Protesters Arrested and Feared Tortured, Charged Under Terrorism Law, Special Rapporteur on Torture Denied Access

23 April 2013

As the world’s attention shifts away from Bahrain, the authorities have sharply intensified the crackdown on ordinary citizens. The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) are both seriously concerned for the well being of Nafeesa Al-Asfoor (pictured above, left) and Rayhana Al-Mosawi (pictured above, right) who were arrested on April 22nd after peacefully protesting at the F1 race with t-shirts and slogans that support the freedom of imprisoned human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja and imprisoned photographer Ahmed Humaidan. The husband to Rayhana Al-Mosawi was also arrested and interrogated, but has been released. Both women have been charged under the terrorism law for attempting to detonate a bomb at the F1 race, according to the defendants’ lawyers. Both activists stand accused of:

(1) joining an illegal group aimed at disrupting the provisions of the Constitution, terrorism was among the means used to achieve or execute the objectives;
(2) awareness of a terrorist schema without informing the authorities.

The official Ministry of Interior statement about the arrest states that:
“On the second day of the Grand Prix, police assigned to the BIC gate stopped two girls who were acting suspiciously. After searching them it was found that one of them was carrying a pillow stuffed under her dress. The girl told police she was testing the security procedures as part of a recce for a terrorist act. The girls were referred to the Public Prosecutor.”(Link to the MOI statement: http://www.policemc.gov.bh/news_details.aspx?type=1&articleId=14173)

The BCHR and the BYSHR believes that the decision to charge these women as terrorists under such outrageous charges is intended to send a clear message to other peaceful protesters that there will be severe consequences for speaking up for human rights. Their initial detention period will be for sixty days.
The BCHR has received reports that the women were forced to provide names of other individuals, and implicate them in illegal activities. The BCHR has documented a pattern of behavior by the authorities to use torture to extract false confession from human rights activists and pro-democracy protesters.

On the same day that the Bahraini authorities imprisoned these women on trumped-up charges, the U.N. Office of the Special Rapporteur on Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment announced that they would again delay their visit to Bahrain at the request of the Bahraini authorities. The Special Rapporteur, Professor Juan Mendez, was also denied access in March of 2012 when he was last scheduled to visit the country.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights demands that:

1. The immediate release of Nafeesa Al-Asfoor and Rayhana Al-Mosawi, and the dropping of all trumped-up charges against them.
2. The Special Rapportour on Torture be allowed to visit the country and speak with the dozens of prisoners and ordinary citizens who have reportedly been tortured by the authorities.

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