On Tuesday, 26 May 2015, a group of 15 NGOs and individuals sent a joint letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to call on Government of Bahrain to protect the religious freedoms of a group of high-profile political prisoners known as the Bahrain 13. As the letter states, “[t]he Bahrain 13 are representative of the systemic crisis of religious discrimination in Bahrain.” The letter requests Secretary Kerry to call for their immediate release from prison.

The letter also calls for an investigation into allegations of degrading treatment of these high-profile prisoners, which include disruption of prayer rituals and in some cases, having their beards and heads forcibly shaved. Such treatment stands in violation of international law and conventions which Bahrain has ratified with regards to upholding the freedoms of religion and belief . The Bahraini government therefore has an obligation to protect the religious freedoms of the Bahrain 13 and all those who are currently imprisoned in Bahrain.

The signatories included a diverse group of human rights organizations as well as faith-based groups concerned about violations of religious freedom around the world.

A pdf of this letter with the complete list of signatories is available here.