Scores of people have held a protest in Bahrain to voice their support for distinguished Shia cleric Sheikh Khalid Fadhil al-Zaki, whom regime forces recently arrested as the ruling Al Khalifah regime does not shy away from its clampdown on pro-democracy campaigners in the kingdom.
The protesters staged a rally in the northwestern village of Diraz, situated some 12 kilometers west of the capital Manama, following Friday prayers, carrying images of the cleric, who is the head of the Sharia Commission at the Islamic Scholars Council’s Central Committee – a leading Shia body dissolved in 2014.
Bahraini security authorities detained Sheikh Zaki early on Friday after raiding his home.
Eyewitnesses, requesting not to be named, said security forces ransacked Zaki’s home for two hours, before taking him to an unknown location.
HRW urges Thailand not to deport refugee footballer back to Bahrain
Separately, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Thai government to recognize the refugee status of Bahraini footballer Hakeem Ali al-Araib and allow him to return to his place of residence in Australia.
Araib was detained upon arriving in Thailand earlier this week, and now faces deportation back to Bahrain where he is at risk of persecution and torture.
Brad Adams, the executive director of the Asian division of HRW, pointed to the “grave dangers” that the 25-year-old footballer faces if he is returned to Manama.
He urged Thai immigration authorities to “immediately release Araib, who is recognized as a refugee in Australia, and ensure that he is not harmed in violation of international law.”
“Handing him over to Bahrain would be a heartless act that blatantly violates Thailand’s obligations to protect refugees and opens Bangkok up to a chorus of international criticism,” Adams added.
Araib is wanted in Bahrain over his alleged involvement in attacking a police station for which he received a 10-year prison sentence in absentia.
The footballer says the charges against him are fabricated and that he was in Qatar at the time of the purported incident.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
Amnesty International says it is “gravely concerned” by the Bahraini regime’s suppression of political opposition figures.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.