On 7 August 2014, a coalition of 17 international organizations and individuals sent a letter to the King of Bahrain on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed Habib al-Miqdad, a Bahraini charity worker sentenced to life in prison. The letter calls for Sheikh al-Miqdad’s unconditional release, an investigation into the allegations of torture, and access to medical care for injuries sustained while in detention. The text of the letter with the complete list of signatories is provided below.
August 7, 2014
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Office of The King
The Royal Court, Rifa’a Palace
P.O. Box 555
We write as a coalition of organizations and individuals who are scholars, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and practitioners to express our concern about charity worker, religious scholar and human rights defender Sheikh Mohammed Habib al-Miqdad, and ask that he be unconditionally released from detention.
Sheikh Mohammed Habib al-Miqdad is a prominent Bahraini-Swedish religious leader, scholar, social activist and the president of the Al-Zahra Charity Institution for Orphans, who was detained in April 2011 “by a group of 50-60 people wearing civilian clothes and masks” at his home. During his imprisonment, al-Miqdad alleges that he was blindfolded, handcuffed, and repeatedly tortured by Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa.
Prior to his trial, al-Miqdad attempted to inform the presiding judge about the acts of torture and sexual harassment that he and other prisoners were subjected to. He showed the judge more than 50 instances of electric shock on his body, and the wound left by a drill piercing his leg. Despite these attempts, al-Miqdad was sentenced to life in prison on 22 June 2011.
Last year, al-Miqdad began experiencing difficulty ingesting food. Bahraini authorities refused to grant him access to proper medical treatment, in direct contravention of human rights conventions on the treatment of prisoners. When the Minister of Interior finally allowed al-Miqdad to seek medical treatment, doctors confirmed that his difficulty ingesting food was a direct result of severe torture and injury to the abdomen.
We are concerned that Sheikh Miqdad’s treatment is but one example of the systemic use of violence against prisoners and denial of necessary medical care. Such treatment stands in direct contravention of Bahrain’s international commitments and obligations, including the prohibition of evidence obtained by means of abuse, coercion, or torture in a court of law. International law also obligates the government to initiate a prompt and impartial investigation when there are reasonable grounds to believe that an act of torture has been committed. Unfortunately, the Bahraini government has twice canceled scheduled visits from Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, preventing him from investigating this case and others like it.
We call on the government to dismiss all charges against Sheikh Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad and arrange for his immediate release from detention. We also call on your government to fulfill its obligations under international law and safeguard the protection of human rights and due process rights of all those currently imprisoned in Bahrain. As such, we request your government also thoroughly investigate any allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Sheikh Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad by rescheduling the visit by Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez as soon as possible. We also request that your government ensure that Sheikh al-Miqdad receives unfettered access to medical care for his injuries and ailments while in detention.
We look forward to your prompt action on this matter.
AMERICANS FOR DEMOCRACY & HUMAN RIGHTS IN BAHRAIN (ADHRB)
BAHRAIN CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (BCHR)
BAHRAIN INSTITUTE FOR RIGHTS & DEMOCRACY (BIRD)
CENTER FOR INQUIRY
CHRISTIAN SOLIDARITY WORLDWIDE UK
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY NATIONAL AFFAIRS OFFICE
HINDU AMERICAN FOUNDATION*
HUMAN RIGHTS LAW FOUNDATION
INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX AUTONOMOUS CHURCH OF AMERICA
SHIA RIGHTS WATCH
UNIVERSAL MUSLIM ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
VOICE FOR FREEDOM
C. Naseer Ahmad
Shia Rights Watch
The Mitchell Firm
Red Eagle Enterprises