17 March 2011
The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International is deeply concerned about the reported re-arrest of academic and human rights activist Dr Abdul-Jalil Alsingace on 16 March 2011 after a violent crackdown on peaceful opposition protestors in the capital, Manama. Dr Alsingace recently spent nearly seven months in detention for his peaceful opposition activities, during which he was reportedly ill-treated. There are serious concerns for his safety. PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Bahrain for the peaceful exercise of their opinions, including Dr Alsingace, and seeks urgent guarantees of their safety. It reminds the Bahraini authorities of their obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain is a state party, and is alarmed at the apparent use of excessive force to suppress peaceful dissent.
According to PEN's information, Dr Alsingace, head of the human rights office of the Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy, was re-arrested on 16 March 2011 after publicising the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. He had recently been on trial under national security and counter-terrorism legislation for his peaceful opposition activities.
Dr Alsingace was previously arrested at Bahrain International Airport on his return from London on 13 August 2010, where he had been attending a conference at the House of Lords during which he had criticised Bahrain's human rights practices. He was initially accused of ‘inciting violence and terrorist acts', before being formally charged under national security and counter-terrorism legislation. Dr Alsingace is among twenty-three leading Bahraini Shia activists to have been facing charges including ‘the planning and instigation of violence, conducting a wide-ranging propaganda campaign against the Kingdom and seeking to overthrow the regime by force'. All were freed in February 2011 following widespread calls by anti-government protestors for political reform and the release of political prisoners, but five leading Shia activists (including Dr Alsingace) have reportedly been re-arrested since the crackdown on 15 March 2011. Nothing is known of their whereabouts or well-being in detention.
Protests led by Bahrain's majority Shia community against the government's polices have been underway since mid- February 2011. The Bahraini security forces have responded with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators. At least nine civilians have reportedly been killed and many more wounded. The Bahraini government declared a State of Emergency on 15 March 2011 and brought in troops from neighbouring Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia to help suppress dissent.
Dr Alsingace taught engineering at the University of Bahrain and authors his own blog (http://alsingace.blogspot.com/). He was previously detained in 2009 and held for several months on charges of plotting to overthrow the government before being given a royal pardon.
For further background go to:
For a statement by Bahrain PEN and the Bahrain Writers Assocaition click here