03 Nov 2012

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) expresse grave concern about the systematic targeting, harassment and detention of Human rights defenders in Bahrain, and in particular the BCHR's members. After the arrest and severe torture of co-founder Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, the sentencing of the President Nabeel Rajab to 3 years on charges of illegal protesting; the Bahraini authorities yesterday, on the 2nd of November, detained the Acting Vice President and Head of Documentation Unit Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdhah.  

Arriving in Duraz after a protest had already been attacked using excessive force to document an injury, Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdhah was arrested by security forces (video) while he was getting the details of how a man was injured with shotgun at his door front while he was not part of the protests.  Said Yousif was interrogated at the police station about what he was doing outside the injured man's house.  He was then led to believe by a police officer that he would be released within a few hours, but when colleague Zainab Al-Khawaja went to pick him up from Budaiya Police Station she was told by an officer: “Why have you come for him? I haven’t decided what I want to do to him yet”. The lawyer, Mohammed AbdulAmeer, then stated that AlMuhafdhah was to be held overnight and taken to the Public Prosecution today, 3rd November. The Public Prosecution, after making AlMuhafdhah wait for approximately 5 hours, decided to extend his detention to 7 days under investigation on the charge of illegal protesting in Duraz.   The arrest of the Acting Vice President of the BCHR comes 3 days only after the Center released a report holding the King of Bahrain responsible for the culture of impunity in the country. AlMuhafdhah had expressed to colleagues that he predicted that he would be arrested as he is the only known person working for the BCHR inside Bahrain.  

AlMuhafdhah’s arrest also comes only one month after his participation at the United Nations Human Rights Council, where he had highlighted the human rights situation in Bahrain during meetings and side events. The above mentioned rights groups consider his case a reprisal due to his human rights activities and his participation at the Human Rights Council.  

The BCHR, GCHR and BYSHR call on the United States, the United Kingdom, the UN and all other close allies and international institutions to put pressure on the Bahraini authorities to:

1. Immediately release detained human rights defender Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdhah and drop all charges against him. The above mentioned groups believe that these measures have been taken against him solely due to his legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights, and freedom of expression in accordance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

2. Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and activists including leading human rights defenders Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab.

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.