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Bahrain’s belligerence includes British bruises with long arm of injustice and abuse

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Bahrain: Harassment of leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab at Heathrow Airport
31 Jul, 2014 – BCHR

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) express their concern over the harassment and ill-treatment of leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and his family at the hands of the authorities at Heathrow Airport.

On 24 July 2014, Nabeel Rajab, president of BCHR and director of GCHR, arrived with his wife and two children (12 and 16 years old) at Heathrow International Airport from Bahrain on a personal visit to see friends and undergo medical checkups in the UK. To their surprise, they were held for approximately five hours at a temporary detention center at the airport as they were waiting for the immigration authorities to process their entry papers. Their luggage was thoroughly searched and their fingerprints and photos were taken. They felt that they were treated “like criminals”. Rajab was allowed one phone call only and had to be escorted by a policeman when going to the rest room. Additionally, he was interrogated about his sentence and imprisonment in Bahrain, which was the apparent reason for this treatment. Later, they were informed that they would be allowed to enter the country; however, their passports were held for investigation and they were told that they will be notified in two weeks (by August 7, 2014) whether they will be allowed to stay in the UK for three weeks as they had planned. Rajab’s visa was issued via the UK embassy in Bahrain a few days before his trip and no issues were brought to his attention at that time.

Rajab was imprisoned in Bahrain for two years between July 2012 and May 2014 for exercising his right to freedom of assembly by participating in and calling for peaceful protests, in the Capital Manama, in defense of people’s rights in Bahrain.

He was considered a prisoner of conscience by several human rights bodies including the UK based Amnesty International[1], and his detention was considered arbitrary by the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.[2]

In June 2014, the UK embassy in Bahrain held his passport for over 16 days after he submitted it to apply for a UK visa, despite the fact that the normal visa procedure does not take more than 5 days. The embassy also delayed handing back the passport after he asked for it even if without a visa. Eventually he was handed back the passport with a visa that was issued then canceled. As a result of this delay, the embassy effectively managed to hinder the human rights defender’s planned activities to travel to the UN human rights council (HRC) 26th session in Geneva, as a meeting organized between Rajab and the OHCHR was cancelled after initial postponement, and his participation in several planned events on the side of the UN HRC, which were announced publicly were also cancelled, due to the fact that he was not able to travel while his passport was held at the embassy.
…more

August 18, 2014   No Comments

Nabeel Rajab chose to return, change Unjust System that keeps him in chains

Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab’s request for early release from prison denied by Bahraini authorities
28 January, 2014 – IFEX

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) have expressed grave concern regarding the Bahraini authorities’ treatment of Nabeel Rajab, the imprisoned president of BCHR and the general secretary of GCHR, in addition to their refusal to grant him the early release he is eligible for as per the law.

A request for early release was submitted by Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers on 21 January 2014 to the court but it was rejected and no reasons were given to back the decision up.

Before announcing his verdict, the judge reportedly did not a take any action to investigate whether conditions for early release had been met. This is the third attempt submitted by Rajab’s lawyers requesting his release, based on article 349 of the Code of Criminal Procedures which sets conditions for early release.

These are as follows:
– Three quarters of the sentence had already been served;
– The defendant exhibits good and trustworthy behaviour whilst in detention;
– The defendant does not pose a threat to public security.

Although all three of those conditions apply to Rajab’s case, all requests submitted by his lawyers were rejected without reason.

In the letter submitted to the judge on 21 January, Nabeel Rajab’s lawyer provided evidence of his eligibility for early release and complained about the discrimination against Rajab in applying the law of early release, as well as the harm he suffered because of the prolonged delay in responding to his request which was submitted to the Court of Cassation to suspend the sentence. …more

February 4, 2014   No Comments

Letters from Prison – Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab

Detained Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab writes to IFEX from prison
17 Jun, 2013 – Bahrain center for Human Rights

In a letter read out during the IFEX general meeting, detained Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab thanked IFEX members for their support and encouraged them to continue fighting for free expression:

Colleagues, heads and members of regional and international organisations that defend freedom of opinion and expression and human rights, my friends from the members of the IFEX network, activists and advocates, and leaders of civil society groups,

Dear friends, the unknown soldiers, the managers, administrators and workers at the IFEX office in Canada,

Warm greetings.

It’s saddening to be away from your important meeting for the second time and, as you know, this absence is out of my control.

I was banned from travelling during the previous IFEX general meeting in 2011 without any given reason. My absence this time is because I have been behind bars for more than a year as I am serving an unfair and arbitrary sentence as revenge for my struggle and activities which aim to defend freedom of opinion and freedom of expression in my country Bahrain and in the whole of the Gulf region.

I would like to inform you, my dear friends, that despite the bad and difficult circumstances I have been suffering from since my arrest, my beliefs have not changed at all and my spirit is still very strong. These circumstances have not weakened me or caused any despair or lack of hope. This injustice has motivated me to continue fighting for freedom of opinion and expression and for human rights, and to stand by all oppressed peoples whose rights have been violated, and to enable them to look forward to a better future.

Dear colleagues, the dissemination and promotion and protection of human rights principles and moral values and virtues in our communities which live under oppression and injustice is not an easy job, but we must, as activists and human rights defenders in this region of the world, be prepared to pay the price of this struggle, and this price is often painful and it is the punishment I serve out today, which has kept me away from you and from this valuable meeting.

What makes me strong, brave and respectful is the stance and support given by you and the free people of the world to me and to all people who are detained because of their opinions and human rights work in the Gulf region. It is because of the good feelings you have given us, which made clear that we as Bahraini and Gulf activists are not alone in the battle for gaining freedom. You are standing by us.

The continuous urgent actions and the incredible work you have done through IFEX in recent months was brilliant and clear to all in our country and the whole region and also to regional and international human rights institutions. The fast professional development of the network (IFEX) would not have happened without these unknown soldiers who work tirelessly at IFEX’s offices day and night. These people became like members of my family who communicate on a daily basis and the youngest of my children now knows the names of the staff and managers of IFEX as a result of this constant communication and the care that is shown.

Certainly our network has a global position today, developing in a few years as one of the leaders of the major struggles in defending human rights and freedom of opinion and expression in the world. And so we feel proud when we tell people that we are members of IFEX which takes up the fight and has contributed to spreading human rights education and the awareness of freedom of opinion and expression in our Gulf region and also publicising and uncovering the ongoing violations against freedom of expression worldwide in different languages. Also, the network has offered professional, technical, moral and organisational support available to us at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and also for many regional and international organisations which work on similar issues.

I call on you to carry on with your work for a better future for our rights of freedom of opinion and expression and all human rights worldwide and especially in our region, towards which most countries turn a blind eye in order to protect their interests in the oil-rich region.

Finally, I must lift my hat and bow my head in respect and appreciation for your struggle for rights and send a kiss and hug for each one of you.

God bless you,

Nabeel Rajab
Jaw prison, Manama, Bahrain
June 2013
…source

June 26, 2013   No Comments

Nabeel Rajab, “pining hope on international organizations to rescue us is a mistake”

The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. – Che Guevara

Opposition Leader Urges Bahrainis to Expand Popular Protests
5 December, 2012 – Islamic Invitation Turkey

The imprisoned President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, on Wednesday called on the Bahraini people to rely on their own and expand and increase popular protests against the Al Khalifa regime, reiterating that pinning hope on the international community would be wrong.

“Sitting at homes and pining hope on international organizations to rescue us is a mistake, do not pin your hope on a mirage and rely on the presence of yourselves on the scene and in the squares,” Rajab said.

He further described as “worthless”, the Bahraini regime’s decision to ban protests, reiterating that all the political spectrums should challenge the decision and take to the streets.

Hundreds of Bahrainis staged large demonstrations across the country on Sunday, calling for the ouster of the al-Khalifa regime and the establishment of a democratic ruling system in their tiny Persian Gulf island.

The protesters asked for the downfall of the Bahraini regime, establishment of a democratic system, and voiced support for people in Mahza village, southern capital City of Manama, which has been under siege by the Bahraini security forces since two weeks ago.

According to the Bahraini media, the security forces have launched several night raids on the village residents.

The Bahraini government, facing protracted unrest by an overwhelming majority of the people, has resorted to any harsh measure to suppress popular protests and arrest political activists. It also revoked the nationality of 31 men on charges of harming national security earlier this month.

The men include London-based dissidents Saeed al-Shehabi and Ali Mushaima, the son of jailed opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, as well as clerics, human rights lawyers and activists.

Also on the list published by Bahraini News Agency (BNA) were two former parliamentarians from the leading Shiite party Wefaq, Jawad and Jalal Fairooz.

Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty’s over-40-year rule, end of discrimination, establishment of justice and a democratically-elected government as well as freedom of detained protesters.

Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13, 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.

So far, tens of people have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured. …source

December 6, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain’s Court of Injustice to rule on Nabeel Rajab’s appeal December 11

BAHRAIN: The verdict on Nabeel Rajab’s appeal expected on December 11
8 November, 2012 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Paris-Geneva, November 8, 2012. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), deplores the Bahrain Appeals Court’s refusal to refer a petition for preliminary ruling on the legality of the law prohibiting demonstrations in Bahrain and to release Nabeel Rajab, who has been arbitrarily detained since July 9, 2012.

On November 8, 2012, the Bahrain Appeals Court resumed the hearing on the appeal against the three years’ imprisonment sentence pronounced against Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and FIDH Deputy Secretary General [1], on August 16, 2012 by the Lower Criminal Court for three cases related to his participation in peaceful gatherings in favour of fundamental freedoms and democracy. The hearing was attended by Mr. Antoine Aussedat, French lawyer, who was mandated by the Observatory to conduct an international trial observation mission. He was the only observer mandated by an international NGO. Several diplomats representing France and the USA also attended the hearing.

During the hearing, a new request for Nabeel Rajab’s provisional release was rejected by the Court. Then eight videos were shown: five videos filed by the Prosecutor displaying images shot by the police on the demonstration in relation to which Nabeel Rajab had been arrested and three videos filed by the defence lawyers containing speeches or interviews attesting that Nabeel Rajab advocated for non violence, a video of a demonstration during which Nabeel Rajab was charged and hurt by the police and extracts from a pro-government TV broadcast in which Nabeel Rajad was depicted as a dangerous agitator and manipulator. The content of the videos was discussed by the court and the defence lawyers.

Finally the court denied a petition filed by his lawyers to refer to the Supreme Court a question for a preliminary ruling on the constitutionality and legality of the law banning demonstrations in Bahrain, with regard to international conventions and announced that the verdict would be made public on December 11, 2012.

“The issue of the legality of the law on gatherings is key. I deeply regret that the court refused to refer this fundamental question to the Supreme Court. It sends an alarming signal as to what could be the final outcome of this judicial process”, said FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen.

“We reiterate our concern about the continuing judicial harassment faced by Nabeel Rajab and his prolonged arbitrary detention, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning his legitimate human rights activities. Accordingly, the authorities must drop all charges held against him and immediately and unconditionally release him, in compliance with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Bahrain”, concluded OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock. …source

November 18, 2012   No Comments

Rights of the defence undermined in Nabeel Rajab’s trial

The Observatory: Bahrain: Rights of the defence undermined in Nabeel Rajab’s trial
8 November, 2012 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Paris-Geneva, October 18, 2012. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), deplores the violation of the rights of the defence during the third hearing of the appeal against the three years ’ imprisonment sentence pronounced against Nabeel Rajab, who has been arbitrarily detained since July 9, 2012.

On October 16, 2012, the Bahrain Appeals Court resumed the hearing on the appeal against the three years’ imprisonment sentence pronounced against Mr. Nabeel Rajab , President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and FIDH Deputy Secretary General[1], on August 16, 2012 by the Lower Criminal Court for three cases related to his participation in peaceful gatherings in favour of fundamental freedoms and democracy. The hearing was attended by Mr. Antoine Aussedat, French lawyer, who had been mandated by the Observatory to conduct an international trial observation mission. He was the only trial observer mandated by an international NGO. Several diplomats representing France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the USA also attended the hearing.

The Observatory deplores that at least one international defence witness was denied entry to Bahrain. Indeed, FIDH’s Representative, Stéphanie David, Head of MENA Desk, who had been called upon to testify as a witness by the defence team, was denied entry into Bahrain on October 16, 2012. The Observatory considers that preventing international experts from testifying before a court amounts to a blatant violation of the rights of the defence. Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers had formally requested the Court to issue a letter to the Customs to facilitate the entry of several international witnesses, including Ms. David, but the court refused to issue such a letter. Despite the Court’s lack of support, FIDH, together with the defence lawyers, decided to confirm Ms. David’s travel to Bahrain for the purpose of the trial. During the hearing, the defence lawyers’ request to call international witnesses was rejected by the Court on the ground that their testimonies were not “relevant”.

In addition, the Observatory regrets that part of the evidence have not been examined in public and that the defence lawyers have not had access to all the evidence filed in the criminal case in due time. Indeed, the defence lawyers asked the Court that a video that had been used as evidence to convict Mr. Rajab be shown during the appeal hearing, as the said video had not been shown during the first instance[1]. The Appeals Court informed the defence team that the video could not be shown as it had disappeared from the criminal file. In addition, the Court attempted to show a second video submitted by the Prosecutor, but which had not been added as part of the criminal case file. After a brief attempt, the Court suspended the hearing for more than two hours to solve technical issues. When the hearing resumed, the court announced that the trial was again adjourned to November 8, 2012. The Observatory calls on the judicial authorities to ensure that Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers have access to all the evidence filed in the criminal case in due time. …more

November 8, 2012   No Comments

The Ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Nabeel Rajab

The Observatory: BAHRAIN: Ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Nabeel Rajab as criminalisation and threats against human rights defenders go unabated

2 October, 2012 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Paris-Geneva, October 2, 2012 – The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), deplores the decision to further delay the trial on appeal of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and FIDH Deputy Secretary General. Such ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention is one more evidence of the continued criminalisation of human rights defenders’ activities.

On September 27, 2012, the Bahrain Appeals Court once more refused to release Mr. Nabeel Rajab on bail and further postponed the ruling on his appeal to October 16, 2012[1]. The Bahrain Appeals Court was seized by Mr. Rajab’s lawyers to contest the decision taken on August 16, 2012 by the Lower Criminal Court to sentence him to three years’ imprisonment for three cases related to his participation in peaceful gatherings in favour of fundamental freedoms and democracy. In addition, during the hearing, the court continued to deal with the three cases as separate cases, rejecting once more the request of the defence to merge them. Mr. Rajab has been detained since last July 9 and has been continuously denied release since then[2].

Moreover, during the hearing, the judge reportedly showed a DVD containing images of Mr. Nabeel Rajab at peaceful demonstrations arguing with an officer on the legality of the protest, as well as images of young people throwing Molotov cocktails during what the judge alleged was one of these protests. Mr. Rajab’s lawyers insisted that this last part did not take place at the same location nor time as those of the said peaceful protest. Mr. Rajab further recalled that none of the protests he attended had witnessed violence. Mr. Rajab’s lawyers s well as some observers who attended the hearing, consider that this part of the DVD consist in clear montages.

The Observatory is thus extremely concerned over the new postponement decided by the judge, as it aims at sanctioning Mr. Rajab’s human rights activities by keeping him in arbitrary detention. The Observatory further strongly denounces the montages broadcast in court, which clearly aim at discrediting Mr. Rajab and legitimate peaceful protests in general.

In addition, the Observatory deplores that, notwithstanding the commitments expressed on several occasion by the Bahraini authorities to make NGOs’ access to Bahrain easier, the visa request which was submitted by the Observatory on September 19, 2012 to the relevant authorities on behalf of an Observatory-mandated trial observer, was accepted only a few hours before the planned flight departure of the said observer, making it impossible for him to travel to Bahrain.

The Observatory further highlights that on September 26, Ms. Zainab Al-Khawaja, a human rights blogger who has been denouncing human rights violations of the Bahraini regime, was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment on the charge of destroying government property for publicly tearing a picture of the King of Bahrain. The Observatory recalls that Ms. Al-Khawaja has been detained for almost two months[3], and has therefore already served most of the sentence. It is however unsure whether she will be released in the following days or be kept in detention, as 12 other cases have been filed against her over the past months for her participation in peaceful protests.

The Observatory is also extremely concerned about the ongoing threats of reprisals targeting Bahraini human rights defenders who cooperate with the United Nations (UN). Most recently, on September 23, the defenders who travelled to Geneva to participate in the 21st session of the Human Rights Council have been accused of “defaming Bahrain” and labelled as “traitors to the country” by pro-governmental newspaper Al-Watan. One of them even reportedly received death threats through anonymous phone calls while he was in Geneva. …more

October 5, 2012   No Comments

U.S. Foreign Policy Threatens America’s Interests in the Gulf

Radical Allies and Moderate Subversives: U.S. Foreign Policy Threatens America’s Interests in the Gulf
13 Septemebr, 2012 – Anna Therese Day – Huffington Post

Just weeks ago, Nabeel Rajab, the “Gandhi of Bahrain,” spent his birthday in a prison cell. Originally “jailed for a tweet,” Rajab, the renowned president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, now faces up to three years in prison for allegedly inciting violence among protesters against the Bahraini monarchy. Bahrain has been engulfed in turmoil since early 2011 when the US-backed Al-Khalifa regime launched a violent crackdown against the nation’s popular non-violent reform movement. The regime has since selectively targeted the island’s ethnic-majority, its Shia population, and has gained a terrifying reputation for using brutal torture tactics on those citizens detained. Recently, Bahrain’s appeal courts upheld the sentence of 20 other opposition activists, ignoring domestic and international outcry.

In the Spring of 2011, I met Rajab and his family in their home in Bahrain. His then nine-year-old daughter, Malak, joined us for the interview. Just hours before our arrival, masked state security forces raided the Rajab’s family compound in the middle of the night, bombarding the grounds with teargas and forcing their way into the Rajab’s home with heavy weaponry. Needless to say, little Malak was far too traumatized to attend school that day.

Now Malak joins her brother, 15-year-old Adam, and her mother, Sumaya, to demand justice for her father whose appeal verdict will be announced on Thursday, September 27th. This date comes after the Bahraini court decision to postpone his hearing this week, a move that his lawyers claim was an attempt to prolong his jail-time. A countless number of international human rights organizations have joined in this call to action, and nearly 20 members of U.S. Congress demanded Rajab’s release in a letter to the King of Bahrain. Following his August 16th sentence, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called on Bahrain to “vacate” the charges against Rajab and called for “the government of Bahrain to take steps to build confidence across Bahraini society and to begin a meaningful dialogue with political opposition and civil society.”

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

These condemnations from the State Department, however, are not reflected in U.S. policy toward the Bahraini monarchy. Despite the well-documented violence against its citizens, the U.S. Department of Defense resumed arms sales to Bahrain, rekindling a relationship that sold $200 million worth of weaponry to the regime in 2010. American companies added further insult to injury by hosting international oil and natural gas conferences and the 2012 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, amidst the curfews and kidnappings that characterized daily life for the majority of Bahraini citizens. This gaping distance between America’s actions and words continues to send a far louder message to Bahraini civilians than the lip-service of the U.S. Department of State.

Bahrain’s Radical Regime, Moderate Subversives

Rajab is famous throughout not only the Middle East and North Africa, but also internationally for his tireless human rights advocacy and his pioneering commitment to using social media for social justice. Identified by Al Jazeera as “the informal leader of the Bahraini uprising,” Rajab responded that he plans to “forever remain in civil society” when I asked him about any potential political aspirations. Throughout the entirety of the uprising, his commitment to reform has been as steadfast as his tactics have been innovative. …more

September 14, 2012   No Comments

Calling for Democracy a Crime – Obama silent as Ratiu Democracy Award Winner suffers abuse at hands of US ‘friends’ in Bahrain

Statement on Nabeel Rajab by The Hon. Jane Harman, Director, President and CEO, the Wilson Center
8 May, 2012 – The Wilson Center

WASHINGTON – For a second time since he received the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award last year at the Wilson Center, human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been detained by the Government of Bahrain.

“On behalf of the Wilson Center, I urge Mr. Rajab’s prompt release,” said former Congresswoman Jane Harman, current director, president and CEO. “The Government of Bahrain would be wiser to tolerate dissent and promote the free expression of views. Events in the region in the past year make clear that local voices will not remain silent and repression will be resisted,” she added.

The Ion Ratiu Democracy Award aims to bring international recognition to the ideas and accomplishments of individuals around the world who are working on behalf of democracy. Whether in exile from repressive regimes or operating within emerging democracies, recipients of the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award are democracy advocates with the type of life-changing experience in Washington that Ion Ratiu encountered as a young Romanian democracy activist in the 1970s and 1980s. The Award provides a month-long scholarship at the Wilson Center during which awardees have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the scholarly, policymaking, and NGO communities in Washington, D.C. Recipients also provide the keynote address at an international symposium on major issues confronting their democratic activism.

Nabeel Rajab received the award in a ceremony at the Wilson Center in Washington D.C. in December 2011. When Rajab was badly beaten during a rally in the Bahraini capital of Manama in January 2012, Jane Harman joined the State Department in expressing concern direct to the Bahraini Ambassador to the United States and called for a full investigation into the incident.
…source

September 7, 2012   No Comments

CNN makes room to listen to Bahrain Regime make excuses for its repression with nye a word from voices of Oppostion

Q&A: Government weighs in on Bahrain protests
By Nicole Dow – CNN – 24 August, 2012

(CNN) — For more than a year, Bahrain has been the site of anti-government protests. What does the government say about the demonstrations and rights groups’ accusations of a crackdown?

Spokesman Fahad AlBinali offers this take:

CNN:
A Bahrain court sentenced activist Nabeel Rajab to three years in prison, a government spokesman said Thursday, and this week, the Court of Appeals acquitted him of defamation. Amnesty International has said the sentence questions the independence of the judiciary. How do you respond?

AlBinali:
Nabeel Rajab had a number of cases against him. The one you mentioned, the defamation case, the Court of Appeals cleared Nabeel Rajab of that charge. However, he is in prison for other cases, for active incitements and indirect participation in illegal demonstrations and rallies, and through the use of petrol bombs and improvised weapons. There have also been numerous cases of assault against police officers. The minister of state for media affairs gave a press conference a few days ago detailing the decision in that case of inciting illegal rallies and marches in very busy areas and in the commercial district of the capital.

CNN: Najeeb Rajab is still in prison, correct?

AlBinali: Yes.

CNN: And there’s another sentence for which he’s in prison?
Bahrain: Jailed doctor, official speak

AlBinali: No. The minister of information — the minister of state media affairs — she pointed out that there were three specific incidents that took place earlier this year: the first on January 12, the second on February 14, and the third incident was on March 31. This is a form of behavior that has been engaged in regardless of numerous warnings and cautions regarding the illegal state of crowd incitement and detrimental effect it has on safety and public order.

As I said earlier, they have often led to violence through use petrol bombs, Molotov cocktails and also improvised weapons. Such violent activity and conduct has led to deaths in cases of those engaged in the violent activity as well as bystanders who happen to be in the area at the time or good Samaritans. There was a case of death of a person who tried to clear burning tires off the road. There are real consequences to such conduct and behavior. …more

August 24, 2012   No Comments

Free Nabeel Rajab, Free Bahrain’s Political Captives and State Hostages

August 24, 2012   No Comments

Deafening Toll Of Nabeel Rajab’s Injustice

Deafening Toll Of Nabeel Rajab’s Injustice
21 August, 2012 – The Trench

Three weeks ago Michael Posner, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, paid a visit to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission with a deceptive blueprint under his arm. In addition to his normal duties, Posner has served as Bahrain’s de facto ambassador throughout the island’s 18-month democratic uprising. The Secretary would employ a number of arguments to shield King Hamad Bin isa Al-Khalifa’s monarchy from Congressional scrutiny, weaving criticisms of the government’s repression between an overarching defense of its actions. His general conclusion: Bahrain may share some similarities with Syria, Libya or Tunisia, but each country’s “unique history” must “shape U.S. policy accordingly.”

As if local history is the only force dictating U.S. policy on and around the island.

King Hamad has certainly played some parts of his counterrevolutionary hand with skill. While his modest security forces are not equipped to cause the same destruction as Muammar Gaddafi or Bashar al-Assad’s armies, Hamad and his royal circle could employ a variety of lethal tactics to break the opposition’s will to resist. Instead they have chosen pellet guns [shotguns] and U.S.-made tear gas canisters over automatic weapons as their primary instruments. Beatings, night arrests and other non-lethal tactics also keep the island’s casualties, international pressure and media exposure to a minimum. Applying lessons from Western crowd control tactics – including the so-called Free Speech Zones abused by the Bush administration – Hamad’s government even contracted Western police figures John Timoney and John Yates to add to his performance’s realism.

Yet the King’s circle is prone to lapses in strategic thinking, particularly the entry of Saudi Arabian forces (along with Jordanians and Pakistanis) and the destruction of Pearl Monument. The monarchy believes in firmly prosecuting opposition activists to make examples of them, a tactic that simply contributes to their political influence and the country’s instability. Conversely, King Hamad’s government has thrown away every opportunity to establish a genuine dialogue with the opposition’s diverse network, holding all dissident parties responsible for the island’s political breakdown. State media’s interpretation of Posner’s speech illustrated the reckless mindset of both governments: “Bahrain is more stable than a year ago.”

Posner would claim that Bahrain’s violence has “reduced significantly” in recent months, but nothing could be further from the truth. That Bahrain’s violence sits at the opposite end of Syria’s spectrum is true, except relativity doesn’t negate the repressive environment that its opposition labors under. 2012’s casualties and injuries have maintained a similar pace as 2011, pushing the death count closer to 100, and police abuse remains a frequent occurrence. The island is only becoming more divided over time. Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, his daughter Zainab and other peaceful figures of the opposition remain incarcerated for political reasons, antagonizing Bahrain’s democratic movement and foreign supporters. Meanwhile a U.S.-backed dialogue with Al Wefaq and its allies drifts lifeless down a river of mistrust, and this collective marginalization is venting into the streets.

Now the harsh sentencing of Rajab threatens to top all of the King’s blunders and add more drag on U.S. policy.

Rajab and his family counted themselves among the few who weren’t surprised by last Thursday’s verdict, because even hardened observers of Bahrain’s uprising shook their heads in disbelief. Ego and fear offer a plausible explanation for the monarchy’s counterproductive behavior. Leaving aside the injustice of his three-year sentence, one each for three different charges of instigating protests and violence, imprisoning Rajab will not accomplish the government’s objective of restoring order. Hero-making makes for flawed counterrevolution and is thus perplexing at the strategic level: three years in prison equates to at least three more years of protests. Jail walls won’t stop his Twitter account or his followers from marching in his place.

Furthermore, Rajab’s harsh treatment at Jaww prison suggests that his appeal process is as fake as King Hamad’s commitment to democracy. …more

August 23, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain Human Rights Defender, Nabeel Rajab sentenced to THREE YEARS for organizing and participating in Peace Protests

Bahrain sentences prominent activist to 3 years prison for instigating, partaking in protest
By Associated Press, 16 August, 2012 Washington Post

MANAMA, Bahrain — A prominent Bahraini human rights activist was found guilty Thursday of instigating and participating in several illegal gatherings and sentenced to three years in jail.

The unexpectedly stiff sentence against Nabeel Rajab will raise questions about the Western-backed Sunni monarchy’s commitment to reform, and embolden anti-government protesters who have been demonstrating the past 18 months for greater rights in the Gulf island kingdom, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet.

Rajab, who is already serving a three-month sentence for posting anti-government comments on Twitter, was in court for the verdict. He is president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Rajab’s attorney Mohammed al-Jishi said each of three cases yielded a year imprisonment, for a total of three years. Al-Jishi said he plans to appeal the ruling.

In a separate case involving comments made on social media site Twitter, a judge delayed issuing a verdict against Rajab’s appeal until Aug. 23.

Bahrain has experienced near daily protests since February 2011 following an uprising by the kingdom’s Shiite majority seeking greater political rights from the Western-backed Sunni monarchy. At least 50 people have died in the unrest and hundreds have been detained, including prominent rights activists and Shiite opposition leaders.

Shiites account for about 70 percent of Bahrain’s population of just over half a million people, but claim they face widespread discrimination and lack opportunities granted to the Sunni minority. The country’s leaders have offered some reforms including restoring jobs for many Shiites pushed out from their posts at the start of the uprising and giving parliament more power.

But the opposition says they fall short of Shiite demands for a greater voice in the country’s affairs and an elected government.

The unrest has put Washington into an awkward position. U.S. officials have called for efforts to reopen political dialogue in Bahrain, but are careful not to press too hard against the nation’s leadership and possibly jeopardize its important military ties.

Rights groups criticized the ruling against Rajab and said it raises questions over whether the regime is serious about reforms. They have called for his immediate release.

“It seems Bahrain’s rulers are far more comfortable with harsh repression than with the reforms King Hamad keeps promising,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. “The government has yet to show that Nabeel Rajab did any more than exercise his right to free expression and peaceful assembly. He should be set free, not sent away from his family to prison.” ….source

August 16, 2012   No Comments

Bahraini Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab verdicts Thursday

Track Record of postponements raises question of political show trials.

Verdicts to be Issued Thursday for Bahraini Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab
(Witness Bahrain) – 14 August, 2012 – BCHR

On Thursday August 16, a court in Manama, Bahrain is expected to issue a verdict/hear briefs in four cases pending against Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab, including Rajab’s appeal over the three-month sentence he is currently serving for being found guilty of libel due to posting six statements on Twitter that are critical of the Bahraini Prime Minister. The other cases that the court will hear include allegedly inciting gatherings and unauthorized marches.

This is not the first time the court has set a date for a verdict, and in other prominent cases – notably that of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja – the court has met only to announce a delay. These postponements raise the question as to the legitimacy of Bahrain’s judicial process. Media reports have cited the delays as an indication of the government’s commitment to reform, yet the track record to justify such conclusions is lacking.

“I believe strongly in peaceful means of struggle. It could take longer time, but has better results,” Nabeel Rajab told Witness Bahrain in a videotaped interview just days before his arrest. “I will continue all my life struggling for democracy and human rights.”

Rajab is currently being held in Jaw Central Prison and, according to reports from his family, in an insect-ridden cell without air conditioning or proper ventilation, and without needed medical attention for his eczema, high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. …more

August 15, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain Court Postpones Rajab Verdict

Bahrain Court Postpones Rajab Verdict
POMED – 13 August, 2012

The appeals verdict for prominent Bahraini human rights leader Nabeel Rajab, imprisoned after sending a tweet calling for the kingdom’s prime minister to resign, will be issued Thursday according to Rajab’s lawyer. The decision had been scheduled to be announced Sunday for Rajab’s twitter comments as well as three other charges relating to illegal assemblies. Nineteen U.S. lawmakers had written a letter prior to the original Sunday appeals date calling for Rajab’s release, as did the rights leader’s family calling for the international community to put pressure on the Bahraini government.

In addition, another court sentenced a 19 year-old Shiite man to two years in prison after he insulted Aisha, the Sunni-revered wife of the Prophet Mohammed in comments made on the Internet. The court alleged the man’s comments were ”phrases that are too dirty and degrading to mention, defaming the mother of the believers, Aisha.”

Also, the kingdom’s foreign minister announced that Bahrain’s ambassador to Iran will return to his post in Tehran for the first time in over a year. The ambassador had been recalled after Iran heavily criticized the government’s response to the protest movement. …more

August 13, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain Rights activist Nabeel Rajab suffersabuse, injustice by regime

Rights activist Nabeel Rajab victimised by justice authorities
07 August, 2012 – UNHCR

On 5th August, a Bahrain court will hear an appeal by the activist Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, against the conviction and three-month jail sentence imposed on him last month for posting messages on Twitter that were alleged to be libellous.

At the same hearing, the court will consider another case against him for participating in illegal demonstrations, originally due to be heard on 26 September.

Pending the appeal verdict in a few days’ time, Reporters Without Borders deplores the authorities’ harassment of Rajab and expresses concern about the position of human rights campaigners in Bahrain.

“We urge the Bahraini justice authorities to drop the charges against Nabeel Rajab and call for his immediate release,” the press freedom organization said. It condemned the crackdown on dissident voices and called on the international community to step up the pressure on the kingdom.

Rajab was found guilty of libelling the citizens of the town of Muharraq. In his tweets he accused the prime minister – who was visiting the town — of corruption and called on him to resign, saying the people had welcomed him only because they had been offered subsidies.

August 7, 2012   No Comments

Gulf Center for Human RIghts calls for immediate release of Rajab

Bahrain: Calls for the immediate release of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab
4 August, 2012 – Gulf Center for Human Rights

Beirut, 04 August 2012- The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), call on the authorities in Bahrain to immediately release Nabeel Rajab, President of the BCHR and director of the GCHR and to drop all charges against him.

On 5 August 2012, the Higher Appeal Court will rule on the appeal submitted by Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers against a three-month prison sentence, which was handed down on 9 July by the 5th Lower Criminal Court. The human rights defender was found guilty of libel based on posts on his Twitter account directed at the Prime Minster of Bahrain where he highlighted his corruption and called on him to step down. (For more information see GCHR appeal dated 7 July 2012 http://gc4hr.org/news/view/190).

Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers filed two appeals the first one, requesting that the three months prison sentence be commuted into community work, was rejected by the Court. The second appeal was a request to have the sentence suspended. This is the third occasion that this appeal will be before the court. The matter had been scheduled to be heard on 18 July 2012 however the court adjourned the hearing until 24 July so that it could examine the case file. On 24 July 2012, Nabeel Rajab appeared before the court for the second time. On that occasion, the Court refused to release the human rights defender on bail and stated that it would issue its verdict on the appeal on 5 August 2012.

The human rights defender is currently being detained in Jaw Central Prison in a cell with no air conditioning despite the high temperatures. He is prohibited from talking to other prisoners apart from the two men whom he shares the cell with. Furthermore it is reported that he is suffering from a skin condition and is being denied access to a doctor and to required treatment. His family was allowed to visit him for the first time on July 19 2012 however, unlike other detainees, he is reportedly brought to the visits centre handcuffed. …more

August 6, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain activist Nabeel Rajab, “arrest is meant to weaken uprising, muzzle free expression”

Bahrain activist tells court his arrest is meant to weaken uprising, muzzle free expression
Associated Press, 16 May, 2012

MANAMA, Bahrain — A prominent rights activist jailed in Bahrain says his detention is a political act aimed at weakening the uprising against the Gulf kingdom’s rulers.

Nabel Rajab also told a judge on Wednesday that authorities seek to muzzle free expression as part of crackdowns against opposition groups.

Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was arrested May 5 and charged with using social media to insult Bahraini authorities and encourage demonstrations. Fifty-five lawyers attended his hearing in a show of solidarity with Rajab.

The trial continues on Sunday.
…source

May 16, 2012   No Comments

Hamad, drop charges against Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain: Drop Charges Against Rights Activists
15 May, 2012 – Human Rights Watch

(Beirut) – Bahraini authorities should drop politically motivated criminal charges against Nabeel Rajab, a human rights activist, and release him immediately. Rajab is scheduled to go on trial on May 16, 2012, for “offending an official institution” – namely, the Interior Ministry, which he criticized for allegedly ignoring attacks against boys and young protesters as well as Shia-owned businesses.

Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a member of the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division, was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport on May 5, 2012, upon his arrival from Beirut. Mohamed al-Jishi, Rajab’s lawyer, told Human Rights Watch that the public prosecutor brought the “offending” charge against Rajab for four Twitter postings in recent months in which he criticized the Interior Ministry for, in al-Jishi’s words, “not prosecuting attacks by armed gangs who have attacked civilians.”

“The charges against Nabeel Rajab are nothing more than attempts to silence one of the Bahraini government’s most prominent critics,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Authorities should immediately drop these charges and release him.”

The Public Prosecution Office says it is also holding him pending investigation into charges that he “incited illegal gatherings.”

On May 11, following the Washington visit of Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the US State Department announced that the Obama administration was resuming the provision of some military equipment and services for sale to Bahrain’s army, National Guard, and Coast Guard. …more

May 16, 2012   No Comments