HRW urges Bahrain to release Shia activists

BahrainWASHINGTON — 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.

“The Bahraini government should immediately release four opposition activists detained in recent days or bring formal charges against them,” the New York-based watchdog said in a statement on Wednesday.

The country’s National Security Agency said on Sunday that the four were suspected of forming “an organised network aiming to shake the security and stability of the country.”

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 — Sheikh Mohammed al-Moqdad, Sheikh Saeed al-Nuri and Abdulghani Ali Issa Khanjar — were arrested on Sunday.

“Both Singace and Khanjar had attended a conference at the House of Lords in London on August 5, during which they criticised Bahrain’s human rights practices,” HRW said.

“A country that respects human rights, as Bahrain claims to do, does not arrest people just because they harshly criticise the government,” said Joe Stork, HRW’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.


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