Human Rights Defender Profile: Jihan Kazerooni of Bahrain
Human Rights First is running a series of profiles on human rights defenders we work with in various countries. These profiles help to explain their work, motivations, and challenges.
Jihan Kazerooni started working with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Nabeel Rajab in April 2011. Through her work with BCHR she was exposed to the case of the detained Medics who became torture victims. She played a pivotal role in helping to establish the Bahrain Rehabilitation and Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO), which concentrate on rehabilitating torture victims and getting them either physical or psychological treatment. Read her full story.
How do you perceive the current situation in Bahrain?
The situation is alarming and is getting worse every day.
We are living through an “undeclared” State of Emergency. Every night, there are more injured protesters, the riot police set up check points all over the villages and towns, houses are raided on a nightly basis and peaceful protesters continue to be attacked.
Do you see yourself as a Human Rights Defender?
Yes, I do. All my work is in an effort to protect people’s basic human rights: their right to peaceful protest; their right to free speech; their right to life and to safety; their right to a fair judicial process. I spend my life exposing the violations of these, and other, rights in the belief that shining light on the violations is the first necessary step to achieving the guarantee of human rights for all Bahrainis.
What are your motivations behind the work you are doing?
My initial motivation behind the work that I do was the shock and horror that I felt when I first witnessed the extreme violence being used against unarmed civilians in the Pearl Roundabout, in March 2011. Since that time, my knowledge about and commitment to the broad principles of human rights have deepened and strengthened–this underpins my commitment to my people and my society, which I love with all my heart.
What do you want to happen in Bahrain – outcome based?
The rights we are demanding in Bahrain are very basic: freedom, equality, and democracy.
What risks do you see are posed to your everyday life?
I am under threat every day, either of being arrested, my house being raided, or being attacked on the road.
What is a normal day in the life of…Jihan Kazerooni?
I wake up in the morning, check and reply to my emails and my messages. Usually, I find messages retaining to many human rights violations, and so my task is to follow up on them; to disseminate information about the violations to different human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First, to connect those who have been injured with programs of rehabilitation, etc. In the afternoons, I typically participate in a peaceful protest and visit the family of a martyr or newly freed detainees.
I work closely with Human Right First and Human Rights Watch and update them about the current situation in Bahrain.
In the evening there are usually many injured protesters who can’t go to the hospitals due to fear of arrest, so I coordinate with some medical workers to treat them.