In 2011, the majority of Bahrain’s citizen population rose up against systemic discrimination and called for democratic reforms and human rights for all. Since then, the government has claimed to institute reforms but in practice has only institutionalized the repression. For example, since 2011 protesting in the capital of Manama is illegal under Bahraini law, a clear violation under Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The government continues to criminalize dissent in an effort to silence any opposition. One individual, who despite having been targeted by the Bahraini authorities countless times, has maintained his efforts to stand up against injustice. This man is Haji Abdulmajeed Abdulla Hasan, a Bahraini grandfather and well-known protester, who even made an appearance in a music video back in 2013.
Haji Abdulmajeed is one of the most prominent activists of Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement, which began on 14 February 2011. Other activists have subscribed him the nickname Haji Smood (resistance) to describe his commitment to the cause even at his old age. Images of the security forces picking up the 66-year-old grandfather of nine as he continues to call for an end to discrimination illustrate Haji Abdulmajeed’s dedication to human rights for all in Bahrain.
Due to his continued participation in peaceful protests, security forces have targeted Haji Abdulmajeed and summoned him several times for interrogation at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and various police stations. Currently, he is serving a 6-month sentence for “illegal assembly” in 2013. Overall, the activist has at least 15 charges against him.
Authorities have arrested Haji Abdulmajeed four times since 2011, the most recent being in the summer of 2016. Following each arrest, authorities remanded him to 45 days in detention at the Dry Dock Detention Center. Then, the public prosecution would release him on BHD100 bail. During his interrogations, authorities always denied him his right to a lawyer. Authorities have detained him at Jau prison for three times. The first time he served four months and the following two times he served six months. Because of the 15 charges against him, his lawyer states Haji Abdulmajeed remains at imminent risk of being handed additional imprisonment sentences.
Because of his involvement in peaceful demonstrations, Bahraini security forces have repeatedly harassed the father of eight. Security forces have also physically assaulted Haji Abdulmajeed. His most recent arrest was regarding his participation in the peaceful sit-in outside the house of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim following the Shia cleric’s denaturalization. Haji Abdulmajeed’s first trial for this charge is set for 27 October.
Haji Abdulmajeed’s case is one of many that exemplify the Bahraini government’s repeated human rights violations. The authorities targeting and harassment of peaceful demonstrators only illustrates the government’s refusal to commit to its international obligations. While the government continues to bring numerous charges against one of Bahrain’s most notable and fearless protesters, the authorities should know that Haji Abdulmajeed’s commitment to human rights for all cannot be crushed.
Mobashra Tazamal is an Advocacy Fellow at ADHRB