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Bahraini photographer kidnapped and detained

(BCHR/IFEX) - 30 December 2012 - The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the continued harassment and arbitrary arrest of journalists in Bahrain. A 25-year-old renowned and award-winning photographer, Ahmed Humaidan, was kidnapped on 29 December 2012 by 15 security officers and is currently being detained.

At approximately midnight, while Humaidan and his friends were entering the city center's shopping mall, 15 men in civilian clothing, who are believed to belong to the security forces, surrounded Humaidan and abducted him without declaring where they were taking him. They did not identify themselves either.

His family sought information about him in different police stations and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) without receiving any information. After 19 hours without news regarding his whereabouts, Humaidan called his family for 20 seconds to inform them that he is alive, and that he is at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) being interrogated without the presence of a lawyer.

Through his photos, Humaidan documented many moments in the daily protests in Bahrain.

Humaidan is a member of the Fédération Internationale de l'Art Photographique (FIAP) and the Photographic Society of America (PSA).

He won 143 international awards in photographic competitions and he is considered the 2nd highest ranking Arab photographer. Among his awards are:

- Gold Medal in FKNS Grand Prix 2012 – Serbia.
- Gold Medal from FIAP for Hungarian Circuit 2012.
- Honorary Badge from for PSA International Exhibition (Photojournalism Prints) – 2012

BCHR believes that the arbitrary arrest of Humaidan is solely related to his legitimate work as a photographer and his activity in documenting protests and police attacks, which has led to exposing the severe human rights violations committed by the authorities in Bahrain.

In a similar situation, on 28 December 2012, a renowned photojournalist, Mazen Mahdi, was arrested by police while covering a protest. Mazen tweeted via his account @MazenMahdi: “Being Arrested #Bahrain”. He was released an hour later.

This was the second time Mahdi was arrested during the month of December 2012 alone. BCHR believes this points to an attempt at hindering his work and intimidating him.

The authorities in Bahrain have made targeting journalists a common practice since last year. Today, another photographer, Hasan Matooq is in prison since 2011 serving a three-year sentence that was handed down to him by the military court over allegations of faking photos of injuries.

BCHR demands that the Bahraini government immediately and unconditionally release photographer Ahmed Humaidan and other detainees imprisoned for their views and their peaceful work as observers of demonstrations. We call on the Bahraini government to allow citizens to practice their freedom of expression rights without being targeted.

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