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Bahrain: Human rights defenders Dr. Abduljalil Al Singace and Mr Abdul Ghani al-Kanjar arrested
Human rights defenders Dr. Abduljalil Al Singace and Mr Abdul Ghani al-Kanjar have been arrested.
Abduljalil Al Singace was arrested on 13 August 2010 at Bahrain International Airport whilst reentering the country. Abdul Ghani al-Kanjar's was arrested on 15 August. Abduljalil Al Singace is an academic, and is Spokesman and Director of the Human Rights Bureau of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy, an opposition political movement. Abdul Ghani al-Kanjar is the spokesperson for the Bahraini National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture.
Early on the morning of Friday 13 August 2010, Abduljalil Al Singace was returning to Bahrain with his family from London when he was detained at Bahrain International Airport. While in London, Abduljalil Al Singace had addressed a seminar on Bahrain in the House of Lords on 5 August, during which he spoke about the situation of human rights in the country. He also visited several international human rights organisations whilst in the United Kingdom.
Abdul Ghani al-Kanjar was arrested on the morning of Sunday 15 August, following protests which reportedly broke out in response to Abduljalil Al Singace's arrest. Neither of the human rights defenders have been formally charged with any offence, but it has been reported that a security official has accused them of "belonging to a network threatening "Bahrain's stability, civil peace and endangering the lives and property of the innocent (through) incitement to violence and terrorist acts".
The Bahrain News Agency (BNA) has reported that the King of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al- Khalifa, recently called upon security officials to apply the law fully against anyone who stands in the country’s development. On 13 August, he reportedly told officers during a meeting that any form of incitement which harms and misleads citizens must be stopped, and that the instigators of any incitement should be held responsible for their actions. Shortly afterwards, Bahrain’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, issued a statement in which he confirmed that government bodies would direct their resources to prevent such instigation. "We will deal with them within the boundaries of law, which is supreme in the country," the statement said. "Those who do not hear the voice of reason or deliberately choose to ignore it will hear the voice of law." It is thought that this crackdown on civil society by the authorities may be related to parliamentary elections which are scheduled to take place on 23 October next.
Abduljalil Al Singace was previously arrested in January 2009 along with other members of the Haq Movement in relation to an alleged “terror plot”. In February 2009, Abduljalil Al Singace and eight other prominent human rights defenders staged a hunger strike in protest at the ongoing detention of various other human rights defenders. In February 2010, Abduljalil Al Singace and Abdul Ghani al-Kanjar were amongst several prominent Bahraini human rights defenders targeted in a media defamation campaign after the release of a Human Rights Watch report on the use of torture in the country. Front Line has previously issued urgent appeals on behalf of Abduljalil Al Singace on 18 February 2010 and on 2 March 2009. Abdul Ghani al-Kanjar has previously been subject to a travel ban by the Bahraini authorities. Front Line issued an urgent appeal on his behalf on 18 February 2010 and 3 December 2008.
Front Line believes that the arrest of Abduljalil Al Singace and Abdul Ghani al-Kanjar is directly related to their work in the defence of human rights in Bahrain. Front Line fears for the physical and psychological integrity and security of Abduljalil Al Singace and Abdul Ghani al-Kanjar.