Anti-government coalition appears to retreat from demanding the king’s ouster as they call for the release of prisoners.
|Abdulhadi Alkhawaja has accused the regime of killing, torturing and arresting Bahrainis|
Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, a prominent Bahraini human rights activist, has reportedly been seized by masked men, thought to be plainclothes policemen, after being beaten unconscious.
Alkhawaja is the former president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. His reported arrest comes amid a continued crackdown on pro-democracy activists in the tiny Gulf nation.
Zeinab Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, his daughter, told Al Jazeera that police took him from her house – bleeding profusely and unconscious after the beating – in the village of Manama, outside the capital, at around 2am (local time) on Saturday.
Her brother-in-law, Hussain Ahmed Hussain, and her husband, Wafi Almajed, were also assaulted and arrested.
“They broke the door of the apartment. My father didn’t resist at all, he went to them calmly but straight away a policeman told him, ‘Down, down, get on the floor’ … They dragged him down the stairs and started beating him,” she said.
“They did not give any reason … They were beating him very severely, on the ground, maybe four or five of them, kicking him and hitting him in the face.”
She said her father had been calling for democracy and had been saying that the regime was guilty of killing, torturing and detaining people, and should be put on trial.
Security forces arrested another family member, Salah Alkhawaja, also a human rights activist, three weeks ago. There has been no news of his whereabouts since March 21, and his family has not been informed whether any charges have been laid against him.
“The government has been trying to use sectarianism to get out of the issue,” Alkhawaja said.
The kingdom had witnessed massive pro-democracy protests last month, apparently inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. It prompted the authorities to bring in troops from GCC countries and unleash a violent crackdown.
Rights activists say there has been a wave of violent house raids, arrests and punitive firings of many of those who had supported the protest.