A Shia businessman and member of Bahrain opposition group Wefaq died in police custody yesterday, the group said, and the daughter of an arrested activist said she was on a hunger strike.
There was no immediate reaction by state media to the reported death and officials were not available to comment.
Bahrain quelled weeks of protests led by mostly Shia demonstrators last month by spreading security forces throughout the capital and calling in troops from Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia.
The government has since arrested hundreds of Shias, replaced editors at an opposition newspaper and fired hundreds of Shia workers who were absent during a strike last month.
Mattar Mattar, a member of Wefaq, said Kareem Fakhrawi had died in police custody, a week after he failed to return home from a police station where he had tried to complain about his house being demolished by police.
“Either he was sick and didn’t receive treatment or was tortured,” Mattar said.
Fakhrawi’s was the fourth known death in police custody in recent days. Bahrain’s government denies there is torture in Bahrain and says all such allegations will be investigated.
Wefaq said yesterday three Shia doctors and several staff from the education ministry had been arrested on Monday, bringing the total number of detainees to 453.
“After these problems, many are afraid to contact us,” said Mattar. “I estimate the real number is not less than 600. That’s one in every 1,000 Bahrainis,” he said.
Bahrain said on Monday it had released 86 people held under martial law while “legal measures” were being taken against other detainees.
Zainab al-khawaja, daughter of a detained activist, wrote a letter addressed to US President Barack Obama on her blog “Angry Arabiya” announcing the start of her hunger strike on Monday and urging him to call for the release of her family.
“I demand the immediate release of my family members. My father: Abdulhadi Alkhawaja. My husband: Wafi Almajed. My brother-in-law: Hussein Ahmed. My uncle: Salah Alkhawaja,” she said.
Activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who was in exile for 12 years and briefly imprisoned for political dissent in 2004 after his return, was arrested on Saturday with his two sons-in-law, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights centre said on Saturday.
A pro-government Facebook group called “Together we will expose the traitors”, has posted pictures of demonstrations in Manama and enlarged the faces of protesters holding placards calling for the downfall of the monarchy.
“We cannot live among these traitors,” the posting said.
“Please try to find their names so they can be punished.”
State television has also enlarged images of protesters and Wefaq has expressed concern about vigilante justice against Shias suspected of participating in protests.
Bahrain’s ministry of interior warned in a statement yesterday that funeral processions should not be turned into political demonstrations by showing foreign flags or symbols.
Human Rights Watch urged Bahraini authorities yesterday to allow Al Wasat newspaper editor Mansur al-Jamri to go back to work and drop what it called politically-motivated charges against him.
It stressed Jamri had freely acknowledged having published false information in error.
Jamri himself said, in a statement by e-mail, that he was questioned for more than two hours on Monday about the “false news” which he says was printed in error by Al Wasat. Reuters