An open letter in support of Bahraini human rights defenders

April 12, 2019

The below letter was published in the Guardian on April 12, 2019.

We, the undersigned, write to express our deep concern for the family of Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).

Mr Alwadaei was granted refugee status in the UK in 2012 in recognition of the dangers he faced in Bahrain. While in London, Mr Alwadaei has continued to fight for the rights of torture victims and prisoners sentenced to death for peacefully protesting against the Bahraini regime.

The family of Mr Alwadaei has been subjected to numerous human rights violations by the Bahraini authorities in response to BIRD’s work, including arbitrary detention, unfair trial and torture or other ill treatment.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Mr Alwadaei’s family were “deprived of their liberty, interrogated and prosecuted for their family ties with Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei and that these were acts of reprisal”. The Bahraini Government responded with a smear campaign of false and misleading information about Mr. Alwadaei and his family.

Such abuse is a patent attempt to intimidate Mr Alwadaei to prevent him from continuing his work. This has been condemned by over 80 Members of the UK Parliament.

The British Government has repeatedly committed to support human rights defenders.It must condemn the persecution of Mr Alwadaei and his family, assert his right to criticise abuses in Bahrain, and advocate for the release of his unlawfully detained family members. Security assistance to Bahrain should be conditional on Bahrain’s adherence to its international human rights obligations.

Signed,

NGOs/Lawyers

Maya Foa, Director, Reprieve

Kate Allen, UK Director, Amnesty International

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO, Index on Censorship

Antonia Byatt, Director, English PEN

Rebecca Vincent, UK Bureau Director, Reporters Without Borders

Rowan Kinchin, Director, Campaign Against Arms Trade

Jago Russell, Chief Executive, Fair Trials

Saloua Ghazouani Oueslati, MENA Director, ARTICLE 19

Rupert Skilbeck, Director, REDRESS

Joe Stork, Chair of the Advisory Board, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights

Husain Abdulla, Executive Director, ADHRB

Brian Dooley, Human Rights Campaigner

Stephen Cragg QC, acting Chair on behalf of Bar Human Rights Committee

Stephen Knafler QC, Barrister, Landmark Chambers

David Lock QC, Barrister, Landmark Chambers

Tim Buley, Barrister, Landmark Chambers

Jane Deighton, Founding partner, Deighton Pierce Glynn

Daniel Carey, Partner, Deighton Pierce Glynn

Tim Cooke-Hurle, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

Kirsty Brimelow QC, Doughty Street Chambers

Chris Henley QC, Carmelite Chambers, Chairman, the Criminal Bar Association

Sheona York, Clinic solicitor and Reader in Law, University of Kent

Angela Jackman, Senior Lecturer, City Law School

Dr Sam Raphael, Senior Lecturer, International Relations, the University of Westminster

Tony Fisher, Senior Partner, Fisher Jones Greenwood

Professor Juan E. Mendez, Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture

Martyn Day, Founder, Leigh Day

Astrid Perry, Associate Solicitor, Leigh Day

Saimo Chahal QC, Joint Head of Public Law and Human Rights Team, Bindmans LLP

Dan Squires QC, Barrister, Matrix Chambers

Samantha Knights QC, Refugee & human rights barrister, Matrix Chambers

Hugh Southey QC, Human rights barrister, Matrix Chambers

Daniel Machover, Head of Civil Department, Hickman & Rose Solicitor

MPs

Alex Norris MP, Labour, Nottingham North

Alistair Carmichael MP, Liberal Democrat, Orkney and Shetland

Andy Slaughter MP, Labour, Hammersmith

Angus MacNeil MP, SNP, Na h-Eileanan an Iar

Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party, Brighton Pavilion

Catherine West MP, Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green

Chris Law MP, SNP, Dundee West

Christine Jardine MP, Liberal Democrat, Edinburgh West

Fiona Bruce MP, Conservative, Congleton

Ian Blackford MP, SNP, Westminster leader

Jim Cunningham MP, Labour, Coventry South

Jo Swinson MP, Liberal Democrat, East Dunbartonshire

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Labour, Brighton Kemptown

Lord Scriven, Liberal Democrat

Martyn Day MP, SNP, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Matt Western MP, Labour, Warwick and Leamington

Philippa Whitford MP, SNP, Central Ayrshire

Sir Ed Davey MP, Liberal Democrat, Kingston and Surbiton

Sir Peter Bottomley MP, Conservative, Worthing West

Stephen Gethins MP, SNP, North East Fife

Stuart McDonald MP, SNP, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East

Tom Brake MP, Liberal Democrat, Carshalton and Wallington