PEN International welcomes the release on July 11, 2011, of writer and journalist Abbas Al- Murshid, who had been held since May 15, 2011, for his peaceful dissident activities.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, Abbas Al- Murshid, a well-known Bahraini writer and researcher, was detained on May 15, 2011, when he was summoned  to appear at Al-Naeim police station for interrogation about his peaceful dissident writings and activities. Al-Murshad is a frequent contributor to the Bahraini daily Al-Waqt as well as numerous online publications, and has written about Bahrain's social unrest and the issues of corruption, institutional discrimination and other topics considered sensitive by the government. Al-Murshid was previously arrested on several occasions in relation to his writing and many of his books have been banned in Bahrain. At the end of January 2009, Al-Murshid was hit above his eye with a rubber bullet in a targeted attack and as a result he had to be admitted to the hospital. 

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 many of the detainees arrested under that law are still in detention.

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