HR Groups Condemn Arrests of Shia Clerics and Activists over Diraz Sit-In: Sectarian Persecution

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Bahrain
Friday, 12 August 2016


Five human rights organizations denounced the Bahraini authorities' recent campaign of arrests launched against protestors at the Diraz sit-in. The HR groups said that the authorities targeted over 47 Shiite clerics, including the head of the Islamic Ulama (Scholars) Council Sayed Majeed Al-Mashaal and a number of rights defenders and citizens, over charges of assembling in Diraz, since the revocation of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim's citizenship in June 20, 2016.

In a statement issued on Wednesday (August 10, 2016), The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy (BIRD), Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR), and Justice Human Rights Organizations (JHRO) stressed that they "condemn the Government of Bahrain's violation of the protesters' right to peaceful assembly," and "raise concerns over the safety of the remaining protesters at the Duraz sit-in."

"The Bahraini authorities' actions are in direct violation to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Article 2," they added.

The rights organizations further noted that the "authorities have launched a mass campaign of summons and arrests over participation in the Duraz sit-in. Since the beginning of August, the BCHR has documented the summons of 73 persons, 44 of whom are Shia clerics and religious singers. The majority were kept in detention overnight before being presented to the public prosecution. Moreover, the public prosecution has remanded at least 23 of them to 15 days in detention over charges of participating in illegal assembly. Among them are well-known clerics and activists."

"This is believed to be a form of intimidation to prevent people from exercising their right to free assembly. Several of them reported being asked to sign a pledge not to participate in the sit-in. The complete number of those summoned and detained is suspected to be much higher," they stressed.

"On 8 August 2016, the trial of Sheikh Majeed Al-Mesha'al, the head of the dissolved Ulema Council, has hastily commenced. His lawyer was not informed of the timing of the trial. It was postponed to 17 August 2016. On 30 July 2016, security forces raided the house of Sheikh Al-Mesha'al. The public prosecution charged him with allegedly persisting in inciting others to disobey the law and over his participation in an illegal gathering. Sheikh Al-Mesha'al actively participated in the sit-in in front of Sheikh Isa Qasim's house. He was summoned several times since the start of the sit-in on 20 June 2016," the HR groups highlighted.

The statement further read that the authorities have taken a number of repressive measures against protesters in Duraz.

"They have effectively put the whole community under siege. All entrances to the village have been closed. There are two entrances to the villages, both subjected to strict checkpoints. Only persons with addresses in Duraz on their ID cards can enter the villages. Families of persons from Duraz have been prevented from visiting since the start of the sit-in. Restrictions have been placed on the Internet. All Internet service providers - mobile and broadband - shut down their services between 7 P.M. to 1 A.M."

"We call on the government of Bahrain to stop the restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly, allow peaceful protesters to exercise their rights without fear of reprisal, and overturn all the recent repressive measures it has implemented," they concluded their statement.

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