Bahrain Freedom Movement

Bahrain : Well-known Activists protest against containment of freedom of expression and demand unconditional release of imprisoned activists

A number of well-known activists, including Mr Abdel Wahab Hussein- well-known political activist, Mr Hassan Mushima- secretary general of the “HAQ” movement, Mr Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja-  President of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, are to stage a symbolic sit-in at the Harbor Financial (The old Manama sea port) in the capital Manama for a period of one hour. This sit-in by the well-known personalities is to express their protest at the abusive treatment of the Bahraini authorities with the activists, especially those who are expressing their views on issues of public affairs

The background of protest comes after the arbitrary arrest and detention of Dr. Mohamed Saeed (35-dentist), Mr. Hussein Abdul Aziz (32 years – insurance company employee) for 15 days in custody pending investigations, for two charges; the first is “possession of publications, without legitimate reason, containing favoring and promotion of the changing systems of the State through illegal means and without a legitimate reason. The two is “possession and acquisition of publications, without a legitimate reason containing false news and rumors, which would incite disruption of public security and damage the public interest.

These charges- as stated by the Public Prosecution – Follows downloading of one of the accused to a publication from the Internet calling for the boycott of the elections and the “civil disobedience” through a series of demonstrations, sit-ins, while the other accused arranged for printing of such article. They were intending to distribute these publications in congregations of a number of mosques in Bahrain.

The public prosecutor rejected the lawyers request to release the activists, considering the incident to be relating to the security of the State. This raises concerns and questions on the truth of the motives behind this campaign. This escalation has come during the interaction with the report of the popular scandal “Albandar,” in which the Bahraini authorities introduced an iron fist on the media dealing with it. Last Friday-November 17, 2006- a demonstration called up on by    21 noble personalities, was forced to be converted into a sit-in, after the special security forces surrounded the place of its departure. It was an invitation from the same figures for the march again on the afternoon of Friday, November 24, 2006.

It should be noted that Dr. Mohammed Saeed is one of the personalities who signed a petition addressed to the King of the country on the scandal “Albandar” calling for an investigation enquiry. He was actively involved with others in the publication of the report to a largest extent. The Bahraini authorities are trying to enclave the possession of publications calling for boycotting the forthcoming elections by an act of state security nature in order to reduce the interaction and dealing with the scandal “Albandar” in any way as well as nailing the activists and their activities which are cumbersome to the Authorities. On the other hand, showing that possession of publications calling for the boycott of elections is equivalent to crime of changing the regime, reinforces the trend to eliminate any opposition to the elections and intimidation of the other views and a message to those giving out various statements questioning the integrity of the elections.

The Committee of Solidarity with the Activists and Detainees of  Conscience expresses its support and solidarity with the figures in their demand to drop all the fabricated charges to the activists-Mohammed and Hussein-and their immediate and unconditional release. This include the Authorities commitments to the international Charters which guarantee freedom of expression and the free exchange of information, which include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, which was signed by Bahrain last September.

On the other hand, we appeal to everyone – individuals and institutions – to intervene to protect freedom of expression which is targeted by the Bahraini authorities. We also call upon them to show their protest for the detention and imprisonment of these activists, using all available means of expression.

Committee of Solidarity with Activists and Detainees of Conscience in Bahrain

23rd November 2006.

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