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Human rights defender Nabeel Rajab attacked, hospitalised

(BCHR/IFEX) - 6 January 2012 - The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) hold the authorities in Bahrain fully responsible for the life and safety of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab.

The President of GCHR and BCHR, Nabeel Rajab was severely beaten by security forces in Bahrain and taken by ambulance to Salmaniya hospital after participating in a peaceful protest in Manama earlier tonight (Click here to see a video of the attack on the protest.). Speaking to his lawyer by phone, he stated that the policemen gathered around him suddenly and started to beat him. He informed the lawyer that while lying on the ground he was beaten all over his body and especially on his back and face. The injuries to his face are serious, with one injury just below his right eye.

He was taken to Salmanyia hospital, which remains under heavy security presence since last March. Human rights activists from the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and Rajab's lawyer Mohammed Al-Jishi, who went to the hospital immediately after hearing the news, were prevented from seeing him. His son, Adam Rajab, saw his father in the hospital being carried by police and said that Rajab's face was swollen. When Adam tried to take a picture of his dad he was pushed and his phone was taken from him. Dr. Alaa AlShehabi reported from the hospital that Rajab is surrounded by eight to ten security officers and that he is suffering from a concussion, back pain and bruises to his back and face. He told Dr. AlShehabi that he was attacked by a group of police officers with sticks. He was kicked, punched and beaten all over his body and especially on the face. BCHR member Said Yousif AlMahafdha was able to see Nabeel for a moment but was then asked by officers of the interior ministry to leave immediately.

Rajab has left the hospital and returned home after getting the required treatment.

Following the same attack, Sayed Yousif AlMahafdha, an active member of the BCHR, received injuries to his leg and arm due to a stun grenade. In addition, supporters gathered in solidarity outside Rajab's house in Bani-Jamra were attacked with tear gas.

We are deeply concerned that this latest attack comes as part of an increasingly hostile environment that human rights defenders in Bahrain are facing, which has included the repression of peaceful demonstrations in the villages of Bahrain, the arbitrary arrest of non-violent protesters on a daily basis, and attacks on and intimidation of human rights defenders.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this vicious attack on a well-known human rights figure, in Bahrain as well as on the regional and international levels. GCHR, BCHR and CIHRS, are gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Nabeel Rajab and hold the government of Bahrain responsible for his safety.

GCHR, BCHR and CIHRS believe that the security forces' attack on human rights defender Nabeel Rajab is directly related to his legitimate work in defense of human rights and democracy in Bahrain.

BACKGROUND:

BCHR was informed that Rajab had been interrogated, although he could not speak and was in a wheelchair. His family was not allowed to stay with him.

The Ministry of Interior was controlling access to Rajab through a heavy security presence surrounding him and was preventing anyone from taking photos.
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