UPDATE: Upon his family's request, Nabeel Rajab stopped his hunger strike on 8 October. His request to be released for his mother's condolence period was denied.
(BCHR/IFEX) - 5 October 2012 The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) express concern over the deprivation of imprisoned human rights defender Nabeel Rajab from attending on 5 October 2011 the condolence gathering for his mother, who passed away on 4 October 2012. Nabeel Rajab, in a protest against this unjustified punishment, started a full hunger today and stopped taking food or water and medication.
We are also very concerned about the allegation by the Public Prosecutor that Nabeel Rajab has violated the law through a speech that he has given during the funeral of his mother. This is evidence of the continued violations of freedom of expression in Bahrain as well as further harassment of the imprisoned human rights defender.
On 5 October 2012, authorities at the central prison refused to release Nabeel Rajab and the political activist Mohamed Jawad Parweez (sentenced to 15 years) in order for them to attend the condolence gathering of Rajab's mother who is also Parweez's sister. The Public Prosecutor had earlier ordered a temporary release of both Rajab and Parweez to attend the three days of the condolence gathering which last for a few hours each day. However, when their families went to receive them from the prison this morning, they were told that the order of temporary release has been cancelled.
Earlier on 4 October 2012, Nabeel Rajab was allowed to attend the funeral of his mother along with Parweez, who appeared in a wheelchair as he was suffering from pain in his back and legs due to the severe torture he was subjected to following his arrest in March 2011.
Later in the day, the Bahrain new agency published a statement in which the Chief Prosecutor alleged that Nabeel Rajab had violated the conditions of his temporary release by giving a provocative speech. Nabeel Rajab had given this speech after the funeral, calling on the people to continue their struggle for rights and democracy. The speech is online here with English subtitles and clearly it's a peaceful expression of opinion.
Nabeel Rajab is currently serving a three-year sentence for participating and calling for a peaceful protest in an exercise of his legitimate rights as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In his last hearing at the appeals court, the Public Prosecutor tried to fabricate evidence to convict Rajab of having committed acts of violence, despite contradictory evidence in public videos which prove Rajab's peaceful methods. For more details, click here.
The GCHR and BCHR are deeply concerned that not allowing Nabeel Rajab to come to terms with the death of his beloved mother comes as part of an increasingly hostile environment that human rights defenders in Bahrain are facing, which has included the repression of peaceful demonstrations, the arbitrary arrest of hundreds of non-violent protesters, and attacks on human rights defenders and the freedom of expression in Bahrain. The GCHR and BCHR are gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Nabeel Rajab, and his family.
The GCHR and BCHR urge the US administration as well as other governments that have influence in Bahrain, including the UK government, the EU, and leading human rights organizations to:
1. Call for the immediate release of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab as well as all other detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain;
2. Put pressure on the government of Bahrain to drop all charges against detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience;
3. 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 from all restrictions including judicial harassment.