Mohammed al-Tajer

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Mohammed Issa al-Tajer
Personal image for Mohammed al-Tajer.JPG
Mohammed al-Tajer in September 2012
Nationality Bahraini
Occupation human rights lawyer
Known for 2011 arrest

Mohammed Issa al-Tajer (Arabic: محمد عيسى التاجر‎) is a Bahraini human rights lawyer detained in April 2011, apparently for his role in defending Arab Spring protesters.[1]

In early 2011, following the self-immolation of young Tunisian merchant Mohamed Bouazizi, a series of pro-democratic uprisings swept the Middle East, later to be known as the "Arab Spring". Bahraini activists joined the movement with a series of protests beginning on 14 February, which escalated into the Bahraini uprising.[2] In March, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa declared martial law and a three-month state of emergency.[3]

Following the arrests of some protesters, al-Tajer coordinated a team of 25 defense lawyers to help those activists in incommunicado detention.[4] Al-Tajer's wife Huda al-Juffairi, a medical doctor, was also active in providing medical aid to injured protesters.[1]

Al-Tajer was arrested without a warrant on 16 April 2011 at his home in Manama by more than 20 masked security officers,[5] in front of his wife and children.[1] The officers also confiscated laptops, mobile phones, and documents, and demanded the keys to al-Tajer's law office, forcing him to turn them over.[4] His bank account was also frozen.[5] On June 12, 2011, he was brought before a military tribunal; his attorneys were given no notice and were therefore not present.[6] He was charged with inciting hatred for the regime, engaging in illegal protests, and inciting people to harm police, and pled not guilty.[6]

On 7 August 2011, al-Tajer was released from prison, though the charges against him appeared not to have been dropped. As one of the conditions of his release, he signed papers agreeing that he would not participate in "any activity against the country".[5] He stated that he had been abused while in captivity by being beaten and deprived of sleep.[5]

Al-Tajer's arrest led to international outcry, with statements of protest from Human Rights Watch,[7] the International Federation for Human Rights,[1] Front Line Defenders,[4] the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights,[8] and the New York City Bar Association.[6] Amnesty International also called for the dismissal of charges against him, designating him a prisoner of conscience during his detention.[5]