As attention focuses on Bahrain ahead of the annual Formula One Grand Prix on 14-16 April, Index urges political leaders internationally to speak out against human rights abuses in the country.
Index is particularly troubled by the treatment of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, who was arrested in June 2016 on multiple charges related to his media activities and peaceful expression online.
Last week, Rajab underwent surgery in hospital and was returned almost immediately to solitary confinement. For two days, he was forced to wear dirty clothes covered in blood and he still lacks access to any proper medical care while in jail despite a deep and open wound that causes severe pain and needs constant care.
“We call on the Bahraini government to end its inhumane treatment of Nabeel Rajab, who is being persecuted for simply exercising his right to peacefully express his opinion,” Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg said.
“Countries like Britain that enjoy such freedoms need to speak out more forcibly when such rights are denied to individuals elsewhere,” she added.
Rajab, a 2012 winner of the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards, was supposed to be freed on bail in December 2016 after nearly seven months in jail. However, he was re-arrested and remanded into custody for seven days, on charges related to media interviews he gave in 2015. Rajab has been in police custody since 13 June, when he was arrested and later charged with “spreading false news and rumours about the internal situation in a bid to discredit Bahrain.”
Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been in pre-trial detention since his arrest in June. His detention, much of it in solitary confinement, has caused a deterioration in his health.
Bahrain appears to be intensifying a crackdown on journalists and human rights campaigners in the country.
On 23 April 2017, the court of appeals will hold a hearing for Sayed Ahmed Salman al-Mousawi, an internationally-renowned photographer, who was arrested more than three years ago for alleged terrorist activities.
Index is also concerned about the targeting and persecuting of a human rights defender’s family as means of intimidation. These retaliatory measures include the detention of the mother-in-law and brother-in-law of the UK-based Bahraini activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei. Both were taken into custody by the Bahraini authorities and their detentions were renewed on 6 April for 30 days.