SALAM DHR: Systematic Targeting of Bahraini Citizen Ali Muhanna; Authorities Should Release All Prisoners of Conscience

On Sunday, June 12th, 2021, Bahraini citizen Ali Mohsen Muhanna, alongside 184 other individuals, was summoned to Al-Khamis Police Station in Bahrain for questioning and investigation on the charges of participating in a march that took place after the burial of the deceased Hussein Barakat, who passed away in Jau Central Prison due to COVID-19 related complications. During the investigation, Ali Muhanna denied the accusation as, during the time of the march, he was in Abu ‘Anbara cemetery to complete the burial rites of his father, who also passed away due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, Muhanna was not released as there was a notice circulated from the Exhibitions Police Station to summon and interrogate him. After around 3 hours of waiting, he was taken in a police vehicle to the Exhibitions Police Station where he was asked to pay a fine of BD1,000 as a result of a final ruling issued against him for participating in a sit-in at Al-Sanabis. Additionally, Muhanna has a third case against him on the same accusation from the Al-Na’eem Police Station. Accordingly, a one-week detention order was issued against him to serve in Dry Dock Prison. Moreover, the day after, he was presented to the Public Prosecution, which asked him to apologize for a statement he said: “Hussein Barakat, the oppressed martyr”. According to Muhanna, he told the Public Prosecution that he was calling for prison reform. As this sentence was not recorded in the investigation report, he was charged with “spreading chaos and unrest in the country”.

The Ministry of Interior in Bahrain continues to target the civilian Ali Muhanna due to his expressing of his political and human rights-related views, foremost of which is his demand for the release of his son sentenced to life-imprisonment in Jau Central Prison, amidst the backdrop of political unrest that has continued in the country since February 2011. On February 20, 2017, the Ministry of Education issued a letter addressed to Ali Muhanna that stating that his service as a teacher at the Imam Ali Primary and Preparator School for Boys had been terminated with retroactive effect from October 8, 2015. Muhanna was also summoned on May 14, 2021, by the Criminal Investigation Department’s Cybercrime Unit, asking him to delete tweets he wrote regarind his intention to go to Jau Central Prison to demand the release of his son and the rest of the prisoners. On May 16, Muhanna indeed did go to Jau Central Prison but was prevented from

Arriving there by several police officers. The officers refused to receive a letter that originally Muhanna was supposed to deliver to the Director of Jau Central Prison, Abdulsalam Al-‘Uraifi. The letter contained a demand for the release of his son to protect him from COVID-19, but Muhanna was forcibly removed from the area near the prison. According to Muhanna, he had tried before to deliver his letter to the Public Prosecution, which refused to receive it on the grounds that the issue was not within their jurisdiction. The same had been done by the National Institution for Human Rights.

On April 25, 2021, Muhanna stated that he was sentenced to a fine of BD1,000 due to his participation at a sit-in at Al-Sanabis, and another fine of BD1,000 for also participating at a sit-in in Karbabad. It is worth nothing that Muhanna’s fears of his son Hussein’s contraction of COVID-19 has already occurred on May 28, 2021, according to examination results of the Ministry of Health.

Ali Muhanna was previously arrested on April 8, 2019, from the courtroom, in implementation of his one-year prison sentence due to his participation in a sit-in in front of the house of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassem, and during the bloody attack on the protesters in front of his house on May 23, 2017. Muhanna was shot by a shotgun. timely. As a result of that attack, five of the participants in the sit-in were killed. It is worth noting that Ali Muhanna stated that after his arrest by the court, in the Criminal Investigations building, he was subjected to beatings, psychological torture, had his Shiite sect and beliefs insulted, including insulting and slandering Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassem.

Summary of Hussein’s Story, the Son of Ali Muhanna:

25-year-old Hussein Ali Muhanna was arrested in 2017 by the Central Investigation Department and held for 40 days where he suffered from torture during the period of investigation. He was tried in a mass trial that did not meet international standards for fair trials. On July 22, 2018, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison with revocation of his nationality on charges of incitement to murder. After the sentence was appealed at the Appeals Court, it was reduced to 5 years in prison, and he wasfurther sentenced to one year in prison on September 26. 2018 on charges of escaping arrest. He was also tried in another case with 168 other defendants in a case known as the Hezbollah of Bahrain as claimed by authorities. On April 16, 2019, Hussain was sentenced to life imprisonment, revocation of his Bahraini citizenship, and a fine of BD10,000. The verdict was upheld on 30 June 2019, but his Bahraini citizenship was reinstated on April 20, 2019. Hussein Ali Muhanna served his sentence in the notorious Jau Prison.

SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights urges the government of Bahrain to abide by international laws regarding freedom of opinion and expression and calls for the release of all prisoners of conscience, including Ali Muhanna who is currently on remand. SALAM DHR also calles on the government of Bahrain to work on harmonizing its legislations to ensure that people who express their opinions, critique of the government, or those who are in opposition of it, are not arrested.