Cairo – June 20, 2012
ANHRI denounces the Bahraini authorities’ detention of Mohamed Bouflasa, political activist, on June 18th on apparently trumped up charges. ANHRI also denounces the extension of Nabil Rajab’s detention yesterday, in addition to the trial of an eleven years old child on charges of “blocking a street with trash containers”.
Bahrain is continuing to eliminate human rights, escalate the crackdown on activists, and neglect all calls for reform. Activists on Twitter expressed their concern over Bouflasa after he had disappeared, given that there was no reason declared for his arrest. Some news circulated that he detained in the Hoad al-Jaf prison.
Bouflasa’s lawyers stated that his client was detained on the grounds of old family disputes between him and his wife’s family. At the behest of on of her relatives on her mother’s side, Bouflasa’s daughter, 13, was exploited to file a complaint accusing him of assaulting her.
The prosecution summoned Bouflasa to investigate his daughter’s allegations and detained him for seven days pending investigation. Bouflasa’s wife was summoned yesterday and she denied the allegations of her daughter and stressed that her family was at odds with her husband and exploited the slight dispute between her daughter and Bouflasa.
The lawyer confirmed that the child appeared at the prosecution and waived the complaint. Nevertheless, the prosecution insisted to continue detaining Bouflasa despite the invalidity of all the evidence.
Bouflasa was the first detainee on the grounds of the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain after delivering a speech on February 15th, 2011 in Pearl square, which the authorities demolished later. In his speech, Bouflasa called for political and economic reforms. The police detained him a few hours following his speech, and released him on July 24th, 2011 due to ongoing internal and external pressure. He was harassed several times following his release, such as expelling him from work and preventing him from traveling.
It is worth noting that Bouflasa is Sunni, and that undermines the claims that the calls for political reforms are sectarian or adopted by a particular sect in Bahrain.
In another case, the Bahraini authorities extended the detention of Nabeel Rajab, head of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, on June 27th. That is despite his innocence of all the charges against him, in addition to his ownership of a permanent home in Bahrain.
In a related context, the authorities released Ali Hassan, 11, after being held in detention for a month. He is to be tried on June 29th on disturbing charges of “participating in a gathering aiming at breaching public security”.
The authorities had detained Hassan on May 14th while participating in the blocking of a street in the city of Manama with trash containers. Lawyers stated that the Bahraini law does not sign punishment on those under the age of 15, and that Hassan is the youngest defendant to be tried in Bahrain following the revolutions that has been suppressed. They also stated that the child was continually crying and recognized the charges against him under psychological pressure and his yearning to return to his family.
ANHRI is deeply concerned about the ongoing escalation of the authorities’ crackdown on activists to the extent that they detain children in security cases.
“The detention of Bouflasa and Rajab is a continuation of the infringements on freedoms and liberties in Bahrain. The government harnesses all the authorities and powers to restrict the opposition and eliminate the voices that seek freedom and reform,” said ANHRI.
ANHRI calls on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release of Bouflasam, guarantee his safety, refrain from cracking down on activists and opinion makers, and to stop prosecuting and trumping up charges against them, which is their way of gagging them.
ANHRI also calls on all those concerned to intervene to stop the trial of the child Ali Hassan, and to shed light on the irrational violations of the Bahraini government.