Bahrain Freedom Movement

Bahrain: The Authorities continue targeting freedom of expression and commence assault on activists during popular interaction with “Bandargate”

Late yesterday (Saturday), the Bahraini Public Prosecution ordered both Dr. Mohamed Said (dentist-35 years), Hussein Abdul-Aziz to remain in custody pending investigations for a period of 15 days, on two charges. The first is “possession and acquisition of publications without legitimate cause, including favouritism and promotion of the changing systems of the State through illegal means and without a legitimate reason. The second charge is “possession and acquisition of publications, without legitimate reason, containing false news and exciting rumors, and would cause disruption of public security, and damage public interest.

According to the Chief Prosecutor, in today’s newspapers, that “one of the accused had downloaded these publications written on the Internet by a Bahraini residing in London-UK. It calls for the boycott of the elections and “civil disobedience” through a series of demonstrations, sit-ins. The second defendant, however, went to one of the presses for the printing of this article. They were intending to distribute these publications to the congregation in a number of mosques in Bahrain.

The defendants lawyers had asked for the release of the accused, but the Public Prosecutor refused to do so, considering the charges of State security nature, pursuant to Article (147), paragraph (2) of the Criminal Procedure Act.

This escalation in dealing with the activists augments during the interaction with Bandergate report, the scandal which the Bahraini authorities attempted to impose iron grip on its media coverage; legally banning any media coverage in the newspapers, blocking electronic sites interacting with the report and threatening their administrators. On last Friday-November 17- a popular march was forcefully turned into a picket, after the special security forces sealed off the area leading to its place. The march organizers- a group of 21 personalities- called for another march at the same time on November 24, 2006, one day before the parliamentary elections.

It is to be noted that Dr. Mohammed Saeed is one of the signatories of the petition addressed to the King on Bandergate calling for an investigation. He was active, along with others, in the publication of the report to the largest extent possible. The Bahraini authorities are trying to implicate the possession of publications calling for boycotting the forthcoming elections as a breach of State security, a well known practice in the former State Security period.The aims behind such act are:

1) send a message to the rest of the activists not to interact and deal with the Bandargate in any way, else the accusation “favouritism and promotion to change the state system by unlawful means” or “instigation, by one of the public means, for hatred or its contempt”, ready-made accusations of the Bahraini Penal Code – which were used to accuse the opposition activists in the State Security era.
2) The manner in which the arrest of activists- Mohammed and Hussein-brings to mind the old means of intelligence practice. This include attacking, inspection, at home, work and street, arresting and fabrication of accusations, without compliance with well known judicial procedures, which assumes the existence of a warrant for any search, arrest or imprisonment.

3) the contradiction in the statements of how the arrest of two activists- Mohammed and Hussein- emphasizes the political orientation aiming at undermining the activists and their activities which are bothering the Authorities.
4) Bringing about acquisition or possession of publications, calling for boycott of elections as a criminal act amounts to change of the regime, reinforces trend to the make any opposition to the elections in absentia. It also an intimidation of the other views as well as a message to all various individuals questioning the integrity of the elections.

The Committee of solidarity with the activists and detainees of conscience is thereto calling for dropping all the fabricated charges for the activists- Mohammed and Hussein- as well as their immediate and unconditional release. The International Declarations have respected freedom of expression and the free flow of information, which is becoming accessible and within reach through the Internet. Therefore, everybody has the right to disagree in opinion and promote their views – with or without confiscation the views of others- using every known means, the foremost are publications and articles-in any form found or obtained.

We appeal to international organizations to intervene to protect freedom of expression by all means, targeted by the Bahraini Authorities. We also call on everybody to show their protest, using all means of expression available, to the arrest and the targeting of these activists, until they are released and allowed to have their normal life returned.

Committee of Solidarity with Activists and Detainees of Conscience in Bahrain

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