March 18, 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 express our extreme alarm regarding reports that academic and human rights activist Dr. Abdul-Jalil Alsingace has been re-arrested.

According to our information, Dr. Alsingace, head of the human rights office of the Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy, was re-arrested on March 16, 2011, after he publicized the deteriorating human rights situation in the Kingdom following a violent crackdown on peaceful opposition protests in the capital, Manama. Nothing is known of his whereabouts or well-being in detention, and there are mounting concerns for his safety.

Dr. Alsingace recently spent nearly seven months in detention for his peaceful opposition activities. He was previously arrested on August 13, 2010, at Bahrain International Airport upon his return from London, where he had been attending a conference at the House of Lords and during which 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 was among 23 leading Bahraini Shia activists 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.” All were freed in February 2011, following widespread calls by anti-government protestors for political reform and the release of political prisoners. However, five leading Shia activists, including Dr. Alsingace, have reportedly been re-arrested since the crackdown on March 15, 2011. 

PEN American Center is deeply concerned that Dr. Abdul-Jalil Alsingace has been re-arrested solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain is a signatory. We are also concerned that his re-arrest has occurred as part of a larger governmental effort to silence dissent in Bahrain, and we therefore urge you to drop all charges against him and release him and all others arrested in connection with peaceful protests immediately and unconditionally, and to immediately end the violent crackdown against Bahrain’s own citizens.

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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