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Father of boy killed by Bahraini forces arrested at peaceful protest

(BCHR/IFEX) - 1 November 2012 - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses its concern over the acts of intimidation practiced by the Bahraini regime targeting the relatives of victims killed by the Bahraini security forces and arresting them to prevent them from demanding justice.

On 26 October 2012, Jawad Al-Shaikh was arrested at a peaceful protest in Manama that demanded the breaking of the siege on Aleker village, which was under high security restrictions for some days before the protest. Dozens of people were attacked and a number of peaceful demonstrators arrested at the protests.

Al-Shaikh was kept in police custody for over 48 hours before he was finally presented to the Public Prosecution on Monday 29 October 2012, in violation of Bahrain Law, which states that the Public Prosecutor should decide within 24 hours whether a detainee should be kept or released. The Public Prosecution ordered his detention for 15 days pending investigation on charges of "illegal gathering". He was denied the presence of a lawyer during the interrogation. Such acts are "business as usual" for the Judiciary and Public Prosecution in Bahrain, according to a previous BCHR statement.

Al-Shaikh is the father of a 14-year-old boy, Ali Al-Shaikh, who was killed by a gunshot to his neck on 31 August 2011, the morning of Eid Al-Fiter. Jawad Al-Shaikh says that the government tried to force him to sign documents stating that his son was not killed by the regime forces. A few months later he was summoned by the police for interrogation. Security forces have numerously raided the family's home and ripped pictures of Ali off the wall. They constantly smash the pictures on his grave, as well as throwing away any flowers which the family leaves on their son's grave. Ahmed Al-Shaikh, the cousin of Ali Al-Shaikh, who witnessed his killing, was arrested on 5 January 2012. Ahmed has been charged with "illegal gathering". Until this day, no official of any rank has been held accountable for Ali's death.

Jawad Al-Shaikh, like many other fathers and relatives of the killed victims, has been participating in protests, peacefully demanding justice for his deceased son.

BCHR believes that Al-Shaikh has been arrested for practicing his legitimate right to peacefully assemb'e to raise awareness about the case of his son, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. BCHR also believes that this arrest is an act of intimidation directed at all other relatives of killed victims who continue to accuse the regime with the killing of their sons and to participate in peaceful protests to demand justice.

The act of intimidating relatives of killed and arrested victims is not new to the regime of Bahrain and the BCHR has previously documented similar acts that included the arrest of relatives, house raids and deliberate attacks using toxic gases. This is part of a systematic policy of granting impunity for the violators of human rights as a recent report by BCHR has shown.

Therefore, BCHR calls for the following:

1. The Bahraini government must release Jawad Al-Shaikh immediately, as he has been targeted for practicing his legitimate right to peaceful assembly.
2. Stop the acts of harassments and intimidation directed at the relatives of the victims of human rights violations who continue to raise awareness about this and demand justice.
3. Those responsible for the killing of civilians must be held accountable and be brought to an independent judicial system.
4. Families of killed victims must be compensated both morally and financially for their losses, as well as for the attacks they have been subjected to.
5. The international community must condemn the Bahraini regime's use of vengeance in the case of the families of victims of extra-judicial killings.

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