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viernes, 10 de mayo de 2013

Falsely Convicted Blogger Ali Abdulemam Escapes from Bahrain; Will speak at Oslo Freedom Forum

Barcelona/ Mambí en A/ After being forced into hiding for more than two years, Bahraini blogger and free speech advocate Ali Abdulemam will speak at the 2013 Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) on May 15th at 9:45am Oslo time. This will be his first public appearance since 2011, and will be live streamed at www.oslofreedomforum.com.

A pivotal and heavily persecuted architect of Bahrain’s political blogosphere, Abdulemam disappeared on March 15, 2011, in the midst of massive protests against the monarchy’s crackdown on dissent. Three days later, his house was thoroughly ransacked by state police. He then disappeared. In June of 2011, he was tried in absentia by a military court and sentenced to 15 years in prison for “plotting” an anti-government “coup.”

“Ali was invited to speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2011, but he was forced into hiding by a regime manhunt. This year we are delighted to provide a platform for him to tell the world about the egregious human rights violations committed by the Bahraini regime,” said OFF founder Thor Halvorssen. “Ali escaped from Bahrain by land, sea, and air undetected last month. His family hopes to join him soon.”

In 1999, Abdulemam created the pro-democracy news website Bahrain Online, the island’s first free uncensored internet forum for political and social debate. Since founding the site, Abdulemam has campaigned tirelessly for free and open discussion. Even though it is blocked by regime censors, Bahrain Online still gets more than 100,000 hits per day. For his efforts to promote human rights, Abdulemam was jailed numerous times by the monarchy, and endured interrogation, beatings, and torture. He was imprisoned for defamation of the king in 2010, along with 25 other human rights activists.

After a massive international campaign for his release, Abdulemam was freed on February 22, 2011. Shortly afterwards, he accepted the Human Rights Foundation’s invitation for him to speak at OFF. Travel arrangements were made, and his visit to Norway was on track until one last cryptic tweet and disappearance. Abdulemam’s escape, after two years in hiding, took place last month. He is now in London.

This year’s Oslo Freedom Forum theme, Challenging Power, will continue to highlight the struggles of people living under authoritarian regimes around the world.

For media inquiries or requests for an interview with Ali Abdulemam, please contact jamie@thehrf.org. To learn more about OFF, please visit: www.oslofreedomforum.com.

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