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Rights defender in Bahrain facing rioting charges after peaceful protest

Mohammed Al-Maskati
Mohammed Al-Maskati


(BCHR/IFEX) - 17 October 2012 - The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) express their deepest concern over the escalating judicial crackdown on activists as several human rights defenders and political activists have been either summoned for interrogation or arrested in the past few days over their peaceful activism. The GCHR and BCHR believe that the silence of the international community on the continued judicial harassment and detention of activists is damaging and that an immediate action is required to put an end to these violations.

On 16 October 2012, human rights defender and president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights Mohammed Al-Maskati was summoned for interrogation to Al-Naem police station. He was then arrested and kept in custody to be brought the following day before the public prosecution office on charges of “rioting and participating in an illegal gathering” in reference to the 12 October protest in Manama entitled “Self determination”. On 17 October, he was released after interrogation.

Al-Maskati has been active in documenting and reporting the violations committed by the Bahraini authorities in recent months. In September, he was subjected to an intimidation campaign and received more than a dozen anonymous phone calls threatening his life and the safety of his family. He delivered an oral intervention to the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva during a panel discussion focused on intimidations and reprisals, where he informed the HRC about the massive intimidation campaign against him.

In a separate case, on 16 October, human rights defender Nader Abdulemam was also summoned for interrogation at the public prosecution office. As of 17 October, Abdulemam has not appeared at the public prosecution office.

Finally, in addition to her previous 13 plus lawsuits, activist and human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja was summoned again for a new case that includes the charge of “insulting a police officer”. The case goes back to 6 May 2012, however it has been activated just now and a trial was scheduled on 17 October, but postponed to 2 November in order to summon Al-Khawaja.

Al-Khawaja was recently released on 3 October after she served a two months' imprisonment sentence on the charge of “ripping the photo of the king of Bahrain”. She is expecting verdicts on several cases in the coming weeks.

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