Nabeel Rajab, BCHR – winner of Bindmans Award for Advocacy at the Index Freedom of Expression Awards 2012 with then-Chair of the Index on Censorship board of trustees Jonathan Dimbleby
Index condemns the decision to sentence Bahraini human rights defender – and Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award winner – Nabeel Rajab to five years in prison. Nabeel’s ‘crime’ was to tweet about torture in Bahrain’s jails and to criticise the war in Yemen. Those are not crimes. Opinions are not crimes.
It is clear from today’s harsh sentence that the Bahraini government simply wants to silence its critics. We must not be silent in response. We urge Bahrain’s allies – and in particular the UK government – to condemn publicly this shameful and unjust punishment and to call for Nabeel’s release.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”12″ style=”load-more” items_per_page=”3″ element_width=”12″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1519203946844-e98cea3b-21c0-4″ taxonomies=”716″][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Nabeel Rajab during a protest in London in September (Photo: Milana Knezevic)
Human rights campaigner Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to six months, which would be suspended pending a fine, Rajab’s lawyer told the BBC.
Rajab has been granted bail while he appeals the verdict in his case.
In October a court ruled that Rajab would face criminal charges stemming from a single tweet in which both the ministry of interior and the ministry of defence allege that he “denigrated government institutions”. Rajab could have faced up to six years in prison.
many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator
“Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced for doing nothing more than exercising his right to express an opinion. We condemn the actions of the Bahraini authorities – whose foreign minister marched in Paris to defend freedoms that Bahrain denies the people in its own country. We urge the UK and other allies of Bahrain to join us in calling for this sentence to be overturned,” Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg said.
In a visit to the Index on Censorship offices in September, Rajab campaigned on behalf of then-detained Maryam Al-Khawaja and spoke about the human rights situation in Bahrain.
Nabeel Rajab at the 2012 Freedom of Expression Awards
Index welcomes the news that Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been freed from prison. Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award winner in 2012, had been held since 2016 and convicted of offences including “spreading fake news”.
Rajab had tweeted about torture in Bahrain’s jails and had criticised the war in Yemen. As Index wrote during one of his many appeals: “Those are not crimes. Opinions are not crimes.”
Rajab has suffered relentless harassment since his involvement as a peaceful activist during the Bahrain uprising in 2011, during which he was in and out of prison on numerous occasions. He was then in prison on a continual basis from June 2016, and was sentenced in all to seven years in prison across two separate trials. In February 2018 he was sentenced to five years in prison for tweeting, which was added to a two-year conviction in June 2017 for “broadcasting fake news” relating to television interviews he gave in 2015.
On Tuesday, Rajab’s lawyer said he would serve the remainder of his sentence in a non-custodial setting.
“This is amazing news. Index on Censorship has been pushing for this for a long time,” said Rachael Jolley, editor-in-chief at Index.
But while we welcome news of his release and reunion with his family, we still demand that all charges are dropped against Rajab, as well as all others who are imprisoned in Bahrain simply for their views and advocacy.
This year, one of the co-winners of the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Campaigning category was Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, a Bahraini activist currently living in exile in the UK who is the director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. As Alwadaei said when accepting the award in April:
“The price for expressing yourself in Bahrain remains very high. I myself ended up in prison for speaking to the press during the Arab Spring.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”3/4”][/vc_column][/vc_row]