Bahrain: human rights defenders, lawyers and British MPs have raised their voice in defence of Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei and of his family members

On 11 April 2019, British newspaper The Guardian has published a joint letter signed by a coalition of NGOs, lawyers and a cross-party group of British MPs in support of human rights activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD). This letter strongly condemns the ill-treatment and human rights violations Mr. Alwadaei’s family has been enduring. Mr. Alwadaei’s mother-in-law, Hajer Mansoor Hassan, brother-in-law, Sayed Nazar Alwadaei and cousin, Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor were arrested in March 2017 for allegedly planting fake explosive devices in January 2017. These arrests occurred in reprisal to Mr. Alwadaei’s human rights activism. Currently, they are serving their unlawful sentence to three years’ imprisonment handed down on 30 October 2017.

They have claimed they were subjected to ill-treatment during the interrogation. Ms. Mansoor is in desperate need for medical treatment and she continues to be denied family visits. The UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found that the imprisonment of Ms. Mansoor, Mr. Nazar Alwadaei and Mr. Marzooq is “arbitrary” and in reprisal to Mr. Alwadaei’s work at BIRD. On 25 February 2019, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation upheld the three-year sentence against family members of Mr. Alwadaei. With this sentence, they have exhausted all available legal remedies.

The European Parliament has been monitoring this case. On 22 February 2019, 7 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have jointly sent a letter to HR/VP Federica Mogherini to deplore the unlawful sentence to three years in prison of the family members of Mr. Alwadaei. The MEPs have highlighted the work done by the EU Parliament, which has strongly advocated for the release of Alwadaei’s family, in letters sent on 23 October 2017 and 20 March 2018. Furthermore, on 22 February 2019, the Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D) released a statement on the arbitrary punishment and unlawful detention of the family members of Bahraini human rights defender Sayed Ahmed Alwadei. Mr. Panzeri remarked that “No family member should be detained for the crimes that may or may not have been committed by another family member.”

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) renews its call for the immediate and unconditional release of the family members of Mr. Alwadaei. We are dismayed by this despicable situation and truly hope to see an improvement in the condition of these prisoners.

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