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Bahrain’s Prison Verdict for Activist Draws HR Group’s Criticism

Tuesday 11 July 2017
Bahrain’s Prison Verdict for Activist Draws HR Group’s Criticism

Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab

Human Rights organizations condemned Bahraini regime for sentencing prominent rights activist to two years in jail, accusing Nabeel Rajab of spreading "false news" about the situation inside the country.

Alwaght- Human Rights organizations condemned Bahraini regime for sentencing prominent rights activist to two years in jail, accusing Nabeel Rajab of spreading "false news" about the situation inside the country.

Amnesty International has called the US-backed regime's move a “flagrant violation of human rights,” as another leading international human rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW), described the oil-rich Persian Gulf regime's move as "a testament to the sham nature of this Bahraini judicial proceeding".

Nabeel Rajab was sentenced earlier Monday over television interviews in which prosecutors claim he disseminated rumors and false information regarding Bahrain, AP reported.

Rajab, who according to HRW is one of the Arab world's leading human rights defenders, was convicted of "disseminating false news, statements and rumors about the internal situation of the kingdom that would undermine its prestige and status," a judicial source told the official BNA news agency, as cited by AFP.

The 52-year-old was sentenced in absentia, as he has been hospitalized since April, according to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.

HRW Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson denounced the verdict, saying "Nabeel's work will continue for generations until Bahrainis share the same human rights as free people around the world".

Amnesty International also slammed the inhuman rule and suggested that Nabeel Rajab had been sentenced "for speaking to journalists" and that he had "spent over a year in pre-trial detention, largely in solitary confinement."

"His lawyers state he was denied basic fair trial guarantees," the group said in a statement.

Rajab’s cousin, Sheikh Maytham al Salman, denounced the trial of his relative as “an attempt by the government of Bahrain to silence all forms of criticism for human rights violations” and added that Rajab “was not given any access to meet his family or talk to his family or meet his lawyers in the last couple of days.”

He also called on the international community – and specifically the US, the UK and the EU – to “play a role in countering and stopping and putting an end to the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain.”

The decision has also been slammed by Amnesty International, which said it exposes a "relentless campaign" by Bahraini authorities to "wipe out dissent."

"Imprisoning Nabeel Rajab simply for sharing his opinion is a flagrant violation of human rights, and an alarming sign that the Bahraini authorities will go to any length to silence criticism," Amnesty's secretary-general, Salil Shetty, said.

"Bahrain’s government and judiciary have once again tightened their chokehold on freedom of expression and branded [Rajab] a criminal," he added.

Rajab, who helped lead Bahrain's Arab Spring protests in 2011, was arrested on the "fake news" charges in June 2016.

He is also awaiting an August 7 trial for a series of tweets in which he criticized the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, according to the Bahrain Institute.

Rajab faces up to 15 years in jail if he is found guilty in that trial.

The 52-year-old has also been arrested numerous other times. In 2015, he spent two months in jail after alleging in a tweet that some of Bahrain's soldiers had defected to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), before being pardoned for health reasons.

Saeed Sehabi, director of Bahrain Free Movement, also told RT that he believes Rajab’s harsh sentence is a part of an ongoing clampdown on civil liberties being waged by Bahrain’s leaders.

"The essence of the story is that no one should say anything. You have to accept the slave-master relationship. That you, Bahraini, are slaves for Al Khalifa [King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa],” Sehabi said, adding that the activist was jailed because he “chose to be a freeman, like more than 4,000 prisoners at this moment of time".

Speculating on what might have infuriated the authorities most, Sehabi cited Rajab’s vociferous condemnation of the war in Yemen.

“What is happening in Yemen today is nothing but war crimes; this is according to United Nations experts. Nabeel Rajab only reiterated what others have been saying,” Sehabi pointed out, adding that the activist had encouraged others to take a stand and condemn the “aggressive war on defenseless people” in Yemen, as well as the arrest and detention of human rights and political activists.

Sehabi said that Rajab’s activism is part of a wider opposition movement that sprang from the Arab Spring of 2011.

Anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country on February 14, 2011. People have been demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.  Many people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or been arrested, illegally detained and brutally tortured while many have seen their citizenship revoked.  In March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to aid Bahrain in its brutal crackdown.

The US Takes Humanitarian Gesture, Rebukes Al Khalifa's Move

In a face-saving measure the US Department of stated expressed disappointment by its Persian Gulf ally's verdict saying it "reaffirms previous calls for his release."

"We believe no one anywhere should be prosecuted or imprisoned for exercising their human rights or fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression or peaceful assembly," the Department of State said in its press statement on the issue.

The tiny Persian Gulf Island hosts US and UK marine bases and enjoys their support to crack down Bahraini people's pro-democracy uprising.

However Bahraini people are sure that they resistance will bear fruit and regional and international supports will not dissuade them from perusing their democratic demands.

 “The Anglo-American, Saudi, Israeli alliance appears to be in dominance but, in reality, they are weak. You only resort to this tactics if you are weak, if you are strong, you allow people to speak, to protest. If you are weak, you do not. So this is what is happening,” director of Bahrain Free Movement said.

 

 

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Bahrain Nabeel Rajab Human Rights Prison

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