Summary of events on August 14th

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Click here for the live blog which has all videos, pictures and more from the day.

 

In brief:

  • At least 18 arrests
  • 60 protests across 40 areas, including Manama
  • Heavy police presence deployed
  • Several injuries from tear gas and bird shot
  • Internet tampered
Protests began Bahrain yesterday at around 6am in villages across the country. They continued in a series of waves until late evening. 

The demonstrations took several forms, from marches, to human chains, to sit-ins, following guidelines for "cumulative action" released by the February 14 Youth Coalition. A heavy security presence was reported in multiple villages. Although this failed to deter the protesters, it enabled the government to largely contain the demonstrations, buttressed by checkpoints and the barbed wire fences and security barriers police had erected on Tuesday

By noon, opposition AlWefaq reported that it had counted 60 protests in 40 different areas. Around 3pm, citizens began staging sit-ins outside their homes. At the same time, the Tamarrod (Rebellion) movement called for a protest at Seef Junction. However, the area was under heavy police blockade and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights reported the arrest of 5 women there. Several demonstrations were also seen in the capital Manama, despite the ban on protests there which was issued by King Hamad last week.

Pictures from August 14th

Collection of photographs (many more on the live blog)

Bahrain 14th August Live Blog

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Statement from Opposition Societies: The opposition parties demand the regime to stop its dangerous violations and live up to its pledges

The following statement has been published by the opposition societies in Bahrain:
The opposition parties demand the regime to stop its dangerous violations and live up to its pledges

The National Democratic Opposition Parties in Bahrain demanded the regime to stop its dangerous violations against the citizens. The opposition parties demanded the regime to immediately start implementing the recommendations of both the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and the United Nations Human Rights Council, to thus, ease tension on both the political and security levels and prevent instability in civil peace.  

The opposition parties said in a statement issued Tuesday, on the 42nd anniversary of Bahrain's independence, that the Bahraini people have struggled until they achieved independence for their country from the British mandate forces in 1971 pursuant to the memorandum of the British High Commissioner which stated to end the active treaty relations between the United Kingdom and the State of Bahrain given that the treaty contradicts with a fully independent and sovereign state. The memorandum also stated the end of the 23rd December 1880 and 13th March 1892 treaties between the two states.

General instructions and guidance released for 'cumulative action' by the Coalition of 14 February

 

Ahead of the mass protests planned in Bahrain on the 14th August has been an air of confidentiality. That is until today where signs have aired about what to expect from protesters by the Coalition of 14th February. Although it is difficult to ascertain the specific organisers of the movement, notices have been published about the stances to be taken.

The Coalition has announced that timings of actions will be announced on the day, that it expects them to be peaceful and that they will continue after the 14th of August. It has also discouraged clashes with what it has called the 'Al Khalifa mercenaries'.

Here is what to expect:

This website blocked in Bahrain 24 hours after launch

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The message people in Bahrain receive when trying to access this website
We launched this website on Saturday afternoon, to offer a central space for news and information about current events in Bahrain ahead of tomorrows Tamarrod protests. Within 24 hours hours of our launch, we began receiving messages from Bahrainis telling us that the site had been blocked in Bahrain. Despite the best efforts of a technical assistant, we have been unable to provide a working link for those inside Bahrain. As a voluntary project with limited capacity, we sadly lack the means pursue this further.

www.bahrainaugust14.com therefore joins a long list of websites banned by the Bahrain government, including the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Justice and Development Movement, and even at one point the United Nations "WebTV" site. In 2006, the government banned access to Google Earth after activists began circulating satellite images showing the disparity between the palaces and land belonging to the ruling AlKhalifa family, compared with the cramped conditions of many villages. 

Security forces erect barbed wire fences around villages ahead of August 14th protests

Security forces erect barbed wire fences, enclosing villages, ahead of August 14th protests (Source: left, right)
Activists have reported that they woke up this morning to see newly erected barbed wire fences and other barriers. Maryam AlKhawaja, Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said, "they're caging in entire villages with barbed wire".  Nick McGeehan from Human Rights Watch described it as "Barbed Wire Bahrain".

Al Wefaq opposition society reports that security forces have "surrounded entrances of Sitra island with barbed wire and roadblocks". They add that Sitra "has been living under growing fear due to the regime’s violence", with 15 citizens from Sitra having been killed since the uprising began on February 14th 2011. Maryam AlKhawaka also reports that Sitra "has been closed off with barbed wire, except a few entrances guarded by security forces" and similar reports have been heard about Sehla village.

The following pictures were shared online by activists:

Messages of support for Tammarod Bahrain from Human Rights Defender and Prisoner of Conscience Nabeel Rajab

Nabeel Rajab (right) with Abdulhadi AlKhawaja (left)

Nabeel Rajab is the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. He is a current prisoner of conscience, serving a two-year sentence for calling for and participating in protests. Two weeks ago, he sent three messages from prison in which he offered his support for the Tamarrod Bahrain movement and renewed his calls for a Bahrain where there is "justice and equality between people and the protection of rights". The messages were smuggled out of prison and posted on Facebook in Arabic. Here are English translations:
My message to the street in this struggle;

Do not change. Be strong because the world does not respect the weak. Crying and pleading are actions of the weak. Begging will not return our rights, but will only make it more difficult and complicated to move. Steadfastness and insistence on the demands, our principles and values​​, struggle and sacrifice are the factors that will return our rights sooner or later. We should unify our ranks across all spectrum of society and should not surrender to sectarian schemes. With our solid determination  and strong will, and our weapons of peace, we will beat their deadly weapons. We should all multiply our efforts to empower each other in everything and we should all strive to be human rights activists, journalists, writers and artists to support our just cause. We need to expose to the world the injustices that the system practices on us, and the repression and brutality that it uses to confront the fair demands of the people.

Government claims it has "zero-tolerance" policy towards torture; evidence suggests otherwise

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The office of Sameera Rajab, the Government's official spokesperson, has told Reuters that Bahrain has a "zero-tolerance" policy towards torture. However, evidence over the past days, weeks, months and even years, suggests otherwise. The following is just a small selection of examples of both torture and the culture of impunity that surrounds the security forces:

Media fixer and blogger Mohamed Hassan was arrested on July 31st. On August 7th, he told his lawyer AbdulAziz Moussa that he had been tortured whilst in custody. His lawyer tweeted that he had seen marks of torture on Hassan's body. On August 8th, Moussa was also arrested.


Human rights defender Naji Fateel was arrested on May 2nd. He appeared in court on July 2nd and removed his shirt to show the judge marks of torture on his back. Fateel alleges that he was subject to electrocution, beating, simulated drowning, hanging from his hands, sexual harassment, enforced standing, sleep deprivation, sectarian harassment and threats against his wife. On July 11th, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights published these images of Fateel, showing the markings on his back:

Frontline Defenders attended Fateel's most recent hearing on July 25th. They "condemned the trial", saying that it failed "to meet internationally accepted legal standards and due process guarantee".

Father of victim of extrajudicial killing arrested in Arad; protests continue

Said Yousif Almuhafda, head of monitoring for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, reports that the father of Yousif Al Mowali, a "victim of extrajudicial killing", was arrested on Sunday in Arad, a town on Muharraq island. He was reportedly arrested with several others following a protest. Authorities decided to hold them in detention, although released a child who was arrested with them.

Yousif Al Mowali was killed in January 2012. The 23 year old man, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, disappeared on January 11th. His body was found two days later, lying on rocks next to the sea. Authorities claimed the cause of death was drowning. However, his body showed clear signs of torture. (Link to GRAPHIC video of his body). A Turkish forensics expert was able to covertly enter the country and examine him. She concluded: “We have proved that the scars on the hands and feet were the scars of electrical torture. The victim was most likely unconscious when he was thrown into the sea and this is why he drowned.” During Yousif's funeral on January 21st, mourners were attacked and plain-clothed security forces violently arrested opposition politician Yousif Qadrat. On April 21st, 2013, vandals desecrated his grave. To date, nobody has been charged with his torture or death.

Meanwhile, opposition protests continued in Bahrain in preparation for August 14th, in spite of high police presence and checkpoints. This is a small selection of pictures and videos:

Crackdown on citizen journalists ahead of August 14th protests

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Josh Shahryar writes for Christian Science Monitor:
With August 14 quickly approaching, citizen journalists are the government's new targets. A week ago, I spoke online with a citizen journalist inside Bahrain who told me his arrest might be imminent because he feared a crackdown had begun against him and his colleagues. He had good reason to worry. At 3 am on July 31, fifteen masked men woke up Bahraini blogger Mohammed Hassan in his house and arrested him.

(...)

That evening, Hassan's best friend photographer Hussain Hubail was arrested by police at Bahrain's main airport. He managed to call his family to tell them he had been surrounded by police at the immigration check while he was trying to fly to Dubai. He, too, was only told that he was "wanted."

10-year-old child dies, months after tear gas attack on home

The inflammed eye of Ali Jaffar,
brought on by the cancer
According to Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, a 10-year-old Bahraini child has died, whilst seeking medical care for cancer of the eye, reportedly sustained from a tear gas attack on his home.

The home of the boy, Ali Jaffar Habib Ibrahim, came under heavy tear gassing in October 2012 during an attack on Malkiya Village, to the west of Bahrain. According to the family, the Grandfather of Ali Jaffar, died from a chest infection shortly after the incident occurred.

Two weeks after Ali Jaffar began to suffer from irritation in his eye and after seeking treatment both in Bahrain and abroad, the family learned that he had developed cancer in one of his eyes. After months of treatment, Ali Jaffar passed away as a result of the cancer last week on 8th August.

Ali Jaffar's Father explicitly blames the security authorities in Bahrain for the death of his child and his Father, according to Al Wefaq. The family has requested an investigation into the death, as well as the ingredients and side effects of the tear gas used in Bahrain.