UPDATED | NOVEMBER 22, 2011
Canadian citizen Naser Al-Raas is facing imprisonment in Bahrain for exercising his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. He is currently facing a five-year prison term, of even graver concern as Mr. Al-Raas is suffering from medical problems that would very likely be aggravated in detention.
Mr. Al-Raas arrived in Bahrain on March 6, 2011 to visit the country as a tourist and to visit his fiancée and his sister. While in the country he took part in a number of protests. He was arrested at the airport on March 20, when he was leaving Bahrain. His family and friends had no idea of his whereabouts for one month. During this month he was held in solitary confinement and claims he was tortured being beaten with sticks, standing for long hours and being verbally abused.
He was admitted to the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital and then released without explanation on 20 April. Months later, on October 4, he was found not guilty by a military court of charges that included killing a policeman. However, he was charged in a separate case related to his participation in protests. We have attached an unofficial translation of those charges that has been provided to us. On October 25 he was sentenced to five years in prison.
There has not yet been any independent investigation into the detailed allegations of torture made by Mr. Al-Raas when he was detained between March 20 and April 20 of this year.
Friend of CJFE, Marian Botsford (Chair, Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC), PEN International) met with Naser in Bahrain where today, November 22, his appeal hearing was postponed until December 7. Marian is following the case on behalf of CJFE and Amnesty International. We will be posting updates from Marian on the CJFE site as she sends them through, so keep checking back. In the meantime, learn more about Naser’s case, and get involved.
Coverage of Naser’s story:
Canadian fears death in Bahrain prison (CBC, November 2011)
CBC Interview Radio (November 2011)
CBC Interview TV (November 2011)
CTV Interview (November 2011)
Interview with Frankie Dolan (7 Parts)