On March 15, 2016, at the 31st session of the Human Rights Council, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain’s (ADHRB) International Advocacy Officer Michael Payne delivered an oral intervention during the Item 4 General Debate. He spoke on behalf of ADHRB, Alsalam Foundation, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and addressed the high number of arbitrarily detained political prisoners in Bahrain.

Please continue reading for his full remarks, or click here to read a PDF of his intervention.

Mr. President,

Alsalam Foundation, together with Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, the Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy, and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, would like to call the Council’s attention to the high number of arbitrary detained political prisoners in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Amongst those detained and subjected to physical and psychological torture at Bahrain’s central Jau Prison are prominent opposition figures, professors, religious leaders, and doctors.

Abduljalil al-Singace, a professor, blogger and human rights activist, was arrested on 17 March 2011 for participating in peaceful protests and was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. Security forces subjected him to severe and prolonged torture that targeted his physical disabilities.

Fadhel Abbas, the Secretary-General of the al-Wahdawi opposition party, was convicted of “spreading false information” on 28 June 2015 after he suggested that Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen violate international law.

Hassan Mushaima, an activist, teacher and Secretary General of the democratic reformist al-Haq Movement, was sentenced to life imprisonment following his involvement in 2011 peaceful protests.

Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Bahrain’s largest opposition society al-Wefaq, was sentenced to four years in prison in June 2015 for ‘inciting disobedience.’

Abdul Wahab Husain, a founding member of al-Wefaq, was arrested on 17 March 2011 and subsequently sentenced to life in prison.

Mohammed Habib al-Muqdad, a prominent religious figure, social activist, and Shia cleric, was arrested in April 2011 and sentenced to 68 years in prison for criticizing repression and violation of human rights in Bahrain.

Women in Bahrain are confined in for arbitrary sentences in the Isa Town Detention Center. Just yesterday, the prominent human rights activist Zeinab al-Khawaja was taken to Isa Town Prison along with her 15-month-old son to begin a 3 year 1 month sentence for her peaceful expression.

We therefore call on Bahrain to release all arbitrarily detained political prisoners as a first and crucial step towards restoring Bahrain’s path to national dialogue and reconciliation.

Thank you.