Bahrain’s reprisals against activist’s family must end

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”95197″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Joint NGO letter to: Canada, Denmark, European Union External Action (EEAS), France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States

We write to ask you to urgently raise, both publicly and privately, the case of Sayed Nazar Alwadaei, Hajar Mansoor Hasan and Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor with the Government of Bahrain ahead of the verdict in their criminal trial on 30 October 2017. These three individuals are relatives of Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, a Bahraini human rights defender based in the United Kingdom, and his wife Duaa Alwadaei. Mr Alwadaei has been targeted by the Bahrain authorities for his human rights activism on numerous occasions and has been granted refugee status in the UK. We believe that Mr Alwadaei’s relatives are being prosecuted solely as a reprisal against him and the trial forms part of a pattern of harassment against his family.

On 26 October 2016, Mr Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei took part in a protest in London against King Hamad of Bahrain’s visit to the UK Prime Minister. Hours later, on the same day, his wife, Duaa Alwadaei, was detained along with her two-year-old son at Bahrain International Airport by Bahraini security forces. She was interrogated over seven hours and she was told she would not be allowed to leave Bahrain. During the interrogations, government officers reportedly made threats against her, her family and Mr Alwadaei’s family and she was told to deliver the threats as “a message to her husband.” Following international pressure and the intervention of the US embassy, on 1 November 2016 Mrs Alwadaei was able to leave Bahrain.

However, in March 2017, while Mr Alwadaei was attending the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Mrs Alwadaei’s brother Sayed Nazar Alwadaei, her cousin Mahmoud Marzooq Mansoor and her mother Hajar Mansoor Hassan were arrested in Bahrain. They all claim that they were subjected to ill-treatment, torture and extensively interrogated, including in relation to Mr Alwadaei’s life and work in the United Kingdom, without the presence of their lawyers. Mrs Hassan reportedly required hospitalisation on the first day of her detention. They were forced to sign confessions and were charged under Bahrain’s anti-terrorism law. If found guilty on 30 October, they face upwards of three years in prison each.

The treatment of the Alwadaei family has been the subject of international criticism. Six UN human rights experts raised “grave concerns” over the family’s allegations of torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and the apparent aim of the Government of Bahrain to “intimidate and impair Mr Alwadaei’s human rights activities”, including his participation at the UN Human Rights Council.

We therefore urge your government to request Bahrain to immediately release Mr and Mrs Alwadaei’s relatives ahead of their 30 October trial and drop all charges against them, and undertake prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigations into their allegations of torture and other ill-treatment. The findings of the investigation must be made public and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair proceedings. As this case is a part of a pattern of abuse and harassment against human rights defenders and their families in Bahrain, we urge you to call on Bahrain to cease all harassment of human rights defenders and their families.

Yours Sincerely,
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Amnesty International
Article 19
Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR)
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
English PEN
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)
European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
Index on Censorship
PEN International
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
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#SingaceHungerStrike: Rights groups denounce Bahrain’s ongoing detention of academic

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), English PEN and Index on Censorship gathered outside the Bahrain Embassy in London on Wednesday 29 July 2015 to protest the ongoing detention of Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace.

Al-Singace is a prominent academic and blogger who promoted human rights in Bahrain since 2000. Police arrested Al-Singace for his participation in peaceful protests in 2011. During his initial detention, security officials subjected Al-Singace to torture and ill-treatment, including forced standing, verbal and sexual assault, beatings, and prolonged solitary confinement. He was tried by a military court in June 2011 and sentenced to life in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.

Al-Singace’s health has rapidly deteriorated since he was imprisoned, and he is kept from receiving desperately needed medical supplies. On 21 March 2015 Al-Singace began a hunger strike in protest of the ill-treatment of inmates and the poor, unsanitary conditions at Jau Prison. He has now completed 132 days of hunger strike.


(Photo: Moosa Mohammed)

Rights groups gathered at the solidarity protest unanimously called for the release of Al-Singace and denounced restrictions on freedom of expression in Bahrain. The organisations also called on Bahrain to investigate allegations of torture in Bahrain’s prisons and called for urgent medical attention for Al-Singace.

Freedom of expression in Bahrain has continued to be restricted since 2011, when Saudi Arabian troops helped crush pro-democracy protests during the Arab Spring. The government regularly censors its citizens’ opinions, especially criticisms of the government, and imprisonment is a common punishment for simply expressing one’s opinion. Al-Singace is only one of many who have been jailed for expressing their beliefs. His continued strength and activism remains an inspiration to those still fighting within Bahrain and around the world for the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

Take action
Al-Singace suffers from post-polio syndrome, heart, eye, and sinus problems, and requires urgent nasal and ear surgery. Prison authorities have denied Al-Singace the specialist medical treatment that he urgently needs. He is currently being detained at the Al-Qalaa Hospital and is not permitted to go outdoors. He is also being denied access to novels, religious texts, television, radio, and pen and paper for writing.

Join our social media campaign #SingaceHungerStrike in solidarity with Dr. Al-Singace.
Send writing materials and messages of support to Dr. Al- Singace.
Find out more about freedom of expression in Bahrain.

This article was posted on 30 July 2015 at

Foreign Secretary: Use UK influence on Bahrain to free Nabeel Rajab, Zainab Al-Khawaja and Ghada Jamsheer

Dear Mr. Hammond,

We are writing to you in light of your current tour of Gulf Cooperation Council countries regarding the arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders Nabeel Rajab, Zainab Al-Khawaja and Ghada Jamsheer in Bahrain for cases of peaceful expression.

Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), remains in prison following his arrest for a tweet in which he expressed his view about the role Bahrain security institutions play as “incubators of ISIS ideology”.  Mr. Rajab had travelled to Bahrain from the United Kingdom following a European advocacy tour that included a panel at the House of Lords.

His detention has been criticised internationally. The United Nations has warned that it sends a “chilling message”. The Norwegian government has recently advised that the arrest of Mr. Rajab sends a negative message and has called for his immediate release. The European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights has voiced serious concerns over his arrest and detention and the United States State Department has called on Bahrain to drop the charges against him.

We urge the United Kingdom to add its voice to these universal calls. As a close ally to Bahrain, the UK has influence that could result in steps to release human rights defenders and political prisoners in Bahrain. You will recall that the UK signed a joint statement during the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which urged the government of Bahrain “to release all persons imprisoned solely for exercising human rights, including human rights defenders some of whom have been identified as arbitrarily detained according to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention”. We ask you to follow up on this statement by calling for the immediate and unconditional release of both Mr. Rajab and Ms. Al-Khawaja who have been detained solely for exercising their human right to free expression.

Zainab Al-Khawaja is a prominent activist in Bahrain, who is facing serious charges of “publicly insulting the King” after ripping a photo of him during a court hearing. The case, which runs contrary to Bahrain’s international human rights obligations, was immediately transferred to the Higher Criminal Court in Bahrain meaning that she now faces up to seven years in prison for a peaceful act of expression. It is important to note that Ms. Al-Khawaja is eight months pregnant, and faces the possibility of going into labour in arbitrary detention.

Amnesty International has criticised the decision and called for her immediate release arguing”laws that prohibit insults or the disrespect of heads of state or other public figures are contrary to international human rights law and standards”.

Her sister Maryam Al-Khawaja, Co-Director of the GCHR, is also facing prison on charges of assault brought against her after she arrived in Bahrain on 30 August to try to visit her father, jailed human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, founder of BCHR and GCHR. She was released after two weeks but is due in court on 5 November.

In addition to these cases, women’s rights defender Ghada Jamsheer was arrested and imprisoned on 15 September, on charges of defamation on Twitter. She remains in detention and will face court prosecution on charges related to her freedom of expression on 22 October.

The arrest and ongoing detention of both Mr. Rajab and Ms. Al-Khawaja threaten to destabilise further an already unstable country.  It is imperative that human rights advocates are not targeted for exercising their human rights peacefully. The work of human rights defenders often requires criticising governments as noted by the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, which call for this role to be “recognised and supported”.

We urge the British government to demand the immediate release of all detained human rights defenders and activists in Bahrain.

Thank you for your consideration.


Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

English PEN

Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

Index on Censorship

Pen International