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Zainab AlKhawaja: Why I am on Hunger Strike in Bahrain

Zainab AlKhawaja:  Why I am on Hunger Strike in Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

"A great leader is immortal, his words and deeds echo through the years, decades, and centuries. They echo across oceans and borders and become an inspiration that touches the lives of many who are willing to learn. One such leader is the remarkable Martin Luther King Jr.

As I read his words I feel that he is reaching out to us from another land and another time to teach very important lessons. He teaches us, for example, that we must not become bitter, that we must be willing to sacrifice for freedom, and that we can never sink to the level of our oppressors.

As flowers of hope and resistance to oppression started spurting out of the ground across the Arab world, the people of Bahrain saw the first signs of a new dawn two years ago. It was a dawn that we hoped would end a long night of dictatorship and oppression, a long winter of silence and fear, and spread the light and warmth of a new age of freedom and democracy.

With that hope and with determination, the people of Bahrain took to the streets on February 14, 2011 to peacefully demand their rights. Their songs, poetry, paintings and chants for freedom were met with bullets, tanks, toxic tear gas, and birdshot guns. The brutal al-Khalifa regime intended to end the peaceful revolution, by using violence and spreading fear.

In the face of this brutality Bahrainis showed great restraint, day after day protesters held up flowers to soldiers and mercenaries who would shoot at them. Protesters stood with bare chests and arms raised shouting “peaceful, peaceful” before they fell onto the ground covered in their blood. Thousands of Bahrainis were detained and tortured for crimes such as “illegal gathering” and “inciting hatred against the regime.”

Two years later, the Bahraini regime’s atrocities continue. Bahrainis are still being killed, detained, injured and tortured for demanding democracy.

When I look into the eyes of Bahraini protesters today, too many times I see that hope has been replaced by bitterness. It’s the same bitterness Martin Luther King Jr. saw in the eyes of rioters in the slums of Chicago in 1966. He saw that the same people who had been leading non-violent protests, who were willing to be beaten without striking back, were now convinced that violence was the only language the world understood.

I, like Dr. King, am saddened to find some of the same protesters who faced tanks and guns with bare chests and flowers, today asking “what’s the use of non-violence, or of moral superiority, If no one is listening?”

Dr. King explains that this despair is only natural when people who sacrifice so much see no change in sight and feel their suffering has been worthless.

Part of the reason that progress toward democracy is so slow in Bahrain is, ironically, that democratic nations support the dictators here. Whether it’s by selling them arms, or giving economic and political support, the United States and other western governments have proven to the people of Bahrain that they stand with the al-Khalifa monarchy and against the democratic movement.

As I read Dr. King’s words recently, I found myself wishing he was alive. I found myself wondering what he would have to say about U.S. support of Bahraini dictators. What he would say about turning a blind eye to the blood and tears being spilt in the quest of freedom? All I had to do was turn a page, and this time Martin Luther King spoke not to me, but to you — to America.

“The words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, ‘Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.’ Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken — the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values,” Dr. King said, “a true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.”

King continued: “These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. ‘The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.’ We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries.”

Concluding his speech, Dr. King added, “We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace,” He said, “If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

The echo of Martin Luther King’s words has travelled across oceans, through the walls and metal bars of a Bahraini prison, and into the overcrowded and filthy cell I sit in. I hear the words of this great American leader. A presidency isn’t what made this African American leader great, but his unbending dedication to morality and justice.

As I marvel at his wisdom, I wonder if America is also listening.

As a political prisoner in Bahrain, I try to find a way to fight from within the fortress of the enemy as Nelson Mandela once said.

When I was placed in a cell with fourteen people — including two convicted murderers — and I was handed orange prison clothes, I knew I couldn’t put them on without having to swallow a little bit of my dignity. Not wearing the convicts’ clothes, because I have committed no crime, that became my small act of civil disobedience. Not letting me see my family and my three-year-old daughter, that has been their punishment. That is why I am on hunger strike.

Prison administrators ask why I am on a hunger strike and I reply “because I want to see my baby” and they reply “obey and you will see her.” But if I obey, my little Jude won’t be seeing her mother, but a broken version of her. In a letter, I told the prison administration that I will not be wearing the convicts’ clothes because, as Dr. King said of Henry David Thoreau’s essay pn civil disobedience, “no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice.”

What makes jail difficult is that you are living with your enemy. Even in the most basic ways, if you want to eat you stand in front of him with your plastic tray. Every day one faces the possibility of being ridiculed, shouted at, or humiliated for any reason.

But I have let the words of great men help me through these times.

When the “specialist” threatened to beat me for telling an inmate she has a right to call her lawyer, I did not shout back, I repeated King’s words in my head “no matter how emotional your opponents are, you must be calm.”

When I had had enough of people telling me that I’m getting all my rights and refusing to face that I have responsibilities, I got angry. I felt so frustrated that I shouted back at the people who told me that over and over.

But hadn’t a great man said, in the struggle of justice we “must not become bitter,” and we must “never to sink to the level of our oppressors”?

A doctor came to see me and said “you might go into a coma, your vital organs might stop working, your blood sugar levels are so low, and all this for what? A uniform.”

I replied: “I’m glad you weren’t with Rosa Parks on that bus, to tell the woman who sparked the civil rights movement “that it was all for nothing but a chair.” When the doctor started asking about the civil rights movement I offered him my Martin Luther King book. If you knew me you’d know that’s rare for me – I hardly ever give away my books.

Sometimes, through his words, Martin Luther King has been a companion, a cell mate more than a teacher.

He wrote “no one can understand my conflict who hasn’t looked into the eyes of those he loves, knowing that he has no alternative but to take a stand that leaves them tormented.” I do understand. It is as though he sits beside me. The jail experience, he said, “is life without the singing of a bird, without the sight of the sun, moon, and stars, without the felt presence of fresh air. In short, it is life without the beauties of life, it is bare existence – cold, cruel, degenerating”.

When my father, my hero and my friend, was sentenced to life in prison for his human rights work, he also refused to wear the grey prison uniform. As usual the government tries to put us in our places by taking away what means the most to us. They will not allow my father to receive visits from his family.

Cruelty is the al-Khalifa regime’s trademark, but unwavering courage is my father’s. No emotional pressure will break him.

The family visit is the one thing one looks forward to in prison. My father and I will not be seeing our family or each other, but the struggle for our rights will continue.

Until we see our family next, we hold them in our hearts.

Yesterday, while looking at my prison cell door with its iron bars, I had a dream. This time it was a small and simple dream, not a grand dream of democracy and freedom. I just saw my smiling mother, holding my daughter’s hand, standing at the door of my prison cell. I saw them walk through the metal, my mother sat on my prison bed, my daughter and I lay side by side, our heads in her lap. I tickle Jude and she laughs, my heart fills with joy. Suddenly I feel that we’re in a cool and protective shadow, I look up and see my father standing by the bed, looking at the three of us and smiling. I dream of those I love, and it is their love that gives me the strength to fight for the dreams of our country."

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Bahrain: The regime takes revenge on peaceful activists

Bahrain: The regime takes revenge on peaceful activists | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights condemn the repressive policies used by the Bahraini authorities against human rights defenders and other peaceful activists. The authorities, represented in this case by the Ministry of Social Development, recently moved forward with new criminal charges against the activist and blogger Nader AbdelImam[2], because of his role in founding and working with the human rights organisation “Ensaf” without prior permission.

Nader AbdelImam is a Bahraini activist and blogger currently serving a six-month prison sentence since 27 August 2014 on charges of insulting religious figures in a post he published on his Twitter account. His lawyer reports that he is facing a further charge, for founding the organisation “Ensaf” and operating without a licence. The levelling of this charge is a clear violation of the principles of human rights, especially those relating to freedom of expression, peaceful work and establishing organisations...

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Why isn't #Bahrain free?

Why isn't #Bahrain free? | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Spencer Haskins's insight:

When leadership acts and a sheepish populace accepts the shackles and manacles of servitude, then the leadership is punished in vain.

When Zainab tears up a picture of  Hammy, the big loser, AlKhakifa....the entire Shiite populace of Bahrain, enter the streets in mass protests of shredding pictures of Hammy publicly, then the regime cannot silence the dissent.  It must capriciously attack only one person for the acts of over  one million, or it must not act at all.  The failed regime cannot imprison over a million Shiites!  Either way, the regime loses and the opposition wins!  

Two things to remember:  1. Do you want your children to live in bondage, or to know freedom?
2. Everyday is Karbala, will you stand up with your leadership, or will you hide and accept bondage? 

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Here Are The Most Horrific Details From The US Senate Torture Report

Here Are The Most Horrific Details From The US Senate Torture Report | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the long-awaited summary of its torture report, revealing horrific details about the CIA's post-9/11 detention and interrogation program.

Many of the details in the report are sickening and gr...
Spencer Haskins's insight:

Bush was horrid, Obama continues the torture with force feeding prisoners at Gitmo!    American 'government' is a total failure!  
America is now just a state exporter of terrorism! 

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Bahrain activist, Zainab AlKhawaja, gets prison term...... BOGUS Bahraini regime!

Bahrain activist, Zainab AlKhawaja, gets prison term......   BOGUS Bahraini regime! | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Bahraini pro-democracy activist Zainab al-Khawaja has been sentenced to three years in prison for tearing up a picture of King Hamad.

A court gave her the option of paying a fine to remain at liberty until her appeal.

Ms Khawaja, who comes from Bahrain's most prominent dissident family, faces other cases next week.

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Monthly Report – A Review of the Human Rights Situation in Iran (3)

Monthly Report – A Review of the Human Rights Situation in Iran (3) | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
 
The following is a monthly report summarizing the human rights status in Iran in October / November (Solar calendar, month of Aban), 2014. This report has been prepared by the office of Statistics and Publications of the Human Rights Activists Association of Iran. Considering the ongoing s
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Sham Bahraini Elections

Sham Bahraini Elections | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

On November 22, sham parliamentary elections were held for the first time since 2011. Majority Shias boycotted as expected. Turnout was low.

Main opposition party Al-Wefaq refused to participate. Its Secretary-General, Ali Salman, said "turnout (was) no more than 30%" of around 350,000 eligible voters.

...

London-based Al-Wefaq member Khalil Al-Marzooq said opposition members had nothing to gain. Bahraini elections are farcical. Illegitimate by any standard.

"There's no justice in Bahrain. (N)o independence of the judiciary, " said Al-Marzooq

"Unless we agree on the system that represents people and make officials accountable and save people and protect their rights, we can't participate."

...
Bahraini governance reflects state terror writ large. A case study of despotism....

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DETEKT: Resist Surveillance software

DETEKT:  Resist Surveillance software | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Detekt is a free tool that scans your Windows computer for traces of FinFisher and Hacking Team RCS, commercial surveillance spyware that has been identified to be also used to target and monitor human rights defenders and journalists around the world. Read more about our Intentions & Methods.

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Bahrain elections must not be used to cover up human rights violations | CJFE

Bahrain elections must not be used to cover up human rights violations | CJFE | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

...CJFE adds its voice to No Peace Without Justice and the undersigned signatories to urge that Bahrain’s upcoming elections not be used to cover human rights violations. On 22 November 2014, Bahrain’s citizens will be called to cast their votes for legislative and municipal elections. The elections will be the first to take place since the people of Bahrain took to the streets and squares of the Kingdom in February and March 2011, demanding more openness in the political process and sustained reform to enlarge the space for freedoms and rights enjoyed by Bahraini citizens......

 
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Remove the criminal minded judges from the judiciary of KPK province of Pakistan and the judiciary of Pakistan.

Remove the criminal minded judges from the judiciary of KPK province of Pakistan and the judiciary of Pakistan. | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Pakistan is the country where the threat to humanity , peace , security and well being of not only innocent pakistanis but also the threat to humanity, peace, security and well being of the rest of the world has been thriving . While army operations have been effective in controlling these intolerant and violent talibanic elements yet these operations have also dispersed the threat and pushed these talibanic elements into hiding. The presence of sympathisers and rogue talibanic elements  in police, intelligence bureau, special branch police, traffic police, FIA, bureaucracy, academia , schools and universities, other security agencies and the judiciary of Pakistan at the district level of Karak, Bannu, D.i.khan and from the judges of the supreme court , high court and the administrative and clerical staff of the judiciary is a threat to the peace , national and international security. The inaction of the chief justice of Supreme court of Pakistan and the involvement of the judges of the supreme court of Pakistan in supporting these antihumanity talibanic elements is going to determine the fate of the national and international security and wellbeing of the world.I request the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take serious action into demands of the chairman of the political party PTI and conduct a fair and thorough investigation to solve the crisis going on in Pakistan for the last so many months.

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Prison in Bahrain: A Tale of Torture · Global Voices

Prison in Bahrain: A Tale of Torture · Global Voices | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Following the death of Hasan Alshaikh due to torture, Global Voices author Mohamed Hassan details his own experience being tortured by Bahrain authorities.
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Help bring awareness to the plight of the Baloch! Tweet with hashtag: #BalochMissingPersons Nov. 11-13

Help bring awareness to the plight of the Baloch!  Tweet with hashtag: #BalochMissingPersons  Nov. 11-13 | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Spencer Haskins's insight:

Help humanity, Support BSO (A) shutter down strike by Joining twitter campaign on 11th 12th and 13th NOV. for #BalochMissingPersons

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A Failure of Democracy and Human Rights »

A Failure of Democracy and Human Rights » | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
It is a sad day for democracy when 12 Nobel Peace Laureates write a letter to President Barak Obama urging him to close one of the darkest chapters of recent U.S. history by acknowledging, and then rejecting, the “flagrant use of torture and other violations of international law” that had been conducted with the excuse of “fighting for terrorism” since 2001. That the recipient of the letter is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate himself makes the situation ludicrous. That he presides over the country purported to be one of the world’s leading democracies makes the situation even more incongruous.

For those of us who used to admire President Obama for his avowed stand on human rights, his reelection seemed to give him the opportunity to fulfill the promises he made regarding the closure of Guantanamo, the use of torture and the killing of innocent people in several countries in conflict.

However, we are still to see a determined action from him on the human rights front, to which he only paid so far lip service. And it makes us wonder who really holds power in the U.S.? How is it possible that the president of the most powerful country in the world is unable to rally the support necessary to end one of the most disgraceful policies of the U.S. government?

Although six months have passed since the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence voted to release its 480-page executive summary of its review of the nation’s “enhanced interrogation” program, the release of the unabridged and uncensored summary has not yet happened.

The reasons for this situation are not a secret. As the Committee’s leader, California’s Senator Dianne Feinstein stated last April, “The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation. It chronicles a stain in our history that must never again be allowed to happen.”
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Iran re-arrests leading human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

(Reuters) - Iranian security forces arrested world-renowned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and several others on their way back from a protest on Saturday, her husband said.

"While returning from the sit-in outside the Bar Association in Tehran, Nasrin was detained along with several friends and colleagues," her husband, Reza Khandan, said on his Facebook page.

"They photographed and ran identity checks on all the detainees and then released everyone but Nasrin, who is still detained wantonly and without a court order."
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Massive Anti-Government Rally Held in Bahraini Capital Despite Protest Ban / Sputnik International

Massive Anti-Government Rally Held in Bahraini Capital Despite Protest Ban / Sputnik International | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
MOSCOW, December 26 (Sputnik) — A massive anti-government rally was held Friday in western Manama despite Bahrain's ban on protests, the country's main Shiite opposition party Al-Wefaq said in a statement.
The rally under the motto "Democracy is Our Right", ran its course, despite that two years ago the government prohibited opposition parties from rallying their supporters and threatened them with violence, Al-Wefaq said.

It stressed that the people of Bahrain, who are largely Shiites while the ruling Al-Khalifa dynasty is Sunni, "refuse to be marginalized and demand to be truly represented through truly elected government".
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The Other Torture Report: Brazil Commission Details Past Human Rights Abuses

The Other Torture Report: Brazil Commission Details Past Human Rights Abuses | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The report sheds light on cases of torture, disappearances and murders in Brazil during a 20-year military dictatorship.
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Stand In Solidarity With Courageous Women's Human Rights Defenders

Stand In Solidarity With Courageous Women's Human Rights Defenders | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

"...However, the world is still far from the vision articulated in Beijing. Approximately 1 in 3 women throughout the world will experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Less than a quarter of parliamentarians in the world are women. In over 50 countries there is no legal protection for women against domestic violence. Almost 300,000 women and girls died in 2013 from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Approximately 1 in 3 married women aged 20 to 24 were child brides. In many parts of the world, women and girls cannot make decisions on their most private matters -- sexuality, marriage, children. Girls and women who pursue their own life choices are still murdered by their own families in the dishonorable practice of so-called honor killings. All of our societies remain affected by stereotypes based on the inferiority of women, which often denigrate, humiliate and sexualize them...."

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Women’s rights defender Ghada Jamsheer released and immediately re-arrested

Women’s rights defender Ghada Jamsheer released and immediately re-arrested | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) express serious concern over the re-arrest of women’s rights defender Ghada Jamsheer in Bahrain, hours after she was released from 10 weeks imprisonment. She was returned to jail just days before International Women Human Rights Defenders Day on 29 November.
On 27 November 2014, Jamsheer was released after two and a half months in jail, only to be re-arrested on charges of “assaulting a police officer” within hours of her return home to her daughter and mother, who have been suffering greatly from her absence. The police officer claims that the alleged assault by Jamsheer was during her stay in prison within the month of September. Jamsheer was not informed of such a case and no investigations were done based on such a charge before.
The BCHR and the GCHR express its concern about the judicial harassment against Jamsheer and believes that this kind of harassment is merely aimed at deterring human rights defenders from their human rights activities. It is similar to the experience of Maryam Al-Khawaja, who was charged in September with allegedly assaulting a police woman after she was arrested at Bahrain’s airport, even though she herself suffered a torn shoulder muscle and did not resist. (See: http://gc4hr.org/news/view/767)
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U.N. Criticizes U.S. on Torture and Array of Human Rights Issues

U.N. Criticizes U.S. on Torture and Array of Human Rights Issues | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
The United Nations Committee Against Torture released a report Friday that deeply criticized the U.S. for its responses and investigations — or lack thereof ...
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Saudi Arabia 'intensifies Twitter crackdown'

Saudi Arabia 'intensifies Twitter crackdown' | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Saudi authorities have stepped up their crackdown on online dissidents, Human Rights Watch said, alleging that prosecutors and judges use "vague law" to charge citizens for peaceful tweets and social media comments.

The New York-based rights organisation on Sunday called on the government to end the crackdown and live up to its obligations to respect free speech.

Three prominent lawyers were convicted of criticising the Justice Ministry last month and sentenced to prison terms of between five and eight years.

Instead of pursuing their peaceful online critics, Saudi officials would be better employed in carrying out much-needed reforms

Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch

 

Police also detained a liberal women’s rights activist in connection with tweets that allegedly criticised religious officials and promoted the right of Saudi women to drive.

"These prosecutions show just how sensitive the Saudi authorities have become to the ability of ordinary citizens to voice opinions online that the government considers controversial or taboo," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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USA: Release the Torture Report Now!

USA:  Release the Torture Report Now! | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Join us and sign the petition: Tell Sen. Mark Udall and the Senate Intelligence Committee to enter the CIA torture report into the Congressional Record.
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Bahrain releases pro-democracy activist awaiting trial

Bahrain releases pro-democracy activist awaiting trial | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahraini authorities released pro-democracy activist Zainab al-Khawaja from detention on Wednesday, her lawyer and sister said, as she awaits trial over a charge of insulting Bahrain's
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Obama continues HIS human rights abuses....

Obama continues HIS human rights abuses.... | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has repeatedly asked Congress to exempt its military effort against the Islamic State from a longstanding ban on U.S. assistance to torturers and war criminals, highlighting doubts about finding "clean" American allies in a region wracked by ethnic animosity and religious extremism.
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The family that protests against Bahrain's brutal regime - Telegraph

The family that protests against Bahrain's brutal regime - Telegraph | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
With her father imprisoned for life and her pregnant sister facing giving birth in jail, Maryam Alkhawaja explains why they keep on protesting for democracy
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Bahrain Court Keeps Top Activist Behind Bars

Bahrain Court Keeps Top Activist Behind Bars | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
A Bahrain court ordered prominent activist Nabeel Rajab kept behind bars on Wednesday as it adjourned his trial over remarks posted on Twitter deemed insulting to public institutions.

Rajab appeared in the Manama court, where the judge set a new hearing for Sunday, activists said.

Rajab, a member of Bahrain's Shiite majority, which has been protesting against the Gulf kingdom's Sunni rulers since 2011, was arrested on October 1 after posting comments on Twitter about the interior and defense ministries.
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NCCM

NCCM | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is an independent, non-partisan and non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the human rights & civil liberties of Canadian Muslims (and by extension of all Canadians), promoting their public interests and challenging Islamophobia and other forms of xenophobia.

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