Skip to main content

Boy, 11, detained in Bahrain crackdown, rights groups say

From Samira Said, CNN
updated 7:24 PM EDT, Sun June 10, 2012
Human rights groups say 11 year-old Ali Hassan was detained by Bahraini police on May 14, 2012.
Human rights groups say 11 year-old Ali Hassan was detained by Bahraini police on May 14, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: He was detained for allegedly participating in an "illegal gathering" and for burning tires
  • Ali Hassan is only 11 years old, according to two human rights groups
  • An attorney for the family disputes the police account
  • Rights groups denounce targeting of youths under 15, demand Ali's release

(CNN) -- An 11-year-old boy has been detained by Bahraini authorities for nearly a month for allegedly participating in an "illegal gathering" and for burning tires, an arrest that human rights groups say comes amid the country's continued crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Rights groups on Saturday demanded the release of the boy, Ali Hasan, following news that Bahrain's Juvenile Court ordered the youth moved from a jail to a juvenile detention facility.

Hasan was arrested on May 14 by Bahraini authorities for allegedly participating in an "illegal gathering" with about a dozen others, according to the Bahrain International Affairs Authority, the kingdom's information office. Specifically, the boy was involved with burning tires at a roadblock, the office said.

"The juvenile is receiving social care and tutoring at the center. He completed his last exam of the sixth grade level on Thursday," the information office said in a statement, which identified the boy as being 12 years old.

But an attorney for Hasan's family disputes the government account, saying the boy was playing with two other children in the street when he was stopped by police.

The attorney, Shahzalan Khamees, said that police stopped Hasan and two other boys, who managed to run away. Khamees said Hasan claims the police threatened to shoot him with a pellet gun if he ran.

The boy, according to Khamees, was then detained for questioning.

A second defense attorney, Mohsin Al-Alawi, said he recently visited Hasan and that the boy told him that he didn't take part in an "illegal gathering." The boy sobbed, said he is tired and wants to go home, Al-Alawi said.

The Bahrain Rehabilitation and Anti-Violence Organization, an Ireland-based rights group, demanded Hasan's immediate release.

There are a "growing number of children detained for investigation in security cases," the group said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights expressed concern about the government's targeting of children under the age of 15 in its crackdown.

The rights group said Hasan, who they claim is 11, was the youngest detainee in Bahrain's prison system. The government did not immediately respond to the allegation.

Bahrain has been heavily criticized by rights groups for its crackdown on anti-government protests that began February 14, 2011, in the country -- spurred by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

But the protests failed to gain the traction of other Arab Spring uprisings following a crackdown in February and then again in mid-March by Bahraini authorities -- backed by troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Demonstrators and Bahraini authorities have continued to clash, with the opposition accusing the government of being heavy handed in its crackdown on protests.

In November, Bahrain's Independent Commission of Inquiry issued a report highly critical of the crackdown.

The commission, set up by the king, concluded that police had used excessive force and torture during last year's crackdown on protests. The report recommended reforms to the country's law and better training of its security forces.

CNN's Saad Abedine contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT