NGOs Call for World Public Action on Sheikh Isa Qassim’s Case before his Trial May 7
2017-05-06 - 3:15 am
Bahrain Mirror: A group of NGOs issued a letter calling on international high-ranked officials and agencies to take public actions regarding the case of Bahrain's Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, before his trial scheduled to be held next Sunday May 7, 2017.
The letter addressed Mr. Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, United States, Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary, United Kingdom Prince Zeid, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, High Representative Ms. Federica Mogherini, European External Action Service, Stavros Lambrinidis, European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, and Jan Figel, Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union.
"We, the undersigned, write to you in advance of the 7 May 2017 trial of Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qassim, Sheikh Hussain Al-Mahroos and Mirza Al-Obaidli in Bahrain," the statement issued Thursday (May 4, 2017) read.
"We urgently request that you publicly call on the Government of Bahrain to drop the politically-motivated charges against these three men, and to call for the reversal of Royal Decree 55/2016, which stripped Sheikh Qassim of his citizenship and rendered him stateless," it noted.
According to the organizations, "The stripping of Sheikh Qassim's citizenship and his prosecution appear to be reprisals against his expression as a prominent Bahraini figure," indicating that "Sheikh Qassim is the most senior Shia cleric in Bahrain, holding the rank of Ayatollah."
Moreover, the statement noted, "The revocation of his citizenship in June 2016 and his continued prosecution in absentia, alongside Sheikh Hussain Al-Mahroos and Mirza Al-Obaidli, constitute violations of his rights to nationality and a fair trial. Moreover, the charges and method of prosecution appear to represent infringements of the freedom of religion."
The organizations in this regard expressed concern saying, "His prosecution is alarming not just as a violation of his rights to a fair trial and citizenship, but also for its impact on Bahraini religious freedoms."
On another note, the statement noted, "The United States Commission on International Religious Freedoms found in the latest annual report a deterioration in the religious freedoms of Bahrain's Shia, and highlights Sheikh Qassim's nationality revocation and prosecution as a key, negative development."
In addition, the organizations noted in their statement that Sheikh Qassim "preaches in Diraz at the Imam Sadiq mosque, the largest Shia mosque in the country, and is seen by the majority of the Shia population as their spiritual leader."
"Since that date, Sheikh Qassim's hometown of Diraz has been under constant police blockade, and a sit-in outside his house has continued from that date to the present," it went on to say.
The violation of Sheikh Qassim's rights has led to further grave violations, according to the statement, as it stated, "On 26 January 2017, masked, plainclothes officers shot live ammunition against the peaceful sit-in outside his home in Diraz, fatally wounding 18-year-old Mustafa Hamdan, who died in March."
The signatories of the letter were: Bahrain Interfaith, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, ARTICLE 19, and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain.
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