March 9, 2011

His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa
King of Bahrain
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O.Box 555
Rifa’a Palace
Kingdom of Bahrain
Fax: +973 176 64 587

Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs
P.O.Box 450
Fax: +973 175 31 284

Your Excellencies:

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to welcome the release of academic and human rights activist Dr. Abdul-Jalil Alsingace.

According to our information, Dr. Alsingace, head of the human rights office of the Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy, is among 23 activists to have been released by the order of the King of Bahrain following anti-government protests that have been taking place since mid-February. We understand that before his release he was asked to sign a document promising not to criticize the government, but he declined to do so. It now remains unclear whether Dr. Alsingace has been released on bail or general amnesty.

Dr. Alsingace was arrested on August 13, 2010. He was detained at Bahrain International Airport immediately following his return from a conference at the House of Lords in London, where he criticized Bahrain’s human rights practices. He was initially accused of “inciting violence and terrorist acts” before being formally charged under national security and counter-terrorism legislation. Dr. Alsingace is among four leading Bahraini Shia activists to have been facing charges including “the planning and instigation of violence,” “conducting a wide-ranging propaganda campaign against the Kingdom,” and “seeking to overthrow the regime by force.”

PEN American Center welcomes the release of Dr. Abdul-Jalil Alsingace after nearly seven months in prison. However, we remain concerned that he may still face charges and that many Bahraini citizens have been targeted in a crackdown on freedom of expression during continued protests. We therefore urge you to investigate allegations that Dr. Alsingace was tortured while imprisoned, to make his release unconditional, and to drop any remaining charges held against him. We further urge you to abide by Bahrain’s obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain is a state party, and end the harassment of all those who are peacefully expressing their opinions.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.


Hannah Pakula                      
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee            

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ambassador Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo
Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain
3502 International Drive NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 362 2192

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