Human rights groups calls for release of top Bahraini activist
Dozens of Bahraini and international rights groups have called on the Al Khalifah regime to release prominent human rights campaigner Nabeel Rajab, who faces up to 13 years in prison over tweets critical of the ruling dynasty.
“We remind the Bahraini government of its obligation to preserve the right to free expression,” 26 campaign groups, including Human Rights First and Physicians for Human Rights, said in a statement.
They added, “We reiterate repeated calls by United Nations officials, and others in the international community, to immediately release Rajab.”
The statement came as Rajab, who is the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), will appear in court later on Tuesday over tweets in March 2015 criticizing Manama’s involvement in the deadly Saudi aggression against Yemen and torture at the notorious Jaw Prison.
Rajab has been repeatedly detained for organizing anti-regime demonstrations and publishing Twitter posts deemed insulting to the Bahraini authorities.
The 52-year-old activist was pardoned for health reasons last year, but he was re-arrested last month.
Separately, Bahraini regime forces stormed a number of houses across the kingdom early on Tuesday, arresting a number of young people.
The raids took place in the villages of Nuwaidrat, Ma’ameer, Malkiya and Dumistan.
Elsewhere in the northwestern village of Diraz, situated about 12 kilometers (seven miles) west of the capital, dozens of protesters converged outside the residence of Bahraini Shia cleric Sheikh Issa Qassim early on Tuesday to voice their support for the distinguished religious scholar, and condemn the Al Khalifah regime’s decision to strip him of his citizenship. The participants later said their morning prayers at the protest site.
Bahraini authorities stripped Sheikh Qassim of his citizenship on June 20. Less than a week earlier, they had suspended al-Wefaq and dissolved opposition al-Risala Islamic Association and Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by Sheikh Qassim.
Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis, calling on the Al Khalifah family to relinquish power.
In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on peaceful protests.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the Bahraini crackdown on the anti-regime activists.