Bahrain targets London family after Downing Street protest

October 29, 2016

Police in Bahrain detained and mistreated the wife of a London activist hours after he peacefully protested outside Downing Street over Theresa May’s meeting with King Hamad on Wednesday (26th).

Sayed Alwadaei, director of the UK-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), lives in London with his Bahraini wife Duaa, 25, and their 19-month-old baby boy who has US citizenship. His wife and son were on a short family visit to Bahrain when the incident took place.

BIRD’s human rights work includes highlighting death sentences in Bahrain, where people such as Mohammed Ramadan have been tortured into making false confessions to protest-related charges, and subsequently sentenced to death.

King Hamad of Bahrain visited London last week to meet the Queen and Prime Minister Theresa May. Mr Alwadaei attended a peaceful protest outside Downing Street on Wednesday, which highlighted human rights abuses in Bahrain including torture and the death penalty.

Mr Alwadaei was briefly held by the Metropolitan police after appearing to step in front of the King’s motorcade and released without charge. The protest was reported by national media outlets including MailOnline.

On Wednesday night, his wife and baby tried to leave Bahrain, where they had been visiting relatives. She was arbitrarily detained at the airport, mistreated and interrogated throughout the night for seven hours about her husband’s protest in London.

Mrs Alwadaei has now been banned from leaving Bahrain, although she has UK residency. Bahraini police and members of the public have made repeated violent threats to Mr Alwadaei and his family in recent days.

Reprieve has contacted the UK Foreign Office and continues to closely monitor the situation. The US State Department was asked about the incident on Friday, and said they would investigate it.

Mr Alwadaei was tortured by Bahraini authorities during the 2011 ‘Arab Spring’ protests. He has since been granted refugee protection by the British government.

Commenting, Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve, said:

“Reprieve is seriously concerned at Bahrain’s reprisals against Sayed’s family for a peaceful protest in London. Freedom of expression might be banned in Bahrain, but the British government cannot allow Bahrain to punish people who demonstrate in the UK against human rights abuses such as torture and executions. Duaa and her baby must be allowed to leave Bahrain immediately and return to their home in London with Sayed.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 7792 351 660. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064.

2. The US State Department’s comments can be seen here.

3. More detail on Mohammed Ramadan’s case is available on the Reprieve website here.