Religious Persecution Conference Highlights Systematic Violations against Shia of Bahrain, Makes Recommendations

2019-07-15 - 10:31 م

Bahrain Mirror: Bahrain Interfaith Center held a conference entitled, "Religious Persecution in Bahrain" in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, in which a number of Bahraini and international organizations and human rights activists took part.

Amnesty International's gulf researcher Devin Kenny spoke at the conference, highlighting the systematic discrimination and abuses that the Shiite sect has been facing for decades in Bahrain, stressing that govermnet actions have become more repressive, especially since Friday prayers have been banned, particularily in Diraz, in addition to citizenship revocation and certain violations during Ashura season, including arrests. He further noted that at least 15 Shiite clerics have been arrested this year.

Kenny also pointed out that discriminatory policies practiced by the Bahraini government against the Shia have become more severe since 2011, adding that in most recent years, the gulf nation hasn't only witnessed social discrimination but also systematic discrimantion and active encroachment on Shia rights.

The conference was attended by the lawyer Abbas Dbouk, who's an expert in international relations. He spoke of the events taking place in the Bahraini arena, and the violations of rights and freedoms the people are being exposed to, especially religious freedoms, noting that there is a huge crisis that is manifested in depriving the people from political participation and repressing their freedom of opinion and expression, let alone cruel and degrading treatment, intimidation, arbitrary detention and unfair trials of those who demand their rights.

Dbouk further pointed out the deepening of religious hatred among the people and the destruction of mosques and religious institutions.

From Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Ghina Faroukh said that since Bahrain has been ranked as level 2 in the US State Department report on religious freedom for the third year in a row for its religious freedom violations shows that the authorities continue to practice abuses against religious freedoms in Bahrain.

Quoting Human Rights Watch, she noted that the reports of the Commission on Prisoners' Rights are not credible, as they contradict what has been documented and reported by prisoners and their families, as they are prevented from performing acts of worship and seasonal rituals, and also subjected to violent methods, including solitary confinement only for reciting a prayer.

On behalf of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Faroukh called on the Bahraini government to allow prisoners to practice their daily worship and seasonal rituals without any violations, in addition to calling on the prison administration to take into account the health conditions of the prisoners, abide by the Nelson Mandela rules and prevent illegal practices and systematic torture in prisons.

Bahrain Interfaith Center's Sumaya Al-Haj Hassan spoke about some of the examples of obstacles faced by Bahraini Shiites against their political participation, the continuous discrimination they're subjected to, the dissolution of Al-Wefaq Society and the prevention of its members from running in the 2018 elections. She also highlighted the Article 5 amendment of Law 14 of 2012 that banned a number of Shiite activists and opposition figures from running for an elected office.

On behalf of the Center, She Al-Haj Hassan welcomed the US State Department recommendations, including the recommendations directed at the US to urge Bahrain to implement the BICI recommendations and pressure the government to implement the laws that prohibit religious discrimination in employment, as well as urge the island kingdom to release prisoners of conscience and rights activists.