Rights group, US senator call for release of Bahraini political activists

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Bahrainis take part in a demonstration after the death of a young man who was shot outside the home of a Shia leader, in Bahrain, on March 25, 2017.

A human rights group has called for the release of six political activists who have been arbitrarily arrested in Bahrain.

In a statement published on its website on Monday, the Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) rights group called for the immediate release of Ali Mahdi Alaiwi, Hasan Nesaif, Habib Hasan Yusuf, Ali Fakhrawi, Mohamed Fakhrawi, and Nooh Abdulla Al Amroom, who were arrested between May 2011 and September 2015.

The rights group cited an opinion adopted by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) on November 26, 2020 as saying that the six individuals, who are currently incarcerated at Jau Prison, “have been unlawfully convicted and have suffered a slew of illegal human rights violations,” including arrests without a warrant, enforced disappearances, and torture.

Back then, the WGAD urged the Bahraini authorities to “take the steps necessary to remedy the situation without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms,” including with the immediate and unconditional release of the six prisoners, and to ensure “a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of the six individuals with the view to hold the perpetrators to account.”

“ADHRB fully supports the WGAD’s recommendations and echoes its calls for the immediate release of the six individuals still currently detained,” the group said Monday.

Demonstrations have been held on a regular basis in Bahrain since a popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.

Manama, however, has been harshly cracking down on any sign of dissent. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the country.

Also on Monday, the ADHRB commended and supported Democratic US Senator Ron Wyden’s statement on the 10th anniversary of the Bahraini uprising.

Addressing Bahrain’s crackdown on the popular uprising and the ongoing human rights violations in the country, the senator, in a statement for the Congressional Record, urged US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to push Manama to adopt reforms.

“I call on the Biden-Harris administration to urge Bahrain’s King [Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah] to release political prisoners, including human rights defenders and members of the political opposition, and to engage them in a credible dialogue about a more inclusive future for all Bahrainis,” Wyden said.

The ADHRB said in a report last week that “the last five years in Bahrain have seen a particular uptick in the government’s repression of political and civil rights.”

According to the report, the Bahraini regime continues to bar its citizens from exercising any political agency that contrasts with the Al Khalifa regime’s interests.

The rights group also referred to the laws devised by the regime to prevent free and fair elections.

Weeks ahead of elections in 2018, a law was passed in Bahrain forbidding individuals who have previously been prosecuted from seeking political office.

“This law essentially targets the candidacies of prominent political Shia figures, as many had been prosecuted in the past on fraudulent and politically motivated bases,” ADHRB said on March 5. “The legislation continues to affect the remaining thousands of prisoners of conscience who were arrested for their political opposition or human rights beliefs.”

“Virtually every opposition political leader has been targeted by the authorities, including, for example: Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the dissolved Al-Wefaq, [who] was sentenced to life imprisonment in November 2018,” the group said.

The ADHRB further said the Bahraini government continued to defame and imprison human rights defenders.

“In 2017 alone, an estimated 100 people saw their freedom of movement de facto restrained by the authorities because of their engagement with human rights mechanisms and their advocacy for democratization,” it said, adding the Al Khalifa regime also blackmailed exiled human rights activists by subjecting their family members to reprisals.

According to the ADHRB, hundreds of prisoners remain imprisoned since the 2011 protests.

“The majority of these individuals will have spent 10 years behind bars in horrendous conditions, and many will have experienced repeated and deliberate medical negligence by the prison staff,” the group said.

The ADHRB described the Bahraini authorities’ promises of reforms as a “smokescreen,” calling on the international community “to recognize the regression of human rights in Bahrain,” and to urge the Bahraini authorities “to implement real and lasting change.”


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