Eman Shams Eldeen: Human Rights Defenders Under Winds Blow

Eman Sham Eldeen - 2017-06-12 - 11:14 p

Bahrain Mirror: There has been an increase in the number of assaults on human rights activists in the Arab world after the so-called Arab Spring, ranging from attacks initiated by the ruling authorities, beyond torture and threats, to accusing them of treason and conspiracy abroad; an accusation punishable by death in some countries.

This applies to Bahrain. However, recently, the US President Donald Trump visited Riyadh, and explicitly declared in his speech that he "did not come to talk about human rights and will not mention this word at all", and that "he shall not lecture the [Gulf] leaders about democracy, because they as leaders, know better about how to behave with their people". This, on one hand, was a green light to practice all types of violations against opponents in the region. On another hand, it was a bullet of mercy shot at the human rights culture and efforts of many independent human rights organizations to disseminate human rights awareness in the Arab world.

This has made them subject to arrest, torture and even murder without any accountability from major influential countries, for politics to become the key player in any position and interest, to be the driver of humanity, and for human rights organizations to lose what remains of its credibility in the memory of peoples.

There is absence of a strong and clear position from active and influential human rights organizations in the face of this new escalating trend to demolish the human rights path in our region, and lack of real immunity presented by these organization to rights activists in areas of engagement. This means the hands of tyrannical regimes have been released against the people, especially opponents, to suppress every attempt for reform and renaissance to topple oppressive regimes and gradually transform them into democratic systems that represent the people.

The clear evidence of the repercussions of Trump's speech is what happened in Bahrain right after his visit; a military incursion into Diraz area and the killing of peaceful protesters. When a group of rights activists took part in the documentation of abuses committed by the security forces, some of them were arrested and subject to the worst kinds of violations carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA). According to witnesses, most of the violations were, Some and not all of these violations that rights detainees were subject to are:

  • Beatings on the head
  • Insulting religious symbols and human rights organizations and forcing them to denounce these figures.
  • Sexual harassment and stripping clothes off
  • Threat to reach harm and murder children and relatives
  • Threat of burning property.

The same approach of abuses applies to detained male and female human rights activists. The aim is to empty Bahrain from all human rights defenders who monitor violations committed by security officers against peaceful demonstrators, so that the authorities smothers the opposition and the peaceful demonstrators without being censored or held accountable.

Today, human rights organizations are facing a moral and existential test.

If they do not find a plan in which they can protect activists from the regime's abuses, imprisonment and torture, their credibility and presence in our Arab and Muslim world, shall be threatened even amongst their own people. This, in the end, shall endanger the human rights doctrine of violation and disappearance.

Human rights activists should work to expose these politicized human rights organizations that are complicit with regimes, and work to sever all ties with them, and try to come up with a binding plan that protects human rights activists from these tyrannical regimes.

Arabic version

Kuwaiti Writer

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