Report on the detention of Secretary General of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society (political party); Shaikh Ali Salman
Name: Shaikh Ali Salman Ahmed Salman ( 49 years old)
Position: The Secretary General of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society (political party) since it was founded in 2001.
Political Activism: He led the 1990’s political movement which demanded the reactivation of theconstitution. He got arrested and sent to exile; which erupted a political crisis at that time. He returned back to Bahrain in 2001 and got involved in founding Al Wefaq party. He got elected as a member of the House of Deputies (The Lower House) in 2006 for 4 years.
Internal Relationships:He met the King several times discussing the political life issues. He, also, met with the Crown Prince, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Royal Court and senior officials in the Kingdom expressing his vision and programme to reform political life.
The International Relationships: He met senior officials in number of important countries, such as: USA, UK, Russia, besides many other officials in Europe, Arab, GCC and UN. The agenda of all these meetings was to review the political facts in Bahrain and present the reformist and peaceful approach to interact with the Bahraini authorities.
The Political Approach: Through peaceful means, he seeks serious reforms to the existing system in the country; the system which all authorities are absolutely controlled under the King based on a unilateral constitution issued by the King himself in 2002. The King dominates the three main authorities; theparticipation of the people is merely superficial, with no tangible privileges to participate in making the fatal and strategic decisions for their homeland. The political programme adopted by Shaikh Ali Salman is clearly based on the realisation of the constitutional monarchy which the popularly ratified National Action Charter ushered out in 2001. His way is to achieve his programme through consensual means between the regime and the Opposition, where both can seriously talk and reach breakthroughs that can lead to tangible reforms. The pace of the political activism led by his party (Al Wefaq) has been remarkably intensified since 2011.
The case behind the detention:
– After reiterated summons that reached four since 2012 and addressed charges against Shaikh Ali Salman in respect to freedom of speech and expression and his peaceful political activism, as a leader of a political party, these summons have been followed with a recent summon to questioning in December 28th 2014; directly after he got elected as a secretary general of the party in December 26th 2014.
– He was questioned before the investigation authority in the Ministry of Interior (General Directorate of Intelligence and Criminal Evidences). He was accompanied by lawyers: Mr. Abdulla al-Shamlawi and Mr. Abduljalilal-Aradi; who were refused to accompany Salman for two consecutive times. At the third time, one of them was allowed to attend the questioning sessions. The questioning took nine consecutive hours and included several charges related to his political speeches and he completely refused them all. The lawyer who attended was informed that his client, Salman, would be taken by police to the Public Prosecution offices (the prosecution authority in Bahrain).
– The lawyers attended to the Public Prosecution directly after the initial questioning was finished. But, they were surprised after hours of waiting that Shaikh Ali Salman wouldn’t be presented to the Prosecutors at the eve of December 28th 2014. Instead, he would be kept detained until being presented to the Public Prosecution.
– During the period of detention, all communication with him had been stopped except a seconds-long call to his family when he informed them that he is under detention with no further details.
Interrogation Measures in the Prosecution Authority:
– At the morning of December 29th 2014, lawyers were called to attend the interrogation sessions with Shaikh Ali Salman taking place in the Public Prosecution. The interrogation started at noon, and lawyers asked to have a look at the interrogation file before starting, Article 135/ Criminal Procedures Law . But, their request had been ignored.
– After finishing the first day of interrogation and the Public Prosecution’s decision to keep Salman in order to resume the interrogation next day (December 30th 2014), the lawyers got surprised again by a press statement issued by the Public Prosecution that indicated the details of other indictments in which they were not part of the interrogation sessions; andneither Salman nor his lawyers knew about them. (Attachment)
– The interrogation has been completed in December 30th 2014 and included the details of changes which were announced one day before by the Public Prosecution statement. The prosecutors decided to stop interrogation at 13:45 for that day and keep Shaikh Ali Salman in detention for 7 days pending investigation and resume next day. Shaikh Ali Salman wasn’t granted the right to reach the sufficient and required legal advice due to not allowing his lawyers to have a look at the interrogation file.
– He wasn’t subjected to ill-treatment during interrogation sessions.
Four indictments at the beginning of interrogation:
1. The felony of incitement to topple the regime by force and threaten with illegal means (penalty reaches 10 years in prison).
2. The misdemeanour of insulting the ministry of interior (penalty reaches 3 years in prison )
3. The misdemeanour of incitement of disobeying the law (penalty reaches 2 years in prison )
4. The misdemeanour of disrespecting group of people (penalty reaches 2 years in prison)
The Nature of the Indictments:
– The indictments are based on what have been expressed by Shaikh Ali Salman during his recent two years of public political speeches which are already documented by voice and video. The charges are not linked to any acts or other activities he carried out. This makes the entire judicial processing is based on his views and blatantly violates the freedom of speech and expression.
– The press statement of the Public Prosecution mentioned above and the interrogation details show that crime he is being interrogated for is,- as per this press-: “threatening to use military force against the state; as per his public announcement that the military option was on table and still. And, the possibility to take this option at any time like what other groups and sects did outside the region witnessed kind of it” http://www.bna.bh/portal/news/647745
– After confronting Shaikh Ali Salman with parts of his speeches which are including the meaning of the above, the indictments get faded and are undoubtedly disproved, as Salman during the same mentioned speeches,refused all military and violent options for him and for his party. Moreover, his speeches include clear calls to the people to adhere to the peaceful means.
– During the interrogation, the indication to the military option was in context of refusing violent acts and vocally calling to adhere to peacefulness. This means that what were included in the official statement mentioned above are completely inconsistent with his well-known position of nonviolent approach and such false reading to his speeches damages his good reputation.
o What appeared in the speech of Sh. Ali precisely is” The largest contribution of Ayatolla Sh. Issa Qasim to this movement of the people, and a large faction to identify the framework of this movement, most important of these:“The peaceful movement , renouncement of violence and non-adoption of the military option – one of the options that was there and still- and through his (Qassim) leadership, the peaceful means are committed to leaving the violence and military option” This statement was after the raiding of Sh. Issa Qassim’s house. (referencehttp://youtu.be/ZfvF9SAMVcU
– And what was mentioned in Sheikh Ali Salman’s speech on 10th October 2014, which the Public Prosecutor based its indictment on, was in this formula: (If people – after the permission of God Almighty headed towards change and change demanding – wanted (as per the expression used by AbulQasim Al-Shabi), then the destiny must be equally responsive. The regime cannot do anything to the people, the regime can suppresses but cannot triumph over the people, the people shall put their trust in God, dash to achieve their goal and this is the meaning of why the Prophets won, these words go hand in hand with the equity of the case, so that the people can exert their efforts, then no one can overcome them. Media, human rights, justice, political and national unity and other successes are indicators of this strength, people underlay larger and larger power, all what you have to do is to raise this power. I am now not talking about a military force, and I hope that this people do not need to defend themselves by military force as Kurds who are defending themselves in front of unexpected changes where women were forced to hold arms, we hope that we do not need this one day, I’m talking about the public dimensions of different elements of power; economic, social, media, and political rights, all of these elements could be increased
– In an intercalation from the Head of Prosecutor to the “use of military force” in a speech of Sh. Ali Salman talking about peaceful demonstrations based on the international treaties, the Prosecutor direct a question to him “if it is legal to use arms in the conflict in Bahrain”, Sh. Ali responded with explicit and definite “No”, then the prosecutor narrowed down the question, “what if the matter necessitate”, and Sh. responded unequivocally that there is no case at all, and confirmed this from part of his speeches in which he rejected the use of military in a way that cannot be understood other than rejection and emphasising the sticking to the nonviolent means while demanding democratic changes. The Prosecutor for the third time insisted “if there is a possibility of use of force and arms” and Sh. Ali also responded unequivocally that this option is rejected from his side.
– Regarding other indictments, which are misdemeanours, intended to be used to criminalize Sheikh Ali Salman just for his call to the need of the Bahraini authorities’ commitment to international human rights covenants that it has signed, and the need to apply its domestic laws in line with its international obligations that come under these covenants. Sheikh Ali Salman refuted the indictment of inciting non-obedience with the laws by a statement to the head of the Bahraini Supreme Judicial Council in which he proclaimed, according to the official news dated September 11, 2014, published in the Bahraini press, that the international treaties and conventions transcends the Bahraini law once ratified. He also refuted the indictment of insulting the Interior Ministry by mentioning that the violations are based on reports of the UN and commonly prestigious international human rights organizations, using the right of public criticism, and freedom of opinion and expression
– The indictments of violence come in contrary to the repeated communications took place in the same period between Sheikh Ali Salman and the political leaders in the Country which the Crown Price comes on top, the communication started since 2011 and lasted until September 2014, especially that the security agencies are not oblivious to the speeches, and declare their monitoring of Opposition’s sermon speeches.
It is clear that the actions taken against Sh. Ali Salmanduring his detention –if decided- will be based on malicious bases , as the authorities knew his methodology and public political work and the principles that he adhered to, and this is known to all political and diplomatic figures who visit Bahrain and meet him and Bahraini officials. These indictments also conflict with the freedom of expression, assembly and political workspace, and putting hindrances and constraints on inclusive plural political workspace that must be based on freedom of criticism, opinion and expression.
2 Jan 2015