BAHRAIN WATCH FOUNDING MEMBER DR. ALA’A AL-SHEHABI ARRESTED
Ala’a was Accompanying Journalists in a Car on Budaiya Highway at Time of Arrest
[Manama] Bahrain Watch expresses its deep concern about activist Ala’a al-Shehabi, who was arrested in the evening hours of 22 April 2012 while driving on Budaiya Highway with several international journalists.
Ala’a reported her arrest via Twitter by tweeting the apparently incomplete statement “Under arrest. Surrounded by.” According to witnesses reporting via Twitter, her car was suddenly approached and surrounded by up to eleven police vehicles. Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, told Bahrain Watch that she was taken to the Budaiya police station. Bahrain Watch is unaware at this time of whether Ala’a is being charged.
Dr. Ala’a al-Shehabi is an economics lecturer, a prominent Bahraini activist and a founding member of the advocacy group Bahrain Watch. She has been outspoken in her support for democracy in Bahrain. Remarking on her transformation from an academic to an activist, she said: “I left the ivory tower to join the street, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back until democracy is achieved.” Her husband, Ghazi Farhan, paid the price for her activism last year. He was arrested last April in a car park by plainclothes police and charged with “participating in an illegal gathering of more than 5 persons” and “spreading false information on the internet.” A military court handed him a 5 year prison sentence, but he was released in January after spending 9 months in jail. He was tortured in custody.
Ala’a’s arrest comes during a heightened security crackdown in the kingdom, which has seen the detention of a number of political activists and journalists. Today the Telegraph’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Colin Freeman was temporarily detained, along with his fixer Mohammed Hassan. Channel 4 News’ Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Miller and his team were also arrested this evening “whilst reporting … from a village in Bahrain.” Nabeel Rajab told Bahrain Watch that Ala’a may have been arrested along with the Channel 4 crew.
Bahrain Watch is a monitoring and advocacy group that seeks to promote effective, accountable, and transparent governance in Bahrain through research and evidence-based activism. About Bahrain Watch: http://bahrainwatch.org/about.html