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HR Groups Call on Bahrain King to Release Photojournalist Sayed Ahmed Al Mousawi

2017-04-22 - 6:27 p

Bahrain Mirror: A number of human rights groups signed a joint letter on Thursday (April 20, 2017), initiated by the Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), calling on the King of Bahrain to release and drop the charges against photojournalist Sayed Ahmed Salman al-Mousawi.

The letter addressed the King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, expressing deep concern over the Bahraini government's continued targeting of journalists, stressing that this "further restricts free press and expression in the country."

The HR groups stated that on 23 April 2017, the court of appeals will hold another hearing for internationally-renowned photographer al-Mousawi, after he was arrested more than three years ago for alleged terrorist activities. "The government's repeated harassment of al-Mousawi and other journalists highlight the ongoing censorship and restrictions on free press and expression in Bahrain," they stressed in the letter.

The letter noted that Al-Mousawi, along with his brother Sayed Mohammed, were arrested by plain-clothes masked policemen from their home in Duraz, without presenting any arrest warrant and confiscated his cameras and electronic devices. "Security officers hung him on a door four times, electrocuted him, and did not allow him to sit for four days. They stripped him naked, beat him and sexually assaulted him. No independent investigation into his torture allegations have ever been conducted," highlighted the human rights groups, adding that Al-Mousawi "spent over nine months in detention without official charges against him."

The rights organizations further pointed out he was charged him with forming and participating in a terror cell, accusing him of providing SIM cards to protesters-"terrorists"-and taking photos of anti-government demonstrations, yet he and other witnesses denied having anything to do with the riots.

"The government continued to deny him his basic human rights, including restricting access to a lawyer, placing him in solitary confinement, and denying family visits," they said, adding that Al-Mousawi was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and was stripped of his citizenship in late 2015, which was overturned the ruling earlier this year. They stressed that Al-Mousawi has now been held arbitrarily for over three years, merely for exercising his right to free expression.

The signatories of this letter raised their concern over numerous cases of torture, arbitrary detention, unfair trials, and trumped up terrorism charges used to restrict expression unfavorable to the government, stressing that journalists, bloggers, online activists and human rights defenders such as Faisal Hayyat, Nazeeha Saeed, and Nabeel Rajab, among others, have increasingly come under attack by authorities since the 2011 pro-democracy protests.

They declared that the "targeting and judicial harassment of journalists simply performing their work is unacceptable and violates international human rights standards," noting that Bahrain is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states in Article 19 that "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression," including the requirement that "a free press and other media [be] able to comment on public issues without censorship or restraint and to inform public opinion."

Concluding their letter, the HR organizations called on the Bahraini government to immediately and unconditionally release Sayed Ahmed Salman al-Mousawi and all other journalists arrested and imprisoned for merely exercising their right to free expression; and guarantee the right to free expression by removing restrictions on the media and peaceful dissent, and foster an independent free press to fulfill Bahrain's international human rights obligations.



The signatories of the letter are: ActiveWatch (Romania), Africa Freedom of Information Centre, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), Article 19, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), Bytes for All, Pakistan, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, European Center for Democracy and Human Rights, Freedom House, Gulf Center for Human Rights, Index on Censorship, Journaliste en Danger (JED), Maharat Foundation, Media Foundation for West Africa, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers



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