Disabled rights activist Alsingace faces prosecution next February 23rd for charges punishable by life imprisonment for exercising right of freedom of expression and association

Alsingace was arrested from his residence at dawn, held in solitary confinement, interrogated and later banned from travel after release

19th February 2009

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is seriously concerned about the potential punishment of Dr Abduljalil Alsingace- disabled rights activist- of ban of travel, redundancy from his post as an academician and imprisonment, mounting to life duration.

Dr Abduljalil Alsingace (47years) suffers from Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, in the upper limb of the left leg, resulting in permanent disability. As per the knowledge of the BCHR, Dr Alsingace was infected with this viral disease since childhood and since then he has been using crutches for movement. In recent period, Dr Alsingace has been dually using a wheelchair after carrying a surgery in his two rests to release the stress in his both hands after catching the Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Dr Alsingace, a professor at the Mechanical Engineering Department of the University of Bahrain (UOB), is a graduate of the University of Manchester-UK in 1995 and since then has been involved in teaching. The UOB has recently provided Dr Alsingace with all logistic means to conduct deliverance of lectures and other academic duties, which include an electric wheelchair and a tablet labtop personal computer, in consideration for his recent medical condition.

Dr Alsingace and other two activists- Mr Hasan Mushaima- Secretary General of Movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy (HAQ) and Mr Mohamed Habib Al-Muqdad – A scholar and social activist, were arrested just before dawn time (Between 2-3am) of Monday 26th, January and were kept in solitary confinement until transferred to the Public Prosecution (PP) at about 5:30pm of the same day. They were deprived from all contacts with their families, lawyers and the rest of the world. After almost nine hours of interrogation, Mr Mushaima (61yrs) and Mr Al-Muqdad (47yrs) were remanded in custody, while releasing Dr Alsingace on bail and officially banning him from travel and leave Bahrain. The PP has already passed the case to the Higher Criminal Court scheduled on February 23rd.

During interrogation, Dr Abduljalil Alsingace was faced with his speeches and articles addressing public issues and which were considered inciting hatred of the regime and inciting provoking violence and the overthrow of the political system. These two charges are based on the internationally denounced Penal code of 1976 and punishable by imprisonment of up to 8 years. However, the most severe punishment is the third charge, based on the Bahraini counter terrorism law which has been condemned by many international organizations including the UN. The penalty of that charge is punishable to life imprisonment for “forming an organization, unlike the provisions of the law, which disrupt the provisions of the Constitution, laws or prevent any of the State enterprises or public authorities from exercising their duty”. Dr Abduljalil Alsingace denied all the allegations and considered it malicious and politically motivated.

Based on the hostile attitude of the Authorities against Dr Abduljalil Alsingace and other activists, BCHR believes that his arrest, detention and prosecution are related to practicing legitimate and peaceful public activities (Electronic articles, speeches, seminars and presentations). Moreover, the atrocious charges are phony and meant to silence him from expressing his thoughts and performing any peaceful related to democratic reforms and promotion of human rights and civil liberties specially freedoms of expression, assembly and association.

Recently, the Authorities has blocked the electronic blog of Dr Alsingace who uses it to post news, human rights reports, poems, adverts, and articles (published by others and himself), as well as links to Human Rights Watch news, questionnaires about the role of NGOs and other blogs.

In another stance, Dr Alsingace has stated earlier that his personal privacy has been infringed through tapping his phones, emails and posts. Furthermore and in official statement, he reported that his voice and other activists have been replicated by the local Authorities using voice changer software, expressing his concerns about the possibility of using the voice reproduction as means criminalization or basis for indictment.

It is to be mentioned that in addition to other activists, Dr Alsingace was the subject of smear and defamation media campaign waged by the Authorities aftermath his participation in a human rights activity held last October in the US Congress.

On 25th June 2007, the Bahrain Government signed the UN Convention of the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities which entered in force on May 3rd, 2008 . Out of the human rights of the disabled persons, among them Dr Alsingace, are the followings and the relevant article of the Convention:

1) The right for freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as per Article 15. 2) The liberty of movement and nationality, as per Article 18, which includes the right to the freedom of movement of disable persons and leave any country, including their own. 3) Freedom of Expression and opinion, and access to information, as per Article 21. 4) Respect for privacy, as stated by Article 22, which focus on arbitrary or unlawful interference with the disabled privacy, family, home or correspondence or other types of communication or to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation. 5) Work and employment, as per Article 27, which includes the right to gain a living by work in a suitable environment. 6) The right to participation in political and public life, as secured by Article 29, which includes effective and full participation in the conduct of public affairs, participation in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country, and in the activities and administration of political parties.

Demands and appeal:

The BCHR reiterates its concerns on the health and wellbeing of Dr Alsingace after the Authorities move to indict him and other activists in Bahrain. The BCHR, therefore appeals to the international organizations concerned with the rights of disabled to intervene and exert necessary efforts to:

1- The dismissal of charges made against the disabled rights activist Dr Alsingace, and any subsequent reprisals. 2- Respect the right of Dr Alsingace to freedom of expression and opinion, remove travel ban against him, maintain his privacy, and his right to participate NGO’s and associations concerned with pubic affairs. 3- Abide by the articulations in the UN Convention of Human Rights of Disabled Persons. 4- Introduce the required legislations to the promotion and protection of rights in the said convention.

Kindly: Find below more information submitted by Dr Abduljalil Alsingace himself.

Statement of AJ Alsingace Bahrain: 18th February 2009

After almost two years of birth in January 15th 1962, I was infected Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, in the upper limb of the left leg, resulting in permanent disability. Since childhood, I have been using crutches for movement and daily activities.

I am a PhD graduate from the University of Manchester-UK in 1995, in the field of Mechanical Engineering (ME). Since then, I have been employed by the University of Bahrain (UOB), promoted to associated Professor in 2001 and headed the department of Mechanical Engineering for three years since 2002. I have been involved in teaching, academic research and society service.

Because of my activities (Among others; defending detainees, participating in human rights seminars, writing human rights reports, traveling and meeting with human rights organizations and think tanks, petitioning, participating in rights popular protests like sit-ins and demonstrations) and travel to Washington DC (USA), London (UK) and Geneva (Switzerland), I was penalized by the Bahraini Authorities and dismissed from his administrative post at the UOB and retained his academic post as associate professor. Prior to his dismissal, the President of the UOB, Shaikha Maryam Al-Khalifa a member of the ruling family, explicitly told me that had I been to Mozambique, it would have been OK but going to Washington is not acceptable.

I was subject to smear campaign through SMS messages as well as defamatory media campaign after participating in a human rights activity in the US Congress last October.

At the UOB address, I received, twice, threats from the Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA) threatening to take me to court for leading “Committee of Activists and Detainees of Conscience”.

I was involved in the formation as well as the activities of, non-exhaustively: - Unemployed and Underpaid Committee - Committee of Detainees - Committee Against 1% - Committee to Combat High Prices - Committee of Activists - Committee of Victims of Torture - Committee of Stateless (Without nationality) - Committee of Detainees of Conscience

I opened my house for a public event to conduct weekly seminars on human rights and public issues. I was asked about this event at the public prosecution and, more over, one of the speakers was officially banned by Authorities from participation.

In a peaceful authorized demonstration calling for the release of detainees, I was publicly hit by member of Special Forces (made of different nationalities) using a plastic batons resulting in grounding me and using abusive language against me.

Two years back, I suffered from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) causing numbness in the two hands, which necessitated a surgical operation in his two wrests to remove the caused stress. This has caused that I opt to the use of wheelchair inside and outside his residence when possible, to ease loading on his hands and decelerate resumption of the Syndrome. The CTS is back and I have to go on surgery once more in due course.

After the first surgery, the UOB provided logistics for me to perform teaching while he is seated, which includes electric wheelchair, a tablet labtop and assignment of a classroom in the ground floor of the ME department in UOB.

I and two other activists; Mr Hasan Mushaima- Secretary General of Movement of Civil Liberties and Democracy (HAQ) and Mr Mohamed Habib Al-Muqdad – head of Orphan society, were arrested and facing charges because of expressing views and joining association concerned with public affairs issues. For more details on the case; some of the links are below: - http://www.omct.org/index.php?id=&lang=eng&actualPageNumber=1&articleId=8351&itemAdmin=article - http://www.article19.org/pdfs/press/bahrain-article-19-condemns-the-targeting-of-human-rights-activists-and-call.pdf - http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/100743/ - http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=3975 - http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/100767/