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RAN 28/11 Update #1 20 July 2011

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International welcomes the release on 11 July 2011 of writer and journalist Abbas Al- Murshid, who had been held since 15 May 2011 for his peaceful dissident activities.

According to PEN’s information, Abbas Al- Murshid, a well-known Bahraini writer and researcher, was detained on 15 May 2011, when he was summoned to appear at Al-Naeim police station for interrogation about his peaceful dissident writings and activities. Al-Murshad is a frequent contributor to the Bahraini daily Al-Waqt as well as numerous online publications, and has written about Bahrain’s social unrest and the issues of corruption, institutional discrimination and other topics considered sensitive by the government. Al-Murshid has been previously arrested on several occasions in relation to his writing and many of his books have been banned in Bahrain. At the end of January 2009, Al-Murshid was hit above his eye with a rubber bullet in a targeted attack and as a result he had to be admitted to hospital.

Background

Protests led by Bahrain’s majority Shia community against the government’s policies have been underway since mid- February 2011. The Bahraini security forces have responded with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators. Dozens of civilians have reportedly been killed and many more wounded. The Bahraini government declared a State of Emergency on 15 March 2011 and brought in troops from neighbouring Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia to help suppress dissent. The State of Emergency was lifted on 3 June 2011 but many of the detainees arrested under that law are still in detention.

No further action is required. Thank you for campaigning on the behalf of writer and journalist Abbas Al- Murshid.

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at PEN International 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: cathy.mccann@pen-international.org

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