An overview of ADHRB’s participation in the activities of the 55th session of the Human Rights Council

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) participated in the 55th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, held from 26 February and 5 April 2024.

 During these sessions, the organization delivered seven oral interventions under five items, shedding light on various human rights violations in Bahrain, Kuwait, and occupied Palestinian territories.

 ADHRB delivered five interventions related to the human rights situation in Bahrain under items 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9. Among these, two interventions under items 4 and 9 highlighted the Israeli genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and the American immunity granted to it, as well as discrimination against the Bidoon community in Kuwait and the violations they face.

Item 3

Under Item 3, ADHRB delivered an intervention during the General Debate on 15 March 2024.

In her intervention, Bahraini activist Najah Yusuf drew attention to the recent escalation in Bahrain in summoning and arresting participants in pro-Palestine protests across the country, including more than 50 minors aged between 14 and 17. They were charged with crimes such as illegal assembly after being subjected to numerous violations. She pointed out that at least 29 children are facing harsh detention conditions, deprived of continuing their education, and subjected to mistreatment. Najah added that some minors were forced to confess to pre-prepared charges and denied family visits, including the case of the 17-year-old minor, Qasim Al-Sameea. The organization urged Bahrain to stop targeting children and minors, allowing them to reunite with their families and resume their education. ADHRB indicated that an impartial investigation should be initiated to address allegations of mistreatment. It urged the Council to pressure Bahrain to respect its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which it is a party.

Item 4

Under Item 4, ADHRB delivered two interventions on 21 March 21, 2024, during the General Debate.

In his intervention, activist Yusuf AlHoori drew the Council’s attention to the ongoing medical neglect suffered by elderly opposition leaders and human rights defenders in Bahraini prisons. Among them is the political prisoner Mr. Hasan Mushaima, who suffers from cancer, diabetes, and other serious diseases, facing life-threatening medical neglect. Yusuf also highlighted the case of the prominent human rights defender and opposition leader, Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, who suffers from post-polio syndrome and many other serious chronic diseases. He has endured prolonged solitary confinement and has been deprived of medical appointments, treatment, and crutches, forcing him to endure a solid food hunger strike for 1000 days. ADHRB urged the UN Human Rights Council to pressure Bahrain to immediately release these defenders and opposition leaders before it’s too late.

In its second intervention under Item 4, ADHRB expressed deep concern over the United States’ ongoing support for countries with poor human rights records. This is notably evident in its continued support for the ongoing war in Gaza, despite the International Court of Justice’s warnings to Israel to prevent genocide. This support also extends to countries suppressing their citizens’ rejection of this war and their governments’ adherence to decisions related to the actions of the United States, as is the case in Bahrain. ADHRB pointed out the suppression campaigns led by Bahrain against citizens expressing their dissenting opinions regarding their government’s involvement in the American-led coalition against Yemeni forces in the Red Sea, with hundreds of participants in peaceful protests being arrested, including many children. ADHRB questioned the continued US support for countries with poor human rights records driven by political motives, asking: How can we ensure accountability prevails over political considerations in addressing human rights violations?

Item 6

Under Item 6 during the General Debate, ADHRB delivered an intervention on 26 March 2024.

During its intervention, it raised concerns about the seriousness of Bahrain’s commitment to implementing the promised reforms according to the UPR recommendations. Despite Bahrain’s pledge to ensure accountability for torture victims, eliminate religious discrimination, release all prisoners of conscience, and protect the right to freedom of expression and assembly, it continues its restrictive policies. Victims of torture-obtained confessions remain imprisoned and face horrific forms of physical and psychological torture, while the perpetrators remain unpunished. ADHRB called on the international community to pressure Bahrain to fulfill its pledge to implement the UPR recommendations, halt systematic human rights violations, and achieve genuine reform in the country.

Item 8

During the General Debate on 27 March 2024, ADHRB expressed deep concern over Bahrain’s ongoing violations of religious freedoms, particularly targeting Shia citizens, which contravene the Vienna Declaration and contradict official claims. Since 2011, Bahrain has continuously restricted the rights of Shia citizens, closing mosques and disrupting Friday prayers. Security forces deploy military vehicles near Shia mosques to confront protests expressing solidarity with Palestinians facing Israeli attacks. Bahraini authorities persistently refuse to broadcast Shia-specific events on government-owned media. Religious leaders, such as Sheikh Mohamed Sanqour, face sectarian-based summons and arrests, charged with “insulting authorities” for refusing curriculum changes to satisfy Israel. Others faced arrest, like historian Jasim AlAbbas, who was charged with incitement and threatening civil peace, for discussing the historical context of Islam and Shiism in Bahrain. ADHRB condemned the restrictions imposed on Shia religious practices and urged Bahrain to end sectarian discrimination and uphold its commitments to respect and protect religious freedoms.

Item 9

In its first intervention under Item 9, ADHRB raised the discrimination faced by the Bahraini people in their right to protest for demanding their rights or in solidarity with humanitarian causes. In its intervention,  Activist Ebtisam AlSaegh said, “Today we live in a country with a million masks on the lists of constitutional laws, citizens’ rights, and human rights standards. There is a stark contrast between what is written on paper and what the people see and experience on the ground.” She pointed out that prisons are filled with prisoners of conscience on charges and cases unrelated to reality. Discrimination continues regarding the right to protest and express opinions among the people and opposition, resulting in the arrest of dozens, including children under the age of 18. This discrimination also resulted in the political isolation of a significant number of citizens, depriving the majority of the people of the right to peaceful protest. This constitutes a violation of all international standards recognized by the Bahraini authorities, yet these standards are not applied in reality. ADHRB emphasized the need to empty prisons of all prisoners and allow the exercise of the right to protest.

In another intervention under Item 9, ADHRB highlighted the ongoing suffering of the Bidoon community in Kuwait. Although the law claims to provide means for Bidoon to obtain citizenship, the naturalization procedures are unclear, and citizenship and residency matters are not subject to judicial review. The Bidoon are deprived of property rights or equal access to services like Kuwaiti citizens, unable to obtain civil documents, denied the right to education, healthcare, and employment, and also deprived of their right to protest. ADHRB urged the Council to pressure Kuwait to end this racial discrimination, respect its human rights obligations, and ensure the basic rights of the Bidoon community, including their right to freedom of opinion, expression, and assembly. It also urged the Kuwaiti government to adhere to the Durban Convention, the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons,, and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Through its participation in the 55th session of the Human Rights Council, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain succeeded in drawing attention to the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain, despite the authorities’ repeated promises of reform and attempts to whitewash its human rights record. It also pointed out that the most serious issue facing political activists, especially opposition leaders and human rights defenders, is the deliberate medical neglect policy. The organization also drew attention to restrictions imposed on freedom of expression, including the suppression of marches supporting Palestinians. Additionally, ADHRB had positions regarding the American immunity for Israeli crimes in Gaza. and as part of its coverage of human rights issues in the Gulf region, it drew attention to what the Bidoon community is suffering as a result of being deprived of the right to citizenship.