Rights Groups Make Appeal for Detained Bahraini Activist

Two London-based human rights groups are warning that a female activist detained in Bahrain is at “serious risk of torture.”

Amnesty International and the Bahrain Center for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) say Ebsitam al-Saegh was arrested at her home Monday night.

“The officers, all masked, had body and head cameras and were armed. They demanded her mobile phone and her CPR [national ID] card,” BIRD said in a statement, citing family members. “Two masked, civilian-clothed female officers cuffed and detained al-Saegh.”

Amnesty said al-Saegh had retweeted a post criticizing the local security forces’ treatment of women. The post also criticized King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who has ruled Bahrain since 1999.

The group said al-Saegh had been “beaten and sexually assaulted by members of the Bahraini National Security Agency” during a previous arrest in May, and that the Bahraini authorities have failed to investigate those claims.

Bahraini authorities have not commented on al-Saegh’s allegations but have previously denied mistreating detainees.

Samah Hadid, Amnesty’s director of campaigns in the Middle East, said Tuesday that the group was demanding that authorities in Manama “immediately and unconditionally” release al-Saegh. The Amnesty statement said the Bahraini activist’s “only crime is speaking up against a government committed to crushing all forms of dissent.”

The tiny Gulf kingdom, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, has been rocked by unrest since its Sunni minority rulers in 2011 crushed Shi’ite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Bahrain had been an emirate until Hamad bin Isa, formerly the emir of Bahrain, organized a new national charter that won wide approval in a referendum. He declared the territory a kingdom and became its first ruling monarch in 2002.

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