Arbitrary Detention of a Citizen for Disseminating Information

Arbitrary Detention of a Citizen for Disseminating Information on the National Security Apparatus

Targeting the President of the BCHR in the same case

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights 8 June 2009

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern regarding the continuing detention and health condition of the Bahraini citizen Hasan Salman, who was reportedly accused of leaking government information related to the National Security Apparatus. Worth noting that BCHR had issued a report earlier including information, figures and statistics about the National Security Apparatus showing the composition of this Apparatus which is based on sectarian discrimination and reliance on the recruitment of mercenaries, it also shed light on the increased violations committed by this Apparatus.

Hasan Salman (26 years old) was arrested while he was entering his place of work on Thursday 14 May 2009. He was taken to the Criminal Investigation Department building in Adliya area, then to his apartment where his computer was confiscated as well as some CDs and photographs of him and his family. Mr. Salman was accused of possessing and disseminating information without the consent of the organization which that information belongs to. On the same day, he was presented to the Public Prosecution who ordered that he be held in custody for investigation for a week, and then it renewed the detention for twenty days and then renewed for the third time until 21st July 2009 which is the date set for his trial. Mr. Hasan Salman lives in Naim area in the suburbs of the capital Manama. He is married and has a good reputation for his charity and social activity.

The BCHR was informed that during the questioning of Mr. Hasan Salman, the investigators reportedly offered him a bargain in return for his release, on the condition that he signs a statement in which he accuses both Nabeel Rajab – President of the BCHR – and women activist Layla Dishti – administrator of that they incited and funded him to publish those names, however Hasan Salman refused to do so despite the intense pressures that he was put through. BCHR has been informed that after ten days of arrest, Hasan Salman was transferred to Emergency centre at the Manama Head quarter of the Ministry of Interior for severe pain in his back.

The BCHR fears that the National Security Apparatus is using this case to target Nabeel Rajab, president of BCHR, and other activists as apart of a campaign this Apparatus is leading against activists and human rights defenders. The BCHR believes that it is now more targeted due to its activity both locally and internationally and its reporting of violations committed by the National Security Apparatus.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights, based on a list of names published on the Internet that includes more than one thousand employee working in this Apparatus, had prepared on the 5th of March a detailed report that includes statistics and facts about the National Security Apparatus and its role in the escalation of violence in the recent period. The report revealed that 64% of the workers in this Apparatus are non-Bahrainis, and are mostly from Asian nationalities, and that its composition is founded on a sectarian basis where the percentage of employed citizens from the Shiite sect does not exceed 4% who work in the lower posts as informants.

Nabeel Rajab – President of the BCHR, said: “Such information is becoming vital to reveal and expose the apparatuses that are accused of committing human rights violations. We are taken aback by the arrest of a citizen for published the names of official employees. Those who are affiliated to government intuitions are supposed to be proud in serving their country, and not to feel ashamed. However, it seems that the bad reputation of this apparatus has lead to the detention of a person for calming that he published those names.”

“The arrest of Hasan Salman reveals the danger of the growing powers of the National Security Apparatus and the necessity of confronting it peacefully. The authority’s policy in supporting the role, powers and realm of this Apparatus creates an apparatus similar to the notorious Iranian “SAVAK” which caused wide human rights violations in Iran at the time of the Shah, and was a main cause to the prevalent international criticism and the people’s revolution which ended the Shah’s reign in 1979” he added.

Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the following:

1. To immediately release the Bahraini citizen Mr. Hasan Salman, because he has not committed any felony that is worthy of arrest or trial;
2. To put an end to targeting the members of the BCHR or other human rights defenders and to secure safe and appropriate environment for the work of human rights defenders away from interference and threats of the security services;
3. To have a fair and unbiased investigation in the violations committed by the National Security Apparatus and the Special Security Forces affiliated with it, prosecuting those responsible of such violations and eventually dissolve these exceptional apparatuses and return their powers to the regular security system.

Background information:
The NSA first appeared in May 2002 as an alternative for the “General Directorate for State Security Investigations” which was part of the Ministry of Interior. Thus, the NSA became a parallel directorate to other government bodies, instead of being part of them. Its authorities overlap the Ministry of Interior and the judiciary system, while it extends its influence to the Central Informatics Organization, the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Social Development. The NSA derives its managerial influence from its connection to, and its role as an executive arm of, the Supreme Defense Council which is considered the highest authority in the country, as it consists of the King, the Crown Prince, the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Royal Court and ten others from the King’s family who occupy leading political and security posts in the country.
The Royal Decree for the establishment of the NSA stated that “the NSA is a subordinate of the President of the Council of Ministries (the Prime Minister), and its president is appointed by a Royal Decree with a rank of a minister”. In the year 2004, the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, issued an order regarding the organizational structure of the NSA, where it consists of a number of units and directorate, amongst them: special operations directorate, international affairs directorate, political security directorate, counter-terrorism directorate, central directorate for information and documentation, directorate of information technology, directorate of association and coordination and directorate of legal affairs. The first president for the NSA was Sheikh Abdul-Aziz bin Atiyat-Allah Al-Khalifa, who was appointed in May 2002, then the NSA was headed by Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali bin Rashid Al-Khalifa since 26 September 2005. The current president is Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa. Both previous and current presidents occupied the post of an ambassador for Bahrain in the United Kingdom before heading the NSA.
The NSA, according to the decree it was established by, specializes in “preserving national security” and in order to do so, “it monitors and detects all activities that harm the national security of the Kingdom or its institutions and systems, or anything that threatens the security and the safety of the country” and also “develops necessary security plans to face all normal and exceptional circumstances in cooperation with the specialized government bodies”.
Since its establishment in 2002, the NSA, has been playing an escalating role in penetrating civil society institutions and monitoring and pursuing political opponents and human rights defenders, at home and abroad. The NSA is directly responsible for the death of the activist Ali Jassim Mohammed in December 2007, subjecting tens of citizens to wounds and suffocation due to the use of excessive force and suppressing seminars, demonstrations and other protest activities. Furthermore, it is also responsible for arresting hundreds of human rights defenders and activists, systematic torture which returned to Bahrain again since December 2007, fabricating or exaggerating terror events or plans to justify intensive security measures, running media campaigns in the inside and outside to smear the reputation of activists and to justify arrests, and unfair trials and extreme sentences against activists considered dissidents of the political regime.
The NSA supervises the field work of the Special Security Forces (SSF). The SSF is a paramilitary force which adds up to more than 20 thousand, 90% of who are non-Bahrainis, headed by high ranking officers from the King’s family or other Bedouin tribes that are in political alliance with them. There isn’t a single Shiite citizen among these forces. The SSF have been used effectively in the surroundings of the villages or areas where the majority of residents are Shiite. They penetrate these areas with tear gas and rubber bullets, which cause injuries and suffocation of hundreds of people, amongst them women, children, and elderly citizens. Properties, houses and mosques were damaged. The SSF also use armed militias, who sometimes wear civil clothes and black masks. They attack villages and chase the demonstrators and abuse them.
According to the international standards, the composition and role of the SSF falls in the prohibition of the use of mercenaries, the non-Bahrainis recruited to the SSF can be categorized as mercenaries as they were brought selectively from outside the country, they are used for security or military purposes outside the regular security and military bodies, they are trained and prepared in a special manner, and they are provided with careers and advantages not provided to other foreign or Bahraini employees, such as housing, travel expenses and family reunifications. Most of them live with their families in “Safra”, an isolated area which lies south of Riffa city where most relatives of the king reside. The majority of these recruits were granted the Bahraini citizenship in order to nationalize them within the hidden ongoing project of demographic sectarian change to marginalize the Shiite citizens in Bahrain. The votes of those mercenaries were used effectively to marginalize the opposition and the Shiite majority in the elections of the council of representatives in 2006.
In his comment, Nabeel Rajab – president of the BCHR said, “What increases the danger of supporting the role, powers, influence, and budget of the National Security Apparatus is its full dependence on mercenary men who do not have any relation with Bahrain. This also reveals the policy of the regime to use an external force to face the citizens, which shows its loss of confidence in the country’s native residents, Sunnis and Shiite. Thus, the authority is creating a new suppressive reality, more organized and dangerous than the measures taken in the previous State Security era. Hence, the National Security Apparatus is treading in the same footsteps as the Iranian “SAVAK” Service, which caused wide violations to human rights in Iran during the era of the Shah, and was a main reason for both the wide international criticism, and for the people’s revolution which ended the Shah’s reign in 1979”


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