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Bahrain: Authorities sanction people for practicing the right to freedom of expression

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The summoning of Eid and Marzouq, and the detention of Milad, reveal a narrowing of the horizons of the authorities, and a lack of respect for the right to freedom of expression

 

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights expresses its concern towards the ongoing policy pursued by the authorities, which sanction anyone who practices the internationally-recognised right to freedom of expression. The Ministry of Interior has summoned the political assistant to the general secretary of al-Wefaq, Khalil al-Marzouq, and cleric Sheikh Isa Eid, for questioning on the basis of speeches they had given. The general prosecutor also decided Thursday 3 July, to detain a leader of al-Wefaq, Majid Milad, for seven days, while they investigate allegations that he provoked disrespect of the state and lawlessness.

Khalil al-Marzouq, political assistant to the general secretary of al-Wefaq, received a warning from Budaiya’ police station on 30 June 2015 over a political speech he gave on 27 June 2015 during one of the seminars organised by al-Wefaq in al-Diraz. Marzouq’s lawyer, Abdallah al-Shamlawi, told BCHR that the Ministry of Interior had accused him of provoking disrespect of the regime and contempt for the ministry.

A day before Marzouq was summoned, the preacher of Karzakan mosque, Sheikh Isa Eid, had been summoned by Hamad town police station. He was summoned for interrogation in relation to a sermon he had given at Karzakan mosque the Friday before, in which he had criticised the behaviour of the Directorate of Religious Endowments. He was accused of provoking disrespect of the regime.

On Wednesday 1 July 2015, the al-Wefaq leader, and former head of the regional council for the capital, Majid Milad, was also summoned for questioning. He was being investigated over a political seminar he had participated in, in the region of Maamir. The general prosecutor decided to detain Milad for 7 days while investigations were carried out. He stands accused of two charges: provoking disrespect for the regime and lawlessness.

BCHR considers the ongoing policy of sanctioning citizens for practicing their right to freedom of expression to be a clear violation of several articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the declaration stipulates that “everyone has the right to freedom of 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 above, BCHR calls on governments and international organisations to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to do the following:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Majid Milad
  • Drop all the charges levelled against prisoners of conscience and all those who have been targeted because they have expressed their opinion
  • Stop pursuing human rights activists and politicians, and cease targeting them for practicing their internationally-recognised right to freedom of expression
  • Guarantee all human rights, including the rights of prisoners of conscience and the right to freedom of opinion and expression

 

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