(ANHRI/IFEX) - 29 March 2012 - The following is an appeal to the Arab League highlighting four concerns about freedom of expression violations in Bahrain, signed by nine human rights organisations:
Mr. Nabil El-Araby
League of Arab States
Respected Representatives of Member States
Baghdad – Iraq
Dear Mr. El-Araby:
The nine regional and International Human Rights Organizations signing this letter deeply regret the Arab League's continued disregard of the violations of freedom of opinion and expression perpetrated by the Bahraini authorities over the last year, particularly since the outbreak of the peaceful uprising on the fourteenth of February 2011. The government of Bahrain has continued to ignore the repeated appeals and demands of organisations for the defense of human rights.
At the time of writing, many prisoners of conscience remain in prisons and detention centers in Bahrain after facing extraordinarily unfair trials, while the fate of others is completely unknown. These citizens are being punished for the peaceful expression of their views during the protests that called for human dignity and social justice.
Violations persist despite the report of the independent fact-finding committee set up by King Hamad bin Isa and headed by renowned international legal scholar M. Cherif Bassiouni in November last year, that contained a number of recommendations, including the retrial in civil courts of all those convicted before special courts in order to meet the requirements of fair trial recognised by international conventions and treaties.
At present, internationally renowned human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is still in prison, and faces a serious threat to his health after 50 days on hunger strike. International human rights organisations are forbidden from visiting him in prison because of the intransigence of the Bahraini authorities.
Additionally, the fate of blogger Ali Abdelemam remains unknown, as the authorities have refused to offer any indication of his whereabouts.
Therefore we call upon the Arab League to adopt the following demands:
1) Immediately release human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and the activist blogger Abdul Jalil Alsingace, as well as the other twelve co-defendants who were tried in blatantly unfair trials.
2) Clarify the fate of activist and blogger Ali Abdelemam, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison and has not been seen since March 2011.
3) Stop acts of censorship on the Internet and other interference with the freedom of expression of Bahraini citizens.
4) Ensure the entry and access for international human rights activists and organisations to monitor the human rights situation on the ground.
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Reporters Without Borders
Gulf Centre for Human Rights
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
Front Line Defenders