Foreign AffairsWritten evidence from the Human Rights Department of the National Unity Assembly Association


On the 21 of February 2011, about 350,000 people of all sects and religions congregated at AlFateh Grand Mosque to express their desire for reform in opposition to the coup attempt that has been dubbed the “February 14th movement”. Out of this mass congregation at AlFateh Grand Mosque emerged The National Unity Assembly, the entity responsible for issuing this present report.

Since the 14 of February 2011 and until the present day, Bahrain has witnessed a series of political events of a sectarian nature that have endangered innocent lives through psychological and physical abuse. Instances of abuse directed against Sunni minorities in areas of mixed populations have been documented by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report which states:

1710. The Commission finds sufficient evidence to support the finding that Sunnis were targeted by some demonstrators, either because they professed loyalty to the regime or on the basis of their sect. Sunnis were subjected to verbal abuse, physical attacks and attacks on their property as well as harassment. Many of these incidents occurred at schools, universities, on the streets, in the workplace and at makeshift checkpoints operated by civilians. The Sunni community was seen as a target due to the perception that all Sunnis are agents or supporters of the GoB and the ruling family. The Commission also finds support for the claim of denial of medical care and intentional negligence of Sunni patients during the events of February/March.

Such incidents have not ceased despite the false slogans of fraternity raised by anti-government protesters such as “Sunnis and Shiites are brothers; we refuse to sell out on our nation” and others. These slogans have merely provided cover for a wide array of radical sectarian practices directed against Sunnis.

Sunni minorities living in Shiite-majority areas suffer from a state of oppression and revenge because, in the words of the BICI, “(…) they professed loyalty to the regime or on the basis of their sect.” Amongst these areas is the village of Budaiya [***]and certain parts of Hamad Town [***]whose Sunni-minority residents endure insufferable hardships.

The tragedy of these residents is compounded by the Ministry of Interior’s failure to take the appropriate measures to guarantee their security. Some residents suspect that at times Shiite members of the security forces leak complaints filed by affected Sunni residents who are in turn targeted further by sectarian thugs. Often, complaints take a very long time to be processed, and if the complainant decides to abandon filing the complaint and leaves the police station, he/she may be subject to prosecution for ‘disturbance of the authorities’.

It is important to highlight that the names of many of those mentioned in this present report have not been stated in full, mainly due to fear of reprisal or because they are members of the security forces. Accordingly, rumors of so-called government vigilantes and security forces spreading fear in Shiite villages out of sectarian spite are nothing but false. Rather to the contrary: minority Sunni residents in Shiite-majority areas are the ones subject to abuse and reprisals particularly in the village of Budaiya and Hamad Town, as the present report shall attempt to illustrate.

Targeting of Civilians in Budaiya

Budaiya village is located on the Western most part of Bahrain. The village, whose inhabitants are predominantly Sunni, is surrounded by a number of Shiite villages. It is adjacent to Budaiya Road, and is situated near the King Fahad Causeway that links Saudi Arabia to Bahrain. Attacks carried out by radical elements against the village have intensified. It is believed that these attacks aim to gradually drive out Sunni residents in order to provide a safe haven for and uncontested domination by radical elements found in Shiite villages. These elements could then exercise greater control near the strategic King Fahad Causeway and on Budaiya Road. Budaiya residents have labeled their ordeal as nothing short of a, “human suffering inflicted by terrorists from neighbouring villages”.

According to the local AlWatan Newspaper [***], attacks against the village’s residents occur on an almost daily basis [***], in addition to the blocking of roads using burned tires and improvised road blocks put in place by vandals.

To this effect, one of the village’s [***] residents, [***] states, “Terrorists intentionally target our children when they play in the park nearby, to the extent that one child was injured with a dart in his back while playing.” [author’s translation]

[***] then states, “Terrorist groups have targeted the homes of Budaiya residents, especially those living on the eastern part of the village, on a daily basis using Molotov cocktails and metal rods.” He highlights that assailants make us of dart-throwers and nail-guns, in addition to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) whose, “shrapnel has recently hit a resident directly.”

[***] highlights moreover that residents whose homes are located opposite of the Bani Jamra village which houses radical groups, “receive constant threats to leave their homes or be forced to do so.” He points to the example of one particular resident, a widow who lives alone, whose home has been the target of attacks using Molotov cocktails and metal rods. In another case, a senior citizen suffered from burns when a Molotov cocktail was thrown threw her bedroom window. “Had her daughters not come to her rescue,” he adds, “the consequences would have been even worse.” [***] points to a third case, a family of six, which spends most of its time moving between various houses of relatives. “The husband works night shifts, and the wife fears their home might catch fire due to the attacks using Molotov cocktails that take place in absence of her husband.”

The examples enumerated by [***] are but snapshots, and numerous other incidents exist that have been documented in a short film prepared by the Human Rights Committee within The National Unity Assembly entitled, “What peacefulness? Budaiya siege, in the line of fire”.

Targeting Civilians in Hamad Town

If what happens in Budaiya is a tragedy, then the tragedy of Sunni residents who live in predominantly Shiite neighbourhoods in Hamad Town is of even greater proportions.

Um Yousif (pseudonym) is one of the area’s affected residents. She confirms that her family has grown accustomed to having their windows and doors broken, their garbage bins torched and car horn noises made repeatedly particularly during late night hours. Um Yousif is also routinely subjected to verbal harassment, and is often called as “the mother of mercenaries” because her children work for the armed forces. She reports having even been called a “Wahhabist” and a “pig”.

Um Yousif recounts another incident where her car was surrounded by vandals while she was on a shopping errand close to the Dar Kulaib area nearby. Vandals, who had blocked the road ahead and surrounded her car, began shouting at her “Sunni! Sunni!”. In panic, Um Yousif escaped by accelerating into the road block ahead with her vehicle which was damaged as a result. She report that despicable political slogans such as “Down Down Hamad” (in reference to the King) have been more than once sprayed on her car by vandals.

[***]—another Hamad Town resident—recounts how when on his way to purchase food from the Dar Kulaib area, he was stopped by a number of vandals who had blocked the road ahead. Under the threat of attack, vandals forced him to make his way through with his car to the inside of the Dar Kulaib village. Then, vandals began attacking his vehicle using Molotov cocktails and metal rods, at which point [***]—believing himself to be in a situation of legitimate defense—decided to speed out of the village regardless of the potential consequences. In the meantime, [***] had managed to call the police, who only showed up after 15 minutes.

[***] then head to a police station to report the incident. The officer in charge told him he was to blame for venturing into a Shiite village. However, [***] reports having insisted to the officer that his freedom of movement was guaranteed, and that his sole purpose of doing so was to purchase food.

In another incident that may have a suspected criminal dimension to it, a watchman—[***] was run over by a car. Eyewitnesses, who include [***] siblings and neighbors report that at around 10 pm on the 8th of November 2012, a car driving slowly suddenly accelerated towards [***] who passed away after less than 48 hours from his injuries. Two days before the incident, [***] had been assaulted by masked men during his night shift when he attempted to prevent them from spraying anti-government political graffiti on the school walls. The family of the deceased says that the assailant has been identified, and that he confessed to the crime and to having done it out of sectarian spite. The incident is currently undergoing criminal investigation.

In another incident that took place in the Lozi area, residents of an apartment building—most of whom are naturalized Sunni citizens—were victims of a terror attack by vandals. At dawn, vandals entirely torched four vehicles belonging to the Sunni residents and attempted to light the apartment building on fire. Residents had to be evacuated as a result, and several sustained injuries during the evacuation process.

Finally, we must not neglect to mention the story of [***] (18 years of age) who passed away as a result of an improvised explosive device detonating. The deceased had attempted to remove a number of burning tires that were used to block a road on his way home, but was killed due to the injuries he sustained from the detonation of an improvised explosive device placed among the tires.

A Study on Sectarian Human Rights Violations

The Department of Human Rights at NUA has conducted a study on human rights violations that occurred on sectarian basis between February 2011 and March 2012. The study’s sample consisted of 6452 people who filled a questionnaire. The study recorded the reporting of more than 95% of these violations between April and July 2011, more than 98% of them took place between February and March 2011. The recession in the process of reporting violations after July 2011 is a result of the frustration of the targeted segment, due to not applying the law, not achieving the desired justice and the uselessness of the documentation process from their own point of view.

Human rights violations statistics

% of damage


Type of Violation






Road Blocks



Economic Damage



Educational Negligence



Medical negligence






Damage to Property



Physical Harm



Murder/Attempted Murder






Sexual Harassment




1. Recommendations to the Government and people of the Kingdom of Bahrain

We call on the government of Bahrain to investigate the issue of complicity of some elements that belong to the Interior Ministry with vandals, according to the testimony of a large number of people affected. If these statements are confirmed, must be held accountable to prove it by following the proper legal procedures to do so.

Call on the government of Bahrain to intensify security measures to protect people living in mixed areas, especially in areas that suffer from terrorist attacks against Sunni minorities in Shiite areas, and demand swift responses from security and civil defense in the event of terrorist attacks on those areas.

Opposition Political societies should condemn all terrorist acts against members of the Sunni community and the Shiite sect, whether they are military personnel or civilians.

Emphasis on the national dialogue as the only option to promote the reform project and to achieve compatibility between the people and the system on various issues.

Emphasis on maintaining civil peace and rejection of sectarianism.

The Government of Bahrain should meet the basic demands of the Bahraini people, especially those related to improvements in standard of living, as well as investigate claims of financial and administrative corruption and eliminate them.

The government of Bahrain’s commitment to applying the rule of law on those who violate the law and cause damage directly or indirectly to individuals or property, especially damage to citizens and residents as a result of political agendas and hateful sectarianism.

We demand that the government ensures a commitment to neutrality and transparency in its investigation to detect all irregularities and violations and most importantly hold the perpetrators of these violations accountable.

Reassure the government and our people that the presence of an opposition in any democratic country is an essential need because the true role of the opposition is to demand reform, offer advice and investigate corruption that may exist in any system in any country, not to overthrow the regime, especially if the system is flexible and tolerant.

Bahrain for all, this is a fundamental principle for everyone to understand. We call on the entire political spectrum in Bahrain to respect each other, and we therefore call on radical opposition to refrain from issuing statements on behalf of the Bahraini people as they are not representative of the entire population.

We demand that the opposition adopts a clear mandate, which is to serve the country. We also urge the opposition to agree to a dialogue (and without preconditions) with all spectrums of Bahraini society. As it is unacceptable for the opposition to make decisions and demands on behalf of the rest of the country, and here we also reject any demands to bring down the government or to overthrow the regime and achieving demands within a democracy must be through the right channels which is the parliament and our elected representatives.

We demand the formation of an independent committee to investigate unethical practices within human rights organizations and detect offenders or political associations.

2. Recommendations to the United Kingdom

We call on all UK based human rights organizations and civil society institutions to maintain neutrality and fairness in investigating all human rights violations to maintain the credibility of these organizations, and prevent international human rights organizations from becoming a cover for terrorist groups.

Bahrain rejects any interference or impositions from foreign entities in its internal affairs just as the United Kingdom refuses any interference in its internal affairs. We believe that the people of Bahrain are capable of resolving their internal problems without any foreign intervention for fear that this might lead to the formation of a hateful sectarian government under allegations of democratization and religious freedoms, similar to the Iraqi situation.

Demand that the British Embassy officials in Bahrain convey news and local events to administration officials honestly and impartially and conscientiously, as they have shown a noticeable lack of knowledge in the actual causes of the unfortunate events as well the sequence of events and extent of the damage caused to the Bahraini society. We therefore hold the members of the embassy responsible for the strong discontent felt by Bahraini people towards the British government as a result of the British Parliament biased support for of radical opposition.

We encourage training and supporting all civil society organizations in Bahrain, especially those political and human rights organizations, however, we demand that the British government supports the entire spectrum of the Bahraini civil society without bias or preference to a party over the other for any purpose whatsoever, and to recognize and support “ The National Unity Assembly “, which represents the majority of the Bahraini people- who were silent for years and emerged as a reaction to the events of 2011- as an active partner in the political process. We also reject any support and encouragement for the radical sectarian opposition as this has encouraged terrorist attacks on innocent people in the country during the crisis.

Recent events have caused significant losses estimated in the millions of dinars to the country’s economy, mostly affecting SMEs and local entrepreneurs. We therefore call upon the British government to offer consistent support to the commercial sector which will be of common interest to both countries.

Members of the British Parliament should hear from all spectra of the Bahraini people on human rights violations against citizens and residents based on sectarianism or ethnicity, and which will require intensive and continuous efforts from everyone to restore trust and civil peace.

3. Recommendations to the British Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee

Adhere to neutrality and objectivity when discussing global issues, and when conducting any investigations to detect violations of human rights in any conflict zones. The Inquiry must meet all parties concerned, including representatives from all the spectrum of the community and the government to be able to gain a clear picture of the situation before drafting its report.

The Commission when conducting investigations for human rights violations must first know the reason behind events or conflict occurrences, where often governments are forced to intervene to protect its people from the actions of some individuals, as did the British government recently. The reason behind the escalation of events and the continuous losses is mainly due to the radical opposition exerting pressure on the government through foreign intervention to achieve their political agenda regardless of the losses to lives and the economy.

Refrain from demanding sanctions against Bahrain and demand an investigation and legal proceedings against those violating the law, and respect Bahrain’s laws, demands to stop legal proceedings will only encourage more recklessness and lack of respect for state laws and its existence by the opposition.

[***] = redacted by agreement with the author.

20 November 2012

Prepared 21st November 2013