Dear Nabeel: We are with you

As Nabeel Rajab approaches a year in detention for exercising free speech, Index on Censorship expresses its solidarity with the 2012 Freedom of Expression Award winner.

22 May 2017
Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been subjected to ongoing judicial harassment.

Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been subjected to ongoing judicial harassment. He was the recipient of a 2012 Freedom of Expression Award for his work with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Dear Nabeel

Though you are hundreds of miles from us, caught in Bahrain’s nightmarish justice system, know that we are with you in solidarity. Though we do not feel the pain of your mistreatment in solitary confinement, know that your message of hope and peaceful change for Bahrain still resonates across the miles.

It’s not so long ago that the heady days of 2001 made it seem that all was about to change for Bahrain. The disappointments that followed didn’t daunt you. You and your allies spoke out for democracy and for human rights. When it seemed that Bahrain’s moment came again in 2011, you were there speaking a message of non-violent reform.

We know that your time will come again. No matter how hard they push to silence you, they cannot stop your thoughts. They cannot crush your spirit. They cannot convince us that opinions are a crime.

We are here. We are watching. We are listening. We are speaking. We are with you.

The staff at Index on Censorship


Nabeel Rajab is a well-regarded advocate of non-violent reform of Bahrain’s government. The target of an ongoing campaign of suppression of dissident voices in the country, Rajab has been repeatedly charged for critical statements about the Bahraini government.

“The time has come for Bahrain to end this charade. Nabeel has committed no crime. The cases against him make a mockery of the so-called Bahraini justice system, which has the thinnest veneer of fairness. We, once again, call on the government of Bahrain to release Nabeel, all prisoners of conscience and respect the fundamental right to freedom of expression,” Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said.

After being arrested on 13 June 2016 on charges of spreading “rumours and false news” and tweeting about the war in Yemen, Rajab’s two trials have been postponed over ten times in total. He has now spent nearly a year straight in detention, most of which has been in solitary confinement, contributing to a string of serious medical issues including bleeding ulcers.

The treatment of Rajab, who could face up to 18 years in prison if he is convicted in both cases, has been criticised by human rights activists and organisations over the last year. On 12 May 2017, the United Nations Torture Committee released a statement strongly criticising Bahrain’s history of torture as well as urging them to “put an end to the solitary confinement of Mr. Nabeel Rajab and ensure that he is provided with adequate medical assistance and redress”.

It continued: “The Committee is deeply concerned by reports that numerous persons who were deprived of their liberty have been subjected to torture or ill-treatment. It is particularly concerned about the situation of Messrs. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Naji Fateel, Nabeel Rajab, Abduljalil Al-Singace, Hussain Jawad, Abdulwahab Hussain, in particular with regard to their access to medical care.”

Among the “evidence” against Rajab is this 2015 tweet by Index on Censorship that was retweeted by a Twitter account (@NabeelRajab) that is not controlled by Rajab.

What can you do to help?

Detained by the Bahraini government, Rajab needs you to use your voice. Speak out in support of free speech and human rights.

  • Tweet and Facebook a statement of solidarity using #IamNabeelRajab.
  • Call on your nation’s leaders to pressure Bahrain to respect freedom of expression and #FreeNabeel.
  • Retweet the above “criminal” tweet

Index welcomes news of Nabeel Rajab’s release but all charges must be dropped

Index welcomes release of Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab on Tuesday but all charges against him must also be dropped

Bahrain must suspend Nabeel Rajab’s sentence

Nine international organisations have written a letter calling for Bahrain to suspend Nabeel Rajab’s current sentence.

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