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Imprisoned Bahraini rights defender Nabeel Rajab denied adequate medical care

Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab being arrested in 2005
Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab being arrested in 2005

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses grave concern over the health of the imprisoned human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, and the lack of adequate medical care provided to him.

According to information provided by Rajab's wife, he is suffering from back pain so severe that at times he is unable to move. Requests to take him to the hospital to be examined by a specialist had been refused. He was instead instructed by prison authorities to exercise and was given a tablet for the pain.

In 2005, Rajab, the president of BCHR, was brutally attacked by private security forces while he was supporting a protest of unemployed Bahrainis. He sustained several contusions, bruises, back injuries, a fracture to one finger, and scratches on his head and across his body. He was hospitalized for more than 10 days and has suffered from constant back pain ever since.

Rajab is currently serving a two-year prison sentence at Jaw Prison. He was sentenced on 9 July 2012 for participating in and calling for peaceful assemblies to demand rights and democracy for Bahrainis. His trial was lacking in the most basic elements of fairness.

The denial of adequate medical treatment for Rajab follows a long list of harassments and attacks that the human rights defender was subjected to. Such abused have increased in frequency over the past two years in order to pressure him to completely stop his human rights activism. He was attacked personally by slander campaigns through the official state television and radio channels, pro-government newspapers and some daily columnists who were allowed to write about Rajab without any legal or moral obligations.

During the state of national safety declared by the King in 2011, Rajab's house was raided after midnight by security forces and armed men. On two different occasions his home was attacked with tear gas during the night, which put his family at risk. He was interrogated multiple times, a few of which were by the military prosecution. As of May 2012, he was subjected to repeated legal harassments when five cases were brought against him. On 9 July 2012, a court issued a three-year prison sentence against him on charges related to freedom of expression — later reduced to two years.

It was reported to BCHR that Rajab has been subjected to ill-treatment during his detention: he had to endure arbitrary solitary confinement, he was housed in a cell with dead animals, and was subjected to repeated strip-searches and other intentionally humiliating searches. Currently, Rajab is being detained in isolation from other political prisoners with a non-Bahraini, non-Arabic speaking cellmate.

BCHR believes that the denial of adequate medical treatment for the human rights defender is an act of revenge against the outspoken Bahraini who has worked tirelessly to document human rights abuses perpetrated by the government.

Rajab continues to send calls of support to others working on the human rights situation in Bahrain, even from behind bars.

BCHR calls for the immediate release of the leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain. The government of Bahrain is responsible for any deterioration in his health condition due to the lack of adequate medical treatment at the prison.

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