For Immediate Release: April 11, 2011
Washington, DC – Human Rights First is gravely concerned at the latest brutal crackdown on Human Rights Defenders in Bahrain and urges National Security Advisor Tom Donilon to speak out against the abuses during his trip to the region.
“Tom Donilon should publicly condemn the criminalization of human rights defenders in Bahrain and ask for their immediate release. If it’s wrong for human rights activists to be targeted in Syria and Iran, it’s wrong for them to be targeted in Bahrain,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley.
According to the organization, leading human right defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is among those who were arrested over the weekend. He is the former MENA Director at the Irish NGO Front Line Defenders and is the former President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. Human Rights First reports that at approximately 3 a.m. on April 9, masked police arrested Al-Khawaja and his two sons-in-laws, Wafi Almajid and Hussein Ahmed. The three men were severely beaten, and Al-Khawaja was beaten until he was unconscious. After the beatings, the three men were taken to an unknown destination.
“There can be no double standards on human rights issues,” said Dooley. “Tom Donilon is a guest of the Saudi Arabian Government, a powerful ally of Bahrain’s ruling authorities. He must speak out – and be seen to speak out – against the arrest of these men. They should be immediately released and all others engaged in legitimate and peaceful human rights work should be protected.”