The Bahraini Authorities Recruit of Mercenaries from Makran Town, Pakistan: The Bahrain Government's use of foreign mercenaries to oppress Bahraini people with legitimate demands and grievances leads to a growing hostility towards foreigners The Bahrain Center for Human Rights

6/6/2009 The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep concern and dismay regarding the news received from Baluchistan Province in Pakistan regarding the presence of a Bahraini security delegation in the Pakistani town of Makran. The security delegation is said to be working to recruit men from this city, who belong to the Baluch tribes in Pakistan, to work as mercenaries in the Bahraini security services.

In his statement to News Online, Mr. Basham Baluch - Official spokesman for the Baluch Liberation Front (BLF) – appealed to the Baluchi people, saying, “The Bahraini army is currently recruiting members of the Makran area in Baluchistan. Under the current circumstances, we call upon the Baluchi nation not to become part of any tyrant or oppressive army, at a time when the Baluchi nation is living in a state of war and is going through a critical period. Instead of turning the young Baluchestanis into hired killers, they should join the national armies (Baluch Liberation Front, Baluchistani Liberation Army, the Baluch Republican Army (BLA)), to make the independence of their homeland a reality.” He added, “We warn all these institutions and demand that they put an immediate end to the recruitment process in Makran area. We are in a status of war, and are struggling against the tyrants ourselves, and we do not want the Baluch people to be used and turned into mercenaries.” The Baluch Liberation Front (BLF) has people’s support among the Baluch in Pakistan and the rest of the Gulf countries, and is engaged in a resistance to separate their province from Pakistan.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the recruitment taking place in Makran aims to bring in more Baluch soldiers to join the Bahraini National Guard as well as the Special Forces that belong to the National Security apparatus. Both of these groups are made up of mostly foreign mercenaries, and used to suppress local movements petitioning for greater rights. The National Security apparatus supervises the work of the semi-military forces on the field, which are made up of several thousands of individuals – almost 35% of whom are from Pakistani Baluchistan and were brought to Bahrain earlier, within alternating periods. These units are usually headed by an officer from the Al-Khalifa ruling family or by the tribes that are politically allied with it. Among these forces, there are no Shiite citizens.

These Special Forces, who are almost exclusively Sunni from a different countries, have been used to suppress the population of villages and areas where the majority of residents are Shiite (since Shiites make up the majority of the Bahraini population). Typically, these forces raid the Shiite villages after besieging the entrances and exits, and use tear gas and rubber bullets on all the residents, which has led to the injury of hundreds of people - among them elders, women and children who were wounded subject to suffocation. As well as this, several properties including houses and mosques have been damaged during sieges. The Special Security Forces are also joined by groups of armed civilians affiliated with it. The armed civilians are of different nationalities, some are Baluch and others from some tribes in Jordan, Syria and Yemen. At times these forces dress in civilian clothes with black masks and attack villages, pursuing and abducting demonstrators and activists, and assaulting them. According to the international standards on the prohibition of the use of mercenaries, the foreigners associated to the Special Forces are identified as mercenaries. They are brought selectively from abroad to be used in security or military issues outside the regular security and military services. They are trained and equipped, in particular, and are provided with features job-wise and materialistically, which the normal security employees - foreigners and citizens - do not get, such as housing, travel and family reunification. In Bahrain, the majority of the mercenary forces live with their families in areas isolated from the rest of the citizens, such as “Safra” area, and which is a remote area to the south of Riffa town. Most of those were granted the Bahraini citizenship, as part of the government's demographic change project which aims at changing the demography and turning the Shiite citizens in Bahrain to a minority. Documented reports indicate show that naturalised mercenaries have been used effectively in previous elections to marginalize the liberal opposition and the Shiite majority, as detailed in the documents of the Al Bandar report http://www.bahrainrights.org/node/528 and http://www.bahrainrights.org/node/610 . The actions of these forces and the violations committed by them have been condemned by International human rights organizations in the past.

The United Nations has repeatedly condemned the countries which have allowed or tolerated recruitment, use of, financing and training of mercenaries. It has even expressed its concerns regarding the danger activities of mercenary groups poses to civil peace and security in small states, regardless of the way the mercenaries are used or the form they take to acquire some legitimate position, such as resettling or naturalization or other. Bahrain, until now, has not signed the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, 4 December 1989.

In the course of his comment, Nabeel Rajab – president of the BCHR – said, “We appreciate and respect the Baluch people, for these people have a history and civilization and are conscious of their rights due to the sufferings and oppression which their people have faced. These people also have their contributions in building our country Bahrain just as in the rest of the Arabian Gulf States. However the security institutions in Bahrain are taking advantage of the economic situation and poverty that these Baluch are undergoing in their country, and are recruiting more of its youth as mercenaries in a way that violates international law, and are throwing them and risking their lives in battles against the residents of the country who are demanding their rights. We believe that the majority of those recruits are ignorant of the role they are playing and the violations they are committing by accepting these jobs. Most of them do not know that mercenarism is internationally prohibited and condemned, besides creates a lot of hatred for the people of this country.” Rajab added, “We call upon human rights organizations, political parties and civil societies institutions in Baluchistan province to work on educating young people about the risks of getting involved in such internationally prohibited and condemned work”.

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

1. To put an end to the policy of bringing and using foreign mercenaries to work for the security services and Special Forces to confront the peaceful public protests and local movements for greater civil and human rights

2. To dissolve the National Security apparatus and the Special Security Forces and to return their powers to the regular security institutions.

3. To end the decree of laws that violate rights, institutions and practices which restrict and suppress public liberties, and to guarantee and maintain civil and political rights and public freedoms, especially those related to expression, peaceful gathering and organization.

4. To end the continuous violations, pursuits, and abductions of human rights defenders and political activists, and to guarantee a healthy and appropriate environment for the work of the human rights organizations and civil institutions away from constraining regulations, interference and threats of the security services.

5. The members of the parliament should work on drafting laws that criminalize recruiting of mercenaries and should question those responsible for the security institutions for all the violations, and which includes recruiting and using mercenaries for internal disputes.

6. To initiate a genuine reconciliation between the ruling elite and all the people of Bahrain, with all their various sects and ethnicities, and to pave the way for true reforms where the government does not need to use foreigners against its own citizens.