130 Human Rights orgs urge Pope to act on violations in Bahrain
A joint statement written by 130 human rights organizations call on the Pope to push for the release of all prisoners of conscience and stop human rights violations.
Some 130 human rights organizations and bodies issued a statement on Thursday calling on Pope Francis to adopt an initiative that urges Bahraini authorities to stop human rights violations, be fair, really shift towards transitional justice, provide reparation to victims, and release all prisoners of conscience, including human rights defenders and opposition leaders.
Head of the Amman Center for Human Rights Studies, Dr. Nizam Assaf, noted that Pope Francis can play an effective role in pushing to carry out a national reconciliation and put an end to violations.
Chairman of the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Baqer Darwish, said that while Bahrain's authorities raise the slogan of religious tolerance, sectarian persecution continues in Bahrain, pointing out the 38 mosques that were demolished by high ministerial leaders who were not held accountable.
Darwish mentioned the Minister of Interior, who targeted more than 150 Shiite religious scholars through security summons and revoked the nationalities of 19 religious scholars.
The undersigned human rights and civil organizations voiced their deep concern about suppressing public freedoms, which has been carried out by Bahrain's successive governments for more than ten years.
During these years, the forms of violations have varied and included torture (more than 6,000 victims), arbitrary arrests, (more than 20,000 cases of which occurred during 11 years), and extrajudicial killings (more than 200).
In addition, hundreds of victims were subjected to unfair trials, enforced disappearance, travel bans, religious persecution, and revocation of citizenship (more than 1,000 cases).
That is not all, as five death sentences that are politically motivated were carried out, and 12 more are pending.
Other forms of violations included the demolition of 38 mosques, illegal naturalization, denial of civil and political rights, and the dissolution of opposition political societies (Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), Islamic Action Society (Amal)).
A massive human rights and political crisis has been going on in Bahrain, amid a blatant evasion from abiding by international obligations related to the Universal Periodic Review. In the meantime, the rights of citizens of various social, religious, and political backgrounds have been violated, and the freedom of political action has been eliminated.
On October 26, a group of scholars detained in the prisons of the Bahraini regime welcomed the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to Bahrain, considering him a patron of peace, reform, and justice.
The Pope is visiting Bahrain at the invitation of civil and ecclesiastical authorities from November 3-6.
The scholars addressed the Pope of the Vatican in a statement, saying, "We know that you will set foot in a land where the slogan of tolerance and coexistence is raised for everyone except for its sons and people, and in which justice and charity are described, but injustice and aggression are practiced."
"The people of this land are killed, sons, and bereaved mothers, suffering injured, imprisoned, chased, and exiled. Those remaining in the homeland are patient. [...] International human rights organizations documented many violations against the people of this land," he added.
The statement was signed by prisoners of conscience, and they are Sheikh Abdul-Jalil Al-Miqdad, Sheikh Saeed Al-Nouri, Sheikh Muhammad Habib Al-Miqdad, and Sheikh Ali Salman.
The full statement issued by the scholars:
"On the occasion of his upcoming visit to Bahrain, we wish on the Pope to call for the release of the prisoners of conscience
In light of the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to Bahrain between 3-6 November, the organizations who signed on this statement hope that His Holiness will adopt an initiative urging the Bahraini authorities to end violations and issue a real shift towards transitional justice, fairness, and reparation for all victims and the release of all prisoners of conscience, including human rights defenders and opposition leaders.
Human rights organizations have monitored the imprisonment of opposition leaders, prisoners of conscience, and religious scholars who have always expressed their belief in the values of human rights, freedom, equality, religious tolerance, and coexistence. Because of their demand for a state of social justice, equal citizenship, human dignity, and political pluralism, they were subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, and long prison sentences, and some of them were executed and had their citizenship revoked.
The human rights and civil organizations that signed below express their deep concern about the policy of suppressing public freedoms pursued by the successive governments of the State of Bahrain for more than ten years, and in which forms of violations vary, such as: arbitrary arresting more than 20 thousand cases during eleven years, and torture (of more than 6000 victims), extrajudicial killings of more than (200), as well as hundreds of victims who were subjected to: enforced disappearance, unfair trials, religious persecution, travel bans, revocation of citizenship (more than a thousand cases), and political death sentences (12 rulings currently in execution against five detainees), naturalization in violation of the law, denial of civil and political rights, dissolution of opposition political societies (Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Democratic National Action Society (Waad), Islamic Action Society (Amal)), which suffers from a wide human rights and political crisis, and outright evasion of the implementation of international obligations related to the universal periodic review, the demolition of 38 mosques, the violation of the rights of citizens of various political, social and religious persuasions, not to mention the end of political freedom of action.
Human rights organizations wish on the Pope of the Vatican to adopt an initiative urging the Bahraini authorities to release all prisoners of conscience, numbering nearly 1,500. We also urge 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."