A Bahrain judge has extended the detention of two juveniles aged 12 and 13 in the “Juvenile Welfare Center” for an additional seven days on charges of arson and illegal assembly. The renewal is the third since their arrest and will mean that the duo will have been detained for 28 days by the time of their next hearing.
Mirza Abul Shaheed Mirza (12 years old), Mohsin Mohammed Sadiq Al-Arab (13) and Mohammed Abbas Al-Moolani (16) were arrested on on August 7, 2012, after a police patrol allegedly spotted them setting tires ablaze in a road in Hamad Town, according to AlWefaq and AlAyam Newspaper [ar] which reported the story without naming the suspects. Al-Moolani (16) is not considered a juvenile according to the Bahraini penal code and was therefore detained in a normal prison.
A number of Twitter users who were present in the court room as the news of the renewed detention were read to the waiting parents and family members said that many broke down in tears, including the mother of 12-year-old Mirza Abdulshaheed, who passed out. Zahra AlShaikh, was in the court room for the trial of her sister Zainab AlShaikh, tweeted [ar]:
AlShaikh then tweeted pictures as Mirza tried to comfort his unconscious mother before he was pulled away in tears [ar].
أين القلوب الرحيمة ؟ أدميت قلوبنا وهم يجرون الطفل #ميرزا_عبدالشهيد وهو يأبى أن يترك والدته بعد أن سقطت مغشيا عليها
The continued detention of the trio came as a shock to the local Twittersphere, especially after the public prosecutor announced the release [ar] of the officer arrested in connection to the case of 16-year-old Hussam AlHaddad who died of injuries in clashes with the police in Muharraq on August 20, 2012.
معادلة لا أفهمها أن يخلى سبيل متهما بالقتل العمد، بينما يتم التحفظ على طفل في 12 من عمره!! فأينها حماية المجتمع في هكذا معادلة!!
AlWefaq National Islamic Society issued a statement in which it considered Mirza Abdulshaheed to be the “Youngest political detainee in the world” as it classified the charges against the suspects as “political” in nature.
Recently, and to mark Eid Al Fitr, AlWefaq and other opposition societies launched an online campaign with the slogan, “An Eid without Kids” in which it highlighted the stories of “over 90 children under the legal age kept in adult prisons with charges filed against them that are not in line with their age”. Bahrain considers only those below the age of 15 as juveniles.
Minors above this cut-off age and who get in trouble with the law may thus be sent to jail should the judge deem it fit for the offense committed. A bill to change the cut-off age to 18 was turned down by the Shura Legislative Council in May 2011, according to Akhbar AlKhaleej newspaper [ar].