REGIONS:

Academic and human rights activist released after seven months in detention

(WiPC/IFEX) - 9 March 2011 - The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International welcomes the release on 23 February 2011 of academic and human rights activist Dr Abdul-Jalil Alsingace after nearly seven months in detention. It is not known whether Alsingace has been released on bail or general amnesty.

According to PEN's information, Dr Alsingace is among 23 activists to have been released in recent days by the order of the King of Bahrain after anti-government protests which have been taking place in Bahrain since mid-February. Protesters had called for the release of all political prisoners in Bahrain, as well as other political reforms. Before his release, Alsingace had been asked to sign a document promising not to criticise the government but he declined to do so. The legal status of Dr Alsingace is still unknown.

Protests led by Bahrain's majority Shia community against the government's policies have been underway since mid-February 2011. The Bahraini security forces have reportedly responded with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators. Six civilians have reportedly been killed and many more wounded. The Bahraini government is now said to be seeking dialogue with the opposition.


BACKGROUND:

Dr Alsingace, head of the human rights office of the Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy, was arrested at Bahrain International Airport on his return from London on 13 August 2010, where he had been attending a conference at the House of Lords during which he had criticised Bahrain's human rights practices. He was initially accused of "inciting violence and terrorist acts", before being formally charged under national security and counter-terrorism legislation. Dr Alsingace is among four leading Bahraini Shia activists to have been facing charges including "the planning and instigation of violence, conducting a wide-ranging propaganda campaign against the Kingdom and seeking to overthrow the regime by force".

Dr Alsingace teaches engineering at the University of Bahrain and authors his own blog ( http://alsingace.blogspot.com/ ). He was previously detained in 2009 and held for several months on charges of plotting to overthrow the government before being given a royal pardon.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Please send appeals:
* Welcoming the release of Dr Abdul-Jalil Alsingace;
* Urging the Bahraini government to drop any charges against him that may infringe his right to freedom of expression;
* Calling for a full investigation into reports that he has been tortured and ill-treated in detention;
* Urging the Bahraini authorities to abide by their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and to stop harassing those who are peacefully expressing their opinions.


APPEALS TO:

His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa
King of Bahrain
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O. Box 555
Rifa'a Palace
Kingdom of Bahrain
Fax: +973 176 64 587

Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs
P.O. Box 450
Al-Manama
Bahrain
Fax: +973 175 31 284

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Bahrain in your country if possible.

***Please contact WiPC if sending appeals after 31 March 2011***

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