Middle East

Bahrain 'arrests' activist who claimed she was tortured

File photo of Ebtisam al-Saegh Image copyright SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
Image caption Amnesty International said Ebtisam al-Saegh had merely spoken up against the government

A Bahraini human rights activist has reportedly been arrested, a month after she complained of being beaten and sexually assaulted by security forces.

Amnesty International said Ebtisam al-Saegh was detained on Monday night during a raid on her home by about 25 plain-clothes officers wearing masks.

No warrant was presented, but Ms Saegh was later seen by witnesses at the Issa Town detention centre, the group added.

It expressed deep concern about her wellbeing and called for her release.

There was no immediate confirmation of her arrest by the Bahraini authorities, which have stepped up a crackdown on critics over the past year.

In May, a court ordered the dissolution of the main secular opposition group, and five people were killed as police broke up a sit-in outside the home of the Sunni Muslim-ruled kingdom's most prominent Shia cleric.

Bahrain has been wracked by deadly unrest since security forces crushed pro-democracy protests led by the Shia majority community in 2011.

Ms Saegh said she was summoned by the National Security Agency on 25 May.

She alleged that she was immediately blindfolded on arrival at an NSA building in Muharraq the following afternoon, and that over the next seven hours she was sexually assaulted, beaten all over her body and kicked in the stomach.

She said she was questioned about the raid on the sit-in and activists she knew, and told she would be targeted further if she did not stop all human rights activities.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Activists say there clampdown on dissent has intensified since the start of 2017

Amnesty said Ms Saegh was arrested on Monday only hours after she tweeted that she held Bahrain's king responsible for the alleged ill-treatment of women by the NSA.

Amnesty's campaigns director, Samah Hadid, said Ms Saegh's "only crime" was "speaking up against a government committed to crushing all forms of dissent".

"We are deeply concerned about Ebtisam's wellbeing," she added.

"When she was arrested in May 2017, she was beaten and sexually assaulted by members of the Bahraini National Security Agency. Bahraini authorities have failed to investigate those claims and we fear that she is at high risk of torture as long as she remains in custody."

The Bahraini authorities have not commented on Ms Saegh's allegations, but they have denied mistreating detainees and have said that surveillance cameras are installed at interrogation centres for their protection.

Related Topics