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Bahrain women protesters February 19, 2011

Holding up a banner with photos of injured anti-government protesters, women protesters stand in public on February 19, 2011 to bring attention to human rights abuse by Bahrain military security officials. Image: Al Jazeera English/cc

(WNN) Manama, BAHRAIN: Following the late September arrest of 38 women and 7 girl protesters during a pro-reform rally at a local shopping center in Bahrain’s capital city of Manama, one teenager has been re-arrested in spite of her ongoing health conditions and hospital stay.

Seventeen-year-old Ashwaq Al Magabi suffers from a severe form of sickle cell anemia. The fatal disease can cause chronic pain, weakness and deteriorating damage to the bones, kidneys, lungs, eyes, heart, and liver. Ashwaq was sentenced in Bahrain’s penal court 26 days following her first arrest on October 19,2011. Her current sentence includes six months imprisonment.

In March 2011 Bahrain officials set up a military tribunal court, called the ‘National Safety’ court, to handle cases involving government reform protesters and  human rights activists, in what Human Rights Watch called a “travesty of justice.”

Following international outcry by global governments as well as human rights groups, Bahrain’s Attorney General, Dr. Ali Fadl al-Buainian, asked that cases involving medical personnel who were arrested during the past months of reform protests and unrest in Manama be transferred to civilian courts October 7.

“All civilian cases should be tried before civilian courts,” said a spokesperson for the Foreign Office to the UK Mission to the United Nations on October 6.

On May 13, 2011 the U.S. Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission House Committee on Foreign Affairs brought Bahrain Center for Human Rights Director of Foreign Relations, Ms. Maryam Al Khawaja, before the Congress as part of a special expert panel brought to share her insights into the situation of human rights abuse in Bahrain.

“We have reason to believe that many of those who are being held incommunicado detention are being subjected to torture, and this, of course, raises high concern for their well being and for their lives,” said Maryam during the U.S. Congress hearing last May.

Human rights advocates at Human Rights Watch, Bahrain Center for Human Rights and Human Rights First, as well as Amnesty International, have brought forward witness statements outlining extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, excessive force, conditions of torture, denial of food, non-access to legal defense and other human rights abuses. Witness statements have come from those who have experienced abuse ‘first-hand’ or witnessed others who were experiencing abuses. Many witness have also spoken out publicly against the policies of Bahrain’s military and government.

“People in Bahrain, particularly human rights activists live in constant fear. Around 3.30am you will find that most activists are awake as they are waiting to see if its their turn to get arrested. When you are in the car you make sure you lock the car doors because if they come for you you will at least have time to make a final phone call. So there is a constant situation of fear that people are living under,” said Al Khawaja before a September 7 London press conference at Westminster Abbey Gardens with UK Parliamentarian Lord Avenbury.

“According to different human rights organisations the government has to throw out any forced information for indictment in court. But in the public prosecution office when a detainee makes a statement he tries to tell the attorney general of the torture they will not allow that to be recorded in the papers describing what transpired during the meeting,” continued Al Khawaja. “This is the opposite of what is supposed to happen. They are not even writing down the complaints of torture.”


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