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Bahraini photographer arrested and tortured

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the Bahraini authorities' continued targeting of photographers who convey with their cameras the violations practiced by the authority during public protests. Security forces most recently arrested photographer Sayed Ahmed Al-Mousawi, 25, after raiding his home at dawn on 10 February 2014.

Al-Mousawi's father stated that his son was arrested along with his brother after a group of civilians backed by regime's forces raided the house.

He said that they tampered with the family's belongings and violated the privacy of the household. They also confiscated Al-Mousawi's private equipment including his phone, four hard disks and a laptop.

Al-Mousawi was taken to an unknown destination and subjected to enforced disappearance for a period exceeding five days; he called his family after that to inform them of his presence in the Dry Dock prison.

Ahmed's father said that his son told him that he was subjected to severe torture at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). He was hanged against a door and electrocuted. He was beaten and forced to stand for four consecutive days, his clothes were also stripped of his body. He added that the CID did not allow his lawyer to attend Ahmed's interrogation in the Public Prosecution building.

Ahmed Al-Mousawi has memberships in many institutes and unions related to photographers and media workers, among them are his memberships in United Photographers International (UPI), the Photographic Society of America (PSA), and the Federation of International Art Photography (FIAP).

Al-Mousawi had won two international awards from Greece in the area of photography after his arrest, the awards are an honourable mention and a diploma which brings the total of awards he won to 127 international awards, and more than 50 certificates in the area of photography and photojournalism.

BCHR believes that arresting Al-Mousawi is part of a systematic campaign led by the authority in Bahrain against photojournalists and media workers. They are arrested to continue the media blackout practiced by the authority to conceal the violations which are revealed by the photographers who expose the regime's abuse of human rights in Bahrain.

The Press Freedom Index released by Reporters without Borders had mentioned four Bahraini photographers among a list that included 178 detained journalists worldwide. The organization had included in the list announced on 18 December 2013 the names of the following photographers: Qassim Zen-el-deen, arrested on 2 August 2013, Hussein Hubail, arrested on 31 July 2013, Ahmed Humaidan, arrested on 29 December 2012, and Hasan Matooq, arrested on 12 May 2011.

Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafda, Vice President of BCHR, denounced the arrest of photographers considering it a blatant violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, specifically Article 19 which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

Based on the aforementioned, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, United Kingdom, United Nations and all the authority's close allies and relevant international associations to:

  • Put pressure on the authority in Bahrain to take into consideration the state of human rights in Bahrain, specifically of those related to freedom of the press and dissemination of information;
  • Try Bahrain internationally for its continuous and frequent violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which it had endorsed, and specifically Article 19 concerned with freedom of expression.

It also calls on the authority in Bahrain to:

  • Immediately release Ahmed Al-Mousawi and all other detained photographers and allow them to practice their right without any restrictions or harassments;
  • Stop the policy of systematically targeting photographers, journalists and bloggers;
  • Hold accountable and question all those implicated in the violations and torture, especially those in high ranks;
  • Drop all charges related to freedom of expression in the ongoing trials.

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