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Bahrain regime seeks to silence rights activists: IFEX

21 January 2016 6:56



An international human rights group says the Bahrain regime seeks to silence human rights defenderscalling on Manama to stop harassment of Sheikh Maytham al-Salman and drop all charges pending against the interfaith leader and human rights advocate.

IFEX, a global network of 104 organizations committed to defend and promote freedom of expression as a fundamental human rights, made the plea in a letter released on Tuesday.

Sheikh Maytham is well recognized for his work building tolerant societies and countering incitement to discrimination and violence based on international human rights standards.

The Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP) rights organization honored the activist with its 2015 Advocate for Peace award.

Bahraini authorities have harassed Sheikh Maytham on numerous occasions, including two separate incidents in 2015, when he was taken into custody for his human rights activities, the letter read.

It said the activist was accused of “expressing views regarding a case still in court” and “inciting hatred” against the Manama regime during a speech in December last year.

“The leveling of such accusations is part of an ongoing effort to silence human rights defenders through restrictive measures aimed at punishing those who speak out on political or social issues,” the letter read, adding that the Manama regime has made a habit out of persecuting dissidents and activists.”

The criticisms come amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent in Bahrain with rights groups repeatedly criticizing the regime for handing down long-term sentences to anti-regime protesters and activists in the country.

Bahraini protesters kick away tear gas canisters fired by police during clashes in Sitra, Bahrain, January 8, 2016. ©AP

Anti-regime demonstrators have been holding protests in Bahrain since early 2011, calling on the ruling Al Khalifah family to relinquish power.

The ongoing heavy-handed crackdown on peaceful demonstrations has left scores of Bahraini citizens dead. Hundreds of others have also been detained during the crackdown.

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