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Amnesty Lists Bahrain as Example in Report on Wave of Unprecedented Attacks against HR Defenders Worldwide

2017-05-19 - 4:33 p

Bahrain Mirror: Amnesty International launched a worldwide campaign to recognize human rights defenders and protect them, stressing that they are coming under attack in more and more places, on an alarming scale in an age of fear, division and demonization.

In its new report entitled "Human Rights Defenders Under Threat: A Shrinking Space for Civil Society," that is published coinciding with the launch of a new campaign, Amnesty said that defending human rights has become an act that has steadily become an act that leads to eradication and that "community leaders, journalists, lawyers and other human rights defenders worldwide are being prosecuted, intimidated and face unprecedented violence. "

Amnesty's Secretary-General Salil Shetty said "Those who dare to make a stand for human rights are coming under attack in more and more places, on an alarming scale. They are facing an onslaught of harassment, intimidation, smear campaigns, ill-treatment, and unlawful detention. They are even being killed - just for standing up for what is right."

The report classified the types of attacks and assaults against human rights defenders in the world, mentioning statistics and examples on the most important attacks in the countries characterized in the report by the increase of these attacks.

Bahrain's name was mentioned among the names of a small number of countries characterized by the report for the increase of attacks and assaults against human rights defenders.

As for the inclusive surveillance on the human rights defenders through the Internet or other means, the report stated that "Bahraini activists in exile have been tracked by their government using spyware," highlighting that surveillance laws and practices have a widespread damaging effect on communities and societies, causing human rights defenders to self-censor out of fear, and refrain from exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

On the level of foreign funding for human rights organizations and defenders, the report explained that Bahrain and Belarus prohibit all foreign funding, indicating that Declaration on Human Rights Defenders stressed the right to "solicit, receive and utilize resources" to promote and protect human rights is enshrined. Yet, this right is under attack as countries in all regions introduce and implement increasingly restrictive legislation governing access to funds to civil society organizations, including from foreign and international sources.

Bahrain's name was also mentioned in the chapter of restrictions on registration organizations or societies in Bahrain or unregistering them, the report read "In Bahrain, NGOs cannot operate free from government interference and many chose not to register because of the overly-restrictive NGO law which empowers the authorities to intervene directly in the internal affairs and activities of NGOs .The main human rights NGO Bahrain Centre for Human Rights was banned in 2004."

Amnesty called on people to take part in the "Defend the Brave" campaign and said "Now more than ever, we need people bravely standing up against injustice and those who undermine human rights in exchange for a false promise of prosperity and security."

The organization also made a short film entitled "What does it mean to be brave". The film included footages showing women protesting in Bahrain and others showing security forces attacking protests. The video also included a part for the Bahraini human rights defender Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman.

Video

Amnesty International's Global Campaign: Brave, launched to combat measures by the powerful to threaten and attack human rights defenders.

The organization's Secretary-General said that "What we are witnessing today is a full-frontal assault by governments, armed groups, corporations and others on the right to defend human rights."

"By taking away their right to protest... governments are cutting the oxygen supply to those defending human rights," he added.

He went on to say that in 2017, the assault against human rights defenders has reached crisis point due to the measures taken by the countries that violate human rights.

Salil Shetty said "We live in an age of fear, division and demonization. Across the world, toxic narratives of "us versus them" are being used to cast collective blame onto whole groups of people for social and political grievances."

He further noted that "the space to stand up for human rights is increasingly tight," adding "Meanwhile, human rights defenders are labelled ever more openly as criminals, undesirables, "defenders of demons". They are called "foreign agents", "anti-nationals", "terrorists". They are painted as a threat to security, development or traditional values."

Amnesty's Secretary-General stated that "today human rights defenders are bearing the brunt of a global assault on their right to speak out."

"However, in spite of the global assault on peaceful protest, people will not simply roll over and accept injustice. Our spirit of justice is strong and it will not be suppressed," he further stated.

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