Sponsored by the Middle East Institute at Columbia University and American Council for Freedom in Bahrain
Over the past year, tens of thousands of Bahrainis – inspired by the Arab Spring movements in Tunisia and Egypt – have taken to the streets in an attempt to win democracy and respect for their human rights. The regime responded by killing over 80 people, detaining thousands and beginning a campaign of retribution against anyone supporting or participating in
As the one year anniversary of the revolution drew near, the Kingdom of Bahrain attempted to keep out foreign observers, denying visas to high profile human rights groups and journalists. Radhika Sainath, a civil rights attorney, and a small team of monitors were able to gain entry and document the regime’s repression of democracy activists. Just a day after announcing the Witness Bahrain initiative, she was arrested in the midst of a police attack on a nonviolent march and deported the next day.
Radhika is a human rights activist with experience in conflict zones and has supported democracy movements in Mexico, Pakistan, Palestine and the Philippines. Join us in our conversation with her.
Campaign for Peace & Democracy
Global Justice Working Group at Occupy Wall Street
Coalition to Defend the Egyptian Revolution
Light refreshments will be served. This event will also kick-off a new initiative initiated by our co-sponsors — Bahrain Solidarity Campaign NYC. Please contact them at BahrainNYC@gmail.com, if you would like to join the campaign or would like ideas on how to start one in your own city. More information will be provided at the event.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
New York, New York – February 14, 2012 – On Sunday, February 12, 2012, the American Council for Freedom in Bahrain, a coalition of about a dozen organizations, commemorated the 1 year anniversary of the Bahrain uprisings by holding an open mic event, Tears in Bahrain, at The DiMenna Center in New York City. Among those showing solidarity with the people of Bahrain at the event were American activists, Bahraini Americans, Egyptian activists, organizers from the Occupy Wall Street movement, and faith community leaders. One participant described the event as “solemn, powerful and very thought-provoking.” The event was live streamed to Bahrain and across the world on the World Wide Web.
Ahead of the 1 year anniversary, reports from various news agencies confirm that thousands of security forces have been deployed by the government to confront opposition protesters that seek to loosen the ruling 220-year old dynasty’s monopoly on power. In an unprecedented move, journalists and international observers have been largely denied entry into the island nation of a little over half a million inhabitants. On Sunday, two American peace activists acting as human rights observers were deported after attempting to bring light to the continuing atrocities committed by the Government of Bahrain. And today, six more American citizens working with the international observer group, Witness Bahrain, were arrested by Bahraini security forces in Manama during a peaceful protest on the way to the Pearl Roundabout.
More than 60 people have been killed during months of unprecedented political unrest in Bahrain, the Gulf country hardest hit by unrest during last year’s Arab Spring protests with the greatest number of protestors killed per capita.
The American Council for Freedom in Bahrain, the coalition that organized the massive National Rally Against Human Rights Abuses in Bahrain in Washington, DC on April 15, 2011, continues to stand in solidarity with the people of Bahrain and their legitimate demands for greater political participation, reinstatement of hundreds of government employees accused of supporting peaceful protests, the release of internationally renowned activists, and implementation of the recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission Inquiry on November 23, 2011. And as Americans, we continue to hold our government accountable for its silent acceptance of the human rights atrocities and unfair political and social policies of the ruling family in Bahrain, a state of forceful repression.
In Solidarity with the People of Bahrain
On the 1 Year Anniversary of the Uprisings
“But vain the Sword and vain the Bow,
They never can work War’s overthrow.
The Hermit’s prayer and the Widow’s tear
Alone can free the World from fear.
For a Tear is an intellectual thing,
And a Sigh is the sword of an Angel King,
And the bitter groan of the Martyr’s woe
Is an arrow from the Almighty’s bow.”
— William Blake
Sunday, February 12th, 2012
The DiMenna Center
Benzaquen Hall, 2nd floor
450 West 37th Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues)
New York, NY 10018
They may use tear gas on you. But the tears you shed are of a different kind. Your tears shed on principle — for injustice, tyranny and oppression wherever it exists. That is why we are with you. Our tears are yours, and yours, ours. And together, our tears will win your freedom.
**This event will be live streamed for our friends in Bahrain and others at the link below**
Attendees are asked to wear some combination of red & white.
If you would like to present at the Open Mic, please email us at email@example.com with your name, city of residence, contact information and copy of your submission by Sunday, February 5th. We are accepting poems, prose, monologues or skit ideas of up to 5-10 minutes that have some explicit or symbolic relevance to the struggle of the people of Bahrain. If presenting someone else’s work, please mention the name of the author in your email.
Sponsored by American Council for Freedom in Bahrain
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AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR FREEDOM IN BAHRAIN
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Summary of violations since release of BICI Report on November 23, 2011
Death of Five More Civilians
November 23rd, 2011: Abdul Nabi Kadhem, 44, was fatally wounded, on the morning of the release of the BICI report, when his car was intentionally hit by a speeding police vehicle, forcing him to collide with a standing wall of a building.
December 7th, 2011: Zahra Saleh, 27, died after being hit with a metal rod in the head on November 18th. The government is insisting that the protesters were the ones who had hit her and that she had turned to the security forces for protection. A member of Al Wefaq party and Bahrain Center for Human Rights went to the hospital to try to speak to Zahra; both of them were stopped, questioned, then turned away by Ministry of Interior employees.
December 11th, 2011: Sajida Faisal, 5 days old, died from teargas suffocation according to her parents.
December 15th, 2011: Ali Ahmed Al Qassab, 17, died during protests when he was run over by Bahraini Police.
December 17th, 2011: Abdulali Ali Ahmed, 73, died due to tear gas inhalation along Budaiya highway, where security forces have used tear gas excessively.
. Protests, small or large, continue to be attacked in the same way. Security forces continue to shoot excessiveamounts of teargas made in USA, France and Brazil on residential areas as collective punishment.
. Injuries showed continued use of shotgun, tear gas and rubber bullets. There have been heavy attacks on
protesters in several villages after a huge protest in front of the United Nations building during OHCHR visit.
. Conditions at central prison, “Jaw”, have worsened after the publication of BICI report – Fewer hours outside cell for prisoners, restrictions on exercise of religious rituals, no hot water for showers, families not allowed to bring winter clothes, despite number of detainees suffering from Sickle Cell Anemia and other health problems.
. Many non-protesting children under 18 have been arrested and many families say that their detained relatives are still being subjected to torture.
. Religious processions (matam) have been attacked with tear gas canisters on two occasions – in Aali during mourning of Abdul Nabi Kadhem, and later during a religious procession in Muharraq.
. Government employees, including teachers, have been suspended from work for up to 10 days with no salary.
. Attempt to hinder and hijack civil society associations – the recent dismissal of the legitimate elected board of the Bahrain Bar Society, for example.
. Upon trial hearing adjournment, detainees Sayed Ahmed Neama, Mohamed Saleh and Abdullah Maki were
beaten by the police in front of lawyers.
. Appointment of John Timoney, the former Miami Police Chief known for brutality and Former Metropolitan
police Chief John Yates known for a phone hacking scandal.
Source: Adapted from Bahrain Center for Human Rights on December 23, 2011.
For a full list of violations and government actions, please see http://bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/4909
On April 15th, 2011, the American Muslim community came together with human rights activists and concerned citizens to hold one of the most electric and inspiring rallies in the history of our young community, the National Rally Against Human Rights Abuses in Bahrain. With thousands of people present from all over the country, we made our presence known to the oppressive Al-Khalifa regime and showed them that we stand firmly with the peaceful protestors in Bahrain. The next day, our exercise of free speech and assembly, what the people of Bahrain yearn for, was featured on the front page of the Washington Post: http://bahrainrallydc.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/highlights-from-the-national-rally-against-human-rights-abuses-in-bahrain/
Much has transpired on the ground in Bahrain in the 8 months since then. As as a next step to our very successful rally, alhamdulillah, the American Council for Freedom in Bahrain will be holding a Town Hall Meeting & Bahrain Advocacy Day on Saturday, December 24th, 2011 from 1:30pm-4:30pm at Masjid-e-Ali in Central New Jersey.
The Town Hall Meeting will consist of a large group discussion on all those civic issues that matter to you as an American Muslim. This will be your chance to voice your concerns about things you care about and to see how many people out there in our community agree with you. We will then break up into small groups to discuss each of these in more detail and help you create like-minded networks and set tangible goals. After a short break, we will be joined by Nada Alwadi, a Bahraini journalist, who will speak about the situation in her country as it stands now. We will conclude the day by taking a massive step towards helping the people of Bahrain through advocacy and sign prepared letters to our respective Congressmen.
This is an event for the entire American Muslim community. We are especially hoping that members of the community from NY, NJ, CT, and PA make a concerted effort to attend and participate and invite their friends and families to join us, as well. This is the next step — DON’T MISS IT!
1:30pm – Town Hall Meeting
2:30pm – Small Group Discussions
3:00pm – Break
3:15pm – Bahrain: Flames of Freedom – Nada Alwadi, Founder of the Bahrain Press Association
4:00pm – Signing and Sending Letters to Our Congressmen on Bahrain
4:30pm – Tabarruk (packed dinner)
4:45pm – Maghrib
Nada Alwadi is the founder of the Bahrain Press Association defending journalists from governmental oppression and has served as a freelance journalist, writer and researcher for several media outlets, including Women Gateway and USA Today. In 1999, she served as a Humphrey/Fulbright Fellow at the University of Maryland’s Merrill College of Journalism. She has a M.A. in Mass Communication from Universiti Sains Malaysia and a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science (cum laude) at the University of Kuwait.
Most recently, Alwadi was a reporter for Alwasat, the most popular newspaper currently in Bahrain. She covered the pro-democracy protests as a journalist last spring prior to government authorities closing the newspaper. With a number of her fellow Bahraini journalists murdered, tortured, or sentenced to long prison terms by the regime and fearing for her own safety, Nada Alwadi is residing in Washington, DC and speaking around the country to raise awareness on the situation in Bahrain.
Press Release: ACFBahrain welcomes the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Hearing on Human Rights in Bahrain
The following witnesses will testify: Mr. William J. Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Mr. Jeffrey D. Feltman, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Maryam Al-Khawaja, Bahrain Center for Human Rights; Mr. Joe Stork, Deputy Director, Middle East and North Africa Division, Human Rights Watch; and Richard Sollom, MA, MPH, Deputy Director at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).
The Hearing is open to members of Congress, congressional staff, the media and the interested public.
• Over 2000 people gathered in front of The Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC and marched to the White House for a rally at Lafayette Park, with some estimates as high as 4500-5000
• The Kennedy Center generously accomodated rally attendants with space to offer Jumaa Prayers
• The rally began with a reading of the names of those who have died in Bahrain since peaceful protests began on
February 14, 2011, followed by a moment of silence in their honor
• Our broad coalition hailed from across the United States, and included individuals from Canada and Bahrain
• Speakers included:
Maulana Mehboob Mehdi
Resident Aalim, Islamic Education Center, Husaini Association of Greater Chicago, Inc.
Native of Bahrain and Director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain
Dr. Robert D. Crane
Founder, Center for Policy Research
Former US presidential foreign policy advisor and former Deputy Director of US National Security
Formerly served as Principal Economic and Budget Advisor to the Finance Minister in the Emirate of
Maulana Mukhtar Faezi
Founder and Dean of Baitul Ilm in Chicago
Co-founder, Code Pink
Green Party Candidate for the US Senate in 2000
Bahraini human rights activist
daughter of internationally renowned and prominent Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi
Alkhwaja, who was brutally beaten and arrested by masked government agents on April 9, 2011
and remains in custody;
sister of Zainab Alkhwaja, who has been on hunger strike since April 11, in protest of the arrest
and imprisonment of their father and both of their husbands;
Maulana Rafiq Naqvi
Chairman, Islamic Information Center in Maryland