Monday, April 11, 2011

Sample Letters to Urge the Release of My Friend Shubbar

In my previous post, I told the story of my Bahraini friend Shubbar who was arrested in Bahrain on the night of Sunday, April 3. I am asking you to consider writing government officials demanding his release. I have no idea if this can work, but I think it's important that the U.S. and Bahraini governments know that Shubbar has friends overseas. It can't hurt.

So here's a template:

[Your name and address]
[Please include your e-mail address]

To the White House: use the White House contact page or write a snail mail letter to:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500


To the U.S. Secretary of State: 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520


To the Minister of Interior in the Bahrain Government:
His Excellency Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa
Ministry of Interior
P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain
Fax: 011-973-17-232661

Dear President Obama [or Secretary Clinton or Shaikh Rashid]:

I am writing to inform you of a serious injustice in Bahrain that you are in a position to help reverse. On Sunday, April 3, my friend Shubbar Hameed Ebrahim, aged 35, was taken into custody by Bahraini security forces without being charged of any crime. Since then, he has been held in an unknown location. He has committed no crime, yet he remains in detention more than one week later, still without communication with his family. I urge you to press for [or "order", in Shaikh Rashid's case] his release.

According to his wife's testimony, "One man pulled me from my hair down the stairs and another began threatening, but we [didn't] know where my father was. They just could not believe us. They began beating Shubbar in front of me . . . . After that, they handcuffed him, masked his face and dragged him to an unknown place after around [two hours of] of insults and violence. One of them told me, 'I will fire your beloved from his work; you should die from hunger.'"

This outrageous assault violates both the norms of Bahraini hospitality and of international human rights law. Shubbar is a gentle, non-political person, a beloved husband and father of two young boys. [You might want to insert a picture of the two boys here, copied from my previous post.] Having earned an MBA from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, he and his wife have friends in the United States. As his friend, I urge you to press for his immediate release [or, for Shaikh Rashid, "I urge you to immediately order his release"].

I also urge you to [press for the] release [of] other arbitrarily detained prisoners in Bahrain. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Bahrain has signed, says that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention" and that "anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him."

Shubbar's arrest is a violation of international human rights conventions and of common sense. By cracking down on moderate, gentle people like him, the government of Bahrain risks alienating itself even further from the majority of its citizen population.

I pray that, with your help, the release of Shubbar might be a stepping stone toward restoring goodwill between Bahrain's citizens and its government.

[Your name]

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