UN Experts Condemn Bahrain Assault on Shia

16 August 2016 – Geneva, Switzerland – A group of United Nations human rights experts have called on the Kingdom of Bahrain to halt its ongoing persecution of Shia Muslims in the country. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain thanks the UN experts for their attention to the issue, and joins them in their call for Bahrain to cease its campaign against its Shia population.

Read the full statement here.

According to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Religion, Assembly, and Expression, “Shias are clearly being targeted on the basis of their religion.” They continued by stating that a “wide range” of charges had been brought against Shia in recent months, including ‘illegal gathering’, ‘inciting hatred against the regime’, ‘money laundering’ and ‘acts of terrorism’ in relation to their peaceful gatherings and religious congregations” – which the experts described as “groundless accusations used to hide a deliberate targeting of Shias in the country.”

The Government of Bahrain has recently intensified its assault against its Shia citizens and residents. In May, an appellate court increased the sentence against Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of al-Wefaq, the largest Shia political organization in Bahrain. The government officially dissolved al-Wefaq shortly thereafter. Around the same time, Bahrain also pressed charges against and stripped the citizenship of eminent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, a well-respected religious figure in Bahrain’s Shia community. Sheikh Isa Qassim faces the threat of deportation at any time; large congregations of Shia Muslims have surrounded his house in order to form a human shield against his arrest and exile.

The experts highlighted further government acts of aggression against the Shia. ““Recently, we witnessed… the shutting of faith-based organizations, restrictions on the practice of religious rites, on Friday prayers and peaceful assemblies, restrictions on movement, restricted access to the Internet and a ban on Shia religious leaders from preaching.” They continued by stating, “The authorities are also using the Bahrain Citizenship Act or Protection of Society against Acts of Terror law to revoke citizenship. People are being left stateless and are facing deportation from Bahrain.”

“We are calling on the Government of Bahrain to stop such arbitrary arrests or summons and release all those who have been detained for exercising their rights,” the experts finished. “The authorities should also lift the restrictions on movement including travel bans imposed on different Shia religious leaders and human rights defenders.”

Read the full statement here.