Bahrain: Detained Activist Masooma Al-Sayed is Facing Trumped up Charges Aimed at Prolonging her Detention
22 Dec 2012
Activist Masooma Al-Sayed continued o be held in detention on trumped up charges after she was arbitrarily arrested on 21st September 2012 following her participation in a peaceful protest called for by the 14th Feb Youth Coalition in the capital Manama. The use of excessive force during the arrest caused bruises on her hands and legs.(1) Masooma is a mother of two, Al-Hur (7 years old) and Nouh (5 years old) and suffers from sickle cell disease. AlSayed was accused of “illegal protesting” pending trial while detained. The judge kept postponing the trial for 1 month and 21 days.
On 7th November 2012 Masooma AlSayed was to be released without a verdict, but when her family went to the police station to receive her, the police denied her released because on the same day she was accused of insulting police officer Fareeda Khamees.
AlSayed was taken to the public prosecution on 14th November 2012, and her detention was extended until the 18th November 2012. On the 18th of November, the public prosecution decided to renew her detention for another 10 days pending trial which was renewed again to 4th December 2012.
On 4th December, Masooma AlSayed was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment for insulting a police officer. On the appeal date, which was 19th December, AlSayed and her lawyer were surprised to find that the lower criminal court did not add the necessary documents to her file, which is a prerequisite for the appeal court. This resulted in postponing the appeal until 7th January 2013, then AlSayed’s total number of days spent in detention will be 3 months and 17 days.
Masooma AlSayed has been arrested several times in the past year and a half, and there are more than 4 cases against her. She stood trial in the cases outlined below, which could in the future result in extended prison sentences:
1. Illegal gathering in Manama, trial kept postponing from 21st September until 17th November 2012, with no final verdict. She was released.
2. Insulting a public official while she was in detention, sentenced to 3 months before the Lower Criminal Court since 17th Nov 2012: Pleading on 19th December 2012, postponed to 7th Jan 2013.
3. Illegal gathering in AbuSaiba roundabout and inciting hatred against the regime: Verdict expected on 26th December 2012.
4. Illegal gathering in Al-Qalaa Roundabout, Verdict expected on 26th December 2012.
Similar complicity of the judiciary system in supporting the crackdown was used in detaining human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja. Zainab is currently facing 7 simultaneous active cases against her [Click here for details of all cases] (2).
The Bahraini authorities continue to use the judiciary system as a tool to harass, target and detain citizens who are critical of the regime. In AlSayed’s case, her detention continues to be prolonged unnecessarily and on trumped up charges. This, to a large extent, is due to the fact that the Bahrain judiciary system is neither fair nor independent; in addition to not adhering to the international standards of a fair trial.
It is believed that Masooma AlSayed’s imprisonment is solely due to her practicing her right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. She is well known for being the pioneer for the project “Martyr’s Kids are our Kids” where children of Bahrain’s victims of extra-judicial killings are enrolled in educational and entertainment programs. (YouTube Video: Clips from “Martry’s Kids are Our Kids”)
The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all allies and international institutions to put pressure on the Bahraini authorities to:
1- Call for the immediate release of Masooma Al-Sayed and political prisoners in Bahrain. 2- Immediately and unconditionally drop all trumped up charges against Masooma AlSayed and all other political prisoners. 3- Immediately stop the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters. 4- Allow all citizens the right to practice freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
1. Update: Justice Denied for Masooma AlSayed 2. Bahrain: Human Rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja detained for peacefully protesting 3. Take Action: I am facing more than a dozen charges this year for protesting against human rights violations.