Bahrain: Leading blogger Ali Abdulemam sentenced to 15 years in prison, along with other human rights defenders

Also published on Global Voices Advocacy

Arabic version here.

Ali Abdulemam with two of his children

Nine months after leading blogger and human rights activist Ali Abdulemam was arrested along with other political and human rights activists in Bahrain, a military court has sentenced him to 15 years in prison. The rest of activists face sentences that range from two years to life imprisonment, in the context of a crackdown to crush dissent in the country that started in September. The verdicts were immediately condemned by human rights groups such as Reporters without Borders and Amnesty International.

Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program, reports:

“The trials appear to be politically motivated, since we have not seen any evidence that the activists used or advocated violence”.

AI also reports that at least 500 people have been detained in Bahrain since pro-reform protests began in February, four have died in suspicious circumstances in detention and almost 2,000 people have been dismissed or suspended from work. Crackdown against opposition to the ruling dynasty has also reached the point of shooting at peaceful protesters and locking up the nurses and doctors that treat them.

Ali Abdulemam, who is a father of three, was sentenced in absentia. He is known as “the godfather of blogging”, after years of work as a blogger and human rights activist, mainly through his portal BahrainOnline.org, one of the Kingdom’s most popular pro-democracy outlets. Because of his relevance in promoting democratic reforms and freedom of speech in the region through the use of digital tools, his arrest triggered a global campaign during his first ordeal back in 2005. His arrest again in September raised an outpour of support and solidarity, with bloggers from all over the world demanding his release and the release of the other activists. His Facebook group has more than 2.600 members and is growing rapidly fueled by the buzz created over twitter by many users.

Shadaio @Drdoos_BPR @abdulemam You should be proud that your words can make a difference. Keep it up

maryamalkhawaja In absentia: Ali AbdulEmam: 15 years imprisonment. Known as the Godfather of blogging. #bahrain #jun1

Shortly after being released on February 23, Abdulemam disappeared again, and neither his family nor any of his closest friends know his whereabouts.

Bahrain´s authorities continue to ignore international pressure, which has resulted into cancellation of the prestigious Formula 1 Grand Prix race in Bahrain for 2011, after the F1 teams unanimously objected to the race date due to the human rights abuses in the country.

Human rights organization Front Line Defenders reports:

“The verdict and the fact that the trial took place before a military court whose procedures fall far short of internationally recognised fair trial standards underlines the determination of the Government of Bahrain to secure a conviction at any cost”

Amnesty International calls on Bahrain’s authorities to end these unfair military trials and release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally.

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البحرين: الحكم على المدون علي عبد الإمام بالسجن لمدة 15 عاماً مع آخرين من المدافعين عن حقوق الإنسان

هذا المقال منشور في موقع دفاع الأصوات العالمية

علي عبد الإمام مع أولاده

علي عبد الإمام مع أولاده

بعد تسع شهور من اعتقال المدون البحريني الرائد والناشط الحقوقي عليّ عبد الإمام ضمن نشطاء سياسيين وحقوقيين آخرين في البحرين، حكمت عليه محكمة عسكرية بحرينية بالسجن لمدة 15 عاماً. أما باقي النشطاء فيواجهون أحكاماً تتراوح بين سنتين إلى السجن المؤبد، في حملة شرسة ضد المعارضين البحرينيين التي بدأت في سبتمبر / أيلول الماضي. ندد بالحكم الكثير من نشطاء ومنظمات حقوق الإنسان مثل مراسلون بلا حدود ومنظمة العفو الدولية.

يقول مالكولم سمارت، مدير منظمة العفو الدولية في الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا:

“The trials appear to be politically motivated, since we have not seen any evidence that the activists used or advocated violence”.

تعتبر هذه المحاكمة محاكمة سياسية، فلا يوجد دليل اتسخدام النشطاء للعنف أو تحرضهم عليه.

تقول منظمة العفو الدولية أيضاً أنه على الأقل هناك 500 معتقل في سجون البحرين منذ بدء احتجاجات الاصلاحيين في فبراير / شباط الماضي، بالإضافة إلى 4 قتلوا في طروف غامضة أثناء الاعتقال. بالإضافة إلى ألفي شخص فصلوا من عملهم. وصل الهجوم على المعارضين للعائلة الحاكمة في البحرين إلى درجة إطلاق الرصاص على المتظاهرين السلميين واحتجاز الأطباء والممرضات اللاتي ساهمن في علاج الجرحى من المتظاهرين.

وقد أصدر الحكم على عليّ عبد الإمام، وهو أب لثلاثة أطفال، غيابياً. يعرف عليّ بأنه أبو التدوين في البحرين، بعد سنوات من التدوين والنشاط الحقوقي، أغلبه على موقع ملتقى البحرين، واحد من أكثر المتنفسات الديموقراطية شعبية في المملكة. ولأنه يدعم المطالبة بالديموقراطية وحرية التعبير في المنطقة باستخدام الإنترنت، أدى اعتقاله أول مرة [بالإنجليزية] لحملة دولية للافراج عنه عام 2005. وبعد اعتقاله ثانية في سبتمبر / أيلول كانت هناك حملة ضخمة [بالإنجليزية] للتضامن معه ومع النشطاء الآخرين. حيث تضامن المدونون من جميع أنجاء العالم مع عليّ وغيره من النشطاء داعين للإفراج عنهم. زاد عدد أعضاء مجموعة فيسبوك التي أنشئت للتضامن معه على 2600 عضو ويزيدون بسرعة كبيرة تحت تأثير مستخدمي تويتر.

Shadaio @Drdoos_BPR @abdulemam You should be proud that your words can make a difference. Keep it up

يجب أم تكون فخور بنفسك يا عبد الإمام أن كلماتك تحدث فرقاً، واصل ما تفعله!

maryamalkhawaja In absentia: Ali AbdulEmam: 15 years imprisonment. Known as the Godfather of blogging. #bahrain#jun1

حكم على عبد الإمام بالسجن 15 عاماً غيابياً، وهو معروف أنه أبو التدوين في البحرين.

بعد فترة قصيرة من الافراج عنه في 23 فبراير / شباط، اختفى عبد الإمام ثانية، ولا تعرف عائلته ولا أي من أصدقائه مكانه حتى الآن.

وتستمر السلطات البحرينية في تجاهل الضغط الدولي، مما أدى إلى إلغاء سباق السيارات فورميولا 1 الجائزة الكبرى في البحرين عام 2011 نتيجة لانتقاد فرق المتسابقين لحالة حقوق الإنسان في البلاد.

وتقول منظمة الخط الأمامي وهو من منظمات حقوق الإنسان:

“The verdict and the fact that the trial took place before a military court whose procedures fall far short of internationally recognised fair trial standards underlines the determination of the Government of Bahrain to secure a conviction at any cost.

إن الحكم باعتباره صدر من محكمة عسكرية بعيدة كل البعد عن المعايير الدولية للمحاكمة العادبة إنما يدل على تصميم حكومة البحرين على إصدار هذا الحكم بأي ثمن بغض النظر عما حصل فعلاً.

ودعت منظمة العفو الدولية السلطات البحرينية إلى إنهاء المحاكمات العسكرية والإفراج عن كل معتقلي الرأي فوراً وبدون شروط.

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Blogger Ali Abdulemam is Free

Blogger Ali Abdulemam is finally free after been arrested since 4 September 2010. Ali was released on 23 February 2011 after Bahrain King ordered the release of group of prisoners, including political prisoners and activists, among them Ali Abdulemam.

Ali is now recovering from his long ordeal and is catching up on the lost time with his family. He is back to his wife and children, he asked us to thank all of you for your support and solidarity.

We members of the Campaign to Free Ali Abdulemam also would like to thank all the people of goodwill who spoke, wrote, and acted on his behalf and on behalf of free speech.

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Open Letter to Hillary Clinton from imprisoned blogger’s wife

The distinguished Secretary of State, Mrs. Hilary Clinton,

Pleasant greetings,

I am the wife of arrested Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam. Ali is the father of my five year old son Mortada and my twin daughters Sarah and Zahra who are younger than a year old.

I have received news of your impending arrival to my country Bahrain. I would like to send to you my urgent appeal for help in the releasing of my husband who has been imprisoned in Bahrain since September 4th of this year.

My husband was arrested after being summoned before the National Security Apparatus with accusations – which were never proven – of “spreading false information.” The National Security Apparatus published an explanation immediately following his arrest . After a global campaign by bloggers and defenders of the freedom of opinion and expression and human rights  , instead of reviewing the detention order of my husband, his arrest was publicized in the media and he was depicted as a terrorist in the media and government communiqués.

Madam Secretary,

It has become clear to me that my husband has been subjected to the crudest forms of torture and physical and psychological abuse throughout his time in prison. He was forbidden from meeting with an attorney throughout the harsh investigation and his time with the public prosecution. In fact, my husband met with his lawyer for the first time in the courtroom. The court also denied the lawyers’ requests to present the barbaric torture my husband was subjected to. The court continues to proceed with the prosecution of my husband based on coerced confessions that have no connection with my husband’s personality, which is known by all the people of Bahrain, especially his family and blogger friends all over the world. Furthermore, the media has refused to publish the torture and abuse my husband was subjected to or the proceedings of the trial which we know are full of difficulty and hardship.

Madam Secretary,

My husband was fired from his job at Gulf Air which he was devoted to for thirteen years without a single accusation or examination by the investigative council. Thus, with my husband’s arrest alone we are immediately faced real suffering that increases with the continuation of my husband’s absence which agonizes me and his three children.

I wish to inform you Madam that I consider all that we have faced as a family and all that my husband has faced up to today as a result of my husband’s sincere expression of his views and aspirations in reform and goodness for Bahrain and the region. My husband protests peacefully through blogging on what he considers to be harmful to the interests of the people. Ali supports and calls for reform in Bahrain and Iran by devotion to individual freedom and the freedom to express one’s opinion. That much is obvious from his blog posts.

Madam Secretary,

I am certain that you will meet with the highest officials in Bahrain on your anticipated trip. I am also certain that those officials will immediately comply with any appeal from you to enforce justice and release my husband. Therefore, Madam Secretary, I implore your sympathy, and all that is provided for in the values of American freedoms, as I appeal to you to include my husband’s case on your anticipated trip’s agenda. Your support will surely strengthen the value of democracy and freedom which support the development of justice, peace, and tranquility.

I would like to thank you for taking on this moral responsibility. I sincerely hope you will support my request.

Jenan Al Oraibi
The wife of arrested Bahraini blogger (Ali Abdulemam)


السيدة الفاضلة وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية، هيلاري كلينتون
تحية طيبة وبعد

أنا زوجة المدون البحريني المعتقل علي عبد الإمام. علي هو أب طفلي مرتضى ذو الأعوام االخمسة وأب طفلتاي التوأم سارة و زهراء وهما لم تتما بعد عامهما الأول.

بلغني نبأ قدومك القريب إلى بلدي البحرين، وأحببت أن أرسل لكِ ندائي العاجل للمساعدة في إطلاق سراح زوجي المعتقل في البحرين منذ الرابع من سبتمبر الماضي.
لقد اعتقل زوجي بعد استدعائه من قبل جهاز الأمن الوطني بتهمة لم تثبت هي “نشر أخبار كاذبة”. وقد أصدر هذا الجهاز بياناً إثر اعتقاله . وبعد حملة عالمية في أوساط المدونين والمدافعين عن حرية الرأي والتعبير وحقوق الإنسان.  وعوض أن يتم مراجعة أمر احتجاز زوجي، جرى التشهير به في وسائل الإعلام ووصفه بأنه إرهابي في وسائل الإعلام وبيانات السلطة

.سيدتي الفاضلة

لقد تبين لي أن زوجي تعرض لأبشع أنواع التعذيب والانتهاك الجسدي والنفسي طيلة فترة احتجازه. وحرم من مقابلة المحامي طيلة فترة التحقيق القاسي معه وإبان عرضه على النيابة العامة، وقد التقى محاميه لأول مرة في قاعة المحكمة

لم تستجب المحكمة لطلبات المحامين للنظر للتعذيب الوحشي الذي تعرض له زوجي، وهي ماضية في محاكمته على أساس اعترافات قسرية لا تمت لشخصيته التي يعرفها به كل شعب البحرين فضلاً عن عائلته وأصدقائه المدونين في كل أنحاء العالم. ورفضت وسائل الإعلام نشر ما تعرض له زوجي من تعذيب وانتهاك أو حتى نشر مجريات المحاكمة التي نعرف تفاصيلها بمشقة وعناء
سيدتي الفاضلة،
لقد فصل زوجي من عمله في شركة طيران الخليج والذي أخلص له طيلة ثلاث عشرة سنة دون أن تثبت عليه تهمة أو يعرض على لجنة تحقيق. بل لمجرد اعتقاله. ونحن نتعرض إثر ذلك إلى أذى حقيقي يزيد من مرارة غيابه المفجع عني وعن أطفاله الثلاثة
أفيدك علماً سيدتي، أني أعتبر أن كل ما نتعرض له كعائلة ويتعرض له علي اليوم أنه نتاج تعبيره الصادق عن رأيه وطموحه في الإصلاح والخير للبحرين والمنطقة. ومعارضته السلمية من خلال التدوين لما يعتبره مسيئاً لصالح الناس. لقد دعم علي وناشد للإصلاح في البحرين وإيران مقدساً الحريات الفردية وحرية التعبير عن الرأي. يلحظ ذلك جلياً من خلال مدونته
سيدتي الفاضلة،
إني على يقين أنك ستلتقين في زيارتك المرتقبة أهم المسئولين في الدولة. وإني على يقين كذلك أن هؤلاء المسئولين سيستجيبون بشكل فوري لأي نداء من قبلك لإحقاق العدالة والإفراج عن زوجي. وعليه يا سيدتي فإني أناشدك تعاطفك كما أناشد من خلالك كل ما تنص عليه قيم الحريات الأميركية أن تدرج قضية زوجي على جدول أعمال زيارتك المرتقبة بما يعزز قيم الديمقراطية والحرية التي تدعم مسيرة العدل والسلام والطمأنينة
أشكر لك تحملك هذه المسؤولية الأخلاقية. وكل أمل أن يلقى خطابي هذا صداه المرجو عندك
جنان العريبي
زوجة المدون البحريني المعتقل  علي عبد الإمام

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Ali Abdulemam: I Was Subjected to Torture

Since he was arrested on 4 September 2010, Ali Abdulemam was allowed to meet his lawyers for the first time and for 30 minutes during the first trial which took place on 28 October 2010 in the Ministry of Justice and Social Affairs in the “High Criminal Court Room”.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights was able to document the testimonies of the detainees, including Abdulemam.

What did Ali say before the judge?

“I was subjected to torture, beatings, insults and verbal abuse. They threatened to dismiss my wife and other family members from their jobs. I was interrogated in the prosecution without a lawyer, and the officer there who appeared to be from the National Security dismissed my denials to the allegations put against me. He never allowed me to respond to the questions he was asking, but rather answering them himself whilst I was stood behind the door as I was not permitted to sit during the investigation.” – Ali Abdulemam, 28 Oct 2010.

Sources in Ali’s family told Free Ali Abdulemam campaign:

[...] On the trail day they didn’t allow his wife to go inside the court , only Ali’s older brother was allowed to go inside while his wife and another brother of Ali were waiting outside.

[...] Ali said in the court that he was subjected to torture, beatings and humiliation and cursing. he was hung from the ceiling and blindfolded on the first day. He was also threatened to fire his wife from his job and all his family members from their jobs if he did not confess.

[...] His son , he is very much attached to his dad I’m very concerned and worried about him. His mom is very sick and tired , she couldn’t go and visit him until now , she can’t see him in prison and in this way , she is an old lady they filled her heart with sorrow and grief . Ali is her youngest son. All his brothers and sisters and all his friends are suffering from his absence in this terrible day, some of them started to show their sadness through writing some pomes about him , about his lively character and lovely smile and about their memories that share with him.

We still need your help! check this post on what you can do.

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