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Bahrain extends detention of leading human rights activist

A lawyer for human rights activist Sayed Yousif Al-Muhafda [official Twitter] said Sunday that his detention has been extended by the Bahrain government. Al-Muhafda, the acting vice president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) [advocacy website], was arrested [Reuters report] last Friday during an unauthorized protest. This arrest came three days after the BCHR had released a report [text] holding the king of Bahrain responsible for the spread of the culture of impunity within the country. Al-Muhafda's arrest also came only one month after his involvement at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website]. The BCHR has called [text] on the US, UK, and UN to put pressure on the Bahraini government to release Al-Muhafda and other activists, including leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab [JURIST news archive].

Tension between Bahrain's government and protesters has been on the rise since government forces clashed with protesters last year during pro-democracy demonstrations. Last month the Bahraini government banned all protests [JURIST report] via an emergency rule to stop the persistent anti-government protests [JURIST news archive] by threatening legal action against any groups that initiate demonstrations. In September, Bahrain pledged to follow the UN's plan [JURIST report] to improve the country's human rights conditions, but Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] raised doubts as to whether the government is fully committed to reform.

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