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State Department Should Call for Release of Bahraini Human Rights Defender Rajab

In advance of July 10th's expected verdict against leading Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, Human Rights First today called on the U.S. Department of State to demand his immediate and unconditional release. Rajab is charged with a series of free speech-related incidents for comments he made regarding Bahrain's human rights record. He has been in custody for over one year, including the last three months spent in a HOSPITAL recuperating from surgery. If convicted Rajab faces a three-year sentence.

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Free Woman Human Rights defender Ebtisam Al-Saegh

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition calls for the immediate and unconditional release of human rights defender Ebtisam Al-Saegh, and for an end to the harassment, intimidation, and threats she has been subjected to.  We express deep concern for Ebtisam Al-Saegh’s safety and wellbeing, and about the continued harassment, intimidation and violence she has faced at the hands of authorities in Bahrain, that is in direct violation of the country’s commitment to international human rights law.

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Bahrain is stripping dissidents of their citizenship, and the U.S. is silent

The tiny island kingdom of Bahrain is increasingly turning to a particularly draconian tool of repression: stripping dissidents of their citizenship.

Rights activists say authorities have revoked the citizenship of 103 people so far this year, already more than in 2016. All were convicted of terrorism-related crimes in trials that rights activists say lacked due process and transparency.

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Open Letter to Ambassadors in the Kingdom of Bahrain - To the Unites States Ambassador

His Excellence William V. Roebuck
Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain
U.S. Embassy Manama
BLDG 979, Road 3119, Block 331, Zini
Manama, Bahrain


Re: Situation of Nabeel Rajab

7 June 2017

Your Excellency,

We write to alert you to the precarious situation facing Mr. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). According to Mr. Rajab’s lawyers, the Bahraini judiciary will issue a sentence on Monday 10 July in one of the two cases for which he is being prosecuted. He is on trial in two cases relating to his right to freedom of expression, which could result in up to 18 years of prison, with other cases pending.

Mr. Rajab is likely to be sentenced in absentia to three years in prison on charges of “publishing and broadcasting false news that undermines the prestige of the state.” This relates to press interviews he gave in 2015 and 2016. These charges relate solely to the exercise of Mr. Rajab’s freedom of expression and are reprisals against his work exposing human rights violations in Bahrain.

Mr. Rajab has been hospitalized since April and been unable to attend the trial. Despite this, the Lower Criminal Court has insisted on holding court sessions. His lawyers have boycotted the trial since 14 June, in protest of the court’s decision to hold the hearings in Mr. Rajab’s absence, as he is still recovering at the Ministry of Interior Hospital from a post-surgery infection and not able to attend his hearings. Monday’s hearing with be the fourteenth hearing since the trial began. To date, the court has held eight hearings during Rajab’s hospitalization which he has been unable to attend.

We respectfully request your Excellency’s presence at the upcoming court hearing to ensure adequate protection of Mr. Rajab’s internationally protected rights, including rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), acceded to by Bahrain in 2006, and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. His fair trial rights and freedom of expression are being systematically denied by the Bahraini Government[1] as follows.

Since 19 June, Mr. Rajab has been prevented from contacting his lawyers and has had little contact with his family, apart from a visit in early July. The denial of regular communication raises fears for his health and safety. We believe it is a new form of harassment with the aim of transferring him back to prison. His health has steadily worsened during his lengthy detention and on 5 April he underwent surgery for bleeding ulcers, but was returned to the prison shortly afterwards. Due to the unhygienic detention conditions, Mr. Rajab developed a post-surgery infection and was rushed back to the Ministry of Interior hospital three days later. He has been slowly recovering ever since.

Mr. Rajab has been arbitrarily detained on spurious charges for over a year, over nine months of which has been in solitary confinement. This long-term isolation has been coupled with sleep deprivation, unsanitary cell conditions, and chronic physical pain, resulting in deteriorated mental health, including severe depression. In May, the Committee Against Torture expressed particular concern over Mr. Rajab’s solitary confinement and called for his release[2].

We support your dialogue with Bahrain; however, we are equally convinced that this relationship is only sustainable if it is founded on the mutual respect of democratic freedoms and human rights. Mr. Rajab is currently being punished for holding these same ideals. We urge you to stand by him now, and to call on the Bahraini government to grant his release immediately on humanitarian grounds, in light of the critical state of his mental and physical health and to immediately drop the expression-related charges.

We also urgently seek your assistance in verifying Mr. Rajab’s status and safeguarding his health by requesting permission from the authorities to visit him at the Ministry of Interior Hospital. The government has so far denied requests by human rights groups to visit him and examine his condition.

We also urge you to take action to ensure that the fair trial and due process rights of Mr. Rajab are adequately protected and to press for the Bahraini authorities to implement their own commitment to invite the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein to visit the country[3].  This visit which was postponed indefinitely, would be a critical step in encouraging the Bahraini government to engage with the recommendations and decisions of UN Human Rights bodies concerning Bahrain, including those calling specifically for the immediate release of Mr. Rajab.

Should you require any further information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,


Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Front Line Defenders

Gulf Center for Human Rights


International Federation for Human Rights

Pen International

World Organization against Torture

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy

European Center for Democracy and Human Rights


[1] For more info, please see: http://bahrainrights.org/en/node/8758

[2] Committee Against Torture, CAT/C/BHR/CO/2-3, Concluding Observations on the Second and Third Periodic Reports of Bahrain, 29 May 2017, paras. 20, 21(e), 32, 33(b).

Activist who accused Bahrain security forces of sexual assault is rearrested

Fears grow for Ebtisam al-Saegh, who was detained in raid following tweet criticising kingdom’s ruler and security forces.

Ebtisam al-Saegh, who works for Salam for Human Rights and Democracy, was detained during a night-time raid on Monday by about 25 security officers after she tweeted criticism of the country’s ruler and security forces, according to Amnesty International.

Read the article here.



6 July 2017 - Security Forces Raid Home of Detained WHRD

Early morning on 6 July 2017, masked men raided the home of detained WHRD Ebtisam Al-Saegh, who was arrested following a previous raid on 3 July and is currently held in an unknown location. The 6 July second house raid came one day after the family made a complaint at the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman Office and the National Institute for Human Rights.

Read the article here.

Bahrain: Nabeel Rajab’s trial postponed until 10 July

The trial of Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been delayed yet again. He was due to stand trial on Sunday 2 July, but this was postponed until 3 July and again until 10 July. 

“My father’s fate is unknown. He might end up in a prison cell for the next 18 years, so it’s difficult and tiring for him and for our family,” Rajab’s son Adam Rajab told Index today. “However, that does not mean he will ever stop his struggle for rights and freedom.”

Read the article here.


Bahrain's Crackdown on Human Rights: Groups Urge for Activist Ebtisam al-Saegh's Release

Responding to the reports about the arrest of rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh on Monday in a midnight raid, human rights organizations – Amnesty International and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) condemned the crackdown on the activist. Al-Saegh’s arrest comes nearly a month after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by the National Security Agency (NSA) officials in May. The rights groups claimed Tuesday she was at the risk of torture again.

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Arbitrary Arrest and Detention of Mrs. Ebtisam Al-Saegh

July 5, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bahrain.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and detention of Mrs. Ebtisam Al-Saegh, Monitoring and Documentation Officer at the NGO Salam for Democracy and Human Rights.

According to the information received, on July 4, 2017, at approximatively 12:45am, armed, masked and plain clothed officers from the Bahrain security forces raided Mrs. Ebtisam Al-Saegh’s home and arrested her without any warrant. It is feared that the security forces officers might belong to the National Security Agency (NSA).

Read article here.

Urgent appeal: Bahrain to convict prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab on Monday 10 July

According to Nabeel Rajab’s lawyers and a social media statement published by his family on 4 July, the Bahraini judiciary will issue a sentence on 10 July in one of the two cases for which he is under investigation.

On 3 July, Rajab had his last hearing on the case related to press interviews he attended in 2015 and 2016, under the charges of “publishing and broadcasting false news that undermine the prestige of the state”. Neither him, nor his lawyers attended the trial however. The lawyers have boycotted the trial since 14 June, in protest of the court’s decision to hold the hearings in Rajab’s absence. Rajab is still at the MOI hospital recovering from a major surgery he has sustained in April. Despite his doctor’s statement at the Ministry of Interior (MOI) hospital that he cannot be discharged, the judge went ahead with the hearing, allegedly without his lawyers defence plea being heard by the court.

Nabeel Rajab is the president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and a prominent human rights defender, that has spoken out nationally and internationally against human right violations in the Kingdom. The Bahraini authorities have unlawfully detained Rajab for more than a year now, and subjected him to solitary confinement for most part of his time in jail. His charges were based on press interviews criticizing the ban on foreign press in Bahrain in 2015 and 2016, and on alleged tweets and retweets concerning the use of torture against political prisoners, and the war in Yemen led by a Gulf coalition including Bahrain. He faces three year-imprisonment for the case related to press interviews, and 15 years for the case on tweets and retweets.  

Rajab’s pretrial detention has been marred by allegations of mistreatment. His health has gravely deteriorated while in solitary confinement. On 5 April Rajab underwent surgery for bleeding ulcers. Shortly after he was sent back to solitary confinement where he developed an infection. On 8 April he was rushed back to the MOI hospital. The Bahraini authorities have denied him access to his family for almost two weeks, as well as cutting off communication with his lawyers.

BCHR urges the international community to call on Bahrain to release Nabeel Rajab and other human rights defenders and activists from unlawful detention for merely exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of speech and of expression.