Bahrain State Media Reports Nabeel Rajab to be Released from Prison
Washington, D.C. – Following news reports on Bahrain state media that prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab will be released from prison “on health grounds,” Human Rights First urged the Bahraini government to release all other human rights defenders who remain in jail.
“The release of Rajab is welcome news, but he should never have been jailed in the first place,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “Shuffling political dissidents in and out of jail isn’t driving Bahrain in the direction in needs to go to achieve the inclusive political settlement it desperately needs. As one is released another is arrested to fill the empty prison bunk. A real solution to Bahrain’s political crisis won’t happen until the leading critics of the government who remain in prison are released.”
The news comes the day after Bahraini opposition leader Ebrahim Sharif was rearrested after being released last month. He had spent more than four years in prison for his peaceful opposition to the U.S.-backed dictatorship. Sharif’s arrest came less than two weeks after the State Department cited Bahrain’s “meaningful progress on human rights reforms” as a reason to resume arms sales to the country’s military.
“Despite what the State Department says, the release here and there of a few activists from prison isn’t real reform,” added Dooley.
Last week, the European Parliament passed an urgent resolution calling for the release of imprisoned human rights defenders in Bahrain including Rajab. The U.S. government has called for the charges against him to be dropped and for his release.