Tag Archives human-rights

Libel case going ahead

Unfortunately the mediation between the minister of municipalities and agriculture and myself to resolve the dispute and perceived libel has not been successful. I have demonstrated my good will over the last few days by amending the original article, but that it seems is not enough for the right honourable gentleman.

The minister wants to pursue his legal right and extract his pound of flesh.

I re-iterate that I do not believe what I published was libelous in any way. The intention was never to besmirch his person, but rather I was criticising his ministry, an executive body which not only should accept criticism, but also welcome and encourage it with open arms.

He now wants to take me to court. So be it.

I enjoy the support of a large body of people and also have a lot of human rights and freedom of expression lawyers and advocates standing by me to offer real and direct support in defending this case.

I didn’t want this as I still feel that it is a frivolous case at best, which now will probably turn into a benchmark that will further sully Bahrain’s reputation internationally. You can be sure that this case will now be included in all the press indicies for 2007 as a black spot against this country, thanks to a minister who cannot take criticism.

A press release from the Bahrain Journalists Association will follow shortly. Again, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who stood and will continue to stand by me at this time.

I have restored the article to its former and original glory.

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BCHR first to declare support in libel case

I am indebted to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights for being the very first organisation to offer me their unstinting support in the libel case brought against me by the minister of municipalities and agriculture and releasing a statement to that effect.

My neglect to mention this fact is my personal stinking brain-fart so please excuse me for not mentioning this specifically.

The BCHR of course are no stranger to being castigated and singled out for this iniquitous treatment of course; they already have their website blocked by the authorities here, and their whole society disbanded by judicial order; however, they continue to not only operate in spite of this, but their international presence is much enhanced, ironically, not only because of these machinations, but because they do do very good work in taking up a broad spectrum human rights cases from the prisoners of Guantanamo through to poverty cases in Bahrain and everything in between.

I did of course publish their statement immediately on its release in the “pages” section which might be hidden to cursory examination. This brings me conveniently to the point where I can mention that I have gathered the articles published so far (that I know of) in the main stream media under one page for ease of navigation. You can also display all articles as well as pages published by utilising the “libel” or “bin-rajab” tags.

My thanks and gratitude to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights for their solidarity with me at this time, and much more importantly for their continued work in the human rights field in Bahrain.

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Out on bail

UPDATE: [email protected]:28 It seems that this story is coming to an amicable conclusion due to sincere efforts of intermediaries in the next couple of days, where the plaintiff is said to have accepted to drop the case against Mahmood Al-Yousif in return for removing certain words from the original post published on Dec 22nd, 2006.

Thanks to everyone for their unstinting support and friendship.

and BD500 poorer.

I went to the Public Prosecution office this morning and was there for 8am with plenty to spare. I was led through the corridors and levels of justice up to the 4th floor around 8.30am and sat in a waiting room to await my turn. I invested this time in reading Al-Wasat newspaper which covered this story very well indeed. The GDN and the Bahrain Tribune did too, so thanks go to all of them for their support.

Eventually, the Chief Public Prosecutor for Capital Mr. Wael Buallai invited me to his office to start the proceedings. This is the same gentleman who was given the overall responsibility of overseeing the recent elections in November of last year and I was honoured to meet him. He is a gentleman, very nice and with a charismatic personality. He not only explained to me the charges levied against me and suggested that I could be tried under the Penal Code and/or the Press & Publications Law 47/2002. He then gave me enough time to review the full charges folder before asking me if I needed a lawyer present.

Judging from the charges folder, I thought it would be in my favour to have a lawyer present. I called the lawyer I usually use – who I understand now has not handled a case such as this before – and was grateful for his prompt arrival. He was next door in the courts building.

Soon thereafter the questioning started. It is worth noting that in Bahrain’s law, lawyers present are not allowed to interrupt the public prosecutor during questioning, at all, object to a question nor advise their clients not to answer a particular one! They just sit there until the end of the session at which time they are given the chance to register any complaints and make any demands like asking the prosecutor for a copy of the file and to release the defendant on his own recognizance or on bail, rather than rot in jail over the weekend for instance.

Mr. Buallai is anything but not thorough, he has gone over every word and every sentence written in the original article as well as some of the comments. The whole article and comments were translated into Arabic in the claim’s folder, some of that translation I felt was not correct and he was good enough to register my complaint and record my own translation the article and comments in my words, which I obliged.

Public Prosecution

At the end of the 3 hours of questioning, he asked us to adjourn to the waiting room for him to deliberate. He did, and decided that this case should be regarded as a misdemeanor and set bail at BD500 (US$1,325).

My lawyer insisted on paying that on my behalf and we walked out.

That’s the end of the story currently. What comes next is that the file goes through to the general prosecutor’s office for them to decide whether to accept the case and go through with it to the courts, or refuse it and close the case. That all remains to be seen over the next few days. Unless of course, the plaintiff drops the defamation case against me, then although his case will be dropped, it is again up to the public prosecutor and in the interest of general public whether to go ahead with it or drop it.

What’s next though? What is Mahmood Al-Yousif going to do? Am I going to change the direction of the blog, will I concentrate on non-political articles, will I stop criticising public officials and government performance, will I go underground, should I have refused to post bail and get thrown into prison for a few days in order to be a martyr for the cause? What’s next?

Next is business as usual as far as I am concerned. One thing I would strongly urge Bahraini bloggers to do is go underground. It is not worth getting yourself known as that will only invite suits as I am experiencing now. They can never sue anonymous persons of course and they know it. But I am absolutely gob smacked that a newspaper owner like the right honourable gentleman here actually going ahead with this suit. It is as if he is inviting chaos to his own paper and journalists.

Regardless; what we need to do now, and particularly I, is find ways in which I can criticise, but also hide under the legal umbrella too in order to allay the chances of this happening again. Therefore, although (in this country particularly) it is much better to stay anonymous and not become legally responsible for your words, I cannot – personally – allow myself to do that. I have always been a known entity, and stand fully behind the words I publish here and elsewhere. Therefore, let me announce that I shall arrange for a workshop to be held as soon as possible and to be run by professional journalists to teach us how to criticise, but not get legally caught for our efforts.

I also firmly do not believe that in order for one to make a point, one must “sacrifice” and spend some time in jail. I believe in working within the system, and as such, I welcome fighting the case in court if it ever gets to that stage, in order to set a legal precedent which could be used as a benchmark for the future, rather than allow myself to be thrown in jail and create a fuss which does not create the required legal precedent, but might satisfy some egos.

Thank you again for your very valuable support.

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Enemies of the State

Bahrainis Dr. Mohammed Saeed and Hussain Al-Habshi start serving their time in prison today for voicing their political opinions. The first for a year, the second for 6 months. Isolated from their jobs, their families and their community simply for voicing a political opinion which the government interpreted as tantamount to carrying arms and forcibly mounting a coup to change the ruling regime.

For just printing and wanting to distribute a document written by a dissident – a national figure nonetheless – calling for the boycott of the recently held national elections.

Even after more than 160 people signed a petition and 49 prominent human rights organisations from all over the world have demanded their release as they believe this was a political case or opinion suppression which countermands Bahrain’s signed and accepted UN Human Rights agreements, it being on the UN Human Rights Council and heading the United Nations. Other than countermanding our own charter and constitution, that is.

For those who say that this is not a politicised case and that the judiciary is in fact independent, let me remind you of a few things that might call that opinion into question: known and documented torturers still walk freely amongst us with impunity, someone who had a gun and live ammunition with probable intent to use them gets 8 days remand in custody and released, high-level embezzlers get rapped on their knuckles – by the same court – and let go, wife abusers get fined BD20 and let go, child rapists get lenient sentences, thieves probably get less time for burglaries and many more examples you read in the papers almost every day.

Yet, call for a boycott – which is a valid and legitimate political opinion – even on a second-hand basis as in this particular case, and you get to be the guest of His Majesty for up to 7 years. I suppose we should be thankful that Mohammed Saeed only got 1 year in prison while his companion Hussain Abdulaziz gets only 6 months.

I wonder how many years I would get to be a guest of His Majesty if they rifled through my posts on this site… That’s a prospect I do not relish finding out.

Maybe it’s time to shut up, keep our heads down, and mind our own business.

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Bahrain jails political activists

A court in Bahrain on Wednesday sent two political activists to jail for possessing leaflets calling for a boycott of recent legislative elections, their lawyer said.

Mohammed Saeed Al Sahlawi, a dentist, received a one-year jail sentence while insurance executive Hussein al Hibshi was sentenced to six months in prison, lawyer Mohammed Ahmad told AFP.

“This ruling is unfair and illogical. It bypassed the defence argument… that the defendants were only exercising their right to free expression and that the material seized in their possession stressed the need to abide by peaceful means in expressing views,” Ahmad said.

“We have no choice but to appeal the ruling,” the lawyer added.

New York-based Human Rights Watch had on Tuesday urged Bahrain to drop the charges against the two political activists, who went on trial on January 7 on charges of possessing unlicensed leaflets ”containing inflammatory material and false information.”

The pair were arrested last November 16 after being found with leaflets that called for a boycott of the November 25 legislative polls.

They were charged under articles of Bahrain’s penal code which ”criminalise the dissemination and possession of materials that could “damage the public interest’,” HRW said.

The Shiite-led opposition won control of more than 40 percent of seats in parliament, which however has to share its legislative powers with an upper chamber appointed by the king.

The arrangement prompted a boycott of 2002 polls, the first since the parliament was scrapped in 1975. Some of Bahrain’s opposition kept up the boycott because demands for constitutional changes were not met.
Khaleej Times :: 31 Jan, ’07

Disgusting. Another blow for freedom of speech in Bahrain.

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Please sign the petition to release the Bahraini prisoners of conscience

Dr Mohammed Saeed, Bahraini detainee of conscience

A letter is being sent to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa petitioning his majesty to stand with the freedoms of expression guarantees by his constitution and to release the two prisoners of conscience: Dr. Mohammed Saeed and Hussain Abdulaziz.

Both gentlemen are being accused of a plethora of traitorous offenses which could land them in prison for a long time and ruin their chances of ever becoming productive and patriotic elements of the Bahraini society, simply for voicing their opinions as guaranteed by human rights declarations and our constitution.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Voltaire

Regardless of how we stand ourselves on political issues, we must recognise, accept and support the right of others to voice their points of view even if we do not agree with them. Throwing people in prison for voicing their opinions only aggravates and already very tenuous situation, rather than ameliorate passions and support voices of reason to find ways out of bottlenecks.

Please do read the petition and sign your name if you wish. Everyone’s support is valuable. I hope the right thing is done in this situation by releasing the detainees. We need good news in this country for a change.

Release Mohammed and Hussain please!

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Foulath’s buttons pressed again

Shura Council members are to call for the creation of a human rights committee within the chamber.

The request will be made by Faisal Fulad and Houda Nonoo, who are both Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS) board members.

“We think Al Wefaq will try to establish a human rights committee in parliament and these committees will have co-operation if we establish them in both chambers,” Mr Fulad told a Press conference at the society, in Manama, yesterday.
GDN :: 15 Dec, ’06

My emphasis, and believe me you don’t need to read the whole “report” of Foulath and Nonoo wanting to establish a BHRWS style committee in the Shura to find their true motives behind it, as I’ll save you the trouble and time. They’ve been told to do so to counter a suggested Human Rights committee in the Council of Representatives by Al-Wefaq.

It is a mark of dishonour to have these two selected as our representatives. As far as I am concerned they do not exist and they are not worthy of carrying on in any position in my name.

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Authorities block access to influential blog covering Bandargate scandal

Posted on

Access to one of Bahrain’s most influential blogs, http://mahmood.tv, which openly criticises government and parliament members and has of late being covering the “Bandargate” scandal currently shaking the country, was blocked yesterday.

The blog’s author, Mahmood Al-Yousif, has nonetheless managed to move it to a new address, http://alyousif.tv/, which has not yet been blocked. The authorities already blocked several news websites on 26 October in a wave of censorship taking place less than a month before parliamentary elections.

In RSF’s latest ranking of press freedom, Bahrein was ranked 111th out of 168 countries.
Reporters sans frontieres 30 Oct, ’06

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The view from Bahrain

Mahmood's Den blocked by Bahraini authorities

Democracy?

Human rights?

Freedom of Expression?

President of the UN?

XIX

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Bahraini Government is a signatory of states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The Bahraini Constitution’s Guarantees of Freedom of Speech

Article 23 of the Bahrain Constitution: Freedom of opinion and scientific research is guaranteed. Everyone has the right to express his opinion and publish it by word of mouth, in writing or otherwise under the rules and conditions laid down by law, provided that the fundamental beliefs of Islamic doctrine are not infringed, the unity of the people is not prejudiced, and discord or sectarianism is not aroused.

Article 24 of the Bahrain Constitution: With due regard for the provisions of the preceding Article, the freedom of the press, printing and publishing is guaranteed under the rules and conditions laid down by law.

Article 26 of the Bahrain Constitution: The freedom of postal, telegraphic and electronic communication is safeguarded and its confidentiality is guaranteed. Communications shall not be censored or their confidentiality breached except in exigencies specified by law and in accordance with procedures and under guarantees prescribed by law.

new slogan for the Ministry of disInformation launched:

لا شيعي… لا سني… لا محمود!
no shi’i… no sunni… NO MAHMOOD!

ُthanks for coining this mate! 😉

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