14 December 2016 – NGOs today wrote a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May to urge the UK Government to call for the unconditional release of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, who faces trial tomorrow, 15 December.
Nabeel Rajab has been held in solitary confinement in police custody since June 2016, and is facing up to 15 years’ imprisonment on charges of “insulting a neighbouring state”, “spreading rumours in wartime” and “insulting a statutory body”. These charges relate to his criticism on Twitter of the humanitarian cost of the war in Yemen, which Bahrain is a participant in, and for his documentation of torture in Bahrain’s Central Jau Prison. He faces another charge of “defaming the state” after he wrote a letter to the New York Times in September 2016
The rights groups, including the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Index on Censorship, urge Theresa May:“There is nothing bold in silence over clear human rights violations, and we urge you to now make a public call for Nabeel Rajab’s immediate and unconditional release.”
Theresa May was in Bahrain last week to set out her new “bold vision” for British-Gulf relations. Human rights were not mentioned in her speech to Gulf leaders, nor by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who was also in Bahrain for a separate security conference.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy: “We have seen how Theresa May lashed Boris Johnsons over his comments on Saudi. Nabeel Rajab criticised Saudi Arabia and Bahrain over their bombardment in Yemen and is facing prison for it. If May or her government fail to publicly call for Nabeel’s Rajab release, Bahrain will take it as a green light for their repression.”
Parliamentarians have also added to growing pressure on the UK to call for the release of Nabeel Rajab. A cross-party group of MPs have today written a joint letter to Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, urging the UK Government to demand the unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab, and for the charges against him to be dropped.
The letter said: We urge you, in advance of the trial tomorrow, to make it clear to Bahraini officials that the United Kingdom wishes to see his unconditional release from prison, and for the charges brought against him, which are related to his right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech, to be dropped.
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
Index on Censorship
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)