February 14 marked the second anniversary of Bahrain's uprising. Earlier protests erupted sporadically.
In mid-February 2011, major ones did nonviolently. They continue virtually daily. At issue is King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa's tyranny.
Bahrainis want democratic change, sectarian Shia discrimination ended, equitable distribution of state wealth, political prisoners released, and state terrorism stopped.
They want fundamental freedoms. They want popularly elected leaders replacing Al-Khalifa rule. It's despotic, ruthless and intolerable. State terrorism is policy.
Security force attacks, beatings, live fire, murders, arrests, torture, disappearances, and imprisonments follow.
Bahrain's the home of America's Fifth Fleet. Generous aid's provided. So are weapons and political support.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BHCR provides ongoing reports. It's works for:
"a prosperous democratic country free of discrimination and other violations of human rights."
It says its mission is to "encourage and support individuals and groups to be proactive in the protection of their own and others' rights; and to struggle to promote democracy and human rights in accordance with international norms."
Its four objectives include:
(1) Promoting civil, political, and economic freedom.
(2) Ending racial discrimination.
(3) Disseminating human rights culture.
(4) Supporting and protecting victims' rights.
Its new report headlines "Two Years of Deaths and Detentions: Documenting Human Rights Abuses During the Pro-Democracy Movement in Bahrain."
After two years of repression, Bahrainis want democratic change. They want peace. They're uncompromising. They won't allow "their human rights to be trampled upon."
They've come much to far to stop now. They're in it for the long haul. They won't yield until equity and justice are achieved.
BCHR documented 87 deaths in two years. Extrajudicial killing is official Al-Khalifa policy. Rogue states operate that way. Bahrain is one of the worst.
Toxic tear gas accounted for nearly 40% of deaths. Canisters are fired directly into crowds, cars, and private homes. Doing so reflects collective punishment.
Young children, adults with respiratory problems, pregnant women, and the elderly are most vulnerable. Indiscriminate security force targetin killed them.
Extrajudicial shooting accounted for 31% of deaths. Most often shotgun pellets were responsible. Bahrain uses them indiscriminately. Peaceful demonstrators are attacked. Bystanders are struck.
A five-year old child was shot selling fish with his grandfather. No protest was nearby at the time.
Torture and beatings accounted for 18% of deaths. Another 12% of causes were responsible for others. They include victims run down by police cars, denying injured victims treatment, and deaths by authorities for miscellaneous reasons.
Excessive force killed 13 children. Their ages range from five days to 17. No high ranking government official was held accountable.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry concluded that "the very fact that a systematic pattern of behavior exist(s) indicates that this is how these security forces were trained and how they (are) expected to act."
Nothing could have happened without high command orders. Deaths are well documented. Unaccountability is policy. Nothing ahead suggests change.
Torture is official policy. BCHR receives ongoing reports. Prison reform is a non-starter. Torturers have carte blanche authority. They operate with impunity.
Practices include pulling out fingernails, painful forced standing for long periods, severe beatings, knife lacerations, rape or threats to commit it, and sexual intimidation.
"Not only are prison authorities unpunished for these acts, but they are at times rewarded." Promotions follow. A culture of impunity exists.
Prolonged isolation is common. Prisoners are confined in two by two meter cells. Sometimes they're with another detainee "who does not share a common language."
If either tries communicating with the other, they're beaten. Food and water quality are deplorable. They're unsafe to ingest. Medical care is non-existent.
Thousands have been arrested. Others are apprehended daily. Politically motivated reasons account for detaining them.
BCHR gets daily reports. "Political prisoners are ill-treated, harassed, tortured, and denied proper medical care." Basic needs go unaddressed.
"When you want to judge a human rights situation in any country, look where the human rights defenders are. In Bahrain, they are in prison."
Security forces consider kidnapping legitimate law enforcement. Doing so violates due process rights. They're outrageous human rights abuses. They're common practice. Since February 2011, hundreds of cases were reported.
BCHR documented numerous incidents. Victims disappear for weeks. Some never return. Others emerge "with severe signs of torture marking their bod(ies)."
Many victims are children or youths. False confessions are extracted. Bogus charges follow. Justice is denied. Incarceration and brutal prison conditions assure it.
Other violations include a "broken judicial system." It's a political tool. Fair trials are "rare" or "impossible." Due process is routinely ignored.
Bahrain's constitution guarantees judicial independence in principle. Reality subordinates it to King Hamad. What he says goes. He chairs the Higher Judicial Council.
He rules by diktat authority. He appoints judges by Royal Orders. They disregard defendant rights. They bar exculpating evidence. They disallow cross-examining prosecution witnesses.
Bahraini trials give kangaroos a bad name. Police state justice is policy. Due process violations occur at all judicial levels. Fundamental fair trial elements are verboten.
Recommended changes are spurned. "Defendants are regularly denied the right to council and denied the right to present a defense."
"Bahraini courts bear no resemblance to internationally recognized fair or transparent practices." Guilt by accusation suffices. Police states operate that way.
Bahrain's legal system "continues to support (a) culture of impunity throughout all levels of the administration, and the people of Bahrain are left voiceless against their own government."
Medical professionals have been under constant attack. Providing services to injured protestors is criminalized. Arrests occur in hospitals. Some are made in operating rooms. Others happen in offices or homes.
"Doctors (are) eyewitnesses to government atrocities and extrajudicial killing of peaceful protesters. For this reason, (they're among) the first groups targeted by authorities."
It's done to punish and silence them. Arrests, torture, and show trials follow. So do long prison terms.
"Not only are the convicted medical personnel not allowed to return to work, but also those who were acquitted of all charges."
Bahrain considers treating the wrong patients reason for dismissal, arrest and prosecution. Doing the right thing is criminalized.
Religious discrimination is standard practice. Majority Shia Muslim rights are compromised. Doing so divides society along sectarian lines.
Bahraini rulers are Sunnis. Ordinary people reject them. Since February 2011, dozens of Shia mosques and other places of worship were demolished. Rebuilding is denied. Equal protection doesn't exist.
"Media harassment and limited freedom of expression remain significant" human rights abuses. Independent opposition journalists, photographers, and bloggers are regularly attacked.
They're arbitrarily arrested. They're targeted for doing the right thing. Some disappear. Others are killed. "Dozens were detained and arbitrarily deported."
Numerous physical assaults occurred. Government-sponsored billboards smeared anti-regime journalists. Verbal reform commitments were promised. None followed.
Media violations remain widespread. Human rights conditions worsened. Strict policies "keep (foreign) journalists, NGOs, researchers, politicians, activists, (trade unionists, aid workers), and other outside observers out of Bahrain."
Doing so blocks truth and full disclosure. Anti-regime websites are blocked. A tweet "calling for democracy is enough to land a person in prison for several years."
Despite demands for reform, authorities haven't implemented change. Fundamental freedoms don't exist. Police state ruthlessness denies them.
Accountability is null and void. A culture of impunity exists. Human rights abuses are appalling. Recommendations made aren't adopted.
Nothing ahead suggests change. A culture of despotism persists. Bahrain's liberating struggle continues.
A Final Comment
On December 9, 1998, the General Assembly's "Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms" recognized the legitimacy of human rights defenders.
It affirmed their freedom of association and right to pursue their activities freely. It did so without fear of reprisals.
Article 6 states:
"Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others:
(b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms."
Article 12 states:
1. "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms."
2. "The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration."
What international laws affirm, al-Khalifa despot rule spurns. On February 14, 2013, Bahrainis rallied en masse. They commemorated their uprising's second anniversary.
Doing so sent a message. Fundamental freedoms won't be sacrificed. They're too important to lose. Surrendering them isn't an option. Not now. Not ever.
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|Allen L. Jasson|