Heiner Bielefeldt, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief in the UN’s Human Rights Council, expressed his displeasure at the Bahraini Government’s failure to reply to a request he made in 2012 to visit the country. State members in the Human Rights Council should reply to requests made by the Council’s Special Procedures in no longer than three weeks. Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt participated in a side-event about violation of religious freedom in Bahrain at the HRC’s 25th session. He also expressed concern over the killing and torture practiced against Shiites. He mentioned that he has been receiving complaints of discrimination in jobs and demolishing of mosques based on sound evidence.
He said change in Bahrain must be internal, adding that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights encourages peaceful coexistence with both the Government and the society. He said the Universal Periodic Review can contribute to solving the problem in Bahrain.
Mr. Bielefeldt said it is not acceptable to undermine the role of the Human Rights Council which plays an effective role on States which practice violations against minorities, adding that even China, which is a member of the UN Security Council, fears the HRC’s condemnation. Furthermore, he said the Shiites are the forgotten victims in most countries they live in, but in the Shiites in Bahrain are a majority and a political minority and are suffering from incitement and provocation against their beliefs. He also mentioned the regime’s demolishing of Shiite mosques and tightening on religious rituals. He urged Bahrainis to keep sending their complaints and promised to respond genuinely.
A number of Bahraini activists participated in the event. Mohammed al-Tajir, a Bahraini lawyer and human rights activist, said the Government of Bahrain is practicing organized discrimination against Shiites, however, the problem will not be solved unless the officials in the Government admit that it exists. Al-Tajir recommended a comprehensive law that criminalizes the practice of sectarian discrimination. He also suggested to make educational curriculums and the media clear of any sectarian or hatred contents.