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FACTDROP: Two US activists deported to New York from Bahrain


Two US activists deported to New York from Bahrain

Human rights activists Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja seen during clashes between pro-reform protesters and police in the old part of the Bahraini capital Manama

Πηγή: Telegraph
Feb 12 2012

Two American activists deported in shackles from Bahrain to New York left a Gulf Air flight in London complaining of mistreatment at the hands of the authorities.

The activists were arrested at a demonstration to mark the first anniversary of bloody Arab Spring protests on Saturday and forced by police officers on to a flight on Sunday morning.

The women spent the seven hour flight bound to the seats without food or water.

Huwaida Arraf and Radhika Sainath bore deep track marks on their wrists and were fatigued. Miss Arraf said: "My arms hurt and I feel dreadful."

They were allowed to walk off the plane in London and were due to fly on to New York.

Miss Sainath said she was targeted by a group of female officers at the demonstration near the former Pearl roundabout.

"They accused me of filming illegally and demanded ID," she said. "Once they had it they said that's her."

The authorities confirmed they had been expelled "for applying for tourist visas under false pretences".

"Huwaida Arraf and Radhika Sainath arrived in Bahrain in the last few days and obtained tourist visas upon arrival at the airport," the government said. "However, once in Bahrain, they declared their intentions to join demonstrations in order to report on them. Arraf and Sainath were picked up at an illegal demonstration in Manama this afternoon."

Police fired tear gas and sound grenades to break up protests by anti-government demonstrators on Sunday as they tried to march towards Manama's Pearl Roundabout, centre of a failed uprising last year.

The women were showing solidarity on the eve of the first anniversary of protests led mainly by the Shia majority for democratic reforms in the Gulf Arab state. An official said they would be deported for giving false information about their trips on entering the country.

The advocacy group Witness Bahrain said both Arraf and Sainath are human rights lawyers. They were in the Middle Eastern country as part of an effort to have more civilians from different nations on the ground to monitor the situation.

Miss Sainath said the pair were part of Witness Bahrain. In an article before the rally she said: "The government would behave differently if Americans and Europeans were watching."Our team came together: attorneys, human rights activists, social workers, journalists and others who had experience with nonviolent resistance and democracy movements in Mexico, Palestine, Pakistan and the United States," she said

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