Bahrain - Prominent opposition figure charged for tweets ‘inciting hatred’ against government
The Bahraini authorities have once again displayed their ruthless determination to silence activists and crush all signs of dissent by charging prominent political figure Ebrahim Sharif with “inciting hatred against the regime” in a series of tweets, said Amnesty International.
Ebrahim Sharif, former Secretary General of secular opposition party, the National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), was summoned for questioning this morning by the prosecution unit for terrorist crimes. He was released shortly afterwards but only after being informed that he was being charged with “incitement to hatred against the regime” over a series of tweets. One of the tweets included an Amnesty International social media graphic featuring 20 individuals who have been imprisoned in violation of their human rights since the 2011 uprising.
“Once again Ebrahim Sharif is being unjustly punished simply for exercizing his right to freedom of expression. The charge against him is ludicrous and must be dropped immediately,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s office in Beirut.
“The Bahraini authorities have repeatedly sought to harass and intimidate anyone who dares to speak out about human rights violations in Bahrain. Instead of wasting their time attempting to silence peaceful activists and critics, the authorities’ should be protecting and upholding human rights in the country.”
The other tweets sent by Ebrahim Sharif criticize the lack of real democracy in Bahrain, criticize the Tunisian government, and question the circumstances surrounding the death of a man who fell from a window, allegedly following a police chase.
Ebrahim Sharif has been in and out of prison as a prisoner of conscience since 2011. He spent over four years in prison for participating in the 2011 uprising, before being released early under a royal pardon in June 2015. One month later he was arrested again after giving a speech calling for peaceful reform. He served one year in prison in relation to this for “incitement to hatred and contempt of the regime”.
On 13 November 2016 the prosecution charged him once again with “incitement to hatred and contempt of the regime,” over an interview published by the Associated Press two days earlier, in relation to the visit of the UK’s Prince Charles to the country. This charge was then dropped on 23 November 2016.
“The relentless persecution of Ebrahim Sharif and other peaceful activists in Bahrain is part of the government’s blatant and ongoing campaign to consolidate its iron grip over the country by silencing all critical voices in the country,” said Lynn Maalouf.