Finally some better news from Bahrain – but still a long road ahead

May 31, 2012


On 28 May 2012 there was finally some light at the end of the tunnel. Nabeel Rajab was released on bail and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja ended his hunger strike. Another HRD Zainab Al-Khawaja was also freed. I reported several times on these cases related to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), the 2012 nominee of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

Throughout Al-Khawaja’s hunger strike he was able to draw international attention to the on-going human rights violations that are taking place in Bahrain. The hunger strike brought attention to the plight of human rights defenders and political activists who are in detention or have been subjected to human rights violations by the authorities. Despite the primary demand of his hunger strike of “freedom or death” not being met, he has achieved one of his main goals by attracting global attention and focus on the human rights situation in the country. In a statement the human rights defender thanked his family for their support and expressed his gratitude to all those who had shown solidarity with him both inside and outside Bahrain. He will now begin a special diet in order for his body to recover from the 110-day hunger strike.

That Nabeel Rajab was released on bail is of course excellent but we should not forget that he should never have been arrested (on the 5th of May) to start with.  He was charged with ‘insulting the statuary bodies” the so-called “Twitter Defamation case”, “participating in illegal assembly and calling others to join” through social networking sites. (See GCHR appeal dated 05-05- 2012 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/138)

He was released on bail of 300 Bahraini Dinars (appr. $796). However, a travel ban remains in place and the trials will continue (a hearing on the “illegal assembly” case is scheduled for 17 June while another session for the “twitter case” is scheduled for 24 June).

Furthermore, human rights defender Zainab Alkhawaja @angryarabiya was released on 29th May 2012, after more than 1 month imprisonment. She is still facing trials in 2 cases. One of the hearing sessions on the case of “illegal assembly, assaulting a police officer and inciting hatred against the regime is scheduled on June 24th, while the case of “obstructing traffic” is scheduled for November 1st 2012.

While the BCHR welcomes the ending of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja’s hunger strike and the release of both Nabeel Rajab on bail and Zainab Al-Khawaja, it expresses serious concern for the on-going trials of the released activists, the on-going violations of human rights by Bahraini authorities and the continued detention of human rights defenders including Abdulhadi Alkhawaja on fabricated charges.

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