The inconvenient demand for human rights in the Gulf
The 2013 Rafto Prize was awarded to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) for their long and courageous fight for fundamental human rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of association in Bahrain.
By awarding the Rafto Prize to BCHR, the Rafto Foundation turns the spotlight on the systematic violations of human rights in a region where abuse is too often met with silence from western governments.
The 2013 Rafto Prize recognises an organisation that has consciously worked for the rights of Bahraini citizens and the many migrant workers in the country. BCHR has promoted non-violent protests against the current government and used digital media to spread its message in a very effective manner.
The Arab uprising in February 2011,caused tensions to increase quickly in Bahrain. Maryam al-Khawaja, acting President of BCHR, calls what is happening in Bahrain “the inconvenient revolution” and points out through her Twitter account and numerous press reports that human rights also apply to the Gulf and to everyone, including women, minorities and migrant workers.
'To know the human rights situation in a country, ask where the human rights activists are. In Bahrain they're behind bars'
The protests continue today and demonstrations are met with increasingly brutal measures. The announcement of demonstrations on 14 August 2013 led to arrests prior to the demonstration, blockades in certain areas and excessive use of military force. Fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of association have been heavily restricted and voluntary organizations are subject to surveillance or are arbitrarily dissolved.