It has been three full months since the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s Shiite majority, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, was put under house arrest.
With Ayatollah Qassim’s house arrest entering its fourth month, Interior Ministry forces on Sunday (20 August 2017) placed concrete barriers around his house, reported some activists.
A number of citizens had held an open sit-in outside the home of Ayatollah Qassim in Diraz after he was stripped of his nationality on June 20, 2016. However, security forces cracked down on the sit-in (May 23, 2017) by force, leaving five Bahrainis killed, dozens injured and hundreds arrested.
The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights has expressed on the 5th of August concern over the health and safety of Ayatollah Qassim. The Forum said in a statement that this comes “with the continued tight security measures near the house of Ayatollah Qassim, which hindered the health follow-ups by his doctors and led to the harassment of family members wishing to visit him, by subjecting them to prolonged detention and strict measures, in addition to several violations of freedom of movement in Diraz and continued prosecution of a number of citizens over their participation in the peaceful Diraz open-ended rally before it was cleared by excessive force and hundreds of people were arrested, some of whom the conditions of detention and trial are ambiguous since they are deprived of meeting with their lawyers or their relatives.”
The Forum further described the current situation in Bahrain by saying that “these measures imposed by the security authorities on the residents of Diraz coincided with inflammatory media coverage and the authorities’ denial of information on various violations, including causing the disruption of the largest Friday prayer for the Shiite community in Bahrain,” stressing that Bahrain is experiencing a major decline in ideological and religious freedoms and that basic rights and freedoms have received severe blows in the name of security in an attempt to silence civil society.