Two American activists, including ISM founder, arrested in Bahrain

Huwaida Arraf (left) and husband and co-founder of ISM Adam Shapiro.

DUBAI: Two American activists were arrested in Bahrain on Saturday during pro-reform protests against the monarchy.

According to witnesses on the ground in Manama, Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian-American and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) – a nonviolence civil disobedience group in Palestine – was seen taken by police from a march in the capital.

She had been attempting to reach the focal point of protests at the Pearl roundabout.

Radhika Sainath, an American-Indian activist, was also detained during the same march.

Arraf, who chairs the Free Gaza Movement, and Sainath, had both arrived in Bahrain in recent days along with other western activists to express their support for pro-reform protesters on the first anniversary of the start of the Bahrain uprising, on February 14, 2011.

Bahraini authorities confirmed their arrest, saying the two would be deported “for applying for tourist visas under false pretenses.”

“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 in a statement.

“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.”

A website that the activists had set up under the name to report their observations was also blocked by the authorities.

During Saturday’s demonstrations, police fired tear-gas and sound-grenades in an attempt to clear the protesters from the market area.

According to the opposition, more then 60 people have been killed since the protests broke out last year. The death toll includes at least four people who have died in police custody.

( / 12.02.2012)

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