RAFTOTV - Appeal for Nabeel Rajab

6 Oct, 2014

Bahrain: Journalist and blogger Ahmed Radhi detained hours after criticizing the regime over Twitter

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights condemns the arrest and ill-treatment of the journalist and blogger Ahmed Radhi. The BCHR expresses its concern at the continuing policy of the authorities targeting journalists and bloggers who expose human rights abuses in Bahrain to the world’s view and who practice their right to peaceful expression of opinion, especially on the Internet.

The Bahraini authorities arrested the journalist and blogger Ahmed Radhi from his house in al-Senabis on the morning of 25 September 2014. His electronic devices were confiscated, without the authorities showing an arrest warrant or revealing the reasons on his arrest. Radhi’s family informed the BCHR that he contacted them more than 24 hours after his arrest, and told them that he was being held at the Criminal Investigations Headquarters. However, after that time his contact with them remained cut off, and his family were not able to ascertain his safety or find out what charge he was facing. Radhi was also unable to contact a lawyer. According to information of the BCHR, Radhi was subjected to beating and solitary confinement during his previous detention in May 2012[1], and there was concern that this experience could be repeated, against a backdrop of impunity and a lack of accountability.

On Monday 29 September 2014 Radhi was released on bail for 200 Bahraini dinars. In a statement he said that he was interrogated about his media activity, and his relationship with AlManar Tv. He said that he was subjected to psychological torture by placing him in a dark cold room while handcuffed for three days at the criminal investigation department and that he was photographed while stripped of almost all his clothes as a form of degrading treatment.

The BCHR has documented a number of similar cases of detainees who are forcibly disappeared and prevented from contacting their lawyers or families. This is sometimes done through the imposition of phone-calls that are so short that they are only able to report that they are being held in the Criminal Investigations Headquarters. There are increasing numbers of complaints of torture from those who have been held at the headquarters.

Ahmed Radhi is an independent journalist and commenter on Twitter (@Ahmeddi99), who publishes articles and investigations in a number of electronic publications including Bahrain Mirror, Manama Post and al-Ahd news site. A few days before his arrest, he had published an article in which he criticised the subjugation of Bahrain’s opposition organisations in the King’s “national consensus” in the run-up to elections. In the article[2], Radhi expressed his objection to political participation and called for these organisations to persist in their revolution against the regime. Likewise, in his last tweets[3], which he posted just hours before his arrest, he criticised the ruling regime which sent in the army, killed and tortured protesters, in a reference to the deployment of the army to suppress a long-running sit-in in March 2011 and the cases of extrajudicial killing and torture that followed. These incidents were documented by a report by the Independent Bahraini independent commission of investigation.

Radhi has been subjected to aggression on a number of occasions previously – he was detained from 16 May to 20 September 2012, and was released without charge. The most recent incident was his detention for approximately 15 hours at Dubai International Airport on 30 June 2014, after which he was prevented from entering the United Arab Emirates on the basis of the Gulf Security Agreement. He was subsequently returned to Bahrain. He was prevented from travelling on attempting to cross the land border into Saudi Arabia across the King Fahd Bridge. Previously, the authorities detained him during a period of protest in the 1990s, during which he was subjected to severe torture that caused him to lose hearing in one ear.

Radhi’s arrest comes in the context of a relentless campaign against media workers in Bahrain. The BCHR has recently documented a number of bloggers arrested as a result of opinions published on Twitter[4]. The authorities have not only cracked down on media workers within Bahrain, but also threatened the Media Affairs Body on 15 September 2014 that they would sue Monte Carlo International Radio and its correspondent in Bahrain, the journalist Naziha Saeed, over her broadcast of a report about political assimilation in Bahrain. The government considered the report to be “biased and inciting sectarianism.”[5] The threat comes as a continuation of targeted aggression against Naziha Saeed, who was a victim of torture while she was detained in May 2014 because of her coverage of demonstrations in support of democracy, and the exoneration of her torturer in the partial Bahraini courts.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the journalist and blogger Ahmed Radhi was subjected to detention on the basis of practicing his right to peaceful freedom of expression, a right which is enshrined in a number of international treaties including International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain is a signatory.

Based on the above, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom and all of Bahrain’s close allies and relevant international institutions to:

  • Stop the policy of systematically targeting photographers, journalists and bloggers.
  • Put pressure on the Bahraini authorities to release all other detained journalists immediately, and to allow them to practice their rights freely and without restrictions.
  • Put pressure on the Bahraini authorities to allow impartial broadcasters to enter the country.
  • Put pressure on the Bahraini authorities to halt their policy of suppression and silencing.
  • Put pressure on the Bahraini authorities to protect and maintain human rights, especially those relating to freedom of the press and publishing information.
5 Oct, 2014

Frontline Defenders: Bahrain - Detention of Mr Nabeel Rajab ordered by the public prosecution

On 2 October 2014, the public prosecution in Bahrain ordered the detention of prominent human rights defender Mr Nabeel Rajab for seven days pending investigation.

On 1 October, Nabeel Rajab was summoned by the General Directorate of Anti-corruption and Economic and ELECTRONIC SECURITY of the Criminal Investigation Department where he was interrogated on charges of “insulting a public institution” via Twitter.

Nabeel Rajab is the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. He has campaigned around the world to bring attention to human rights abuses in Bahrain, including the case of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former President of the BCHR and Front Line Defenders staff member, who has been detained since April 2011, subjected to torture and sentenced to life imprisonment after a grossly unfair trial.

According to the website of the Ministry of the Interior in Bahrain, on 1 October 2014, Nabeel Rajab was summoned to be questioned in relation to “tweets posted on his Twitter account that denigrated government institutions.” The ministry further stated that “Mr. Rajab acknowledged the charges and the case has been referred to the Public Prosecutor.”

The human rights defender went to the Criminal Investigation Department, accompanied by his LAWYER, and was interrogated on charges relating to “insulting a public institution” via Twitter. He was subsequently arrested to appear before the prosecution the following morning. He is being held at Hoora Police station in Manama.

Nabeel Rajab's arrest came shortly after he ended a two-month advocacy trip throughout Europe to advocate for human rights in Bahrain, but the human rights defender has also faced a long pattern of harassment, which has included various forms of intimidation and arrest, as a result of his peaceful work in promoting human rights.

Front Line Defenders expresses its concern at the pattern of intimidation and harassment against Nabeel Rajab. It is believed that his detention is solely related to his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities promoting and protecting human rights in Bahrain. Front Line Defenders is further concerned at the increasing prosecution of social media activists advocating for human rights in Bahrain.



5 Oct, 2014

Amnesty: Bahrain must release activist Nabeel Rajab, detained for 'insulting' tweets

‘The detention of Nabeel Rajab is yet another serious blow to freedom of expression in Bahrain’ - Said Boumedouha
The Bahraini authorities must immediately release a prominent human rights activist who has been detained for posting tweets deemed insulting to the country’s Ministry of Interior, Amnesty International said today. 
Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, could face up to three years in prison for comments he posted online about reports that members of Bahrain’s security forces had joined the Islamic State armed group in Iraq.
Rajab, who is also the Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, was summoned for questioning by Bahrain’s Criminal InvestigationsDirectorate yesterday afternoon and remanded in custody overnight. Bahrain’s Public Prosecution today ordered his detention for seven days, pending investigation under an article of the country’s Penal Code that criminalises “offending government authorities, institutions and agencies”. 
Rajab returned to Bahrain on Tuesday after a two-month advocacy tour to a number of European countries to highlight the human rights situation in Bahrain. He was released from prison in Bahrain in May after serving a two-year sentence on charges of participating in an “illegal gathering”, “disturbing public order” and “calling for and taking part in demonstrations” in the capital Manama “without prior notification”.
Amnesty has repeatedly called on the Bahraini authorities to repeal articles in its Penal Code that criminalise freedom of expression. Laws that prohibit insults or the disrespect of heads of state, public figures, the military, government institutions, flags or symbols are contrary to international law and standards.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Said Boumedouha said:
“The detention of Nabeel Rajab is yet another serious blow to freedom of expression in Bahrain and entrenches growing attempts by the authorities to muzzle dissenters.
“He must be released immediately and these outrageous charges against him must be dropped.
“Such repressive laws create an environment where freedom of expression is permanently stifled. These laws should be abolished.”

Persecution of activists in Bahrain

Other activists in Bahrain have faced similar persecution:
Maryam Al-Khawaja is on trial on a charge of “assaulting police officers” at Bahrain International Airport. Amnesty believes she is being targeted for doggedly seeking to expose human rights violations taking place in Bahrain since 2011.
Nader Abdulemam is currently detained in Dry Dock Prison after comments he posted on Twitter were interpreted as derogatory towards Khalid bin al-Waleed, a companion of the prophet Muhammad. He is charged with “publicly insulting a religious figure of worship”.

Bahrain - Nabeel Rajab Must be Released Immediately, UN

5 Oct, 2014

HRW: Bahrain: Rights Activist Detained

(Beirut, October 3, 2014) – Bahrain authorities arrested a prominent rights activist on October 1, 2014, after he criticized the government. Nabeel Rajab, the activist, faces charges that he “offended national institutions” in comments on social media on September 28.

Rajab had returned to Bahrain on September 30 from Europe, where he had made public appearances criticizing the Bahraini government’s human rights record and calling for stronger international action against Bahrain. Bahrain should drop the charges against Rajab and release him immediately, Human Rights Watch said.

“These charges show that Bahrain’s rulers are determined to silence one of their most outspoken critics,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “In arresting a peaceful critic, Bahrain’s government has shown its contempt for basic rights like free speech.”

In his comments on September 28, Rajab criticized the government for using counterterrorism laws to prosecute human rights defenders and charged that Bahraini security forces foster violent beliefs akin to those of the Islamic State. He noted that a former Interior Ministry employee had joined the extremist Islamist group.

Mohamed Isa al Binali, a former security officer with the Interior Ministry, appears in a YouTube clip urging other security force members to defect. On September 4, the Bahrain Ministry of Interior tweeted that “former officer Mohammed Isa Al Binali was terminated from employment for failure to appear at work.”

One of Rajab’s tweets said, “Many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator.”

On October 1, Rajab received a written summons to appear at the cybercrimes unit of the Criminal Investigation Directorate. His lawyer, Jalila al-Sayed, told Human Rights Watch that officers questioned him for 45 minutes about his comments, but prevented her from taking notes. The officers arrested him for violating article 216 of the penal code and referred his case to the public prosecutor. Article 216 states that “A person shall be liable for imprisonment or payment of a fine if he offends by any method of expression the National Assembly, or other constitutional institutions, the army, law courts, authorities or government agencies,” and is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Al-Sayed was also present on October 2 when the public prosecutor interrogated Rajab. Al-Sayed told Human Rights Watch that Rajab answered the prosecutor’s questions freely but that the prosecutor refused to include what she characterized as exculpatory evidence in the formal record of the interrogation. This included video clips of former members of the Bahraini security forces encouraging current members to join ISIS forces, she said.

The public prosecutor ordered Rajab’s detention for another seven days while investigations continue.

The UN Human Rights Committee, the body of independent experts that monitors state compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain has ratified, issued an authoritative interpretation on the scope of the right to freedom of expression and opinion. In its General Comment 34, the committee stated that “In circumstances of public debate concerning public figures in the political domain and public institutions, the value placed by the Covenant upon uninhibited expression is particularly high.” It also stated that “states parties should not prohibit criticism of institutions, such as the army or the administration.”

Bahrain authorities have previously prosecuted Rajab on politically motivated charges. He was detained from May 5 to May 28, 2012, for Twitter remarks criticizing the Interior Ministry for failing to investigate attacks by what Rajab said were pro-government gangs against Shia residents. On June 28, 2012, a criminal court fined him 300 Bahraini Dinars (US$790) in that case.

Authorities again detained Rajab on June 6, 2012, for another Twitter remark calling for Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa to step down. On July 9, 2012, a criminal court convicted and sentenced him to three months in prison on that charge. A court of appeal overturned that verdict, but in a separate case a criminal court sentenced him to three years in prison for organizing and participating in three demonstrations between January and March 2012. The authorities presented no evidence that Rajab advocated or engaged in violence. Rajab was released on May 24, 2014, after serving two years in prison.

Bahrain’s close allies, the United States and the United Kingdom, should press vigorously for Rajab’s immediate release, Human Rights Watch said.

“Nabeel Rajab has consistently criticized the Bahrain government when it deserves to be criticized, peacefully and at great personal cost,” Stork said. “The US and the UK haven’t pressed Bahrain hard enough to counter its widespread repression and intolerance of public criticism.”



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Bahrain: Rights Activist Speaks Out Before Arrest