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For Immediate Release

Bahraini Regime Must Free Rights Activist

Cambridge, MA - 12/28/2012

PHR calls on the Bahraini regime to set free immediately a human rights activist detained this month while monitoring the actions of Bahraini security forces during a peaceful public demonstration in Manama.

Said Yousif Almuhafda, acting vice president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was arrested December 17 while monitoring a demonstration marking the anniversary of two protesters killed in 1994. The public prosecutor ordered him held in prison for a week pending an investigation into charges of spreading false information via Twitter. On December 25, the public prosecutor extended his detention order by 15 days.

“The arbitrary detention of Mr. Almuhafda represents a clear repudiation of the regime’s own pledge a year ago to comply with the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry,” said Richard Sollom, deputy director of PHR. “Such harassment of human rights activists simply for reporting on the regime’s ongoing abuses is yet another disappointing sign that the country’s rulers have no intention of implementing their promised reforms.”

Almuhafda was among several Bahraini activists who attended a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September. A pro-government newspaper labeled them as traitors engaged in defaming Bahrain.

Earlier this month, a Bahrain appeals court upheld the sentence of Nabeel Rajab, a founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, although it reduced his sentence from three years to two.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was set up by King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa to investigate charges of human rights abuses during the regime’s crackdown on Arab Spring protests that began in February 2011. The report’s chief author, M. Cherif Bassiouni, has since criticized the regime’s failure to implement many of the recommended reforms.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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