250 detained Shiites at risk of torture in Bahrain: Amnesty

11th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

About 250 Shiites are at risk of torture in Bahrain after being arrested ahead of parliamentary elections next week, rights group Amnesty International said on Monday.

"Around 250 individuals in Bahrain are believed to have been detained as part of a clampdown against Shiite political opposition and activism ahead of... elections on 23 October," Amnesty said in a statement.

These individuals, all of whom are said to be Shiites, were "at risk of torture," the statement said.

Another rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, has accused Bahrain of restricting the travel of rights activists to prevent them from publicising the arrest of opposition members. HRW called for the alleged restrictions to be lifted.

The government announced last month that it aims to reassert state control over mosques in Bahrain, and it banned religious candidates from preaching in mosques ahead of the vote.

Also in September, Bahraini authorities stripped high-ranking Shiite cleric Ayatollah Hussein Mirza Najati of his citizenship for "violation of the law on nationality," according to local media reports.

Najati is "the principal representative in Bahrain of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani," the highest-ranking Shiite cleric in Iraq, Sistani's office in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf said.

The archipelago state, which is ruled by a Sunni dynasty, was plagued in the 1990s by a wave of Shiite-led unrest which has abated since the authorities launched steps to convert the Gulf emirate into a constitutional monarchy.

© 2010 AFP

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