The Bahraini Ministry of Interior (MOI) reportedly released a statement on Monday that it arrested a number of participants in the recent protests condemning Saudi Arabia’s execution of Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr. The MOI stated that it “seized those who misused social media outlets, took legal actions against them, and summoned the parents of juveniles.” Exiled activist Maryam al-Khawaja reported via Twitter the arbitrary arrest of 22 demonstrators, which reportedly included 13 minors.
Arrests of online activists and critics exemplify the Bahraini government’s ongoing mass arbitrary arrest campaign that targets peaceful protesters and critics. Freedom House in its 2015 edition of its annual “Freedom on the Net,” notes high levels of government surveillance, and the forced deletion of at least three Twitter accounts by popular Twitter users. It classifies Bahrain’s internet as “not free.” Bahrain Watch has noted the arrests of many online activists since the uprising began in 2011. Nabeel Rajab, in particular, has been repeatedly arrested for his tweets and online activism, and remains on travel ban. This suppression of peaceful protesters and activists online violates Bahrain’s international human rights obligations to allow freedom of speech.
Tyler Pry is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB
Photo courtesy of Reuters