For Immediate Release: December 7, 2011
Washington, DC – Threatening twitter messages sent to several prominent Bahraini human rights defenders are among the latest social media attacks on the nation’s human rights activists, Human Rights First said today.
During the past few days, a twitter account thought to be operated by former senior Bahrain Government official Adel Felaifil – who is widely believed to have committed and overseen torture in the country during the 1980s and 1990s – has sent hostile tweets to Mohammed Al-Maskati, President of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and Yousif Almuhafda, also of BCHR.
Al Maskati says one tweet sent from ADEL_FELAIFI to himself and Almuhafda reads, “ Do not think that because now I’m not in the Ministry of Interior, I will shut up about you.” Another tweet to Al Maskati and Rajab notes, “Maskati and Nabeel Rajab your future death and hell.”
“It is not only a matter of some threats made via twitter, we get many of those,” Al Maskati told Human Rights First. “What’s different is that he is an ex-torturer who feels that he can threaten Human Rights Defenders publicly with impunity, knowing that no one will hold him accountable.”
Human Rights Defenders in Bahrain have endured consistent attacks on Twitter and other social networking sites in recent months.
“The Government of Bahrain has illegally arrested, tortured and imprisoned countless human rights defenders this year. It is time for Bahrain’s leaders to take notice and start protecting these men and women from attacks on and offline,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, who recently returned from Bahrain. “Anyone making threats should to be held accountable and the Bahrain government should end this culture of impunity.”
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, an investigation into Bahrain human rights violations appointed by King Hamad, published its report on November 23. It found that security services have been responsible for widespread illegal arrests and torture. In addition, it noted that these forces have used excessive force against protestors and other human rights violations. Since the release of the report, the Bahrain regime has continued to prosecute people arrested for taking part in democracy protests and continued to attack protestors. Today, protestors were attacked by police near the Pearl roundabout, the site of the original protests in February.