Bahrain: Authorities must revel whereabouts of eight arrested human rights defenders

Press Release
August 18, 2010

Bahrain: Authorities must revel whereabouts of eight arrested human rights defenders

Amnesty International Calls on Bahraini Authorities to Reveal Whereabouts of Eight Arrested Human Rights Defenders

August 18, 2010

Amnesty International today called on the Bahraini authorities to reveal the whereabouts of eight human rights defenders, political activists and Shi'a clerics arrested in a clampdown by the authorities. The human rights organization fears they could be prisoners of conscience.

"We are very concerned about the ongoing incommunicado detention of the detainees as this will increase their risk of being subjected to torture or other ill-treatment," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa program.

Muhammad Saeed, a board member of the banned Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was arrested at his home in Sehla, northern Bahrain, in the early hours Tuesday by security forces.

Two others, Abdulhadi al-Mokhoder and Mirza al-Mahrus, both clerics, were arrested at the same time at their homes in Sanabis and Manama, respectively.

"The Bahraini authorities must make it clear why these eight men have been arrested, and either release them or charge them with recognizable criminal offenses. It is unacceptable for them to be held merely because of their human rights activism, non-violent political activities or criticism of the government," said Hadj Sahraoui.

The latest arrests mark an increased clampdown on opposition and civil society activists in the lead-up to the parliamentary elections in October.

Jaafar Hisabi, a United Kingdom resident for the past 15 years who has been involved in political protests against the Bahraini authorities was arrested on Monday at Bahrain International Airport on his return to the country.

Three others were arrested on Sunday , including Abdulghani al-Khanjar, head of the Committee for the Defense of Martyrs and Torture Victims and spokesperson of the Coalition for Truth and Reconciliation. Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad, a cleric and head of the Al-Zahra' charity, was also arrested on Sunday at his home in Sehla, and Saeed al-Nouri, a cleric and activist from the opposition movement al-Wafa, handed himself in to the Prosecutors Office in Manama, after security officials visited his home seeking his arrest.

Abdul Jalil al-Singaci, spokesperson for the Human Rights Bureau of the opposition movement Haq was arrested at Bahrain International Airport last Friday. His family told Amnesty International that they have not had any contact with him for the last six days and are concerned about this health.

Neither the families nor the legal representatives of the detainees have been informed of any formal charges.

"All of these detainees should be allowed to have immediate access to their lawyers, families and also to adequate medical care," said Hadj Sahraoui.

Many of the men have now been held for more than 48 hours without having been presented to the Public Prosecutor as required under Bahraini law.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.