Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December 2014, 10:46 GMT

Letter to Dr. Nabil Al Araby, Secretary General of the League of Arab States

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 5 July 2011
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Letter to Dr. Nabil Al Araby, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, 5 July 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e2410d7c.html [accessed 18 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

5 July 2011

Excellency,

Within weeks, the Tunisian and Egyptian peoples were freed from authoritarian regimes, which had oppressed them for so long. First led by the youth, these revolts were soon joined by a huge crowd of men and women of all generations who had decided that fear would no longer force them to suffer more.

The authoritarian regimes of former Presidents Ben Ali Mubarak could continue with the active complicity or acquiescence of the "international community" towards those dictatorships. Despite brutal repression, Egyptian and Tunisian citizens have shown, day after day, their aspirations to dignity, equality and social justice were irreversible leading Western countries to revise their policy towards these two countries. In other countries, people are subjected to double punishment, that of being confronted with the fierce repression of the powers and that of a cynical indifference from all, leaving them to crimes behind closed-doors.

Silence is the accomplice of arbitrariness and barbarism.

In Bahrain, on June 22nd 2011, 21 prominent Bahraini human rights activists and opponents to the regime were given harsh sentences by the special military court; 8 of them were given life sentences while 13 were given two to fifteen years in prison. The charges given to the activists seem to be an attempt to punish them merely for their political activities.

FIDH is deeply concerned by the reports of torture and ill-treatment of those arrested and detained. Our member organizations have documented the case of Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, former Director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), who was beaten severely and had to undergo major surgery due to his injuries. These acts of torture and ill-treatment are not limited to detention centers, but have managed to infiltrate hospitals as well. Not only so, but the Bahraini government has gone on a mass sacking campaign against all workers that were involved in the protests leading to the firing of 383 workers.

FIDH welcomes the decision by the Bahraini authorities to open investigations to the events of the protests. However, we stress the need for these investigations to be impartial, thorough and independent so as to ensure that impunity is fought against. FIDH urges the Arab League to encourage the Bahraini government to put an end to all human rights abuses and strictly uphold international human rights standards, as this is essential for the peace and security of the region. We are confident that the Arab League will send the message to the Bahraini government that such recommendations are an essential prerequisite to any sustainable national dialogue.

In Yemen, the repression of protests demanding the departure of President Saleh has made more than 200 deaths since late January. FIDH is extremely concerned about the level of violence in Yemen and urges the Arab League to facilitate a peaceful and democratic transition of power.

In Syria, fierce and brutal repression is smashing more people everyday, leading to more than 1,400 deaths, often carried out mass arrests during house to house searches while whole neighborhoods are isolated with no electricity, no water, no telephone. After three months of demonstrations repressed with extreme violence, city after city (Deraa, Baniyas, Homs, Hama) by tanks and ubiquitous intelligence services, the demonstrators, especially young people are abandoned, left to their courage alone.

FIDH recalls the promises made by President Bashar Al Assad for reforms and is alarmed by the lack of implementation of these democratic reforms and the escalating use of violence against civilians. The situation has led to an influx of residents deserting their homes and seeking refugee in Turkey and Lebanon. We encourage the Arab League to urge the Syrian government to halt immediately those serious human rights abuses, and to cooperate fully with the United Nations Human Rights Council fact-finding mission.

While Tunisia and Egypt have gotten rid of their long-term dictatorships, there are still alarming concerns about the situation in both countries.

In Egypt, the events of the 28th of June witnessed disproportionate violence used against the initially peaceful demonstrations by the Security forces. FIDH is deeply concern about the lack of change of the attitude of the Security forces on the use of force and torture. Egypt has entered a new era and needs to impose serious steps to combat torture and uphold strict human rights standards.

Tunisia is facing similar problems. The repression of the protests after ex-President Ben Ali's departure raises our concerns, as well as the serious dysfunction in the police forces and the Judiciary.

FIDH had initially welcomed the efforts by the Egyptian and Tunisian judiciary to prosecute those responsible for the killings of the protestors during both countries' revolutions; however we are now worried by the continuous postponing of the cases and the fact that some security officers and former regime figures allegedly responsible for major human rights abuses are not being prosecuted. We urge the Arab League to support the judicial efforts in fighting against impunity.

Mr. Secretary General of the Arab League, you have been a judge at the International Court of Justice, you have fought against oppression, you were participating in the revival of Egypt, we are launching an urgent appeal to you for the situations in those countries to be brought to the agenda of ministerial meetings of the Arab League, we urge that the Arab League Member States agreed on a common platform demanding the end of armed forces' violence against peaceful civilians. We also urge the Arab League Member States to support the fight against impunity And the non repetition of serious human rights abuses.

We call for a joint condemnation signed by all member states of the Arab League to cease bloody repression, mass arrests, appalling torture commonly practiced in prisons that befell the Bahraini, Syrian and Yemeni citizens.

The defense of human rights is indivisible. Beyond certain geostrategic analysis advocating the status quo, it is impossible to look away because the defense of human rights is universal and requires our mobilization against impunity and our active solidarity to protect the most exposed, all those who fight for social justice, and for ending arbitrariness and corruption.

Sincerely Yours,

Souhayr Belhassen
FIDH President

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