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Written by HRDs and Journalists
Bahrain: An open letter from the family of Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab / To the governments of the USA, the UK and all governments who have influence on Bahrain And to the UN and all Regional and International Human Rights Organisations
My name is Sumaya Rajab, the wife of the prominent Bahraini human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, who is currently detained in Bahrain. I write this letter in my name, and the names of our son Adam and our daughter Malak to urge you to use your influence and act quickly to guarantee my husband’s release immediately and unconditionally.
The Bahraini government fabricated a number of cases against Nabeel to take revenge because of his human rights activities. He was recently convicted as a result of his tweets in which he criticized the Prime Minister who has been in his post for 42 years. It is well-known that Nabeel exercised his right to freedom of expression in his tweets, which was guaranteed by all international conventions for human rights. Other cases taken against Nabeel related to his criticism of the security forces and the use of excessive force and torture and also his calls for peaceful protests through social networks. The right to assembly to demand civil rights is guaranteed by Bahraini laws.
My husband Nabeel is a prominent Bahraini rights activist and he is the head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, and a member of Human Rights Watch’s MENA Advisory Board. He is also the Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights. Nabeel has worked in human rights for 20 years and he has held important positions in several countries.
With the beginning of what is known as the Arab Spring, Nabeel initiated many peaceful activities to support the right of all peoples to decide their destinies. This came at the same time as the Bahraini revolution in February 2011 which demanded the Bahraini people’s legitimate rights to democracy, social justice and the end of corruption. Nabeel initiated a campaign on social networks to support Bahraini people’s rights, erase corruption and uncover violations of human rights. He also tried to uncover the role of the ruling regime in Bahrain in these violations. Nabeel has become one the most prominent activists on social networks, especially Twitter. He has at present more than 166,000 followers from all around the world. He travelled around the world and he met several international officials both in the West and the Middle East and officials in human rights organizations and institutions to uncover the human rights violations carried out by the regime and to explore ways to stop these violations and end the impunity. Nabeel and his team at the BCHR succeeded in uncovering the lies of the regime in front of the world. As a result, the Bahraini regime manipulated the politicized judicial authorities to fabricate cases against him in order to imprison him and stop his influential activities.
Bahraini security forces attacked his home on several occasions and fired tear gas inside the house in order to put pressure on him and his family. His family, including his children and elderly mother, have suffered from breathing problems more than once as a result of the tear gas. What happened inside the house was documented by video recordings and through international statements issued on these occasions. The regime also made it difficult for Nabeel to work and ruined his business. Our children were harassed in school and I, his wife, was sacked from my job after a campaign of harassment so that the regime could make sure that Nabeel’s only income was stopped. Nabeel has been arrested and interrogated on several occasions for his criticism of the regime and also for his calls for peaceful protests. He declared from his prison that he rejects all these fabricated charges and he refuses to appear before any court because the judicial system in Bahrain lacks independence and transparency. Dozens of regional and international human rights organisations issued statements demanding the immediate release of Nabeel Rajab, an end to the harassment of him and our family and also that he be allowed to work freely on his independent human rights activities, but the Bahraini regime did not respond to all these calls.
Nabeel Rajab is currently held at Jaw central prison in harsh conditions which reflect the desire of the Bahraini regime to take revenge. He is being held in a dirty cell where there are insects. The cell has no ventilation despite the high temperature. He is isolated from political prisoners and held with criminal prisoners. Prisoners are not allowed to talk to him, excluding the two people who share the cell with him. He was refused access to the doctor despite the fact that he suffers from eczema, high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. In addition, on several occasions, the prison administration has denied access to his medication in order to put pressure on him. Contrary to the rules of Bahraini prisons, we as a family are harassed when we apply to visit him and the reply to the applications always take a long time. Also, in contrast to other detainees, he is always brought to the visiting room with his hands handcuffed.
We, as the family of Nabeel Rajab, plead to you and plead to the UN and all international human rights organizations and institutions to demand from the Bahraini authorities that Nabeel Rajab should be released, that abuses against him and our family should stop and that he should be allowed to practice his human rights activities as guaranteed by all international conventions. We also hold the international community responsible for protecting freedoms and human rights in Bahrain and for working to put an end to human rights violations against the Bahraini people and especially against human rights defenders such as Nabeel Rajab.
We hope that you will take our plea into consideration and that you realize that the silence of some Western governments about the gross human rights violations in Bahrain means that the Bahraini people will lose trust in you and in principles you talk about. The people of Bahrain cannot understand the silence of the international community about the violations taking place in Bahrain while it is moving to resolve violations in other areas of the world. Freedom and respect for human rights are the only path to building a flourishing future for all people without any exception, and we in Bahrain long to build a state based on the foundations of justice and equality for all Bahraini people without any exception.
Bahrain, 11 August 2012
Sumaya Rajab, wife of activist Nabeel Rajab
Adam Rajab, son of activist Nabeel Rajab
Malak Rajab, daughter of activist Nabeel Rajab