Tweeting from tyranny: Bahraini activist sentenced two years for ‘spreading false information’
A prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced to two years in jail, after Bahraini court found him guilty of “publishing and broadcasting false news”.
RT: Could you elaborate slightly for RT about what happened? How is he being treated in detention?
Sheikh Maytham Al Salman: Nabeel Rajab was not given any access to meet his family, or talk to his family, or meet his lawyers in the last couple of days. This is a clear violation of the guarantees which are necessary for a free and independent trial in accordance to international standards. This trial is clearly an attempt by the government of Bahrain to silence all forms of criticism for human rights violations. Rajab was charged for intentionally and purposely spreading false information. All he did, as a human rights defender, was reveal the human rights violations, which happened in Bahrain, including systematic torture, which is practiced by the government of Bahrain. It is very unfortunate that the international community has not weighed in with effective pressure to ensure Rajab receives a fair trial and is being released for the charges brought against him. We’ve heard statement from the US, from the UK, and from the EU, which expressed some concerns, some wishes. However, unless effective pressure is exerted upon the government of Bahrain, the government of Bahrain could continue with impunity for systematic human rights violations…
RT: Could you tell us about health condition of Mr. Rajab? As we’ve heard he wasn’t provided with required conditions in detention center, was he?
SMAS: Nabeel Rajab has been in hospital for a couple of weeks right now. Human rights organizations, his family, including myself – we’ve expressed concerns on his health condition. The government of Bahrain and the Ministry of Interior has failed to provide the necessary medical conditions and hygienic conditions in his detention center. That is why Rajab is currently in the hospital at the Ministry of Interior. He did not attend his trial, and the lawyers, as well, have clearly requested the judge to postpone his case until he could attend the court. However, the judge has refused and this led the lawyers to withdraw from his defense.
Choosing not to be a 'slave'
Saeed Sehabi, Director, Bahrain Free Movement
RT: Could you fill us in with a little bit of details what he has been accused of this time around?
Saeed Sehabi: The essence of the story is that no one should say anything – you have to accept the slave-master relationship, that you, Bahrainis are slaves for Al Khalifa. Now, Nabeel Rajab chose not to be a slave – chose to be a free man, like more than 4,000 political prisoners at this moment. Like a case of … Sheikh Ali Salman, and of course Ibrahim Sharif, who is now out of jail, but he is scrutinized closely.
Now, the question for Rajab being a human rights activist: what should he do? Should he just keep quiet about the ongoing imprisonment, torture, arbitrary detention? And of course the other ideological fallacies of the regime, or should he speak out. Free people want to say something; they want to defend their compatriots. Also they want to perform their human duty. This is what Nabeel chose to do. He spoke out. He said the Yemen war is a crime; the arrest, the detention, and torture of human rights activists and political activists is a crime … He attended human rights council meetings, and also he met with other dignitaries in other countries to tell them and to encourage them to take a stand, to make a stand.
In this life, if you don’t make a stand, what sort of a human being are you if you don’t defend the defenseless, if you don’t condemn the aggressor. What is happening in Yemen today is nothing but war crimes. This is according to the UN experts. Rajab is only reiterating what others have been saying. So this is what he has been subjected to: two years imprisonment for tweeting; for condemning an aggressive war on defenseless people of Yemen, and also on the on the people, on the natives of Bahrain, who have been calling for change. These countries in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia, like Bahrain, until when should they be allowed to rule the people? Tribal chiefs ruling people with no constitution, with no resort of rule of law.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.