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Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei

HRD & Advocacy Director
Bahrain Institute for Democracy and Human Rights

No End to Torture in Bahrain

Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei is the advocacy director of the UK-based Bahrain Institute for Democracy and Human Rights. Sayed was involved in the 2011 anti-government protests at Pearl Roundabout in Manama and was severely beaten when security forces stormed the roundabout on February 17. In July 2012, he left Bahrain for the UK where the courts granted him political asylum. He has been a prominent critic of the Bahraini government's human rights abuses. In January 2015, he was among a group of 72 Bahrainis whose citizenship the authorities revoked.

Bahraini authorities have targeted Sayed's family because of his work. In October 2016, Sayed's wife and infant son were detained in Bahrain International Airport for seven hours, ill-treated and interrogated after he attended a protest in London that same day. They were only able to leave following international pressure.

In March 2017, Sayed's brother-in-law Nizar Sayed Nimaa Alwadaei and mother-in-law Hajar Mansoor Hassan were arrested, tortured and interrogated about his human rights work. They remain in detention, and are currently being prosecuted on terrorism charges. Despite the prosecution finding no forensic evidence linking them to the crime they are accused of committing, they remain in detention without bail.

Bahrain Protest Context

Following the eruption of protests in February 2011 against government corruption and discrimination of the Shi'a majority population, the situation for human rights defenders in Bahrain became even more dangerous and difficult. Faced with widespread protests and unrest, the authorities responded with harsh measures and a crackdown on protesters, civil society leaders, human rights defenders and pro democracy activists. Human rights defenders were tried in military courts, often charged with fabricated crimes, and given hugely disproportionate sentences. Furthermore many have been ill-treated and tortured in detention, have been held incommunicado and denied access to family and lawyers, while confessions made under duress have been admitted as evidence in court in contravention of international law.

Anti-terrorism legislation has been used by the regime to vilify and persecute activists and human rights defenders. Also before the 2011 protests, a number of prominent human rights defenders were accused of belonging to terrorist networks and plotting to overthrow the government because of the peaceful human rights work.