Tag Archives human-rights

Transporting humans

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A few months ago, the Ministry of Labour meekly suggested that workers should be transported in covered vehicles, they meant buses I assume, which should be adequately air conditioned. So canny businessmen slapped on some plywood boards around the back of 6-wheel trucks and shoved all their labourers in there.

That should have been enough – as far as those businessmen are concerned – to provide a safe, covered and as it was open to the elements, would also provide adequate air conditioning if the truck driver put peddle to the metal – which seems to be their specialty anyway – slowing down only enough to discharge their load of humans, but never stopping in the interim. If a worker falls as he disembarks and cracks his skull, well so what, it’s a lowly Indian anyway.

Two days ago, something pipped the Ministry of Labour again to have their undersecretary once again meddling with businessmen’s profits:

New rules governing workers’ transportation have been drawn up by the Labour Ministry and the Interior Ministry’s General Directorate of Traffic.

Trucks should be used only to transport materials and not human beings, said Labour Ministry labour relations director Shaikh Ali bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa.

“Workers should be transported on buses and not on trucks or pick-ups,” he told the GDN.

“We are concerned about the safety of workers. They should be transported on vehicles which have proper seats equipped with seat-belts.”

Fair enough. But the “business community” (I’m not one of that club, I refuse to be one of them) went ape.

However, the business community in Bahrain says it is not practical to transport all workers by buses to their workplaces and back.

“It will cause huge financial burden for businessmen,” said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) board member and contractors’ committee chairman Samir Nass.

“The number of labourers in Bahrain is about 200,000.

“The cost of providing air-conditioned transport for all of them is estimated at BD50 million to BD100m.”

Mr Nass said transporting construction workers on air-conditioned buses would also adversely affect their health.

“After travelling in an air-conditioned environment for half an hour or so, when they step out into hot and humid weather conditions, they are likely to catch cold,” he said.

“It will affect their productivity.”

1. 2. 3. 4. 57678910

Mr. Nass had a “serious lapse of reason” (just in case he takes personal offence at using a certain “b” word and decides to take me to court too!) actually several lapses which you can pick yourself from the linked text above.

migrant workers transport in Bahrain

I was discussing this with my wife coming over the Sitra causeway this afternoon and seeing several of these contraptions which Mr. Nass and his colleagues ascertain are more than enough to transport workers in, they are looking after their health after all! Frances suggested why don’t they try this mode of transport for themselves – meaning the businessmen – and see how they like it?

That’s a good suggestion! We should hire one of those very safe, naturally aerated and conditioned, sun-protected worker transport units and get all those businessmen to be transported in to/from their places of work for a few days. We too would like to take care of our captains of industry (no, they are not captains of indentured workers, how dare you!) and see how they fair, especially that the smelly season is upon us?

Any takers for this campaign? I think it would be very educational for our capitans and this will also give them the opportunity to show their leadership by practicing what they preach!

Let’s find out when Mr. Nass’ committee actually meets at the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, bring a truck to the door and shove the whole committee members in the back of these trucks for a field trip of discovery!


Case Deferred

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We went to the court this morning with a number of people already present and offered their support. But due to the main judge’s family bereavement, for which I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Shaikh Mohammed bin Ali on the passing of his mother, the case has been administratively deferred to be heard on May 8th.

I would also like to sincerely thank everyone who was present and all of those who called, emailed and texted their support as well.

In particular I would like to thank the lead advocate Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj and the legal team offered by the Bahrain Human Rights Society to assist Ms. Al-Hawaj in the case, Lawyers Nawaf Al-Sayed and Lo’ay Qarouni; Tawfiq Al-Rayyash, Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, the head of the Bahrain Journalists Union Mohammed Fadhel, journalists Mohammed Al-Sawwad from Al-Waqt (who was involved very recently in a similar case), Mohammed Aslam of the GDN, Mohammed Abbas of Reuters, Sandeep Singh Grewal from the Bahrain Tribune and Adel Al-Shaikh from Al-Wasat.

I would also like to sincerely thank my family who have always stood by me. My wife Frances, my brother Jamal and sister Maha as well as my children. I am sure that if my other siblings were in Bahrain they would have not hesitated an instant by being present to offer their support.

The legal team have asked for the case’s documents for their review and preparation, and we await the new court’s date to present our case before the High Criminal Court.


Thoughts on tomorrow

Thank you all for your unstinting support. I truly appreciate it.

What I want to emphasize, if I may, this is not really a case against Mahmood Al-Yousif as much as it is a case against the tenets of the freedom of expression.

We, the people, should not be cowed into a status of never questioning or criticising a government official no matter how high that position is. They have to realise themselves, or be made to realise that the positions they occupy being called “civil servants” is no accident of nomenclature, but fact.

Unfortunately, both the Penal Code and the Press & Publications Law specifically not only discourages this civic responsibility of criticism, but glaringly criminalise it!

Is it any wonder that these very officials have risen within their own spheres to a status of demi-gods, inviolate, unapproachable and completely disconnected with the very people they are sworn to serve?

Parliament, on the other hand, continues to prevaricate and hasn’t even scheduled discussions on a retooled Press & Publications law which will elevate freedoms of expression in all its forms, concerning themselves more with perceived sorcerers and witches!

No, this is not a case against Mahmood Al-Yousif and never was. What I have written is rather mild when you consider it. This is a case purposefully levied to silence criticism.

Today it is me. Tomorrow it is everyone who dares to even glance “wrongly” at a public official, even if that official happens to be a janitor.


At the High Court at 9:30 for 10:00

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We’re all gathering tomorrow morning at the Court building at 9:30. Cases are looked at starting at 10:00am.

It’s a freedom of expression case, any way you look at it. Please show your opposition to attempts to stifle this freedom by being there.

Thank you.


جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية تستنكر محاكمة البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف

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ندعو الصحافيين للإحتشاد أمام المحكمة

الجفير – جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية – الأحد الموافق 15 ابريل 2007
تدعو جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية جميع المنتمين للجسم الصحافي في البحرين إلى الإحتشاد والتضامن مع البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف، وذلك أمام المحكمة الجنائية الكبرى يوم غد الثلاثاء القادم الموافق 17 أبريل 2007 في القضية المرفوعة ضده من قبل وزير البلديات منصور بن رجب.

هذا وتهيب الجمعية بجميع الصحفيين التواجد في قاعة المحكمة وإعلان تضامنهم مع اليوسف تجاه هذه القضية التي تستهدف حرية الرأي والكلمة في البحرين. وتعلن عن إستنكارها لإصرار الوزير في إقامة دعواه ضد اليوسف، خاصة وأن موضوع الدعوى يتعلق بمقالة إنترنتية كان اليوسف يتناول فيها الوزير بصفته الإعتبارية لا الشخصية. كما وتدعو الجمعية جميع مؤسسات المجتمع المدني الحقوقية والسياسية والإجتماعية إلى التضامن بالحضور وإطلاق البيانات الداعمة لليوسف. كما وتعلن الجمعية أنها قد طلبت من المحامية فاطمة الحواج تولي مهام الدفاع عن محمود اليوسف، وتشكر الجمعية المحامية الحواج على إستجابتها السريعة لذلك.

إن جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية تدرك خطورة الإستمرار في مثل هذه المحاكمات التي تسعى إلى تقويض واحد من أهم المكتسبات الوطنية في العهد الإصلاحي لجلالة الملك حمد بن عيسى آل خليفة وهو الكلمة الحرة التي لا يمكن لجمعية الصحفيين أن تقف مكتوفة الأيدي أمام محاولات إغتيالها.

إن جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية ومن هذه المنطلق تؤكد أنها ستسعى خلال الفترة القادمة إلى تفعيل أدواتها وعلاقاتها مع المنظمات الإقليمية والدولية. ساعية من خلال هذا التحرك إلى إيقاف هذه الحملات القضائية ضد الصحافيين في البحرين.

كما وتؤكد الجمعية، انها في تبنيها لقضية البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف قد راعت الإلتزامات والسياقات القانونية للنشر الإلكتروني، معتبرة حرية التعبير في “المدونات” جزء لا يتجزأ من حرية الكلمة والتعليق وفق ما تقتضيه أدبيات ميثاق العمل الوطني ودستور مملكة البحرين 2002 وآخذة في الاعتبار تبني المؤسسات الدولية لحرية الصحافة العديد من القضايا المتعلقة بالمدونات والنشر الإلكتروني.

وإننا في جمعية الصحفيين إذ نصدر هذه الدعوة فإننا على ثقة بأن نزاهة القضاء البحريني ستكون داعمة لحرية الكلمة والتعبير. وإن الجمعية لتقدر في أعضاء الجسم الصحافي في البحرين سواء الأعضاء المنتمين أو من هم خارجها إستجابتهم لهذه الدعوة للاحتشاد في يوم المحاكمة آملة في أن يستجيب الوزير لمطالبات سحب هذه الدعوى.

عادل مرزوق
نائب رئيس الجمعية

The Bahraini Journalists Association denounces the trial of Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif

Journalists call to mobilize at the High Criminal Court

Jufair – Bahraini Journalists Association – Sunday, April 15, 2007
Bahraini Journalists Association invites all journalists in Bahrain to amass in solidarity with the Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif at the High Criminal Court on Tuesday April 17, 2007 due to the case brought against him by the Minister of Municipalities Mansour bin Rajab.

This calls all the journalists to be present at the courtroom and declare their solidarity with Al-Yousif on this issue of freedom of opinion and expression in Bahrain. The BJA condemns the insistence of the minister in pursuing a lawsuit against Al-Yousif, especially as Al-Yousif’s criticism of the minister in his Internet published article was criticism of the minister’s capacity as public official rather than personal. The BJA also calls on civic institutions political and social to show their solidarity by attending at the trial and release supportive statements of Al-Yousif. The Society also announces that it has asked Advocate Fatima Al-Hawaj to assume the defense of Mahmood Al-Yousif and would like to thank Ms. Al-Hawaj for her acceptance in assuming that role.

The Bahraini Journalists Association, realizes the seriousness of the continuation of such trials, which seek to undermine one of the most important achievements in the national reform of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, which is the tenet of the freedom of speech; thus, the Journalists Association will not stand idle and watch the the assassination attempts of this freedom.

The Bahraini Journalists Association will exert all efforts available within its powers and will activate all the tools at its disposal as well as its relations with regional and international organizations to demand a stop to these judicial campaigns against journalists in Bahrain.

The Association stresses that in espousing the cause of Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif had taken into consideration the commitments and legal contexts of electronic publishing asserting that freedom of expression in these laws are an integral part of freedom of speech as required by the tenets of the National Action Charter and the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. It has also taken into account the adoption of international journalists institutions of similar electronic publishing cases and defended them within the context of the freedom of the press.

We in the Journalists Association are confident of the impartiality of the judiciary in Bahrain and will be supportive of freedom of speech and expression. The Association appreciates that the members of the press in Bahrain, both members and non-members, respond to this call to mobilize on the day of the trial hoping that the minister responds to our demands of withdrawing this lawsuit.

Adel Marzooq
Vice President
Bahrain Journalists Association

note: translation to English is my attempt


Libel case to be heard in the High Criminal Court!

bin Rajab vs Al-Yousif High Criminal Court summons

I received a summons yesterday delivered to my home instructing me to present myself at the High Criminal Court next Tuesday (17 April 2007) charged under both the Penal Code (3/92, 364, 365) and the Press & Publications Law 47/2002 (3/4, 72, 77) in the defamation case brought against me by a sitting minister; H. E. Mansour Hassan bin Rajab, the Minister of Agricultural Affairs and Municipalities relating to my criticism of his public figure and that of his ministry for lackadaisical performance in executing their duties.

I am grateful for the various mediation efforts enacted on my behalf which have gained the Minister’s assurances – twice – that he would drop the case; however, unfortunately this obviously has not happened.

I am very grateful for the tremendous support I have received from Bahraini and international journalists and friends in this regard. They not only promise to be present at the trial in a show of solidarity, but the Bahrain Journalists’ Association specifically have appointed Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj to take up the defence of the case on my behalf.

I have also received and continue to receive the unstinting support from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights as well as the Bahrain Human Rights Society. I truly appreciate their advice and their support.

I am convinced that I did no wrong. I have portrayed my criticism squarely at a public figure and a government organ both of whom I think did not execute their job to the full extent of their capability. This case is nothing more than a scare tactic to silence any form of criticism, especially that of a public official. Why else is a case like this is to be heard at the highest criminal court in the land? Why else is a defamation case looked at in the same court that adjudicates murder and treason cases?

I believe in our constitution, and believe in the human right of free speech and expression. I know that with your support I can go through this.

If you wish, you can show your support by writing about this case and you are more than welcome to be present at the court next Tuesday morning to show your support.

For background information about this case, please use the following link:

and full press coverage (so far) at:

A higher resolution image of the attached document (for publication) is available at:


Countdown started

countdown to the next elections

We deserve the parliament we vote for. Here’s to hoping, against all odds, that the people who voted for these dark-ages jokers would learn from their lesson and don’t assume – for a third time – that religiosity = political ability or wisdom for that matter, as this parliament has amply proven.

Welcome to the age of Bahraini Inquisition. Have the cinder ready, and build gallows in sufficient numbers for the exclusive use of the parliamentary inquisitors, the protectors of our faith, the defenders of our morals, the lovers of culture and the appreciators of the arts.

What did you actually expect? That this parliament would diligently work to increase freedoms of speech and expression? That they will open investigations in dire issues they have conveniently forgotten like Bandargate, the housing shortage, the dearth of land, the increasing poverty, retooling education and fixing the constitution?

Fat chance!

We can’t blame the government for this one. We can only blaming ourselves for voting for these morons. Well done. I hope whoever voted for them is happy with their choice now, go on, pat yourself on the back.

Assuming the next elections would happen on 15 Oct, 2010, there are 1,303 days left. Assuming we actually want to wait that long.


Al-Sahlawi & Al-Habshi are OUT!

Thanks to the big campaign and continuous pressure applied by society, Dr. Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahlawi and Hussain Al-Habshi have been released from prison at around 11am this morning. I have also confirmed this fact independently.

I wish to officially congratulate them for their stance and sacrifice, and hope that with this, the Bahraini government too have re-evaluated its own stance regarding freedoms of expressions. I would also like to thank everyone who maintained the political pressure to secure their release.

Congratulations Mohammed and Hussain and it’s good to have you back!


‘Press Freedom and the role of blogs in supporting Human Rights’ Workshop

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights will be conducting a training workshop about Press Freedoms, the law and how it views freedoms of expression, practical demonstrations and tutorials on blogging and how to circumvent blocks to reach the content you require.

This workshop will take place between 1-5 March, 2007 in the Bahrain Human Rights Society’s premises for the first two days (1 and 3) the latter days will be conducted at Wa’ad’s.

Both Mohammed Al-Maskati (not to be confused with the other Mohammed Maskati who heads the BYSHR!) and myself will be presenting on the first day (1st March) from 6:20PM through to 8:30PM and our topics will be “Bahraini Blogs, between freedom and internet blocks”.

The whole workshop is very well worth the attendance. Please call the BYSHR for more information.

Download the program (arabic) in pdf format.


Novel police methods

I’ve heard of this before happening in Bahrain, but on the 6th anniversary of The Charter which was the long awaited promise for Bahrain to forge ahead into modern democratic countries, I thought that this particular police method was history.

Apparently not, according to this report:

القبض على مواطن رهينة حتى يسلم أخوه نفسه
الوسط – محرر الشئون المحلية
أقدم رجال الشرطة عصر أمس على اعتقال أحد المواطنين في منطقة باربار بسبب تورط أخيه الأكبر في قضية اعتداء على شخص آخر.

وتشير التفاصيل بحسب رواية أحد أفراد أسرة المعتقل إلى أن أخاه الأكبر دخل في عراك مع أحد الأشخاص، فقام الأخير من جهته بالإبلاغ عنه في مركز الشرطة، وبعد فترة من الزمن تنازل المدعي عن القضية ولكن المحكمة أمرت بالقبض على أخيه كحق للمدعي العام.

وأشار إلى أن أخاه المتورط في النزاع رفع قضية استئناف عن طريق أحد المحامين ودفع إليه مبلغاً مقدماً لكي يستأنف القضية، ولكن الشرطة طالبوا بتنفيذ أمر المحكمة بالقبض عليه لكنه لم يمتثل لهذا الأمر. وعليه حضر رجال الأمن إلى المنزل فخرج إليهم شقيقه الأصغر الذي ليست له أي يد في الموضوع، فطلب منه الحضور إلى مركز شرطة البديع للاستماع إلى أقواله ومنذ ذلك الحين لم يعد إلى المنزل بعد أن تم القبض عليه حتى يسلم شقيقه الأكبر نفسه إليهم. وأكد المتحدث أن أفراد الأسرة طلبوا لقاء الضابط المناوب لكنه لم يكن في مركز الشرطة، مطالباً بالإفراج عن شقيقه الذي ليس له ذنب في كل ما جرى

A-Wasat :: 14 Feb, ’07

What is reported here is that the police wanted to apprehend a person, although the person supposedly had appealed the case and the appeal has been accepted by the court; however, the police presumably did not know about the appeal and and wanted to execute their job by apprehending the person.

Turning up at his home, they couldn’t find him. What they did find is his younger brother whom the report alleges that the police is using as a hostage to force the elder brother to present himself at the station!

Brilliant police work. Any human rights organisation around to look into this before it becomes (once again) the “done thing” and becomes a legitimate police method?

update 16 Feb, ’07: News released by the police state that the younger brother’s apprehension was due to him facilitating his brother’s escape and thus was charged with hindering the police from executing their duties. He was later presented to the public prosecutor charged as such. The report does not indicate whether the elder brother surrendered himself or was caught yet.