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Bahrain:Targeting of Waleed Ahmed Sulais and many other human rights defenders from GCC countries
Front Line is concerned about the brief arrest and interrogation, at Bahrain Airport, of human rights defender Mr Waleed Ahmed Sulais, a Saudi national. Front Line believes that this may be an indication of further harassment against him and many other persons from neighbouring GCC countries who participated in human rights training in Bahrain.
Waleed Ahmed Sulais is a human rights defender, blogger and writer of many articles on human rights issues published on the Internet on: www.Rasid.com: http://www.Rasid.com,and on his personal blog:http://waleedsulais.blogspot.com
On 1 October 2010, at about 7 pm, human right defender Waleed Ahmed Sulais arrived at Bahrain Airport on his way back to Saudi Arabia from Beirut where he attended a seminar on “Failure of development strategies in the Arab countries”. The passport officer took him to the National Security Apparatus at the airport where his laptop, camera, and two mobile phones were taken from him and he was forced to provide secret codes for the laptop and the Blackberry mobile.
Waleed Ahmed Sulais was searched, his luggage was thoroughly examined, and his wallet, credit cards, money, papers and books were taken from him during his brief detention. A three side personal photo was taken of him. He was not interrogated except for a few questions regarding his home address, place of work, and the reason for which he went to Beirut. Although Waleed Ahmed Sulais asked repeatedly why he was being detained, the airport authorities refused to provide any explanation.
At 10:30 pm. all his belongings were returned to him. He was asked if he planned to stay in Bahrain or travel on to Saudi Arabia and he confirmed that he would leave. Later, when he checked his laptop, it was clear that some of the documents and personal photos had been opened, and all the information from both the laptop and mobile phones had been copied.
The brief detention of Waleed Ahmed Sulais coincides with an announcement made by the Bahrain Ministry of Interior on 24 September 2010. The Ministry stated that legal action would be taken against nationals of neighbouring countries who participated in unauthorised training organised in Bahrain by the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) in cooperation with international organisations. According to official records, as many as 75 participants took part in such events. This announcement forms part of a number of statements by the authorities in relation to a Ministerial Order on 8 September 2010 demanding the dissolution of the Board of Directors of BHRS and appointing a temporary administrator, who is an employee of the Ministry (ref to Front Line Appeal on this issue at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/13275).
In a statement published in the local press on 11 October 2010, as a reaction to the claim by the authorities that the training sessions were secret and illegal, the BHRS stated that all training and workshops conducted by the BHRS in Bahrain were for the training on human rights culture, conducted in hotels and public places, covered by local press, many of them were attended by Bahraini officials, and visas were issued for participants who needed visas by the relevant authorities.
Front Line believes that human right defender Waleed Ahmed Sulais was targeted and harassed because of his legitimate human rights activities including his participation in human rights training courses in Bahrain. Front Line appeals to the authorities in Bahrain not to take any action against persons from neighbouring countries for participating in human rights training.