WASHINGTON, DC – October 2nd, 2013 – Today marks the United Nations’ 7th annual International Day of Nonviolence, established to commemorate the vital role of nonviolence in building tolerant and peaceful societies. Described by the United Nations as politics for ordinary people, nonviolence uses tactics of occupation, protest, persuasion, and non-compliance to achieve respect and empowerment for oppressed people. The International Day of Nonviolence celebrates the accomplishments people can achieve when they nonviolently confront social and political discrimination, and encourages current and future generations to acknowledge nonviolent resistance as the most effective and appropriate tool for challenging injustice. On this important day, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain salutes the legacy of nonviolence that has brought respect of and recognition to human rights defenders around the world and recognizes the struggle of those in Bahrain who continue to utilize nonviolence in an effort to achieve democratic reform and respect for human rights.
“Institutional violations against nonviolent protesters, human rights defenders and activists occurs at every level in Bahrain, including prosecution under false charges, disruption of peaceful protests, the implementation of laws hindering the work of civil society, and the revocation of nationality,” said ADHRB Director Husain Abdulla. “While such persecution makes resistance all the more costly, the ongoing commitment to nonviolence proves the resilience of the Bahraini people as they continue to demand greater representation and democratic reform,” Mr. Abdulla said.
Since the uprising began in February 2011, the Government of Bahrain has persecuted activists, dissidents, and human rights defenders for their nonviolent acts of resistance. Less than a week ago, the government labeled 50 Bahrainis ‘terrorists’ and sentenced them to prison on fabricated charges using confessions elicited through torture for their participation in pro-democratic protests. Those prosecuted include Naji Fateel, a well-known human rights defender and Board Member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, as well as political activists, human rights workers and exiled opponents of the government. The conviction of non-violent protestors using confessions obtained via torture is illegal under multiple instruments of international law, including not only customary international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture (CAT), both of which Bahrain has ratified. According to the CAT, all persons throughout the world are guaranteed the right to be free from torture, and any confessions obtained through the use of torture are invalid.
“Despite facing institutionalized violence and over human rights abuses, the people of Bahrain remain dedicated to utilizing methods of nonviolence to peacefully achieve their goals of equal representation and democratic reform,” Mr. Abdulla said. “The power and promise of nonviolence is that dignity and freedom are achieved when people are moved by a passion greater than the threat of violence. On this International Day of Nonviolence, we call upon the Bahrain government to respect the peaceful demands of all in Bahrain and to recognize its commitments under international law by releasing all nonviolent political prisoners.”
Please click here for a PDF of this statement.