Bahrain: Urgent Appeal: Arrest and Ill-treatment of Human Rights Defender Zainab Al-Khawaja
Beirut, 03 August 2012- Human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja was yet again arrested last night when she was protesting alone in Al Qadam roundabout. Zainab decided to protest despite her entire leg being in a caste due to the leg injury she sustained not long ago when security forces shot her with tear gas canisters at a close range, resulting in the injury, refer to http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5354.
After the arrest last night, Zainab was verbally assaulted by a police officer, who right before making sectarian and gender related insults, was very kind due to a camera being present. Al-Khawaja left the room in protest, demanded to know his name and refused to cooperate until given so she can file a complaint.
The head of the police station asked Zainab if she would go voluntarily or he will “do what’s necessary”. Al-Khawaja asked if he was threatening her. Female police asked the head of the police station what they should do in case she refuses to give a blood sample, he reportedly responded “stick the needle in her neck”.
Al-Khawaja was then handcuffed, dragged on the ground and down the stairs, after which she was placed inside a police vehicle. She was then moved to the Fort Prison Hospital where a blood sample was taken, and then moved to Isa Town Detention Center. Until arriving at the final destination Zainab was kept in handcuffs despite her serious leg injury.
When Zainab called her family today she reportedly sounded exhausted and severe of pain.
This is one of many times in which Zainab Al-Khawaja has been arrested for merely practicing her right to protest, refer to http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5227.
The BCHR and GCHR call on the Government of Bahrain to:
1. Immediately release Zainab Al-Khawaja and drop all charges against her, as it is believed that these measures have been taken against her solely due to her legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights, and the exercise of freedom to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in accordance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
2. Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and activists including leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and GCHR/BCHR Director Nabeel Rajab.
3. Drop all charges against human rights defenders held on 'politically motivated' charges.
4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR and BCHR call your attention to the rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” in particular to Article 5 (b) which states that: “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (b)To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;” Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “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”.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.