A Bahraini court today denied a request to release leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab who is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for organizing and participating in peaceful protests in support of democratic reform.
The court “rejected a request to release Nabeel Rajab and suspend” his sentence, Rajab’s lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi said on his Twitter account.
Rajab began a hunger strike on October 6 after Bahraini officials initially granted and then denied his request to attend a three-day condolences gathering for his recently-deceased mother, AFP reports:
The government did release him temporarily for her funeral on October 4, where he allegedly “violated” the terms of his release by urging Shiites to continue anti-government protests…..The courts have merged Rajab’s three separate cases of “incitement and illegal assembly” into one single appeal, with the next hearing set for October 16.
Separately, the attorney general announced in a statement on Monday that charges against a police officer accused of shooting dead a Shiite protester on August 17 have been dropped. The policeman had acted in “self-defense” after the man who was killed “attempted to throw a Molotov cocktail at him,” the statement said.
International human rights groups, including the Gulf Center for Human Rights, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the World Movement for Democracy are calling for letters of appeal and protest to be addressed to the authorities (contact details below).
The Gulf Center for Human Rights and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights have issued a statement of concern over Rajab, who is president of the BCHR, director of the GCHR and deputy secretary general of the Paris-based Federation for International Human Rights:
Prison authorities today refused to release Rajab and fellow activist Mohamed Jawad Parweez to allow them to attend a condolence gathering for Rajab’s mother – who is also Parweez’s sister. The Public Prosecutor had earlier granted a temporary release allowing both Rajab and Parweez to attend the gathering which lasts for a few hours each day. But when their families went to the prison this morning, they were told that the temporary release had been cancelled.
Earlier on 4 Oct 2012, Rajab was allowed to attend his mother’s funeral of his mother along with Parweez who appeared in a wheelchair due to injuries sustained as a result of severe torture to which he was subjected following his arrest in March 2011.
The official Bahrain news agency published a statement in which the Chief Prosecutor alleged that Rajab violated the conditions of his release by giving a provocative speech after the funeral in which he called on people to continue the struggle for rights and democracy. The speech – available online here with English subtitles – is clearly a peaceful expression of opinion.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), is “highly concerned about [Rajab’s] physical and psychological integrity,” “deplores” his arbitrary detention and “reiterates its call to the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him and to put an end to all acts of judicial harassment against him.”
The Observatory urges the Bahraini authorities to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Rajab, as well as of all human rights defenders in Bahrain…. and urges the Bahraini authorities to ensure that international observers will be able to attend Mr. Rajab’s next appeal hearing on October 16 without any hindrances.
For more information, please contact:
· FIDH: Arthur Manet/Audrey Couprie: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
· OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39
Letters of appeal and protest should be faxed to the authorities via the following addresses:
King Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O. Box 555
Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain
Fax: +973 17664587
Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa
Office of the Prime Minister
P.O. Box 1000, al-Manama, Bahrain
Fax: +973 17533033
Minister of Interior
Shaikh Rashid bin ‘Abdullah bin Ahmad Al Khalifa
Minister of Interior
Ministry of Interior
P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain
Fax: +973 17232661