Bahrain jailing human rights defenders

Nabeel Rajab, co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (at right), and Zainab Al-Khawaja (at left), a Bahrain human rights activist. Photos by Conor McCabe; available via Flickr through Creative Commons License.

The repression against protesters and human rights defenders in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain has been ongoing during the last 18 months. Beginning with the violent crackdown during the Arab Spring protests, the Bahraini state has been arresting, torturing and detaining human rights defenders, like Abduhadi Al-Khawaja.

Recent reports have emerged from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) that the judicial harassment of human rights defenders Zainab Al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab has been stepped up to detain them on trumped-up charges for their legitimate protests activities against the state. In addition to supporting the work of human rights defenders, we at the IRCT are concerned for their safety; Bahrain has long established a pattern of torturing detainees, and we fear for the safety of Ms Al-Khawaja and Mr Rajab in light of their continued detention.

In our statement, we are echoing the call from BCHR for the Bahrain government to:

1. Immediately release detained human rights defenders Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja and drop all charges against them, as it is believed that these measures have been taken against them solely due to their legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights, and the exercise of freedom to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in accordance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

2. Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and activists including leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja;

3. Immediately put an end to the practice of torture and the ill-treatment of prisoners in Bahrain and bring those responsible to justice;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

We also reiterate our call to the international community to put real pressure on the government of Bahrain to stop the ill-treatment of human rights defenders and to to release them immediately as it is believed that they have been targeted solely for their legitimate human rights activities.

Please circulate this statement through your social networks – Facebook, Twitter – to draw attention to the plight of these detained human rights defenders.

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