Here, There and Everywhere

11-year-old Arrested

Dear Gabriel,

One minute, 11-year-old Ali Hassan was playing outside with his friends, like any other kid his age anywhere in the world.

The next minute, Ali was under arrest.

This actually happened: An 11-year-old child is on trial for “illegal gathering” and “disturbing security” in Bahrain.

On July 5, he’ll be sentenced for his “crimes” — and could be imprisoned.

We only have a week left to make an impact on Ali’s case, so we have to be loud. Call on the Bahraini authorities to drop the charges against 11-year-old Ali Hassan. Then be sure to share this action with your friends.

On the day of his arrest, Ali was held for hours and interrogated. Tired, hungry, and scared, Ali finally “confessed.” He was detained for 23 days without access to a lawyer.

Ali’s case is part of a wider crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly in Bahrain. Since mass protests began in the country in February 2011, Bahrain’s security forces have responded brutally with disproportionate violence. And there’s been little accountability for the ongoing human rights violations committed by the Bahraini government, including acts of torture, unjust imprisonment, and even killings.

Things have to change.

The Bahraini government’s crackdown on nonviolent critics is ugly enough. Now with Ali’s arrest and trial, the government’s behavior has become even more shocking.

Ali and his friends found themselves on the wrong side of the law when their playtime coincided with protests in the area. Bahraini police officers stopped them, allegedly threatening to shoot the children if they didn’t do as they were told, and accusing them of purposely blocking the street with trash bins.

The other children got away. Ali was not so lucky. And now he could face jail for being a child in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Playtime should never lead to prison time. Demand that Bahrain respect the right to free speech and assembly, protect the rights of children, and drop the ludicrous charges against 11-year-old Ali Hassan immediately.

For justice,

Sanjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East & North Africa
Amnesty International USA

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