Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab attends an anti-regime demonstration in the village of Muqsha, Bahrain, December 9, 2011.
TRENDS:Arab world protests
Rajab has been held in police custody since June 6th, apparently over comments made on twitter critical of the Prime Minister in Bahrain, and calling for him to step down. Rajab was sentenced on July 9th to three months for his remarks, raising eyebrows and concerns around the world among free-speech activists.
But on Thursday, the lower Bahraini court sentenced the human rights activist to another three years for “involvement in illegal practices and inciting gatherings and calling for unauthorised marches through social networking sites”, for his “participation in an illegal assembly” and for his “participation in an illegal gathering and calling for a march without prior notification.”
Rajab himself is a prominent human rights activist, and has played a significant role in anti-regime demonstrations in recent months. Rajab is also affiliated with international groups such as Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch censured the July 9 court ruling and said, “If anyone is guilty of insult today, it is the Bahraini government, which has reminded citizens they’re not free to express political views.” On July 5, Rajab called on the international community to stop the Manama regime’s violent crackdown on protesters in Bahrain.He said the silence of the European community and the United States is a green light for the Al Khalifa forces to continue their violation of human rights in Bahrain.
Amnesty International claimed Bahrain had done little to improve its human rights record following its bloody crackdown on Arab Spring protesters last year.
“Nabeel Rajab’s imprisonment is the latest example of how, despite government promises to introduce reforms following its violent crackdown on protesters in 2011, few improvements have been seen on the ground,” the group said in a statement at the time.
“He should be released immediately and all other charges or convictions against him dropped or overturned,” it added.
Separately, Bahraini lawyers said on August 14 that the appeals court postponed its verdict in the case of 13 detained opposition figures, including senior activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, until September 4.
Bahraini protesters have been holding demonstrations against the ruling Al Khalifa family since February 2011 and they hold King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa responsible for the deaths of demonstrators during the uprising.