Jailed Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab needs our solidarity!
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), which has repeatedly supported Belarusian human rights defenders through the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, is urging us today to support Nabeel Rajab, our colleague from Bahrain, imprisoned for calls in defense of the right to peaceful assembly.
Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), as well as Deputy Secretary General of FIDH, is serving two years in prison. On December 11, 2012 the Bahraini Court of Appeal confirmed the sentence handed down on Nabeel Rajab on charges of organizing and participating in three unauthorized peaceful assemblies.
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), considering the results of monitoring of the trial concluded that the arrest of Nabeel Rajab and his conviction were a perfect example of the open tyranny of the authorities, who were set to punish the critical activist for his human rights activities. Earlier, Mr. Rajab was persecuted for his attempts to draw world attention to the facts of flagrant violations of human rights in Bahrain, particularly after the country was hit by a wave of mass protests in February 2011. For this purpose, the human rights activist used social networks Twitter and Facebook, and other media; he also took part in peaceful assemblies and public actions.
“Mr. Rajab’s trial reflects Bahrain’s policy and practice of criminalising the exercise of the right to freedoms of association, expression and peaceful assembly and silencing human rights defenders and other dissenting voices,” declared Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.
In the period between September and December 2012, the staff of the Observatory paid four visits to Manama to conduct the monitoring of Nabeel Rajab’s trial. The report on these missions demonstrates that the appealing of the sentence involved serious violations of international standards for a fair trial. “The entire procedure was fraught with serious human rights violations from the time of arrest, through detention, trial and conviction,” said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.
Nabeel Rajab was first arrested on July 9, 2012 for participation in a number of “illegal” meetings in January, February and March 2012, during which, according to the authorities, several protesters used violence. During these meetings there were calls to release human rights defenders and political activists, to put an end to the domination of corruption in the country, to begin the process of political and economic reforms and to achieve an equitable distribution of wealth, as well as demands to stop human rights violations and to abandon the practice of torture.
While the Bahraini authorities repeatedly confirmed their commitment to follow the recommendations by the Independent Commission of Inquiry, including the calls to release political prisoners, Nabeel Rajab still remains behind bars, where he, unlike most other prisoners of conscience, is held together with common criminals.
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”, member organization of FIDH, calls on all Belarusian human rights defenders to join the movement of solidarity with Nabeel Rajab. By doing this, we can also support Belarusian political prisoner Ales Bialiatski, FIDH vice-president, whose international activity has always been aimed at strengthening the solidarity of human rights defenders as such. While in prison, Ales Bialiatski cannot contribute to the action of solidarity. But each of us is able to support his Cause of Solidarity!
To take part in the action, both individual human rights activists and organizations can take pictures with a portrait of Nabeel Rajab and send them to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org marked as “Solidarity with Bahrain”. All the pictures from Belarus will later be transferred to the organizer of the international campaign – International Federation for Human Rights.
In the attachment you can find a poster by FIDH with the portrait of Nabeel Rajab to be used as a sample.