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Bahraini Activists Detained, Deported on One-Year Anniversary of Protests
Freedom House is appalled by the Bahraini government’s relentless repression of activists before and on the one-year anniversary of the “Pearl Roundabout.” Three human rights activists were detained on February 14 – Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Naji Fateel and Hassan Jaber. On February 12, human rights activist Zainab Alkhawaja, who has documented the protest movement on Twitter using screen name “Angry Arabiya,” was arrested. Zainab’s father, prominent activist and founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, was sentenced to life in prison and recently began a hunger strike. In addition, two activists working with Witness Bahrain – Radhika Sainath and Huwaida Arraf – were deported this past weekend after entering the country in anticipation of the February 14 protests. The Bahraini government continues to crack down on ordinary Bahraini citizens and has failed to implement comprehensive political reform. In recent weeks, Bahrain has prevented journalists and human rights organizations, including Freedom House, from entering the country.
Bahraini citizens have been broadly engaged in protests since February 2011, to call for a more representative government and to denounce ethnic-based inequities in a country run by the Sunni Al-Khalifa royal family, where the majority of citizens are Shiite. Despite promises of reform, Bahraini authorities have continued to use torture against detainees, block access to medical services, and raid the homes of suspected protesters. Bahraini rights groups have reported ongoing arrests, intimidation, and in some cases torture of those speaking out against despotic rule.