News / Middle East

Human Rights Violations Mount in Bahrain

Mourners carry the casket of Bahia al-Aradi through the streets of downtown Manama, Bahrain, March 22, 2011
Mourners carry the casket of Bahia al-Aradi through the streets of downtown Manama, Bahrain, March 22, 2011

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Lisa Schlein

The United Nations Human Rights Office expresses great concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain. It says it is receiving reports of more people who have gone missing, been killed and subjected to intimidation and harassment.

The U.N. Human Rights Office says over the past week alone, between 50 and 100 people are reported missing. And of these, two who had earlier been missing now have turned up dead.

U.N. spokesman Rupert Colville says the office is receiving reports of people speaking to the media being detained and threatened. He says some are in fear of reprisals.

“Those arrested are reported to include political activists, human rights defenders and doctors and nurses from the Salmaniya hospital,” Colville said. “Some, including female nurses, have been released quite quickly; others have not. Many of those who have been reporting on the situation to the outside world, including to us, have had their communications cut, and in some cases, the mobile phones of their close relatives have also been cut off.”  

The Salmaniya hospital complex in the capital, Manama, has been taken over by the military. There are numerous reports the military is preventing injured people from entering the hospital to seek medical attention.

Colville says the Human Rights Office has been inundated with emails since it issued a press release last week denouncing violations committed by the Bahraini military and security forces. He says the emails claim the U.N. has got it wrong and that it is the protestors who are completely at fault.

“Many of these emails are very similar in content, suggesting an orchestrated campaign,” he added. “That said, some or even many of the emails may well be genuine. It is clear that everyone in Bahrain is to a greater or lesser degree concerned by what is going on. But clearly, the most traumatized are not the people sending these emails, but those people whose colleagues, friends and relatives have been killed, injured, harassed, intimidated, beaten, or have been arrested or gone missing.”  

Colville says the authorities must scrupulously abide by international standards. And that, he notes, means people should not be arbitrarily arrested and detained without clear evidence they have committed a crime.

He says people should not be arrested for demonstrating peacefully nor for talking to journalists. He says injured people should not be prevented from receiving medical care.

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