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Bahrain Regime Targets Families of Dissidents in Fresh Reprisals, Brian Dooley

2017-03-29 - 10:37 p

Bahrain Mirror: Maybe Washington's allies in the Bahraini regime learned the art of reprisals from their old colonial masters, said Brian Dooley in an article published on the Huffington Post, noting that the British used collective punishment to attack dissidents in Ireland, Kenya and elsewhere, and that "now family members of those who criticize the Bahrain government are being threatened, targeted, summoned and intimidated."

Dooley highlighted that on Monday (March 20, 2017), on her return to Bahrain from speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, activist Ebtesam al-Saegh told him she was held at Bahrain's airport for seven hours, questioned about her work, and her family threatened. "Most of these questions were about the Geneva conference. One of the security officers threatened to provoke a case against my son," she said.

The Human Rights First Senior Advisor further stated that he and Al-Saegh spoke at the Human Rights Council in Geneva about exactly this sort of intimidation aimed at families of human rights defenders.

Dooley said that Ebtesam also told him she was sure that her sister had been summoned for questioning at Muharaq police station because of Ebtesam's activism. "They tried to frighten some of us into keeping quiet. When the doesn't work they're going after our families," she said.

"Human Rights First knows of family members of other dissidents have been targeted but who are too afraid to come forward publicly. The threats to Al-Saegh's family are not isolated, they are part of an alarming pattern," stressed Dooley.

Citing examples of such abuse, he mentioned that Bahraini activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei fled Bahrain to London after being tortured and jailed by the repressive regime there, adding that "a few weeks ago, while he was also attending the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, raising issues of Bahrain's worsening human rights record, his brother-in-law and mother-in-law were arrested and questioned about his activities, and give credible accounts of having been abused in custody."

Dooley stated that Alwadaei's mother-in-law, was hospitalized during the questioning at the notorious Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). She says that although she is innocent of any crime she ended up making a confession under coercion and threats, also noting that in October 2016, Alwadaei's wife Duaa was also targeted, detained overnight at Bahrain airport with their infant son.

He stressed that the Bahraini authorities insisted then that "The Kingdom of Bahrain does not condone nor support any acts of reprisals," but tellingly qualified its statement by saying the Duaa's detention "should be taken in context with the criminal history of her husband".

Dooley underlined that in 1971 Bahrain signed the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates under Article 33 that "Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited," further stating that "like so much of Bahrain's human rights record, it exists on paper only."


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