(WiPC/IFEX) - 21 December 2011 - PEN International's Writers in Prison Committee welcomes the release on bail of blogger and activist Zainab Al-Khawaja on 20 December 2011. However, PEN remains deeply concerned that she still faces charges for her peaceful activities, and so urges the Bahraini authorities to abide by their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and calls for the unconditional release of Zainab Al-Khawaja and of all those currently detained in Bahrain solely for the peaceful expression their opinions.
Zainab Al-Khawaja was arrested by security forces in Manama, the Baharaini capital, on 15 December 2011 for her participation in a peaceful protest. She is the daughter of human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence for his peaceful opposition activities. The Bahraini Public Prosecutor decided to release Zainab pending trial for allegedly assaulting a police officer and taking part in an illegal protest. Zainab's detention was widely circulated on the Internet.
- To see the footage of Zainab Al-Khawaja's detention, click here.
- Zainab's twitter account can be found here.
Protests led by Bahrain's majority Shia community against the government's policies have been underway since mid-February 2011. The Bahraini security forces responded with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators. Dozens of civilians were reportedly 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. The State of Emergency was lifted on 3 June 2011 but those arrested and charged under that law have not been released. Opposition sources estimate that some four hundred people are currently on trial for their support of the protests, and further arrests and demonstrations are continuing. An inquiry by an international panel of human rights experts found police had used excessive force and King Hamad has pledged reforms.
Please send appeals:
• Welcoming the release of blogger Zainab Al-Khawaja, but expressing serious concerns she still faces trial,
• Urging the Bahraini authorities to abide by their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and calling for Zainab Al-Khawaja's unconditional release and that of all those currently detained in Bahrain solely for the peaceful expression their opinions.
Send appeals to:
His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa
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
Kingdom of Bahrain
Fax: +973 175 31 284
Dr. Fatima AL-Balushi,
Minister of Human Rights and Social Development, Acting Minister of Health
Ministry of Human Rights and Development
Kingdom of Bahrain
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Bahrain in your country if possible.