Bahraini NGOs: Arrests of scholars and activists further illustrate systematic suppression & sectarian persecution

In a joint statement, five Bahraini non-government organisations (NGOs): Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahraini German Organization for Human Rights and Democracy, and Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, confirmed that the Bahraini authorities have arrested 47 religious scholars, including the head of the Scholarly Council, as well as a number of activists and civilians for allegedly illegally protesting after the nationality revocation of Sheikh Isa Qassim on 20 June 2016.

The NGOs believe that these latest charges are highly malicious, contrary to the Bahraini constitution, infringing on international agreements on right to peacefully assemble and freedom of opinion, and inconsistent with Bahrain’s domestic laws.

The NGOs state the following: “The sudden news that Sayed Majeed Al-Mishal, head of the Scholarly Council, would be prosecuted illustrates the extent of sectarian suppression that exists. Not forgetting that those arrested or investigated all demand peaceful political change through adoption of non-violent means and open dialogue.”

The NGOs also add “The arrest of television director Yassir Nasser, human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, and other recent arrests and trials display a dismal lack of conformity with international agreements catering for human rights.”

The NGOs agreed that the siege on Duraz area, along with the detention of scholars and citizens for 15 days or more for peacefully protesting, are actions by the Bahraini authorities that are contrary to views held by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has on numerous occasions confirmed that peacefully protesting is a freedom enshrined by international laws, and it is for the government to stop such a right from being restricted.

The NGOs conclude by demanding from the Bahraini authorities to immediately cease the restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well to stop the repeated insults directed at religious scholars, human rights personalities, and religious practices of citizens. All prisoners of conscience must be released, confirming that the continuance of such practices
will make the authorities to be accountable by international human rights bodies and negatively affect Bahrain’s future.