The Bahraini authorities have summoned human rights defender and scholar Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman to be present at the General Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID) for interrogation on Sunday, 14 August 2016. Authorities did not declare the reasons for which Al-Salman is going to be interrogated. We strongly condemn the targeting and prosecution of Al-Salman and other human rights defenders and activists.

Al-Salman is an international spokesperson and a human rights defender focused particularly on topics related to freedom of religion, anti-extremism, anti-violence, and strengthening positive relations between cultures and religions. He is the head of the Religious Freedom unit at at the Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO); the founding member and current coordinator of the Middle East and North Africa Civil Society Coalition to Counter Incitement to Hatred, a multi-stakeholder platform; and the Director of Bahrain Inter-Faith, a non-profit organization seeking to prevent religious and social discrimination and sectarianism that works to encourage and support interfaith dialogue. Al-Salman also serves on a committee of the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect.

He has taken part in a number of human rights conferences, as well as meetings with the United Nations Human Rights Council. Recently he has released a video statement about the recent crackdown on civil society in Bahrain and called for the international community to support efforts to end the crackdown.

Al-Salman has been a target of repeated harassment by the authorities. In 2011, security forces arrested and subjected him to torture. The court sentenced him to four months in prison for inciting hatred against the regime. However, authorities kept Al-Salman in detention for six months before he was finally released. Since then, he has been repeatedly summoned and arrested over his human rights work. With each arrest, the authorities have interrogated him for his activism and participation in international human rights conferences and forums. The Bahraini government has summoned him several times during the past year, the latest of which was in March 2016. Authorities accused him of allegedly “insulting religious figures.” The authorities have since confiscated his passport. The Bahraini government has prevented from traveling, which hinders his ability to do human rights work. The government also did not allow him to attend the Draper Hills Summer Fellowship Program at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law this summer.

The targeting of Al-Salman and other human rights defenders, including President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) Nabeel Rajab, is an example of the Government of Bahrain’s attempts to restrict the space of human rights organizations and civil societies. We call upon the Government of Bahrain to stop summoning and arresting human rights defenders and activists, release all detained human rights defenders and drop the charges against them, and provide civil societies with the space to practice their jobs without fear of reprisal.

 

Signatories

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy (BIRD)
European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
Justice Human Rights Organizations (JHRO)