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.

Bahrain absolute monarchy keeps violating human rights


This video is called ‘People were tortured in front of my eyes': Bahrain top human rights activist Nabeel Rajab released.

By Human Rights Watch:

Citizenship Rights Stripped Away

Authorities Take New Powers to Arbitrarily Revoke Nationality

(Beirut, August 21, 2014) – Ten people whose Bahraini citizenship was withdrawn without due process are facing deportation or jail, Human Rights Watch said today. They are among 31 people declared stateless in November 2012, allegedly for damaging state security. The others have left the country.

July 2014 amendments to Bahrain’s citizenship laws will grant the Interior Ministry additional authority to revoke citizenship of people who fail in their “duty of loyalty” to the state, a vaguely worded provision that could be used against government critics, Human Rights Watch said. Recent amendments to Bahrain’s counterterrorism law, in tandem with the recent failure of Bahrain’s criminal justice system to provide fair trials and deliver impartial verdicts, provide a further legal pretext for the arbitrary stripping of citizenship, in clear violation of international law.

“The Bahraini authorities’ latest repressive tactic is to invest themselves with further powers to arbitrarily strip critics of their citizenship,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Bahrainis who dare speak out for change now risk not only arbitrary detention and torture but statelessness and deportation to an uncertain future.”

Bahrain should repeal laws that will allow authorities to strip Bahrainis of their nationality on grounds so vague as to be arbitrary, Human Rights Watch said. Bahrain should immediately restore the citizenship rights of the 10 people who face deportation and of the 21 others whose citizenship rights were removed without due process.

Bahraini authorities have either obstructed the right of appeal or refused to justify the decision to revoke the citizenship of the nine men and one woman who remain in the country. They have no residence permits and face charges of violating asylum and immigration law.

Twelve news and information providers are currently detained in Bahrain. Many of them are photographers or cameramen, who have been repeatedly targeted by the authorities since the start of the unrest in Bahrain in 2011 because their visual coverage of the protests and the government’s crackdown threaten the kingdom’s image: here.

Bahrain dictatorship violating children’s rights


This video is called Bahrain police throw stun grenades at women and child.

From ANSA news agency in Italy:

Bahrain violating children’s rights, human rights center

Minors arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment, BCHR

19 August, 17:54

ROME – Bahraini authorities continue to violate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child including by sentencing minors to life in prison, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). The BCHR is led by activist Nabeel Rajab and Maryam Al-Khawaja, daughter of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a Bahraini activist serving a life sentence and who staged a much-publicized hunger strike during the 2012 Formula One races in the small Gulf-region island.

A statement released by the center reports that a criminal court sentenced 14 youth to life imprisonment on August 13 under a counter-terrorism law for the murder of a policeman in Sitra, including two under age 18: one is 16 years old and the other was 17 at the time of the arrest. The BCHR noted that last week three minors were arrested, including one that had been hit by a police vehicle. The youngest of those arrested is 13 years old. The center said that about 30 people had been subjected to arbitrary arrest over the past week, and that about 3,000 people were in arbitrary detention in the country. Security forces in Bahrain – whose Shia-majority population is ruled by a Sunni monarchy – continue to make excessive use of force, tear gas and firearms, according to the organization.

This video, Bahrain – The Clouds Of Death, is about lethal teargas in Bahrain.

Photographer persecuted for photography in Bahrain


This 11 August 2014 video is about photographer Hussain Hubail from Bahrain, arrested by the regime for photography, and sentenced to five years in jail.

Business Interests Are More Valuable to Bahrain’s Western Allies Than Democracy and Human Rights: 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.

Bahrain dictatorship spied on its own torture inquiry commission


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

From Global Voices:

Evidence Suggests Bahrain’s Government Hacked its Own Fact Finding Commission

Posted 10 August 2014 21:46 GMT

Noor Mattar

While governments in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States are tracking individuals on hacking charges and proposing laws like the SOPA, David Cameron’s government seems to turn a blind eye toward the online piracy acts taken by their allies in Bahrain.

Bahrain, currently in its third year of a popular uprising, has witnessed a bloody crackdown that led to a fact finding mission called the “Bahrain Independent Commission of Investigation” (BICI) to be formed. The commission, established by a royal decree by the King of Bahrain, concluded that Bahrain has practiced systematic torture against dissidents, extrajudicial killings and other serious offenses, including the demolishing of places of worship.

Lately Bahrain Watch revealed that a malware targeting its member Dr Ala’a Shehabi has led to identifying the makers of the spyware used against activists in Bahrain. Gamma International, an Anglo-German company, is being accused of selling surveillance technology to Bahrain’s government. After a court ruling in May 2014, many NGOs have called on the UK government to take action against the export of surveillance technology to Bahrain. Now, further information came to the hands of Bahrain Watch’s activists when 40GB of Gamma International’s data was leaked on the internet. The leaks show the Bahrain government has hacked lawyers and activists with the spyware. It also shows two records of people who are presumably members of the King’s BICI commission.

BICIfin

KMA is assumed to be judge Khaled Moheyuldin Ahmed, a member of the commission and now employed by the Bahraini government, who sources confirm was using a Sony VAIO laptop during the time he worked with BICI which coincide with the dates of infection. The other target who shares the same operation code and is named Douglas is believed to be Douglas Hansen-Luke, another member of the BICI.

Activists have long been accusing Bahrain government of breaching their privacy. Ever since the 2009 order to keep a record of all emails sent and received [source in Arabic] they have been trying to fight to keep their privacy.

Lawyer Mohamed Altajer told the rights group Bahrain Watch that his computer was compromised after a CD containing private footage was sent to him. His computer became infected with the spyware after watching that CD, sent to him to blackmail him to step down from defending Bahrainis arrested and tortured for their role in the protests:

Many others have said their photographs which were confiscated during police raids have turned up on porn sites and distributed across social media.

I asked Mr Matar Matar from the opposition society Alwefaq, who is a target of the spyware, to comment on the issue and he said when I asked if he can confirm if the society or any of its members were targeted:

Yes, the application was found on one of the devices in AlWefaq.

I asked him then if Alwefaq will take further legal action against Gamma, the Bahrain government or the any other party for this violatio. He answered:

The political influence on the judiciary System in Bahrain doesn’t provide any space to protect activists from surveillance. But this is an opportunity to move in legal action in UK courts. Now Alwefaq is in a better position to call HM Revenue & Customs, UK’s tax authority, to investigate in the illegal export of a hacking software for non-free regimes with a dark record of serious human rights violations. How come such a software is licensed to a regime which is considered be the third worst and 5th most declining regime in Freedom House report.

By UK law, Gamma must apply for country-specific licences in such cases and it doesn’t it seem did and Alwefaq is harmed by this violation. UK’s High Court already slammed the UK’s tax authority for hiding details about this issue. And this is the time for all those who were harmed by this violation to sue Gamma.

I asked him how does discovering Alwefaq is spied on affect the trust in the authority in Bahrain? He said:

Karim Fakrawi, co-founder of AlWefaq, was beaten to death in custody. During martial law, I was arbitrary detained with my colleague Jawad Fayrozz. Also the government revoked the citizenship of two former MPs from AlWefaq. They both are living in exile in addition to another 3 other MPs. In addition to that, five elected members municipality council have been dismissed. And currently AlWefaq is on trial for it to be suspended and three senior leaders are awaiting trial. Under these circumstances, the struggle with the regime is much beyond the surveillance.

I also asked Bill Marckzak of Bahrain Watch if he thinks the findings based on the leaks will be admissible in court and he commented:

I doubt the leaks themselves will be admissible in court, but, we are following up with the victims mentioned in the leaks to find out how they were targeted.

BICI was established based on a royal decree and the fact that it was spied on might suggest testimonies being tailored to mislead the commission. Gamma also deals directly with the government of Bahrain indicating that the spying is done with the knowledge of officials.

Meanwhile activists, bloggers and any other Bahrainis or anyone related to the situation in Bahrain could be on the list of people being spied on as the list is beyond political players as evidences of financial espionage were found. Bloggers like Takrooz were arrested due to similar technology and many more might be in danger. Their chances now are with taking Gamma International to court in the UK.

While the UK government tracks and arrests hackers it continues to allow selling surveillance technology to Bahrain and welcomes members of their widely criticized security apparatus to get training in the UK.

British government treats Bahraini human rights defender as a criminal


This video says about itself:

Bahraini Activist Nabeel Rajab: Why I Am Taking My Family to Pearl Roundabout

12 February 2012

After attempting yesterday to march with a few hundred people to Freedom Square, only to be blocked by scores of riot police, today Nabeel Rajab decided to try another approach. He set out with only his immediate family — his wife and two children, with a few supporters nearby — to walk to Pearl (Lulu) Roundabout. Before the family had walked more than a few meters, they were attacked with tear gas. Listen as Nabeel explains what he is trying to accomplish with this simple walk.

After the British government had David Miranda, partner of investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, arrested as a ‘terrorist’ at Heathrow airport, as revenge for help in exposing massive spying on millions of people

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

31 July, 2014

Bahrain: Harassment of leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab at Heathrow Airport

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.

In stark contrast to the treatment received by the human rights defender Nabil Rajab, Nasser Bin Hamad, son of the king of Bahrain, received a royal reception from the British government, despite the torture charges against him in court of law when he visited the kingdom in May 2014[3].

Since his release, Rajab has been vocal in criticizing the position of the UK government towards the Bahraini people’s struggle for rights and democracy which he has described as “the worst in the world”. He compared it to its position towards the popular struggle in South Africa against racial discrimination policies. The UK government calls for democracy and human rights in some countries while it turns a blind eye to the violations and abuses in its ally Bahrain, and continues to target Bahrain for arms deals despite ongoing reports of brutal attacks on protesters[4].  Earlier this month, BCHR and GCHR have joined 29 organizations in sending a letter to the newly appointed Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, urging a shift in UK policy towards the situation in Bahrain.

The BCHR and GCHR believe that the leading human rights defender and his family have received this unacceptable treatment and harassment merely because of his work in the field of Human Rights, and hold the UK authorities responsible for this violation of his freedom of movement. It is extremely unacceptable that Rajab continues to be harassed and treated as a criminal by Bahrain’s ally on top of his unfair imprisonment due to the criminalization of freedom of expression and assembly in Bahrain.

The BCHR and GCHR call on British government to change its interest-driven policy towards Bahrain and stand up for the principle of protecting human rights worldwide without discrimination.

The BCHR and GCHR demand that the British governmentto:

  1. Stop harassing Bahraini human rights defenders and activists,
  2. Cease any further harassments or restrictions to Rajab’s freedom of movement.
  3. Ensure that all human rights defenders in Bahrain and all countries are able to conduct their human rights work without fear of reprisals.

The BCHR and GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attentiontoArticle 6 (c) which states that: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

Nabeel Rajab Interview: Bahrain ‘Bought British Government’s Silence’ Over Human Rights Violations: here.

See also here.

Bahrain Torture Survivor Isa Alaali Granted Bail Following Detention in the UK for Over Five Months: here.

Bahrain: Trade unions and the struggle for democracy: here.

Bahrain: Photographer Hussian Hubail Denied Medical Care for Heart Condition: here.

BCHR: Hold Bahraini Royal Family Member Accountable In The Alba Corruption Case: here.

Bahrain Strips Nine Opposition Activists of Citizenship: here.

U.S. allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, along with Syria, are using malicious email and Facebook messages to track and entrap journalists, dissidents and campaigners, who face jail and torture if identified and arrested, according to a new study: here.

Bahrain’s expulsion last month of the top U.S. diplomat for democracy and human rights was a provocative move that seemed sure to bring a strong reaction from Washington. But four weeks later, the Obama administration has made no visible response beyond a phone call from Secretary of State John F. Kerry to Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Khalifa expressing U.S. concern: here.

Electronic witch-hunts in Bahrain, Israel and ISIS: here.