Next meeting of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula (DARP), which will take place on Monday 5 September in Brussels, will see an exchange of views on the human rights situation in the Gulf countries, with the participation of Mr David Nichols, Senior Executive Officer in the Amnesty International European Institutions Office.
On the same day, one of the most prominent and most persecuted human rights activists in the region, Mr Nabeel Rajab is set to appear before Bahrain’s High Criminal Court over charges related to his tweets in which he criticised human rights violations in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen and abuse of prisoners in Bahrain’s Jau prison. Mr Rajab’s trial has already been postponed several times and he has been detained in poor conditions since 13 June this year, which resulted in significant deterioration of his health. If found guilty, he could face up to 15 years in prison, solely for peacefully exercising his freedom of expression.
Unfortunately, the incarceration and mistreatment of Mr Rajab is only one in a series of basic human rights violations Bahraini authorities have undertaken in the past months. Others include detention of a number of human rights activists and peaceful protestors, revocations of citizenship of prominent Shi’a clerics and an overall crackdown on the country’s Shi’a majority, travel bans on journalists and human rights activists, crackdown on political opposition culminating in the dissolution of the single biggest political society in the country, and others.
The European Parliament has on a number of occasions strongly condemned the repression of civil society and political opposition in some GCC countries, most recently in its Resolution from 7 July this year. In addition, in June a number of MEPs signed a letter to HR/VP Federica Mogherini and called for a resolute EU action to release Nabeel Rajab and drop all charges against him.
While we strongly welcome the DARP’s decision to put on the agenda the state of human rights in the GCC countries, we would like to call all participants to use this opportunity to approach this issue openly, to stress unambiguously that recent moves by Bahraini authorities are unacceptable and call the Bahraini government to respect basic human rights and freedoms of its citizens and release Mr Rajab and other prisoners of conscience.