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Bahrain's Nabeel Rajab sentenced to jail over tweets

Nabeel Rajan and Al-Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman (AFP)

Date of publication: 20 January, 2015

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A Bahrain court sentences Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights defender to 6 months in jail as authorities charge a the leader of the largest opposition bloc with attempting to overthrow the government.

The chief director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, has been sentanced to six months in jail for "insulting" state institutions

In a statement Amnest International Middle East Programme Director,Said Boymedouha said that Rajab's conviction is "a blow to freedom of expression- it must be quashed."

Also, authorties charged a leading oppostion figure with "promoting the overthrow and change of the political regime by force."

Shiekh Ali Salman, the secretary general of Al-Wefaq, a legally recognised political society, has been in prison since his arrest on December 29, 2014.

If convicted, Shiekh Salman could face uo to ten years in prison.

     When it comes to punishing critics of the government or ruling family, Bahrain is a serial offender.

- Joe Stork, HRW MENA director.


Amnesty International warned in a statement that if convicted, it would consider Salman "a prisoner of conscience".

Rajab, a leading activists in the brutally repressed rights protest movement engulfing Bahrain since 2011, is charged with “insulting” state institutions.


The accusations are based on the following message posted on his Twitter account:“many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator."

If convicted, Rajab could face up to six years in jail.

The Gulf Kingdom's western allies received heavy criticisms from rights organisations for confining their public statements to calling for a fair trial and due process.

"It's true that due process in a serious concern whenever one is speaking of Bahrain's justice system,” said Khalid Ibrahim, director of programs at the Gulf Center for Human Rights, but he insisted that “Nabeel faces trial for exercising his right to free speech.”

"This is an open-and-shut freedom of expression case,” said Joe Stark, Human Rights Watch deputy Middle East and North Africa director.

“Due process is not the issue here- Nabeel Rajab should never have been charged in the first place,” he said.

In a statement signed by 79 members of the European Parliament attributed Rajab's interrogation and successive arbitrary arrests to his “advocacy on behalf of human rights in Bahrain."

Rajab was arrested in October 2014, a few days after completing his human rights advocacy mission in Europe, including speaking at the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and before the Human Rights Sub committee of the European Parliament.

At least 89 people demanding social-economic and political reforms and incorporation of the majority Shia community into the Suni-ruled political system have been killed in clashes with security forces since 2011.

The Bahrain government has put hundreds of activists on trial jailed many human rights defenders, including: Abdulhadi al-Khawaja who continues to serve his life sentence after calling for reformed during the 2011 popular protest movement.

His daughter Zianab al-Kawaja, who is currently 8 months pregnant, was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months in prison for insulting the king, though she remains on bail.

Her trial is set to resume on Thursday 20 October 2015.

"When it comes to punishing critics of the government or ruling family, Bahrain is a serial offender," said Stork.

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