and imprisonment sentence passed on human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja

1 Oct 2012

The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemn the continued detention of leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and the recent imprisonment sentence passed on human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja. The two centers express deep concern over the use of the most politically oriented judiciary to create false cases associated with politically-motivated charges to keep Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja behind bars.

On Thursday 27 Sep 2012, the court of appeal held a second session in the appeal trial of imprisoned Human Rights defender Nabeel Rajab, who is serving 3 years sentence for peacefully protesting (Kindly read previous appeal). During the session, the public prosecution presented to the court some altered videos of Nabeel Rajab in protests. In one of the videos the parts where Nabeel was publicly calling the people to stick to peaceful protests were removed, a fact which the lawyers have immediately raised and proved by showing the full video.

In another video a scene, where youth were hurling Molotov cocktails on police, was attached to another scene where Nabeel was peacefully protesting in Manama. The two scenes were in different areas and they were attached together to create false connection. The fabricated videos shows clearly the desperate attempt by the public prosecution to accuse Nabeel Rajab of calling for violence, in order to contain the international criticism to the criminalization of right to assembly and freedom of expression in Bahrain.

The videos provided by the public prosecution were not presented originally at the initial trial, and thus the defense lawyers objected against the submission of new incriminating evidences, an act the defense team felt that the court should have rejected. The lawyers also pointed out to the fact that the videos show the normal movement of people at the Manama old market which makes the claim by the prosecution that the protest has hindered the movement and business there as inaccurate.

The lawyers also requested to grant entry visas to four human rights defenders in order to allow them to testify at the court on behalf of Nabeel Rajab to confirm his peaceful activism. The defenders have previously talked to the Minister of Human Rights in Geneva and requested the same. (Kindly click here to see the link.)

In addition, the lawyers requested to include in the case both, the complaint submitted by Nabeel, which is related to the attack he was subjected to during his participation in a protest that took place in Manama on 6 Jan 2012 and also outcome of the investigation into that attack. No one was held accountable for that attack.

On Thursday 27 September 2012, the court refused to release the human rights defender and postponed the trial for another hearing session on 16 Oct 2012. By today 01 October 2012, Nabeel Rajab has been in prison for 126 days.

On 26 Sep 2012 the court passed a 2 months imprisonment sentence on human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, on the alleged charge of “ripping the photo of the king”. Zainab is already detained since 2 Aug 2012 when she staged a one-person protest at Al-Qadam roundabout. She is currently facing 8 different lawsuits while another 5 cases are in processing at the public prosecution. (More details are here.)

The GCHR and BCHR believe that the only reason for targeting Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja with imprisonment on the alleged charges is to prevent them from continuing their legitimate and peaceful human rights work.

The BCHR and GCHR call on the US administration as well as other governments that have influence in Bahrain including the UK government, the EU and the leading human rights organizations to:

1- Call for the immediate release of human rights defenders Nabeel Rajab, and Zainab Al-Khawaja as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain. 2- Increase the pressure on the Government of Bahrain to stop the on-going daily human rights violations as well as the escalated attacks against human rights defenders. 3- Immediately stop all arms sales to the Government of Bahrain due to the continuous human rights violations. 4- To put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.