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Bahrain accused of systemic repression

June 21, 2013 at 12:50 PM

PARIS, June 21 (UPI) -- Human rights activists imprisoned in Bahrain should be released immediately and unconditionally because their detention is arbitrary, a rights federation said.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, organizations party to French advocacy consortium International Federation for Human Rights, said Friday they were frustrated with the harassment and ill-treatment of rights defenders in Bahrain.

The rights group said at least four human rights defenders are imprisoned or were held briefly on charges of participating in "illegal gatherings" or for establishing a group "in order to disable the provisions of the constitution."

Dozens of protesters died during violence associated with anti-government demonstrations in 2011. The Sunni-led monarchy was criticized for its harsh crackdown on dissenters, though the government said it is committed to reforms outlined by a commission probing the incidents.

The rights organizations criticized Bahrain for its "acts of repression, including judicial harassment, against human rights defenders" in the country. The charges filed against rights defenders are not justified, they said.

Human Rights Watch published an 87-page report Thursday highlighting what it said were repressive policies in Bahrain.

Bahrain said a national effort to promote reconciliation would put its work on hold during the holy month of Ramadan, which starts next week.

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