Bahraini Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Faces New Threat of Arrest
Washington, D.C. – Following reports that leading Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab has been summoned to report to a police station today, Human Rights First urged the United States to respond, noting that the ongoing harassment of Rajab and other peaceful human rights activists by the Bahraini authorities hinders prospects for reform.
“The United States and Bahrain’s other allies must stop deluding themselves that this is a government on the path to reform,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “These arrests fuel instability and unrest, hindering the ability of Bahrain to be a reliable ally in the fight to counter violent extremism in the region. Washington needs to start taking action by making clear to Bahrain that targeting civil society will result in negative consequences for the bilateral relationship.”
Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, fears he will be rearrested after being served notice to report to a police station. He believes he is to be charged with inciting hatred against the Bahraini regime, a common allegation used against human rights defenders. Rajab spent 2012 to 2014 in prison for his peaceful human rights work and was most recently arrested in September and charged with insulting the ministries of defense and interior with a tweet, which said that the Bahrain security institutions are “the first ideological incubator” for Bahrainis joining ISIS. He was recently sentenced to six months in prison and awaits an appeal verdict.
Last week, leading activist Hussain Jawad was seized from his home and arrested. He has reported that he was tortured in custody by Bahraini authorities. Most of Bahrain’s leading civil society and opposition figures are in exile or in prison. Human Rights First continues to urge the United States to publicly state how it plans to react to the ongoing crackdown on peaceful dissent in Bahrain, and to send observers to Jawad’s trial to state whether proceedings meet international standards.
This comes following the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, where President Obama expressed the need for U.S. allies to protect human rights, stating, “When people are oppressed, and human rights are denied … when dissent is silenced, it feeds violent extremism.”
“The targeting of Nabeel Rajab, Husain Jawad, and the continuing custody of human rights activists and peaceful opposition leaders will feed the sort of extremism the United States and its allies cannot afford,” added Dooley.
Human Rights First’s recently released blueprint “How to Bring Stability to Bahrain,” details steps the U.S. government can take to help bring stability and reform to Bahrain.