130 NGOs Appeal to the Pope to Demand Release of Political Prisoners

2022-11-03 - 5:57 p

Bahrain Mirror: 130 human rights organizations and bodies issued a joint statement, calling on Pope Francis to adopt an initiative to urge the Bahraini authorities to end human rights violations.

The organizations also called on the authorities to shift towards transitional justice, be fair, provide reparation to all victims, and release all prisoners of conscience, including human rights defenders and opposition leaders.

Dr. Nizam Assaf, head of the Amman Center for Human Rights Studies, pointed out that Pope Francis can play a positive role in urging to carry out a national reconciliation and stop violations. As a civil society, we look forward to the role of spiritual leaders, such as the Pope, in ending the course of political repression in Bahrain.

As for Baqer Darwish, chairman of the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, he said that while the Bahraini authorities raise the slogan of religious tolerance, they continue the sectarian persecution inside Bahrain. 

He added that the high ministerial leaders involved in the demolition of 38 mosques, including the Ministers of Interior and of Justice and the Commander-in-Chief of the Bahrain Defense Force, were not held accountable.

"As for the Minister of Interior, he targeted more than 150 Shiite religious scholars through security summons, in addition to revoking the nationalities of 19 religious scholars, including Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, who is residing in exile," he stated, pointing out that if there were real religious tolerance in Bahrain, the first meeting of the Pope would have been with Sheikh Isa Qassim, like the meeting with Sayed Sistani.

The undersigned human rights and civil organizations expressed their deep concern about the policy of suppressing public freedoms, which has been adopted by the successive governments of the State of Bahrain for more than ten years.

During these years, the forms of violations have varied and included arbitrary arrests, more than 20,000 cases of which occurred during eleven years, torture (more than 6,000 victims), and extrajudicial killings (more than 200). 

Moreover, hundreds of victims were subjected to enforced disappearance, unfair trials, religious persecution, travel bans, and revocation of citizenship (more than 1,000 cases). 5 politically-motivated death sentences were carried out, and 12 are now pending. Other forms of violations included illegal naturalization, demolition of 38 mosques, denial of civil and political rights, and dissolution of opposition political societies (Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, National Democratic Action Society (Wa'ad), Islamic Action Society (Amal)).

The statement stressed that Bahrain suffers from a massive human rights and political crisis and a blatant evasion from the implementation of international obligations related to the Universal Periodic Review. Moreover, the rights of citizens of various political, social and religious backgrounds have been violated, not to mention freedom of political action has been eliminated.

The organizations wished on the Pope of the Vatican to adopt an initiative urging the Bahraini authorities to release all prisoners of conscience, numbering nearly 1,500. They also urged all conference attendees to visit prisoners of conscience, led by opposition leaders, and to raise the human rights situation while they are in Bahrain with the official authorities.

Arabic Version