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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bahraini human rights leaders disappear

From Bikya Masr:

There is increasing concern over a Bahraini human rights activist who was arrested after speaking at the House of Lords.

Abdul Jalil Al-Singace, the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Haq Movement, which promotes human rights and democracy in Bahrain, was arrested at Manama Airport on the morning of 13 August, as he and his family returned to the country from London.

His arrest came the day after the ruler of Bahrain, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, appealed for critics of the government to return to the country, promising them freedom of speech and action. It was also just days after he had attended a seminar at the House of Lords on 5 August, discussing the human rights situation in Bahrain. He had also had meetings with the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and other human rights groups.

Al-Singace’s arrest was followed by the arrests of several other senior activists. Abdul Ghani Al-Khanjar, the spokesman of the Committee of Martyrs and Victims of Torture, Sheikh Saeed Al-Nouri and Sheikh Mohammad Habib Al-Miqdad, who have campaigned against political repression in the country, were arrested in early morning raids on their homes on 16 August. Several other activists had already been arrested on 14 and 15 August, as protests against Al-Singace’s arrest spread around the country.

The current whereabouts of Al-Singace, who is disabled and restricted to a wheelchair, is unknown. His lawyer, Muhammad Al Tajir, has said that he has not been able to locate him.

Massoud Shadjareh, Chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said:

“The arrest of Abdul Jalil Al-Singace appears to be a deliberate slap in the face of those campaigning for human rights in Bahrain, especially coming so soon after the King of Bahrain promised activists the freedom to work in the country. Bahrain has a very poor human rights record, and it appears to be getting worse. ”
Amnesty is calling on Bahrain to reveal the wherabouts of these prisoners.