Activist and Blogger Abdul-Jalil Alsingace Sentenced to Life Imprisonment
PEN International is shocked by the life sentence handed down to academic and human rights activist Dr. Abdul-Jalil Alsingace on June 22, 2011, for his peaceful opposition activities. He is among 21 activists convicted this morning of “plotting to overthrow the government” after a violent crackdown on peaceful opposition protestors in the capital, Manama. PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Bahrain for the peaceful exercise of their opinions, including Dr. Alsingace, and seeks immediate guarantees of their safety. It reminds the Bahraini authorities of their obligations to protect the 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, and is alarmed at the apparent use of excessive force to suppress peaceful dissent.
According to PEN’s information, Dr. Alsingace, head of the human rights office of the Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy, was among 21 opposition activists to be convicted by a special security court on June 22, 2011 of “plotting to overthrow the government” following a wave of protests that swept the country in February and March this year. Eight of those convicted received life sentences, including Dr. Alsingace. A further ten were sentenced to 15 years in prison, two received five-year terms, and one a two-year prison sentence.
Dr. Alsingace was arrested at Bahrain International Airport on his return from London on August 13, 2010, where he had been attending a conference at the House of Lords during which he had 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 held incommunicado and in solitary confinement for six months, during which he was reportedly ill-treated. He and all those on trial with him were freed in February 2011 following widespread calls by anti-government protestors for political reform and the release of political prisoners. He was re-arrested on March 16, 2011, after publicizing the deteriorating human rights situation in the country, and was later placed under house arrest. His current whereabouts are unknown. Dr. Alsingace is disabled, and relies on a wheelchair for his mobility. Concerns for his welfare are mounting.
Dr. Alsingace taught engineering at the University of Bahrain and authors his own blog. He was previously detained in 2009 and held for several months on charges of plotting to overthrow the government before being given a royal pardon.
Protests led by Bahrain’s majority Shia community against the government’s policies have been underway since mid-February 2011. The Bahraini security forces have responded with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators. Dozens of civilians have reportedly been killed and many more wounded. The Bahraini government declared a State of Emergency on March 15, 2011, and brought in troops from neighboring Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia to help suppress dissent. The State of Emergency was lifted on June 3, 2011, but those arrested and charged under that law have not been released. Opposition sources estimate that some 400 people are currently on trial for their support of the protests, and further demonstrations are now expected.
Write A Letter
- Protesting the harsh sentence handed down to Dr. Abdul-Jalil Alsingace solely for his peaceful oppositional activities;
- Seeking immediate guarantees that he is not tortured or ill-treated in detention;
- Urging the Bahraini authorities to abide by their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Bahrain solely for the peaceful expression their opinions, including Dr. Alsingace.
Send Your Letter To
His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa
King of Bahrain
Office of His Majesty the King
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
Fax: +973 175 31 284
Please also send appeals to diplomatic representatives of Bahrain in your country if possible.
Please contact PEN if sending appeals after July 31, 2011: ftw [at] pen.org