19 Jan 2013

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concern over the continued restrictions placed on freedom of expression in Bahrain. In two different incidents, citizens were arrested after staging one-person protest demanding basic rights.

On 16 January 2013, Zainab Abduali Taraif (20), an honors university student, was arrested after she stood silently near the financial harbor, holding a banner with her academic results and honor certificates, to protest against her second expulsion from the University of Bahrain for what she described as “false charges”. Zainab was one of over hundred students previously expelled in 2011 following the crackdown on protests. The reinstatement of the students was one of the recommendations suggested by the Bahraini Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in November 2011, and though most of them were indeed reinstated, several were expelled again in October 2012.

Zainab was briefly held in the Noaim police station and interrogated about the reasons behind her protest before she was released.

In a different case, on the 15 January 2013, Hussain Ali Jafar, was also arrested after he stood silently near the financial harbor holding a banner with his academic and professional certificates, demanding a job. He was taken to Noaim police station where he was interrogated before he was released without charges.

While both citizens were released without charges, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) sees these arrests as acts of intimidation and restrictions on the freedom of expression granted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other close allies to Bahrain and international institutions to place pressure on the Bahraini authorities to guarantee its commitment to protecting freedom of expression, as granted by international charters, namely Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which states that: "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice. "