September 15, 2010

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 serious concern regarding the incommunicado detention 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, was arrested on August 13, 2010, at the Bahrain International Airport. He was returning from a conference at the House of Lords in London, England, during which he voiced critical remarks about Bahrain’s human rights practices. Dr. Alsingace was initially accused of “inciting violence and terrorist acts” before being officially charged under national security and counter-terrorism legislation. Since his arrest he has been detained incommunicado. There are mounting concerns for his well-being, as reports have surfaced indicating that he has been ill-treated in detention. Dr. Alsingace is partially paralyzed due to polio and requires assistance to walk.

According to a public prosecution official, Dr. Alsingace is one of four leading Bahraini Shia activists facing multiple 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.” Currently, these men are believed to be held on a 60-day detention order. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

This is not the first time Dr. Alsingace has been targeted by the Bahraini government for voicing his opinion. He was detained and held for several months in 2009 on charges of plotting to overthrow the government, but was issued a royal pardon.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Dr. Abdul-Jalil Alsingace’s arrest is part of a crackdown on Shia activists in the run up to the forthcoming parliamentary elections, and that he is being detained in violation 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 therefore urge the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Alsingace and all others currently detained solely for the peaceful expression of their opinions.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this 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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