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Bahrain Continues Harassment and Imprisonment of Human Rights Defenders
In response to plans by Bahraini authorities to formally question interfaith leader Maytham Al Salman on August 14, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Authorities in Bahrain are using baseless interrogations to intimidate Maytham Al Salman and other human rights defenders, who are working to promote human rights, tolerance, and interfaith dialogue,” said Dokhi Fassihian, senior program manager for Middle East and North Africa programs. “These divisive tactics undermine the country’s social fabric and chances of reconciliation. The government should work with all of its citizens, especially its vibrant human rights community, to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.”
Sheikh Maytham Al Salman, chairman of Bahrain Interfaith, is recognized internationally for his work to promote religious freedom, and counter sectarian-based discrimination and incitement to violence. He has been called in for questioning by authorities on August 14, 2016, and may face arrest.
Bahraini human rights defenders risk intimidation and imprisonment on politically-motivated grounds. In June 2016 Ghada Jamsheer, a prominent women’s rights activist, was sentenced to a year imprisonment for publically alleging that several members of the royal family benefitted from corruption. She was previously sentenced to seven months imprisonment on related charges. Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, faces up to 12 years imprisonment for his criticisms of government policies; he is barred from leaving the country. Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, is serving a life sentence for his human rights activities. It is estimated that at least 4,000 other political prisoners remain in Bahraini prisons.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.