed to protect them. Without this trust acting as a basis for development, the aspirations proclaimed in this committee will largely go unheeded.
Respect for free expression, judicial reform, protection of safety, greater intergroup cohesion, and a rebuilding of trust must be the foundation for social development efforts in Shia communities. When we can move past the elements of divisive governance and put individuals at the center of development, we will be able to witness great strides to a more unified and prosperous society.




Shia Weekly News #45


On Friday December 11th Punjab police arrested three members of Laskar-e-Jhangvi in connection with the shooting death of a Shia army officer in Lahore. Captain Ahmed Raza was shot and killed six months ago by what was believed to be his guard their accomplices. A man by the name of Nasrullah of the Okara district of Punjab province is suspected to have killed Raza before fleeing to Afghanistan.

Both Nasrullah and his accomplices are known to have connections with LeJ, including with Malik Ishaq the chief of the terrorist group. The suspects will be charged under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Positive action against terrorism in the country is welcomed but does not occur often enough. This case remains one of the few cases where those who have killed Shia Muslims have been arrested.


On Sunday December 6th the Bahraini authorities exercised its unchecked power yet again as the Public Prosecutor renewed the detention of Sheikh Hassan Isa for another 30 days. The former Member of Parliament was arrested on August 28th at Bahraini international airport following his return to the country and was later charged with funding terrorism. Sheikh Hasan’s arrest and charges are a part of the Bahraini government’s efforts to intimidate the Shia community. Shia Rights Watch condemns his detainment and calls for his immediate release.

While dissidents in Bahrain are facing harsh treatment by the justice system despite exercising their rights, members of the Bahraini security forces are restricting the freedoms of Shia Muslims with impunity. On December 7th five policemen were acquitted by Bahrain’s First High Criminal Court of torture charges stemming from the 2011 uprising. This heavily flawed judicial process has hindered the progress of freedom in the country. Shia Rights Watch calls for the release of political prisoners and an overall reform of the country’s judicial system.

Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always: Human Rights Day 2015


New York, NY- Shia Rights Watch commemorated Human Rights Day at the United Nations at a briefing entitled “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always”. This annual event commemorates the important strides made by the international community to recognize the human rights we have today while also recognizing the work that must be done to ensure the full realization of our human rights. The four freedoms emphasized at this event are the freedom of expression, the freedom from fear, the freedom from want, and the freedom of worship. These freedoms are the underpinning of the work that we at Shia Rights Watch conduct on a daily basis.

Richard Benett, the Director of Amnesty International stated that two pillars of his organization’s mission is that no government is beyond scrutiny and that no situation is beyond hope. In an environment where political favor and continued oppression have largely rendered human rights violations against Shia Muslims invisible. Despite the endless barrage of targeted shootings and bombings against Shia Muslims, news about this rarely reaches the eyes of the international community. Despite these high barriers, we have remained resilient and have continued to push for greater recognition for the rights of Shia Muslims globally. Daniel Perell, the UN Representative of International community stated that the new frontier of the freedom to worship is linking religious pluralism with peaceful societies. Studies have shown that studies with respect for religious pluralism tend to be more peaceful and prosperous than societies where religious freedom is not respected. Going forth, it is necessary that both states and individuals learn that benefits of respecting the freedom of all people to practice their faith.

Shia Weekly News #44


On November 30th, Iraq experienced two bombings in Baghdad which targeted Shia Muslims during the annual Arbaeen pilgrimage; fifteen people were reported dead and thirty-eight people were reported injured, following these attacks.  . The first attack occurred at a checkpoint in the Saiydiyah district on a route Shia pilgrims use to travel to Karbala. In this attack nine people were killed and 21 were injured. The second attack occurred in the northern neighborhood of Shaab which killed at least six and injured 17.

No group has claimed responsibility for these attacks but it is likely that they were perpetrated by ISIS or ISIS-sympathizers. Last week, an ISIS plot to booby-trap dolls on an Arbaeen pilgrimage route was foiled by security forces. Shia Rights Watch condemns this horrendous attack and calls for greater protection for the millions of Shia pilgrims and residents in Iraq.



On November 26th gunmen opened fire on a Shia mosque in northern Bangladesh which killed one and injured three. This ISIS-orchestrated attack occurred just a month following a deadly attack on a Shia shrine which injured at least 80 people. These attacks come in the midst of a wave of deadly attacks against secular bloggers and religious minorities in the country.



Yet another Shia religious procession was attacked as a suicide bomb was detonated during the public commemorations on November 28th in the Nigerian city of Kano. The death toll has risen to 22 with 38 injuries. Despite this attack, the Shia pilgrims would continue their journey from Kano to Zaria in the neighboring state.

The extremist group Boko Haram took responsibility for the attack the next day. Boko Haram, in addition to its other terror attacks, has periodically bombed Shia gatherings throughout the country.



On December 2nd, the government of Azerbaijan carried out a raid on the town of Nardaran and reportedly harassed residents and tore down Shia religious symbols. This move by the government comes on the heels of clashes between security forces and alleged Shia militants near Baku. In the past week, dozens of people have been arrested under suspicion of radicalism and anti-government activities.

Many details have yet to be disclosed from this raid but Shia Rights Watch urges the government of Azerbaijan to respect the civil liberties and religious expression of all people within its borders. Despite being a Shia-majority country, Azerbaijan has cracked down on dissent from its citizens. Shia Muslims in Nardaran face increasing scrutiny from the government as the lifestyle in this area is more conservative than official government standards of religious expression.


Incidents of Anti-Shiism in November 2015

This report will analyze the data compiled on Shia deaths, injuries, and arrests that occurred between November 1st and November 30th.  November has been a high risk month for Shia Muslims around the world.  The attacks towards Shia Muslims stretched from Nigeria to Bangladesh.  Iraq had the highest number of Shia killed, like the previous months.  The total of 610 deaths of Shia were officially reported and 360 were wounded.  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 on the basis of religious beliefs. The subsequent sections will present and analyze the data gathered by Shia Rights Watch for November.


Where have Shia Muslims been targeted? 

Shia Rights Watch_November2015

In November, Shia Muslims were victims in nine countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Azerbaijan and Lebanon. There were a total of 610 Shia deaths this month, 316 wounded, 47 arrests and 20 Shias kidnapped. Three major events happened this month that made November a high risk month for Shias around the world: the first one was the devastating bombing in Beirut, Lebanon.  41 Shias died in this bombing which ISIS took the responsibility.  The second one is the unexpected violent event in Bangladesh which ended in one Shia killed.  Bangladesh does not witness much violent activities against Shias.  This event starts an unfortunate cycle of terror against Shias in Bangladesh.  The Third high risk violent events belong to Iraq, which continues to witness a high number of Shias being killed.


Compared to last month there has been a %41 increase of death tolls in Iraq.  The number of injuries are almost the same.  This month, like the month before, the city of Baghdad had the highest number of shias killed.  ISIS is still the main responsible group for these killings.  In November we witnessed for the first time the use of explosive dolls.  These dolls target little children and it has been a major shock for the communities and the Iraqi security forces to see this level of brutality.\

Shia Rights Watch_November2015_2


Beirut, Lebanon, witnessed one of its devastating bombings in many years.  This suicide bombing attack was targeted at the southern part of Beirut with majority Shia population.  More than 200 people were injured.


At the end of November, we witnessed a brutal suicide attack by Boko Haram.  This attack was targeted at the Shias of northern Nigeria who were present at an Arbaeen procession.


The Hazara community has been targeted again in Afghanistan, part of a long history of being persecuted.  Later, 20 Shia Hazara were kidnapped.  After these events the Hazara community filled the streets and protested in Kabul to demand more security for the Hazara Shias in Afghanistan.


The Hazara community in Pakistan has been under great pressure and risk.  This month we witnessed the same pattern of individual extremists attacking Shias and their mosques.  Gunmen riding motorcycles and shooting towards Shias is the typical format of such attacks.  In these events the police were injured and in one instance killed.


The population of Azerbaijan is %85 Shia, and although the country is secular and relatively safe, the government does not tolerate any kind of religious activity that expressed any level of criticism towards the President.  Press TV reported that in a big gathering the police killed 4 people who were members of the Movement for Muslim Unity (MMU) during a raid earlier in the day at the north part of the capital Baku.  Several leaders of the MMU were arrested.  Yahoo News reported the same event, but did not mention the religious affiliation of the deceased.


This country has been relatively safe for its Shia citizens.  But this month we witnessed a shooting at a Shia mosque which killed one person and injured 3.  ISIS of Bangladesh claimed the responsibility.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Police officer was shot and killed in the majority Shia neighborhood of Saihat in the eastern city of Qatif. Nobody has taken responsibility for this attack.


Bahrain’s police arrested 47 members of a group of Shia youth.  The police believe they have links to “terrorist elements in Iran” who it said were planning to carry out attacks in the coming days.  The family members and the Shia community denied such allegations.


Shia Rights Watch_November2015_1

UN Complaint