WASHINGTON â€” Human Rights Watch has urged Bahrain to immediately release or formally charge four Shiite activists, including two clerics, arrested recently over suspected plan to destablise the Gulf kingdom.
â€œThe Bahraini government should immediately release four opposition activists detained in recent days or bring formal charges against them,â€ the New York-based watchdog said in a statement on Wednesday.The countryâ€™s National Security Agency said on Sunday that the four were suspected of forming â€œan organised network aiming to shake the security and stability of the country.â€
On Saturday, Bahraini security said it has arrested Abduljalil al-Singace, a leading figure in the mainly-Shiite opposition association Haq. HRW said he was nabbed on Friday at the airport as he returned from London.
The other three â€” Sheikh Mohammed al-Moqdad, Sheikh Saeed al-Nuri and Abdulghani Ali Issa Khanjar â€” were arrested on Sunday.
â€œBoth Singace and Khanjar had attended a conference at the House of Lords in London on August 5, during which they criticised Bahrainâ€™s human rights practices,â€ HRW said.
â€œA country that respects human rights, as Bahrain claims to do, does not arrest people just because they harshly criticise the government,â€ said Joe Stork, HRWâ€™s deputy Middle East director.
HRW claimed that four others were arrested this week. It named them as Jaffar al-Hessabi, Muhammad Saeed, Mirza al-Mahroos and Abdulhadi al-Mukhuder.
Moqdad and Singace were released from prison in April 2009 in a royal pardon for 178 detainees accused of security charges.
The Gulf archipelago is ruled by a Sunni dynasty but has a Shiite majority population.