By: Said Yousif Al Mahafdha Head of Monitoring and Follow Up

Geneva – 2012 Ladies and Gentlemen, Greetings, It's my pleasure to be among you here attending this important event where Martin Ennals Foundation is going to declare its 2012 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. Actually all members of BCHR appreciated that we have been announced as a nominee for the award especially that this support as we considered has come in the most painful and difficult time that BCHR had ever faced; as its President Nabeel Rajab and its co-founder Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja are behind bars serving long term sentenced reached to life imprisonment.

Unfortunately, we have been targeted by Bahrain government since years. Marks on our bodies witnessed those brutal attacks, harassment, prosecution, slandering, torture and many other ways of continues pain to force us to give up and let the victims down.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Certainly, you hear about Nabeel Rajab, Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja, Maryam Al Khawaja and you might know me!? Said Yousif Al Mahafdha but let me tell you that there are lots of unknown members who work hard behind the scene; those are the BCHR's heart and lungs supplying air and life to us along with many other international human rights organizations. Here, I shall mention Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies who gave us courage and full support.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, registered with the Bahraini Ministry of Labor and Social Services since July 2002. Despite an order by the authorities in November 2004 to close it, the BCHR is still functioning after gaining a wide internal and external support for its struggle to promote human rights in Bahrain. BCHR helped and established many local groups and committees in Bahrain which work in human rights field like the National Committee for Victims of Torture, Committee for Unemployed, Committee for Low Wages, Committee for Adequate Housing and others.

BCHR worked on all those sensitive and important issues and violations committed by Bahrain government including illegal naturalization, corruption by royal family, stealing lands and beaches, Al Bander Conspiracy (illegally change the country's demography) and discrimination.

On September 24, 2004, BCHR president Abdulhadi Alkhawaja gave a lecture about poverty in Bahrain, in which he criticized the Prime Minister of Bahrain. In the following days Abdulhadi was arrested by the police, and the BCHR ordered to close down by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

Despite the official ban, the BCHR has continued its human rights activities. The government has issued numerous threats warning that further legal action will be taken against the members if they continue their activities.

For this reason we have chosen not to publicize the names of all BCHR members at this point of time.

Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja co-founder of BCHR is now in jail serving life imprisonment after he was tortured brutally by Bahrain's National Security Apparatus and Military. Nabeel Rajab the President of BCHR is now in jail serving three years imprisonment for illegal gathering charges. Maryam Al Khawaja Head of foreign affairs in BCHR is now in exile and cannot return back to country after her family has been brutally targeted by government as her father, uncle and sister human rights defender Zainab Al Khawaja are all in jail.

Dr.Mohammed Saeed Al Sahlawi a board member of BCHR was arrested in 2010 for six months and tortured and tried before he was released when mass protest flared in Feb 2011. Thank You so much.

Martin Ennals Award film, Geneva features Bahrain, BCHR, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab vimeo.com/m/50273834

Film Portrait of Bahrain Center for Human Rights - Martin Ennals Award Nominee 2012 from Martin Ennals Award on Vimeo.