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Startseite Urgent Actions 2010 09 Detained Shi'a muslims at risk
UA 195/10
Abgeschlossen am 19. Oktober 2010

Detained Shi'a muslims at risk

AI-Index: MDE 11/005/2010

A group of 23 opposition activists, clerics and human rights defenders have been accused in Bahrain of plotting to overthrow the government. Twenty-one of them, all men and all Shi'a Muslims, have been detained in what appears to be a clampdown before parliamentary elections on 23 October 2010. The men are held incommunicado and are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

According to media reports a group of 23 Shi'a Muslim activists, including human rights defenders, political activists and Shi'a clerics, were charged in late August with forming an illegal organization, aiming to overthrow the predominantly Sunni Muslim Bahraini government and dissolve the Constitution, inciting people to "overthrow and change the political system of the country", fundraising and planning terrorist acts and other offences under Bahrain’s 2006 anti-terrorism law. Twenty-one of them are held incommunicado in an unknown location. The remaining two live in London and have been charged in their absence. Abdul Jalil al-Singace, spokesperson for the Human Rights Bureau of the unauthorized opposition al-Haq organization and the first to be detained, was taken into custody on 13 August. Among those held are a number of leading members of human rights NGOs: Muhammad Saeed, a board member of the banned group the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Abdulghani al-Khanjar, head of the Committee for Defence of Martyrs and Torture Victims (which has not been officially authorized by the Bahraini authorities), Shi'a clerics Abdulhadi al-Mokhoder and Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad, and Ali Abdulemam, a blogger. The two men charged in their absence are Hassain Meshaima’ ,al-Haq’s secretary general , and Sa’eed al-Shehabi, secretary general of the opposition-supporting group, the Bahrain Freedom Islamic Movement.

Several of those detained are reported to have complained to the Public Prosecutor between 27 and 31 August  that they had been tortured in detention in the days following their arrests, but no investigation is known to have been instituted. On 28 August Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad told the Public Prosecutor that he had been suspended by the wrists for several hours and punched by officials. His lawyer, who has not been allowed to represent his client before the Public Prosecutor, told Amnesty International that Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad had injuries on his body which may have been caused by torture. The Bahraini authorities have not revealed where the 21 are detained, and their lawyers have only seen them when they have appeared before the Public Prosecutor.

Additional Information

Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy headed by the King, Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al Khalifa. The head of government is the Prime Minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa. He presides over a cabinet of 20 members, 80 percent of whom belong to the Sunni Muslim royal family.

Bahrain has two legislative bodies: the Chamber of Deputies, elected by universal suffrage and the Shura Council, appointed by the King. In 2006 , parliamentary elections for the Chamber of Deputies took place, with the opposition Shi'a Islamist group, al Wifaq, winning 17 out of 40 seats in a new chamber dominated by Shia and Sunni Islamist groups. The 2006 elections took place amid reports of human rights violations.

Since 2006, riots against the government have taken place in predominantly Shi'a villages. Police are alleged to have used excessive use on some occasions in  the context of these riots and other disturbances,

The next parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on 23 October 2010.

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