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Authorities arrest prominent activist

(BCHR) - The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its concern over the Bahraini authorities' continuous escalation of security tension in the country, four months after launching its security crackdown against human rights defenders. Early on the morning of 15 December 2010, BCHR was informed that the Bahraini Authorities arrested Mr. Mohammed Hasan Jawad, a prominent 63-year-old activist and a victim of torture in a past era. His detention came a day after the opening ceremony of the House of Representatives in which the king reaffirmed his support for the security crackdown that he launched in August, which has lead to the arrest, torture and abduction of hundreds of citizens, a quarter of whom were children. Jawad is considered the elder among the political detainees in Bahrain.

Jawad was arrested after he raised a banner with pictures of the activists and human rights defenders who were arrested during the recent security crackdown, and after calling for their release using a loudspeaker in the capital of Manama, which has recently been the location for a substantial number of citizens, residents and visitors to gather to commemorate Ashura. Since last August, the Bahraini Authorities have imposed a ban on all forms of solidarity with the detainees, whether carried out by families or supporters.

Jawad was repeatedly arrested during the 80s and 90s due to his human rights activities - the latest arrest was in 2007. His house was raided several times and he and his daughter, Ms Ramla Jawad, 32, also a human rights activist, were arrested, interrogated and tortured severely. Mr. Jawad is still suffering from the side effects of torture and has partially lost his hearing ability and is still suffering from problems with his back and limbs due to being hanged for long periods of time during interrogation.

After his release, Jawad remained unemployed for years not only because the authorities put him on their blacklist, but also because the authorities informed all government and private institutions not to hire him. Despite his age, Jawad has been an active participant in most of the human rights activities and events held in Bahrain over the past 30 years.

Jawad's detention came a day after the opening ceremony of the National Council in which the king delivered a speech thanking the internal security authorities and expressing his support for all the security actions taken. This notorious crackdown has fiercely targeted freedom of expression and tried to incriminate it. In recent months, more than 19 detainees were put on trial for activities related to the freedom of expression.

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights calls on Bahraini Authorities to commit to the following:

1- Immediately release Mr. Mohammed Jawad. Authorities will bear full responsibility for any deterioration of his state of health caused by conditions of detention or investigation.
2- Immediately release all prisoners and detainees who are on trial in cases related to freedom of opinion and expression.
3- Immediately repeal the terror law, which is condemned internationally as it does not provide a guarantee for a fair trial.
4- Cease all actions that restrict freedom of opinion and expression.

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