PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Bahrain for the peaceful exercise of their opinions, including Dr Alsingace, and seeks urgent guarantees of their safety. It reminds the Bahraini authorities of their obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain is a state party, and is alarmed at the apparent use of excessive force to suppress peaceful dissent.
According to PEN's information, Dr Alsingace, head of the human rights office of the Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy, was re-arrested on 16 March 2011 after publicising the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. He had recently been on trial under national security and counter-terrorism legislation for his peaceful opposition activities.
Dr Alsingace was previously 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 twenty-three 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'. All were freed in February 2011 following widespread calls by anti-government protestors for political reform and the release of political prisoners, but five leading Shia activists (including Dr Alsingace) have reportedly been re-arrested since the crackdown on 15 March 2011. Nothing is known of their whereabouts or well-being in detention.
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 responded with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators. At least nine civilians have reportedly been killed and many more wounded. The Bahraini government declared a State of Emergency on 15 March 2011 and brought in troops from neighbouring Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia to help suppress dissent.
Dr Alsingace taught 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.
Please send appeals:
- Expressing serious concern about the re-arrest of Dr Abdul-Jalil Alsingace;
- Urging the Bahraini government to drop any charges against him that may infringe his right to freedom of expression;
- Seeking immediate guarantees that he is not tortured or 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 end the violent crackdown on those who are peacefully expressing their opinions.
His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa
SEND APPEALS TO:
King of Bahrain
Office of His Majesty the King
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
Fax: +973 175 31 284
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Bahrain in your country if possible.
***Please contact this office if sending appeals after 31 March 2011***