On 5 October, ADHRB has delivered an oral intervention at the United Nation Human Rights Council session 48 under item 9 to calls on the government of Bahrain to stop hate speech campaigns against citizens.
The DDPA recognizes “with deep concern religious intolerance against religious communities and their members.” It also “urges States to ensure…that persons belonging to…religious…minorities can exercise fully…all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
We are deeply concerned about the serious and ongoing threats of sectarian discrimination to stability in Bahrain. In both rhetoric and practice, hate speech places Shia citizens in increasing danger of violence and discrimination.
Since 2011, the government and its supporters have used ethnoreligious hate speech to discredit political opposition and invoke societal division. Although sectarian incitement is criminalized, the government exclusively uses this legislation to target peaceful Shia dissenters. However, authorities have tolerated and even encouraged sectarian hate speech against the Shia, even citing them as “terrorists” and “Iranian agents” in official media. There are also reports of them being described as “cockroaches…that must be put down.” A recent study revealed that the government and its supporters have created thousands of automated Twitter accounts to disseminate sectarian hate speech.
Government policies are also known to reflect discrimination. It is estimated that Shia citizens account for less than 5% of all Bahraini security personnel, despite representing as much as 70% of the citizen population.
We therefore call on the Government of Bahrain to stop the endorsement of sectarian hate speech against the indigenous Shia citizens and to ensure the right of Shia and other religious and ethnic minorities to non-discrimination.