Bahrain: Blogger Mohamed Hasan detained; lawyer Abd al-Aziz Moosa arrested after tweeting remarks about torture


RAN 28/13
9 August 2013

PEN International is concerned at the detention of 24-year-old blogger Mohamed Hasan who has been held since his arrest on 31 July 2013 apparently in connection with his alleged involvement in organizing anti-government protests. PEN International also condemns the arrest of Mohamed Hasan’s lawyer Abd al-Aziz Moosa who was arrested some 14 hours after tweeting that he had seen marks of beatings on Mohamed Hasan’s arms. PEN International is calling for the immediate release of both men unless they are to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence. PEN International is also urging that the reports of the torture of Mohamed Hasan be investigated promptly and impartially and for anyone found responsible for abuses to be brought to justice.

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Please send appeals IMMEDIATELY:

urging the immediate release of Mohamed Hasan and Abd al-Aziz Moosa unless they are to be charged and tried promptly with an internationally recognizable criminal offence;

calling on the Bahraini authorities to grant them access to their families, a lawyer of their choice and to all necessary medical treatment;

urging that both men are protected from torture or other ill-treatment while held and that the reports that Mohamed Hasan has been tortured are independently investigated, with anyone found responsible for abuses brought to justice;

calling on the Bahraini authorities to fully uphold their international obligations to protect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

APPEALS TO:

King of Bahrain
His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O.Box 555
Rifa’a Palace
Kingdom of Bahrain.
Fax: +973 176 64 587
Salutation: Your Majesty

Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa
Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs
P.O.Box 450
Al-Manama, Bahrain.
Fax: +973 175 31 284
Email: minister@justice.gov.bh
Twitter: @Khaled_Bin_Ali
Salutation:Your Excellency

Minister of Interior
Sheikh Rashid bin ‘Abdullah Al Khalifa
Ministry of Interior
P.O. Box 13, al-Manama,
Bahrain
Fax: +973 1723 2661
Twitter: @moi_Bahrain
Salutation: Your Excellency

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Bahrain in your country if possible.
**Please contact this office if sending appeals after 6 September 2013**

Background

Mohamed Hasan, who who until April 2013 blogged at http://safybh.wordpress.com/is and tweeted at @safybh. is believed to be held in the Dry Dock detention centre.

According to his family, he was arrested from his home on 31 July 2013 by masked men who did not produce an arrest warrant. He was permitted to phone home briefly after 24 hours but did not give any information concerning his whereabouts or the accusations against him. He was transferred to the Dry Dock detention centre in Manama on 3 August.

According to his lawyer Abd al-Aziz Moosa’s tweets from an interrogation session which he attended on 7 August 2013, Muhammad Hassan was charged with “promoting and inciting hatred against the system, incitement to disobey the law and calling for illegal rallies and gatherings”. The tweets also stated that Mohamed Hasan not only had visible marks on his arms, but also told the judge he had been beaten on his back and lower abdomen. Abd al-Aziz Moosa was reportedly arrested during a raid on his home some 14 hours later. The Public Prosecution’s twitter account has confirmed the arrest of a lawyer for investigation into “the publication of defendents’ names without permission and the disclosing of investigation secrets”.

Over two years since protests broke out in 2011, Bahrain still suffers from significant human rights violations, and important structural impediments to freedom of expression remain in place. In spite of much-publicised commitments to reform, the reality on the ground in Bahrain remains largely unchanged and a culture of impunity and fear prevails. Frequent protests continue, and the security forces continue to use excessive force to suppress dissent. While PEN International welcomes the authorities’ pledge to improve free expression in Bahrain, it is dismayed that little meaningful action has been taken to implement reforms and is extremely concerned at new measures passed by the King on 29 July 2013 that toughen punishments laid out in the 2006 Anti-Terrorism Law which the organization fears will lead to further violations of the right to freedom of expression.

The recommendations the King has ordered to be implemented include an indefinite ban on all sit-ins, public gatherings and demonstrations in the capital Manama, additional sweeping powers for the security forces to “protect society from all terrorist acts and incitement to such acts”; increased punishments for anyone “propagating false information about Bahrain in social media networks”; proposed legal action against certain political associations which incite and support violent and terrorist acts; additional measures “to impose peace and security, even if it means imposing a state of national safety (state of emergency)”; and the imposition of harsher sentences on anyone involved in acts of “terrorism” and violence and anyone inciting others to use violence; the revocation of Bahraini nationality from anyone committing terrorist acts or incitement to such activities, These toughened measures come just days before expected widespread demonstrations organized by the opposition (called “tamarrod” or rebellion) which have been called for 14 August 2013.

For further information please contact Ann Harrison at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: ann.harrison@pen-interantional.org.