EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 11/06/97
UA 93/97 Arbitrary detention / Fear of torture 3 April 1997
BAHRAINAhlam al-Sayyid Mahdi, aged 19, university student
Amal Ahmad Rabi’, aged 19, university student
Maryam Ahmad Bilway, aged 18
Laila ‘Abd al-Nabi Rabi’, aged 16, secondary school student
The four young women named above were among a number of people arrested after
participating in a demonstration which took place in the village of Sitra on
26 March 1997. They have been held incommunicado without charge since their
arrest, and are believed to be detained at a police station in Madinat ‘Issa.
There are fears that they may be tortured or ill-treated while in custody.
Five other women were also reported to have been arrested on the same day
following a similar demonstration in al-’Ikr, but it is not known whether they
remain in detention.
The demonstrations were held on the anniversary of the execution on 26 March
1996 of ‘Issa Ahmad Qambar, the first person to be convicted and sentenced
to death by the State Security Court in connection with the current political
unrest in Bahrain. According to information received by Amnesty International,
riot police surrounded the areas where the demonstrations were being held,
backed up by a helicopter from which the demonstrators’ movements could be
observed. The four women named above were arrested in a house in Sitra where
they had taken refuge after riot police broke up the demonstration.
Scores of women and young girls have been among those arrested by riot police
and security forces in connection with mass protests in Bahrain calling for
the restoration of democratic rights and the release of political prisoners.
In most cases they have been held incommunicado without charge for periods
ranging from several days to two months. Some were reported to have been
ill-treated while in custody. For example, in March 1996, similar
demonstrations were held following the execution of ‘Issa Ahmad Qambar. Around
25 women and high school students were among those arrested on that occasion
and held at Madinat ‘Issa. Three of them were reportedly stripped to their
underclothes by female security officers and were kept standing for up to four
hours at a time during interrogation. Two of them were deprived of the use
of sanitary facilities or food for a period, while the high school students
were reportedly threatened with rape by male officers.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in English, Arabic or your own language:
- expressing concern about the arrest of the four women and seeking clarification
of the reasons and legal basis for their continued detention;
- seeking assurances that they are being humanely treated and urging that they
be granted immediate access to their relatives and lawyers;
- urging that they be immediately released unless they are promptly charged
with a recognizably criminal offence and brought to trial in accordance with
Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa