In response to the June 12, 2014 attack on Camp Speicher, Shia Rights Watch has established the International Day of Shia Rights to commemorate those who gave their lives for justice. With the upcoming anniversary of this infamous attack, Shia Rights Watch hopes to use this date as an opportunity to spread awareness about the current issues facing Shia minorities.
Following a series of peaceful protest in Manama, Bahrain, 550 Shia minors were illegally detained for participating in the gatherings. These unfortunate incarcerations are the primary focus of this year’s International Day of Shia Rights.
To fully grasp the significance of this day, it is required to understand the gravity of the situation at Camp Speicher. The attack on the base, sponsored by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party and executed by ISIS, left a total of 1,566 air force cadets massacred in the wake of this devastation. With only a single confirmed survivor, Camp Speicher is one of the deadliest Shia massacres in recent Iraqi history. Despite this horrific incident, Shia Rights Watch plans to use June 12th not as a day of remorse, but as a day for change.
On December 28, 2014 Bahraini opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salmon, was arbitrarily arrested under charges of supporting a regime change. This led to several days of peaceful riots in which Shia protestors were met with tear gas and rubber bullets from the Sunni backed government. A total of 550 minors were arbitrarily incarcerated in an attempt to sway public opinion away from protesting in advocacy of democracy. Even though Bahrain has ratified both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Bahrain has blatantly disregarded the regulations associated with signing these documents. The detainment of Salmon and the 550 Shia minors directly violate Article 9 of the ICCPR:
“Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law”.
The international community must come together and hold Bahrain accountable for their transgressions. With civilian riots as recent as May 29th, the political instability demands immediate intervention. This call to action and the demand of freedom for the Bahraini minors is what International Day of Shia Rights aims to promote. With terrorist organizations like ISIS directly calling for war against Shiites in the Arabian Peninsula, awareness and interference has never been needed more.
In an effort to combat Bahrain’s illegal detainment, Shia Rights Watch strongly encourages the public to participate in International Day of Shia Rights. This can be done a number of ways, such as participating in the international awareness campaign, on June 10th 1:00-2:00 pm at Farragut Square and on June 11th 4:15-5:30 pm at Dupont Circle. SRW’s project entails the distribution of free roses with messages that draw attention to the cause. We ask that you join the social media campaign through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #612ShiaDay. Shia Rights Watch also encourages you to write to your congressional representative in support of H.Res 105 and S.Res 69. For more information on these resolutions, the human rights violations occurring around the world, or on how to get involved, visit SRW’s website at shiarightswatch.org.