NEW YORK – The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the arbitrary detention of prominent Bahraini opposition leader Ebrahim Sharif, and calls on the government of Bahrain to immediately release him. Sharif, former secretary general of the National Democratic Action Society (WAAD), was arrested on July 12 on charges of “attempting to overthrow the regime" and “incitement to hatred,” following a speech where he called for democratic reforms. The arrest occurred three weeks after he was released from prison after serving a sentence of four years and three months for “inciting hatred against the regime” in connection with his role in the pro-democracy demonstrations of 2011. Sharif is scheduled to face trial on August 24.
“The case of Ebrahim Sharif is one example of the pattern of systematic repression faced by civil society leaders under authoritarian governments like Bahrain. Under vague charges, such as ‘incitement to hatred,’ the Al-Khalifa regime criminalizes even the most basic expressions of dissent, and threatens the existence of any pro-democracy group,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “Sharif’s arrest exposes Bahrain’s dictatorial policy of zero tolerance for government criticism. He should be released immediately and all charges against him should be dropped,” concluded Halvorssen.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.