Released activist Nabeel Rajab vows to continue fight for human rights (EXCLUSIVE)
In his first interview since being released from prison, Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab told RT that he will continue his fight for democracy. He was locked up for tweeting remarks that were deemed to be insulting to Bahraini institutions.
A court in Manama ordered Rajab’s release but barred him from
leaving the country. His next hearing will be on January 20.
Rajab is the director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and
was freed in May after serving two years for taking part in
Rajab is a member of Bahrain’s Shia majority, which has been protesting against the country's Sunni ruling monarchy since February 2011.
RT:How does it feel to be released?
Nabeel Rajab: I’m happy to talk to you as the first TV interview I’ve done since being released. The first interview I did after my release in May was with Russia Today, and today after my release [it's] the first TV interview I’ve done.
I feel good that I’m out after being inside for a month for a tweet I made, and that was because Bahrain has a policy of targeting human rights activists, as you know. As I’m talking to you, there are thousands other than me behind bars. Many of them are human rights activists who have been charged with terrorism, and many activists are out of the country. Human rights activists in this country are the target of the government and intuitions. We are forced to be silent. We are to be suffocated because the government doesn’t want us to talk, doesn’t want us to criticize government institutions, which have been responsible for a lot of human rights violations. And today I’m paying the price for talking; I’m paying the price for what I write, for monitoring the human rights violations in this country. So what I am facing is what hundreds of other human rights activists face. Many people are behind bars today [in Bahrain] because of a tweet they have made or because of criticism they have written in a newspaper or online. Thank God I’m more known than others, but unfortunately those people, nobody knows about them. And I urge the international community to look into human rights violations in this country and leave their interest on one side, but respect the human rights, the justice that they’ve fought for many years. A lot of human rights violations are happening in this part of the world and we hardly hear about it internationally.
RT:What about your situation now? Presumably now that you’ve been released from prison, you’ll continue your campaign for human rights. Or do you fear that you will be imprisoned again? Does that concern you?
NR: There is no bargaining about my work for human rights. The struggle has to continue for justice and democracy. You can’t get justice and democracy free of charge. We have been ruled by the same family for the past 200 years in the same way. Now we are struggling to have democracy, justice, equality, and liberty. We have seen it in Europe and around the world, but we haven’t tasted it. We need to have the same democratic system in my country. I know that it’s very costly and that a lot of people have given their lives. So me comparing to them is nothing. I spent my last two years in jail and now again I’m spending one month. And I was released on bail and I don’t know for how long I’m going to be out. But whatever happens, it’s not going to stop me from continuing my struggle for democracy. I’m more determined. I’m more sure that the struggle has to continue peacefully to achieve human rights and democracy.
RT:What was your time like in prison over the last couple of months?
NR: Over the past two years and the past one month also, I was always among the 4,000 political prisoners. I was always kept in isolation. I was not allowed to mix with other political prisoners, although all political prisoners keep together, but I was the only one. [They see] that I’m creating awareness of human rights and see that as dangerous, as a threat, so they always keep me in isolation. They kept me in a jail away from other political prisoners, mostly with foreigners and migrant workers who were there for a few hours or one or two days. But I was always in isolation for the past two years and the past one month also.