Amnesty International, EU parliament urge Bahrain to free top activist

July 7, 2016 7:30 pm

Bahraini human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab ©AP

Amnesty International and the
European Parliament have separately called on the Bahraini regime to
release the country’s prominent human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, and
drop charges against the internationally-respected campaigner.

Rajab,
who has been repeatedly detained for organizing anti-regime
demonstrations and publishing posts deemed insulting to the Bahraini
authorities, was pardoned for health reasons last year. However, the
51-year-old activist was rearrested last month.
He is expected to
stand trial next week over tweets in March 2015 criticizing Manama’s
involvement in the deadly Saudi aggression against Yemen and torture at
’s notorious Jaw Prison.
“Parading a human rights defender
like Nabeel Rajab in front of a court over tweets is a shameless attack
on freedom of expression and is a further stain on Bahrain’s already
appalling human rights record,” said Philip Luther, director of the
and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.
He
also called on the Al Khalifah regime to drop the “absurd charges”
against the campaigner and “other prisoners of conscience.”
Luther
further noted that the kingdom must halt its “brazen crackdown on
freedom of expression” and allow people to peacefully express their
opinions.
In a similar development on Thursday, the European
Parliament called for “the immediate and unconditional release of Rajab
along with other human rights activists, stressing that “all charges
against them be dropped.”
It further condemned “the ongoing
campaign of repression against human rights defenders, the political
opposition and civil society, as well as the restriction of fundamental
democratic rights” in the tiny country.

Anti-regime protesters clash with riot police firing tear gas in the western village of Shahrakan, Bahrain, April 5, 2016. ©APRajab,
who heads Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), is expected to appear
in court on July 12. He faces up to 13 years in prison on charges of
allegedly “spreading false information and rumors with the aim of
discrediting the state.”
Bahrain, a close ally of the US in the Persian Gulf region, has seen a wave of anti-regime protests since mid-February 2011.
The
Al Khalifah regime is engaged in a harsh crackdown on dissent and
widespread discrimination against the country’s Shia majority. Scores of
people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in
the island state.

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