li Alaswad, resigned Bahraini MP, spoke yesterday during the 28th session of the UN Human Rights to condemn the ongoing detention of Sheikh Ali Salman.
Speaking during the session of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Alaswad said the detention of Sheikh Ali Salman is “a clear signal that Bahrain wants to silence political dissent and has no respect for human rights defenders.”
He called on member states of the council to “make efforts to protect all human rights defenders in Bahrain.” He added that “freedom of expression and opinion is the right of all citizens and in Bahrain it should be no different.”
In addition to the case of the Al Wefaq Secretary General, Alaswad also raised the case of the human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. Alaswad mentioned that if Rajab were able to travel he himself would be making the intervention, and that he is currently “facing imprisonment for a single tweet.”
Alaswad affirmed that “lasting peace in Bahrain hinges on the ability of peaceful leaders such as Mr. Rajab and Mr. Salman to play an active role in any political process.”
Below is the full text of the formal intervention made by Ali Alaswad:
Mr. President, Bahrain has been a regular topic at this Council for the past four years due to its poor human rights record. Unfortunately, this continues to be the case as exemplified by the treatment of its brave human rights defenders.
In Bahrain we are fortunate to have many human rights leaders who are prepared to risk their freedom and lives to speak out against repression.
In the 1970’s talking about human rights was unacceptable but the courage of our leaders has meant that even the Government now pretends to respect human rights.
But there is a gap between their rhetoric and reality, and it is up to the members of this council to address this gap.
Mr President, you will be aware of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, the most prominent human rights defender in Bahrain. He would be here today making this very intervention, were he not banned from travel as part of the latest case being taken against him.
In the past few years Mr. Rajab has faced constant harassment, imprisonment and attempts at silencing. Whenever he is released from one sentence, another is prepared for him.
He is currently facing imprisonment for a single tweet. Likewise the opposition politician, Sayeed Jamal Kadhem, who is serving a 6-month sentence as we speak for a tweet.
Mr. President, I want to draw the council’s attention to the situation of Sheikh Ali Salman, the Secretary General of Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s main opposition society.
Mr. Salman has been in detention since the end of December 2014 and faces false charges that include inciting violence.
Mr. Salman is the leading supporter of peaceful, non-violent protest in Bahrain and has consistently rejected all forms of violence.
His detention is a clear signal that Bahrain wants to silence political dissent and has no respect for human rights defenders.
The respected High Commissioner, as well as five special experts have all called for his release, yet Bahrain keeps Mr. Salman in detention.
Mr. President, our message to this council is to make efforts to protect all human rights defenders in Bahrain. Freedom of expression and opinion is the right of all citizens and in Bahrain it should be no different.
Lasting peace in Bahrain hinges on the ability of peaceful leaders such as Mr. Rajab and Mr. Salman to play an active role in any political process.