Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the violence to which blogger Abdeljalil Al-Singace has been subjected since his arrest on 4 September and which has caused him partial loss of hearing. The mistreatment and torture of jailed human rights activists seems to be becoming more frequent in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for 23 October.
The press freedom organisation calls for the immediate release of Al-Singace and the human rights activists who have been unjustly detained in Bahrain. The international community has a duty to put pressure on the country’s authorities to respect the fundamental rights enshrined in the international conventions that Bahrain has signed and ratified.
According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, Al-Singace has a perforated ear-drum as a result of a blow to the head he received following his arrest and is now partially deaf. He is being deprived of the walking-stick and wheel-chair he normally uses and is being denied access to the medical care he needs for various chronic ailments. He has been in solitary confinement ever since he was taken to a National Security detention centre.
Al-Singace was previously arrested for an alleged campaign to destabilise the government in 2009, when he was already using his blog (http://alsingace.katib.org) to report cases of discrimination against Shiite citizens as well as the deplorable state of press freedom and other civil liberties.
An anti-terrorism law that Bahrain adopted in 2006 is being used to arrest many human rights activists and journalists. A total of 23 people, many of them Shiites, are currently being held under this law.
The cyber-dissident Ali Abdulemam was also arrested on 4 September, while Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (a Reporters Without Borders partner organisation), is the target of a smear campaign in the newspapers, which are accusing him of belonging to a terrorist organisaion.
Rajab and Abd Al-Hadi Al-Khawaja, who works for the organisation Frontline, have been banned from leaving the country and Rajab was briefly arrested when he tried to travel to Saudi Arabia on 26 September.
Access to more than 100 news, political, religious and free speech websites including the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and Barhainonline.org is now either partially or totally blocked inside Bahrain, as is access to certain Facebook, Wikipedia, Google Earth and YouTube pages.
Other signs of the Bahraini authorities taking a generally tougher line since May include a (temporary) ban on Al Jazeera by the ministry of culture and information and a ban on a BlackBerry application.