A prominent Bahraini human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, is suffering from health problems that have developed or deteriorated during more than 10 months of arbitrary detention, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday (April 26, 2017). The charges against him violate his right to free expression, and there is evidence he has been punished arbitrarily.
Bahraini authorities arrested Rajab in June 2016, following his social media comments critical of Saudi Arabian airstrikes in Yemen and alleged torture in a Bahrain prison. Since then, his health has deteriorated dramatically. He has undergone two operations, suffered two bouts of heart palpitations that required emergency medical care, and has developed a range of other medical conditions, including a low white blood cell count and depression. Most recently, his family told Human Rights Watch, the authorities returned him to his cell two days after an April 5, 2017 operation, contrary to medical advice, leading to his re-hospitalization on April 8. He is in the Public Security Forces Clinic in Qalaa.
“Filing criminal charges against Nabeel Rajab solely for his peaceful criticism and then refusing to free him while the courts cavalierly postpone hearings shows Bahrain’s contempt for the most elemental human rights,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Nabeel Rajab should not be in jail, and his deteriorating health underscores the injustice of arbitrarily detaining him.”
“The silence on Bahrain’s flagrant disregard for human rights from London, and now from Washington under Trump, is nothing less than shameful,” Stork said.