Appeal for urgent intervention as activists are tortured for speaking out
In an unprecedented wave of torture, detainees have been handcuffed, blindfolded, held in solitary cells, denied food and water for long periods, hung by their hands, their legs tied and their bodies beaten until swollen and bruised, deprived of sleep, and forced to listen to the screams of others being tortured.
BCHR strongly believes these arrests are connected to the activists' work in exposing human rights violations in the country. The Bahrain government is brutally silencing voices of dissent not only by prohibiting peaceful and legitimate activities related to democratic reform, but also by punishing human rights activists for engaging in these activities.
"They beat me on my fingers with a rigid instrument; they slapped me on my ears and I was pulled by my nipples and ears by tongs, and I was hit with a rigid object on my back... to force me to sign papers I had no knowledge of what was written on them," Al-Singace told a public prosecutor.
Bahrain is currently in an unofficial state of emergency with a security campaign launched against government critics. In addition, Shiite villages have been surrounded by militias, where arbitrary searches, arrests and kidnappings continue. At least 200 people have been detained. Most detainees are being held incommunicado and denied contact with lawyers and family members.
As well, state-owned media have published articles inciting sectarian tensions and smearing the reputation of the detainees, incriminating them before they are brought to the Public Prosecution and Court. The state-owned media, particularly "Al Watan", has been targeting the past and current presidents of BCHR directly as leaders in a so-called "terrorism network", although they have not been arrested. Nabeel Rajab, BCHR President, and Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, former BCHR President, were pictured in a 1 September "Al Watan" article about the violence.
The crackdown is also targeting online activists. Blogger Ali Abdulemam, who founded Bahrain's popular BahrainOnline forum, was arrested on 4 September for allegedly spreading "false news" on the BahrainOnline.org portal. His website was shut down the next day. He is a pioneer among Arab online activists and has inspired young Bahrainis and Arabs to use the Internet to engage in spirited debate. It is believed that by the government taking control of BahrainOnline, many of the users and contributors to the online forum are now at risk of being exposed and arrested.
UPDATE: All of the above activists and bloggers were released on February 22 2011. But Alsingace was re-arrested on 16 March 2011 and others in hiding. Click here for more information.
Please write to the Bahrain government to ask them to:
- release all the detainees and especially human rights activists who have been arrested for practicing their fundamental rights to free expression and peaceful assembly;
- immediately stop the systematic torture by the National Security Apparatus, dissolve this Apparatus, bring those responsible to a public trial and redress the victims of its violations;
- allow access to the detainees by international observers;
- allow detainees to contact and meet their families and lawyers, and access appropriate health care;
- immediately stop implementing the Anti-Terrorist Law that allows arbitrary arrests and unjust trials.
Please send appeals to:
Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa
King of Bahrain
Fax: +973 176 64 587
Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa
Fax: +973 1753 2839
Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Tel: +973 172 27 555
Fax : +973 172 12 603
Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Tel: +973 175 31 333
Fax: +973 175 31 284
Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva
1 chemin Jacques-Attenville
CP 39, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 758 96 50.
info (@) bahrain-mission.ch
Please also write to diplomatic representations of Bahrain in your respective countries.
For more information, please visit: