Bahrain: NPWJ and the NRPTT condemn arrest of prominent opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman and call for his immediate release

29 Dec, 2014 | Press Releases

Brussels – Rome – New York, 29 December 2014

On Sunday 28 December 2014, Sheikh Ali Salman, the Secretary General of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, the largest opposition party in Bahrain, was detained after being summoned for interrogation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Bahraini Ministry of Interior. The CID prevented his lawyers from attending the interrogation twice before one of his lawyers was allowed in. According to his lawyers, Sheikh Ali Salman is accused of “inciting hatred against the regime and calling for its overthrow by force”, among other charges, and should be transferred to the Public Prosecution today.

Statement by Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice:

“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) firmly condemn the arrest and detention of Bahraini political leader Sheikh Ali Salman and call upon the Bahraini authorities to ensure his prompt and unconditional release.  We are also concerned by the claims of Sheikh Ali Salman’s defence team that they were initially prevented from assisting him during the interrogation. We therefore call on the authorities to ensure that a fair legal process is fully upheld.

“The detention of the leader of the main opposition party, who has consistently condemned all forms of violence, demonstrates the unabated determination of the Bahraini authorities to suppress any peaceful dissent and nonviolent quest for meaningful democratic reform, rule of law and respect of human rights in the country. This kind of unwarranted action continues to happen, showing that it is really part of a routine campaign of intimidation and threats against leading political figures and human rights defenders through the use of apparently politically-motivated charges. This simply has to stop.

“While the Government of Bahrain continues to claim publicly it is working towards reform, the facts on the ground blatantly speak to the contrary. Further to the legislative and municipal elections held last November, which were boycotted and denounced as unfair and exclusive by the main opposition parties, the regime is persevering in its repressive and retaliatory practices rather than engaging in a real and inclusive dialogue in order to reach national consensus on a serious reform program.

“The response of the international community to the continued and violent assault on Bahrainis’ civic and political freedoms has, so far, been weak and deaf to the plight of the Bahraini citizens. It is fair to say that this approach seems to have contributed to the deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain. It is way past time for the international community to take immediate concrete steps to make the Bahraini authorities accountable and comply with their obligations under international human rights laws and norms.

“We call on the international community to take action to ensure the safe and immediate release of Sheikh Ali Salman, as well as all other people detained in Bahrain simply for expressing their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly peacefully.  A truly democratic transition in Bahrain will be achieved only if all those who are committed to peaceful and nonviolent dialogue are able to contribute fully to the political process without fear of reprisals”.