Urgent Letter : Habitat International Coalition

HIC Mr. Joseph Schechla Coordinator of Housing and Land Rights Network in Middle East and North Africa – Egypt Habitat International Coalition – Netherlands Manama, 3 July 2007 Kindest regards from Bahrain, We would like to praise your work for protecting housing and land rights. You are the international authority responsible for providing appropriate housing for citizens and protecting lands of general property nature worldwide. Mr. Schechla, Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) is a member of Habitat International Coalition (HIC). The common message of HIC is "to perfectly protect the human dignity and development for respecting the right to adequate housing and land and to defend, promote and fulfill this right." Mr. Schechla, Bahrain is suffering several problems. The most important are: 1. The lack of adequate housing for Bahraini citizens, and 2. Seizing the publicly owned lands for royal family members

According to international conventions, the adequate housing is:

One of the barriers to achieving housing rights has been the absence of a universally recognized definition of the set of entitlements comprising this norm. This hurdle was perhaps more the result of perception than genuine legal analysis. In recent times, a number of steps have been taken to refine legal approaches to this matter. Most notably, General Comment No. 4, of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, on the Right to Adequate Housing defines this right as being comprised of a variety of specific concerns. Viewed in their entirety, these entitlements form the core guarantees which, under international law, are legally vested in all persons.

• Legal security of tenure
• Availability of services, materials and infrastructure
• Affordable housing
• Habitable housing
• Accessible housing
• Location
• Culturally adequate housing

The adequate Bahraini Housing:

According to official reports, 40 thousand citizens are waiting for: (1) response to their applications on housing units, loans, and apartments offered by the state; some are waiting since 1984, (2) Some Bahraini citizens are homeless living under the open sky, (3) according to the primary evaluation, the number of houses that may collapse any time all over Bahrain reaches up to 6000 houses, and (4) the state allocated a budget of 210 Million Dinars to solve these problems.

Seizing publicly owned lands for royal family members:

• The amount of lands seized or illegally distributed since Independence reaches up to 100:200 km2
• The vast area of 70 km2 of covered sea lands since 1970s.

Mr. Schechla,

BYSHR is highly concerned by the daily violations represented in seizing publicly owned lands, particularly in respect with the ongoing problem of Al-Malkeya village.

Al-Malkeya Case:

Al-Malkeya village is located by a coast where citizens spend most of their day. It is a recreational venue in Bahrain and people like to visit it more than other recreational places in Bahrain. However, citizens are still suffering the consequences of the acts of a ruling family member who owns a house near the coast. In the past years, he attempted to prevent citizens from enjoying the shore. He justified it by some unreasonable reasons. He also hired guards with trained dogs to attack those who approach the shore.

This man is violating land rights. Two months ago, he illegally put some iron pillars in the sea. He claimed that they are used for fishing and that he got a license from Fish Wealth Protection Authority. However, the authority stated in several media facilities that these pillars are illegal and should be removed. Citizens also asserted that such iron pillars cannot be used for fishing. Many demonstrations were launched to protest on seizing the land and sea. Yet, the Ministry of Interior protected the law violator and punished the protesters who are suffering serious injuries now.

Mr. Schechla,
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights calls upon you to take necessary measures towards such seizing policy and coordinate with member organizations to provide appropriate housing conditions for citizens. BYSHR would like to thank you in advance for the efforts to be exerted by the coalition to enhance its principles all over the globe.

Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

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