Posted 2011/4/8

Bahrain: UPDATE - Latest information on the situation of human rights defenders in Bahrain

Further to the Front Line Urgent Appeal dated 6 April 2011, Front Line has received the following new information concerning human rights defenders in Bahrain:

Further Information

On 7 April 2011, human rights defender and blogger Mr Mohammed Al-Maskati was released, having spent one week in detention. It is not yet known whether any charges have been brought against him.

However, the authorities' crackdown on teachers and medical workers associations has continued. On 5 April 2011, Mr Mahdi Abu Deeb, President of the Bahraini Teacher's Association was arrested. He is reportedly being investigated for "incitement of hatred of the political regime" and "advocating regime change through the use of force". Furthermore, on the same day, Ms Rolla Alsaffar, head of the Bahraini Nurse's Society was reportedly arrested, along with several other employees, while working in Salmanya hospital; her current whereabouts remain unknown.

It is further reported that on 3 April 2011, at approximately 1:30am, the home of human rights defender Mr Suhail Al-Shehabi - a member of the Committee for the Unemployed and one of a group of eleven human rights defenders detained from September 2010 until February 2010 on charges of terrorism - was stormed by police, who reportedly severely beat his two brothers and threatened to rape their wives if they did not disclose Suhail Al-Shehabi's location.

Furthermore, Front Line has received reports that over the past several weeks, human rights defender Ms Maryam Al-Khawaja, Head of the Foreign Relations Office of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has received numerous death threats and is subject to a campaign of defamation to such an extent that she is prevented from returning to Bahrain, out of fear for her safety.

While welcoming the release of Mohammed Al-Maskati, Front Line reiterates its call upon the authorities in Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release all imprisoned human rights defenders, including Mr Mahdi Abu Deeb, Ms Rolla Alsaffar, and Mr Suhail Al-Shehabi, and drop all charges against them. Furthermore, Front Line calls upon the Bahraini authorities to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the death threats directed at Maryam Al-Khawaja, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards.

Original appeal: Previous Front Line item on this case