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3 HR Organizations Issued "Ashura in Bahrain: Intimidation, Security restrictions, and Media Marginalization" Report on Authorities' Violations during Ashura

Bahrain Mirror: Three human rights organizations; Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, and Gulf Institute for Democracy and Humanity, issued a report entitled "Ashura in Bahrain: Intimidation, Security restrictions, and Media Marginalization" on the violations that targeted Ashura commemorations in Bahrain during this year.

The report documented violations against Ashura manifestations in June 2023, which included the authorities' obliging  mosques to remove Ashura banners in their surroundings, and the removal of banners in several areas and towns, taking them down again after being installed by the residents, removing Madeefs (free food stands), the presence of security personnel in the Ashura marches, taking photos of the marches, monitoring and provoking the participants, in addition to arresting citizens. 

The report mentioned that an armed group of security forces, led by officer Turki Al-Majed, threaten to ban the Ashura procession if the pictures of Sheikh Isa Qassim were not removed from the walls of the area.

Sheikh Mahmoud Hassan Ali Habib Al-Aali and Mr. Ali Muhanna were summoned to police stations for their activities on the tenth day of Muharram. The report noted that the repeated summons of clerics and preachers of the Husseini pulpit, in an arbitrary and provocative manner is considered a form of police harassment as well as a restriction of freedom of speech, expression, assembly, and religion.

Detainees in Jaw Central Prison made artistic tools they planned to use for commemorating Ashura, however, the prison administration confiscated all the tools made by the detainees. In addition, the authorities did not allow detainees to collectively commemorate the occasion.

The report added that the authorities deprived the Shia community of official media coverage of the Ashura season, and denied them advertisements on public streets.

The report demanded the Bahraini authorities to respect and protect human rights related to freedom of religion, expression of opinion, and stop restricting the freedom of travel and movement of expatriates to participate in the activities for Ashura.

"Authorities should abide by the principle of not arbitrarily detaining individuals for their participation in Ashura events or any other legitimate religious activity. The government must allow citizens to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and participation in religious events without unjustified security interference," it added.

The report demanded to protect religious manifestations related to the Ashura season and not allow any encroachment or destruction of these manifestations; review relevant legislation to ensure the protection of the rights to freedom of religion, belief, expression of opinion, and peaceful assembly; and review media policies to guarantee media coverage to all sects.

Arabic Version