Bahrain: Immediately end repression against political opponents

Press release
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FIDH calls for the immediate and unconditional release of leading opposition figure Sheikh ‘Ali Salman, and the dropping of all charges against him. FIDH urges the authorities to honor their pledges made to the international community, and respect their international human rights obligations, in particular the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and association.

"The judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of a leading figure of the main opposition party only leads to the reigniting of tensions in Bahrain. The authorities pledges of reform and dialogue can only be considered as rhetoric ”, declared Karim Lahidji.

Following the arrest of Salman, several protests erupted demanding his release, which were violently dispersed by security forces. The prospects of stability and national dialogue are diminishing significantly due to the authorities’ lack of tolerance for any opposition. Political societies in particular have faced a series of repressive administrative and judicial measures.

The trumped-up charges against Salman are part of a pattern of judicial repressionagainst political opponents as well as human rights defenders. The repressive measures also include the revoking of nationalities of at least 40 individuals over the past two years.

The trial of Salman, who has been in detention since 28 December 2014, started on 28 January before the High Criminal Court in Manama on charges of “incitement to promote the change of the political system by force, threats and other illegal means”, “public incitement to loathing and contempt of a sect of people which will result in disrupting public disorder”, “publicly inciting others to disobey the law” and “publicly insulting the Interior Ministry”. He was refused bail and the next hearing is scheduled for 25 February.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for the immediate release of Salman, and all others “convicted or detained for merely exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly”.

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