15 August 2016 - Bahrain's authorities today charged with illegal gathering the human rights defender and scholar Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman and activist and medic Dr. Taha Al-Derazi following their arrests and interrogations yesterday. Al-Salman has been released on bail, while Al-Derazi is remanded in custody.
The charges relate to their peaceful assembly in the village of Duraz, which has been blockaded by police since June and has witnessed an escalation in arrests over protests. We strongly condemn the arrest and prosecution of Al-Salman and Al-Derazi for exercising their right to peaceful assembly.
On Sunday, 14 August 2016 at 9 AM, the Bahraini authorities began interrogating Al-Salman and Al-Derazi. The interrogation lasted over twelve hours, before they were detained to be presented to the public prosecution today.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy: “Bahrain’s allies, especially the US and UK, should use their leverage to end this cycle of injustice against peaceful activists. These repressive measures cannot be justified and must not pass without condemnation.”
Both Al-Salman and Al-Derazi are members of the Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO) and have actively participated at UN Human Rights Council (HRC) sessions. They were also banned from traveling: Al-Salman’s travel ban was imposed in March 2016, while Al-Derazi was banned from traveling to the UN HRC’s 32nd session in June 2016. Despite the travel ban against him, Al-Salman has been actively reaching out to the international community, and this arrest is seen as a measure to completely stop his activities.
Husain Abdulla, Executive Director, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain: “Bahrain has increased its acts of repression since June. If there are no actions by the international community, then the repression will only continue to worsen. The United States must take the next step and suspend arms sales to Bahrain.”
Also on 14 August, the authorities interrogated at least 20 individuals, including at least three women. The list included human rights defenders and activists, doctors, clerics, and families of victims of extrajudicial killing. The interrogations were carried out over long periods of time ranging between three hours to over ten hours. Bahraini authorities asked these individuals to sign pledges to not participate in the sit-in in Duraz before they were released. The interrogations were focused on their participation in an open-ended sit-in in Duraz which started on 20 June, protesting the authorities’ arbitrary revocation of Sheikh Isa Qasim’s citizenship. Since then, more than 80 protesters were summoned for interrogation, and while many were released, the authorities have remanded more than 20 of the protesters and referred at least eight to court over these charges.
Sayed Yousif Almuhafda, Vice-President, Bahrain Center for Human Rights: “The Government of Bahrain’s harassment of human rights defenders and activist is intended to silence and intimidate free voices. Bahrain’s allies must stop government escalated measures against its people’s fundamental rights.”
We believe that the authorities’ continue to harass human rights defenders Al-Salman and Al-Derazi, because of their activism and cooperation with the UN human rights mechanisms. The Bahraini authorities have been restricting and preventing people from peacefully protesting the escalation of repressive measures against fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as targeting human rights defenders who work with the UN mechanisms to report these violations. We call on the government of Bahrain to:
Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman, and release Dr. Taha Al-Derazi, and all currently detained human rights defenders including Nabeel Rajab;
Stop all reprisal actions against human rights defenders who work with the UN mechanisms and allow them to work freely; and
Cease the attack on peaceful protests and allow peaceful assembly and expression to take place without reprisal.
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy
European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights
Justice Human Rights Organisation