Bahrain arrests leading activist, as crackdown hardens

 @Gooch700 on April 09 2011 12:32 PM

The Bahraini authorities have beaten and arrested a prominent human rights activist, in another sign the ruling royal family will increase its crackdown against any dissent.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was seized in the middle of the night and detained along with his two sons-in-law.

The Bahraini stated accused them of fomenting unrest and attempting to divide the nation’s Sunni and Shia Muslim communities.

Al-Khawaja’s daughter said she doesn’t know where they were taken on for how long he will be held.

She told Al Jazeera: They broke the door of the apartment. My father didn't resist at all, he went to them calmly but straight away a policeman told him, 'Down, down, get on the floor' ... They dragged him down the stairs and started beating him. They did not give any reason ... They were beating him very severely, on the ground, maybe four or five of them, kicking him and hitting him in the face. al-Khawaja, the former president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, is a Shia who has long called for the Sunny ruling monarchy to be overthrown.

Another family member, Salah Al-Khawaja, another human rights activist, was arrested three weeks ago. His whereabouts are unknown.

The Bahraini government believe that Shia-dominated Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militant group, has interfered in Bahrain’s internal affairs and stirred up the revolt that has led to at least three dozen deaths in the tiny kingdom.

The country remains under emergency law, enforced partially by troops from Saudi Arabia who are quelling anti-government unrest.

Opposition figures, as well as Iran, has condemned the presence of foreign soldiers on Bahraini soil as an “invasion” and “occupation.”

Any talks between the Al-Khalifa ruling family and Bahraini opposition figures have been postponed, perhaps permanently.

It is estimated that more than 400 people have been detained by the state, while hundreds more have been fired for their jobs for participating in anti-government protests. Many have been arrested in the middle of the night and detained, without any charges being filed. There are also reports that those arrested have been abused and tortured by security forces.

Join the Discussion