Bahrain human rights activist’s years in jail for tweets


This video says about itself:

8 May 2012

In the fourth episode of The World Tomorrow Julian Assange speaks with two leading Arab revolutionaries in the middle of conflict, Alaa Abd El-Fattah from Egypt and Nabeel Rajab from Bahrain. Alaa Abd El-Fattah is a long time Egyptian blogger, programmer and political activist. His parents were human rights campaigners under Anwar Sadat; his sister Mona Seif became a Twitter star during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, and is a founder of the No Military Trials for Civilians group formed under the post-Mubarak military junta.

El-Fattah was imprisoned for 45 days in 2006 for protesting under the Mubarak regime, and released after “Free Alaa” solidarity protests in Egypt and around the world. In 2011, from abroad, El-Fattah helped route around Mubarak’s internet blockade.

Nabeel Rajab is a lifelong Bahraini activist and critic of the Al Khalifa regime. A member of a staunch pro-regime family, Rajab has agitated for reform in Bahrain since his return from university in 1988. Along with the Bahraini-Danish human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, he helped establish the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights in 2002. Rajab is reasonably new to the limelight — becoming a face for the Bahrain uprising of February 14 2011, after the sit-in at Pearl Roundabout.

Since then, he has been a public face for the revolution, waging a social media war on Twitter with PR companies working for the regime. After al-Khawaja was imprisoned, he led protests for his release. He has endured beatings, arrests and legal harrassment for engaging in pro-democracy demonstrations. On Saturday 5th of May, he was arrested at Manama airport , and charged the next day with encouraging and engaging in “illegal protests.” Nabeel Rajab remains in detention at the time of broadcast.

From the Irish Times:

Bahrain human rights activist spent two years in jail for tweets

Nabeel Rajab urges Ireland ‘to fight for democracy around the world’

Erin McGuire

Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 01:00

A Bahraini human rights activist who spent two years in prison for using Twitter to call for peaceful protests has urged Irish people to “fight for democracy around the world”.

Speaking yesterday in Dublin, Nabeel Rajab said the human rights situation in Bahrain was deteriorating, with increasing numbers of people being jailed or forced into hiding.

Rajab was released from prison in May after serving two years of a three-year term. He was arrested several times for his involvement in pro-democracy protests during the 2011 Arab Spring. All of his arrests were related to tweets criticising the government or encouraging people to demonstrate.

During the Arab Spring, activists in Bahrain were required by law to ask for permission to protest. Protests in the capital Manama have since been banned.

Social media use

Rajab, who is president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and co-founder of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, is known for using social media in his human rights work.

He has 234,000 Twitter followers, more than anyone else in Bahrain, a country smaller than Co Dublin with a population of 1.3 million. “The government hates [my social media presence] because of the influence I have. When they put me in jail they thought the Twitter account would stop, but it continued – my Facebook and Twitter accounts kept working.”

The Bahraini government’s violent crackdown on protesters motivated him to transfer his contracting business to his family. “When I realised I would be targeted and could get killed, I transferred everything to my family, my wife . . . I’m a fighter for human rights. Fears about my personal life were not an issue. I was prepared for anything.”

Many of his friends were also arrested during the Arab Spr- ing. He estimates 50,000 people were in and out of Bahraini jails in the past three years.

While in prison, he was isolated from other political prisoners and kept in a cell with people who spoke different languages so he could not communicate with them.

Rajab is on a two-day visit to Dublin as a guest of Front Line Defenders, a non-governmental organisation that protects human rights defenders. He is briefing Government officials and rights organisations on the clampdown in Bahrain.

Rajab believes there are similarities between Bahrain and Ireland in their shared struggles for democracy, justice and equality. “You were ruled by the British; we are ruled by a family who invaded the country 200 years ago and treated the indigenous population badly. [The government] marginalised people, put them in jail.”

He says that because Ireland achieved democracy, the Irish people “have an obligation to fight for democracy around the world . . . and to play a more active role in human rights struggles in the Middle East”.

This is especially important to Rajab now, as he believes the situation in Bahrain has deteriorated. “There are more people in jail, in exile, in hiding. There are more human rights violations. The Shia people are being marginalised more . . . The government’s efforts to contain the media have been successful.”

Rajab will return to Bahrain even though he does not feel safe there. He plans to dedicate the rest of his life to human rights work, despite the fact it could land him back in jail.

“Prison made me much more determined. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else . . . I’m going to continue tweeting, raising human rights issues, empowering people and criticising dictators of repressive regimes. I don’t want to end up in jail, but I’m not afraid . . . The situation has to change and I’m willing to pay the price for those changes.”

US Rep Jim McGovern Issues Statement on Refusal of Bahraini Government to Grant Him Access to Bahrain: here.

Bahraini pro-democracy fighters don’t give up


This video says about itself:

Nabeel Rajab discusses the continuing demonstrations in Bahrain

10 August 2014

Nabeel Rajab, human rights activist and founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, talks to Middle East Eye – shortly after being released from prison in Bahrain – about the continuing pro-democracy movement in the country, the impact of the Bahrain Indepedent Commission of Inquiry, the impact of pro-Gaza protests and the influence of Iran.

Nabeel Rajab on the situation in Bahrain and lack of western pressure: here.

More on Bahrain: here.

Saudi Arabia jails human rights activist for 15 years


This video says about itself:

6 February 2013

The Olof Palme Prize 2012 is awarded to Radhia Nasraoui and Waleed Sami Abu al-Khair

Radhia Nasraoui, human rights defender and lawyer, is awarded the 2012 Olof Palme Prize, for her untiring work against torture and impunity for more than three decades. As a concerned and patriotic citizen, she has under severe pressure defended human rights in her country [Tunisia] and challenged authorities under the motto “We must use our voices. Not saying anything makes us accomplices of the oppression”.

Waleed Sami Abu al-Khair receives the 2012 Olof Palme Prize for his strong, self-sacrificing and sustained struggle to promote respect for human and civil rights for both men and women in Saudi Arabia. Together with like-minded citizens and colleagues, Waleed Sam Abu AlKhair does so with the noble goal of contributing to a just and modern society in his country and region.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Saudi Arabia jails prominent human rights activist for 15 years

Waleed abu al-Khair was imprisoned on charges that included seeking to undermine the state and insulting the judiciary

Antonia Molloy

Prominent Saudi human rights lawyer Waleed abu al-Khair has been sentenced by a Jeddah court to 15 years in prison for crimes including “inciting public opinion”.

Abu al-Khair, the founder and director of an organization named the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, was jailed on Sunday on charges that included seeking to undermine the state and insulting the judiciary, the state news agency reported.

He had been on trial on sedition charges that included breaking allegiance to King Abdullah, showing disrespect for authorities, creating an unauthorized association and inciting public opinion.

The rights activist was also fined 200,000 Saudi riyals (£31,100), banned from travelling outside the kingdom for another 15 years and had all his websites closed down, the SPA said.

Abu al-Khair was critical of a new anti-terrorism law passed by Saudi Arabia at the start of the year which was widely condemned by rights activists as a tool to stifle dissent.

The anti-terrorism law states that terrorist crimes include any act that “disturbs public order, shakes the security of society, or subjects its national unity to danger, or obstructs the primary system of rule or harms the reputation of the state”.

In the past year Saudi authorities have been criticised by international rights groups for jailing several prominent activists on charges ranging from setting up an illegal organisation to damaging the reputation of the country.

In May a client of Abu al-Khair was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes after being arrested in June 2012 on charges of cyber-crime and disobeying his father.

Raif Badawi was the editor of the Free Saudi Liberals website, which included articles that were critical of senior religious figures such as Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti and allegedly insulted Islam and religious authorities, according to Human Rights Watch.

Abu al-Khair was unable to represent Badawi in an appeal because he was also in jail at the time, awaiting his trial in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom.

Bahraini minor shot, jailed without charges and medical care


This video says about itself:

Maryam Al Khawaja on Bahrain‘s “inconvenient revolution”

22 Feb 2014

On the anniversary of the third year of protests in Bahrain, Maryam Al Khawaja, a Bahraini human rights activist, discusses the continuing stalemate with the pro-democracy movement, the conditions of a purported 3,000 political prisoners, including her own family members, and the geopolitical realities of the what she calls the inconvenient revolution. Video and interview by Multimedia Journalist Preethi Nallu with The Atlantic Post.

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

9 March, 2014

Bahrain: Urgent Appeal: Minor Shot by Police detained without Charges and Without Access to Adequate Medical Care

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is seriously concerned about the health and well being of Sadeq Jaffar AlAsfoor, 17 year-old, who has been in detention since the 8th of January 2014. AlAsfoor, who was shot at time of arrest, reported that he is experiencing pain in his stomach to the extent that he is unable to eat, but his condition is being ignored by the authorities.

On Wednesday, 08 January 2014, AlAsfoor was visiting a released prisoner in the village of Markh, Bahrain with three others. Witnesses reported that they heard the authorities open fire with live ammunition on the four young men as they left. All four of them were subjected to enforced disappearance, with one of the victims, Fadhel Abbas, reported dead 18 days after the incident (read BCHR report on http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/6727).

Following this incident, AlAsfoor was subjected to enforced disappearance for over 15 days, and his family were not certain if their son was alive, despite making inquiries at the public prosecution and the police station. His father was told that there are no criminal cases lodged against Sadiq in the police electronic system.

His family was finally allowed to briefly see him at the prisoner’s clinic of the Ministry of the Interior, on Friday January 24, 2014. The visit took place with security presence and with restrictions on their talk limited to his medical condition. Sadeq AlAsfoor’s family was made aware that he was injured in his kidneys, stomach, and back. It was not clear how many bullets were removed from his body.

On 20 February 2014, AlAsfoor received detention order of 37 days in custody pending investigation. He was moved on the same day to the Dry Docks prison despite his injury and need for proper medical care. The lawyer appointed by the family in this case has not been able to contact Alasfoor to date or to get concurrent information on his charges.

AlAsfoor’s family visited him on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at the Dry Docks prison and they reported that he appeared fatigued. He complained to his family about bad prison conditions.

On the 05th of March 2014, AlAsfoor contacted his family via telephone and informed them that he is experiencing severe stomach pain. AlAsfoor stated that he requested to be transferred to the hospital, but was informed that he was put on a wait list. He reported that the pain was so intense that he is unable to eat. He added that he was having difficulty walking because of problems with his leg, and that on a previous visit to the prison clinic, the doctor ignored AlAsfoor’s reports of stomach pain.

The BCHR is seriously concerned about the health and well being of Sadeq Jafar AlAsfoor, who is detained without any clear charges, particularly considering the reports of lack of medical care in prisons that has led to deaths in custody the last being Jaffar AlDurazi who passed away last month.

Based on the above, the BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and all other close allies and relevant institutions to apply pressure on the Government of Bahrain to:

Immediately and unconditionally release Sadiq AlAsfoor along with all other prisoners who are held on politically motivated charges because of the ongoing popular protests for freedom and democracy.

Immediately allow access to adequate medical treatment for all prisoners, political and not political, as stated in Article (22) of the “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners: “Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.”

As the world celebrates the International Women’s Day on March 8th, the Bahraini women are subjected to various forms of persecution and oppression and that has not stopped since February 14, 2011. Early 2014, Asma Hussein passed away after witnessing a terrifying home raid by the security forces, making the number of female martyrs to around 31 since 2011: here.

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Bahrain people keep fighting for democracy


This video is called ‘Night raids, torture, sham trials a daily reality in Bahrain‘ – human rights activist.

From Amnesty International:

13 February 2014

Bahrain: Fears of violent crackdown ahead of third anniversary protests

There are fears that the Bahraini authorities may use violence to quash planned demonstrations on 14 February, said Amnesty International, when thousands are expected to take to the streets to mark the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising.

“The authorities’ relentless repression of dissent continues unabated – with security forces repeatedly using excessive force to quash anti-government protests,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Scores of people, including dozens of children have been detained for participating in peaceful protests over the last year. Many of them alleged that they were tortured in detention. Protesters must be allowed to take part in peaceful demonstrations without the fear of reprisal or attack”.

In July 2013 Bahrain’s King issued a draconian decree banning demonstrations, sit-ins and public gatherings in the capital, Manama, indefinitely.

In the three years since the authorities crushed the mass demonstrations of 2011, the human rights situation in Bahrain has continued to deteriorate. Prominent human rights defenders and opposition activists have been rounded up, in many cases merely for calling for peaceful anti-government protests.

Bahrain has witnessed a continuous downward spiral of repression over the past three years, with the space for freedom of expression and assembly rapidly reducing,” said Said Boumedouha.

“The authorities are losing credibility. Repeated promises of reform have been broken. Until concrete steps are taken to show they are serious about respecting its international obligations, it is unlikely Bahrain will make genuine progress on human rights”.

As yet, the authorities have failed to implement key recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in 2011.

Among several children who have been detained for participating in demonstrations in the past year are 10-year-old Jehad Nabeel al-Samee’ and 13-year-old ‘Abdullah Yousif al-Bahrani, who were arrested by riot police on 16 December 2013 during a rally outside Manama. They were charged with “illegal gathering and rioting” and “attacking a police patrol with stones”.

‘Abdullah said that he was beaten, threatened with electric shocks and forced to sign a “confession”. He denied taking part in the march or throwing stones at the police. The boys have been released but will remain under supervision until a verdict is issued in their case.

Many others including journalists and human rights activists have also been targeted.

Ahmad Fardan, a Bahraini photojournalist, was arrested during a raid on his home west of Manama on 26 December 2013. He has been charged with “participating in a public gathering” after attempting to cover a demonstration in the village of Abu Saiba’ as a photographer. He was slapped on the face, and beaten including on his genitals while in custody. Medical examinations revealed he also sustained two broken ribs.

Last week, a two year prison sentenced was upheld against Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights defender, for his participation in “illegal gatherings” and for “disturbing public order” between February and March 2012. Another activist Zainab Al-Khawaja was sentenced to four months in prison last month for “destroying government property” after she ripped a picture of the King of Bahrain. She has been in prison serving different sentences for different court cases since February 2013.

Amnesty International believes that both Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja are prisoners of conscience who have been targeted for their human rights work and is calling for them to be immediately and unconditionally released.

Amnesty International continues to receive reports of torture in detention centres in Bahrain.

“The anniversary’s protests are a test for the authorities to demonstrate internationally that they are committed to protecting human rights. They must allow the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, association and assembly and release all prisoners of conscience,” said Said Boumedouha.

Failed Promises in Bahrain: Human Rights Violations Linger On: here.

Clashes with police have marked the third anniversary of the Bahrain uprising that had seen numerous human rights violations by the government and wide social discontent of the majority Shia population with the minority ruling Sunni monarchy: here.

Bahrain’s PR sheen can’t hide abuse allegations: here.

Three years after Bahrain joined the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East, human rights defenders are left wondering when the Obama Administration will put action behind its flamboyant 2011 rhetoric about rights, freedom and the rule of law: here.

Bahrainis mark the third anniversary of the pro-reform protest movement which came to be known as the 14 February Coalition, human rights violations continue unabated in the country. While many countries have been quite vocal in condemning atrocities committed against protesters in some countries in the Middle East, when it comes to Bahrain, calls from the West for an end to human rights abuses perpetrated by the Bahraini authorities have been rather muted. The irony is that when similar atrocities were committed in Libya, Egypt and most recently Syria, Western countries and especially the US and UK, heavily criticised the regimes in those countries for using brute force to counter peaceful protests, and for reigning in citizens for expressing their views. Some 122 Bahrainis have since died from torture, lung infections caused by tear gas, and from live ammunition used by the Bahraini security forces. 1,300 Bahrainis have been arrested in connection with their role in the protests and those still in detention have been tortured and denied access to medical care. Hospital doctors and nurses are harassed for treating victims of the protests. Thousands of workers have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs for taking part in the demonstrations: here.

The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) express their deep concern for the on-going targeting of the detained activist and human rights defender Zaynab Al-Khawaja by the Bahraini authorities who continue their efforts to fabricate new charges and issuing new sentences that aim at extending her detention period in prison and preventing her from exercising her peaceful work in the field of human rights: here.

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