Bahrain: arrest of human rights defender and leading blogger Ali Abdulemam and ten other human rights defenders

Human rights defender and leading Bahraini blogger, Mr Ali Abdulemam was arrested on 4 September at 9 pm by Bahraini National Security Agency (NSA). Ali Abdulemam created and managed since 1999 a leading news website on Bahrain (ww.bahrainonline.org) as well as a blog. He has been active internationally raising attention to the situation of freedom of expression and the media environment in Bahrain.

On 4 September 2010, Ali Abdulemam received a phone call summoning him to appear at the office of the NSA. He was later arrested at approximately 9 pm and has been held in incommunicado detention since then. The Ministry of Interior declared on Sunday that his arrest was “part of the investigations into the terrorist network accused of planning and executing a campaign of violence, intimidation and subversion in Bahrain”. Since Sunday 5 September, a day after his arrest, the website of BahrainOnline remains unavailable, both in Bahrain and from abroad. There are fears that Ali Adbulemam may have been forced to reveal the password of the database of his discussion forum, as following his arrest, members of his team found that the database’s password was changed and they could not access it.

Five years ago, in February 2005, Ali Abdulemam was arrested and detained for two weeks.

Front Line is seriously concerned at the wave of arrests of human rights defenders taking place in the past three weeks in Bahrain on the basis of an alleged terrorist plot. Since 13 August 2010, the security forces have arrested at least eight other human rights defenders, namely:

1.Dr. Abduljalil Al-Sengais: arrested on 13 August 2010. He is spokesman and Director of the Human Rights Bureau of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy (see Front Line Urgent Appeal of 15 August 2010);

2.Abdul-Ghani Khanjar: arrested on 15 August 2010. He is spokesperson for the Bahraini National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture (see Front Line Urgent Appeal of 15 August 2010);

3.Suhail Al-Shehabi: arrested on 19 August 2010. He is active in a number of associations including the Committee of the relatives of detainees and the Committee of the Unemployed;

4.Ahmed Jawad Al-Fardan: arrested on 19 August 2010. He is a member of the Committee of the relatives of detainees in Karzakan;

5.Ali Jawad Al-Fardan: arrested on 20 August 2010. He is member of the Committee of the relatives of detainees in Karzakan;

6.Salman Naji: arrested on 21 August 2010. He is member of the Committee of the Unemployed;

7.AbdulHadi Al-Saffar: arrested on 22 August 2010. He is chairman of the Committee against high prices and actively involved in other associations including the Committee of the relatives of detainees;

8.Hassan Al-Haddad: arrested on 23 August 2010. He is member of the Committee of the Unemployed.

Two other human rights defenders, Mr Jaffar Al-Hessabi and Dr Mohammed Saeed, were reportedly arrested on 16 and 17 August 2010 respectively. Dr Mohammed Saeed is a board member of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.

According to the information received all the human rights defenders mentioned above have been held in incommunicado detention or have otherwise had their right to access a lawyer restricted. Some of them were able to see their lawyer during an interrogation with the public prosecutor but were not permitted to have a private meeting. Several of them also alleged to have been subjected to torture during their detention. Salman Naji was reportedly seen as not being able to move his hand.

Front Line fears that another leading Bahraini human rights defender, Mr Nabeel Rajab, may be arrested. On Sunday 5 September, the pro-government Gulf Daily News published on page 2 a picture of Nabeel Rajab linking his name to the alleged terrorist network.

Front Line believes that the arrest and detention of Ali Abdulemam and the other human rights defenders mentioned above is directly related to their human rights work. Front Line is very concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of the aforementioned human rights defenders after reports suggested allegation of torture in Bahraini prisons.

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frontline defenders Posted on 2010/09/06

About sami ben gharbia

My name is Sami Ben Gharbia. Born in Bizerte (Tunisia) in 1967, I fled from Tunisia in 1998 and live in The Netherlands as political refugee. I speak Arabic, French, Dutch, English, and a bit of Farsi. My personal blog [fikra] فكرة (which means idea in Arabic) has been censored in Tunisia since 2003. I initially start blogging with the publishing of the first Tunisian e-book (Borj Erroumi XL) that tells the story of the escapade that I was forced to, crossing Africa and the Middle East, to reach Europe and get asylum. I can also be found at nawaat.org, an independent Tunisian site that I run together with a wonderful team. I joined Global Voices team as Advocacy Director. I am fascinated by the use of new information technologies for advocacy and fighting censorship and oppression. That’s why I’m blogging. That’s why I’m here.
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