Shia Rights Watch expresses its deepest concerns for the current detention of Nabeel Rajab.
On June 13, 15 policemen in civilian clothing from the state-run Bahrain News Agency Police detained Nabeel Rajab. Rajab is a prominent activist and the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. He had been charged with “spreading false information and rumors in the aim of discrediting the State” and is currently being held in solitary confinement. He has been under a travel ban since November 2014. Most significant to this arrest is that it appeared timed for the UN meeting on human rights, meaning Rajab cannot attend. One day prior to Rajab’s arrest, a group of five activists were prevented from leaving Bahrain to attend the UN Human Rights Council’s 32nd session in Geneva. Nabeel Rajab is also facing separate charges for Twitter posts related to the war in Yemen and for allegations of torture in Jaw prison. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
At the same time of Rajab’s arrest , Zainab Al-Khawaja, another prominent activist, forced to leave Bahrain to Denmark in fear of being imprisoned again. She has been jailed 11 times; the most recent imprisonment included her infant son. She stated Bahraini officials threatened to separate her from her son and re-arrest her within months of her release if she did not leave the country. Ms. Khawaja’s father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is serving a life sentence in Bahrain for participating in the 2011 uprisings. Shia Rights Watch director, Mustafa Akhwand commented on the situation stating, “All the activists who are in prison or getting arrested on a daily basis, have been known for their peaceful movements, and asking for rights of their fellow citizens. Unfortunately, despite all international condemnation of oppressing Shia in Bahrain, the government does not implement any changes to the way it operates toward Shia Muslims.”
SRW urges the Bahraini government to release Nabeel Rajab immediately and unconditionally, and remove travel bans and jail threats toward other Bahraini activists.