Monday, February 25, 2019
‘I will not rest until my family is free’, London activist vows after Bahrain jails relatives
THREE relatives of a London-based Bahraini dissident have lost their final appeal against imprisonment in the Gulf kingdom.
Bahrain’s highest court upheld the family’s sentences today, despite United Nations experts warning that their convictions were “arbitrary.”
The family was targeted after their relative in London, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, protested outside Downing Street during a visit by Bahrain’s dictator King Hamad.
Mr Alwadaei’s mother-in-law, Hajer Mansoor Hassan, brother-in-law, Sayer Nizar Alwadaei, and cousin, Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor, were arrested in March 2017 and sentenced to three years imprisonment.
UN experts say their arrests were an “act of reprisal” for Mr Alwadaei’s human rights work in London, where he is advocacy director at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird).
Mr Alwadaei was granted asylum in Britain in 2012 after he was tortured in Bahrain during the so-called Arab Spring.
He has since become one of the most effective and respected critics of Bahrain’s monarchy.
He has used freedom of information requests to frequently expose Bahrain’s deep ties to the British government.
However his success has made him a target for the regime’s security forces, who have gone after his relatives in Bahrain.
Mr Alwadaei condemned the latest court ruling, saying: “This is what you expect from a corrupt unjust system. I will not rest until my family is free.
“Their continued imprisonment is a shameful reminder of the UK’s weak position when dealing with human rights abuses committed by an ally country.”
Bird is particularly concerned about the welfare of Mr Alwadaei’s 55-year-old mother-in-law, who they say is being denied medical treatment for a lump on her breast, which they fear may be cancerous.
This is despite a British government aid scheme for Bahrain that involved training prison guards in healthcare procedures.
Amnesty International has issued a statement condemning the denial of medical access to Ms Mansoor, labelling her a “prisoner of conscience.”
Although she will be eligible for release next year, Mr Alwadaei’s cousin Nizar faces much longer behind bars.
He was arrested as a teenager and received two additional charges, meaning he will serve 11 years in prison.
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres has expressed serious concerns for the “ongoing trend of harassment and intimidation” of Mr Alwadaei and his family.
Britain’s Foreign Office has been approached for comment.