UN calls on Bahrain to release prominent human rights activist

Press TV – The United Nations Committee against Torture has called on the Bahraini regime to release the country’s prominent human rights activist and pro-democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab, and open an investigation into widespread reports of ill-treatment and torture of detainees.

The UN panel, composed of 10 independent experts, asked Bahraini officials on Friday to “put an end to the solitary confinement” of the 52-year-old activist, who chairs the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and “ensure that he is provided with adequate medical assistance and redress”.

His solitary confinement “is reported to have exceeded nine months during which he has been denied adequate medical care,” the UN experts pointed out.

On December 22, 2016, Bahraini authorities accused Rajab of making comments that “harm the interests” of the Manama regime and other Persian Gulf kingdoms through an article attributed to him and published by French daily Le Monde.

The article slammed the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group for their crimes against humanity and Persian Gulf Arab countries for their failure to stop the spread of the violent Wahhabi ideology.

Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia and freely preached by its clerics, fuels the ideological engine of such terror organizations as Daesh and Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch formerly known as al-Nusra Front. Takfiri terrorists use the ideology to declare people of other faiths “infidels,” justifying the killing of their victims.

Rajab, who was detained on June 13 last year for tweets that criticized Manama’s role in the deadly Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen, could face up to 15 years in jail. Liz Throssell, the spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that Rajab was arrested for “exercising his right to freedom of expression.

The UN panel also on Friday cited “continued, numerous and consistent allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in all places of detention” in Bahrain.

They also expressed concern at reports of coerced confessions obtained under torture, including those of three anti-regime Shia activists Sami Mushaima, Abbas Jamil Tahir al-Sami’ and Ali Abdulshahid al-Singace who were executed in mid-January, and two men, identified as Mohammed Ramadhan and Hussain Ali Moosa, who are facing death penalty.

A protester throws a glass bottle containing paint at a riot police armored personnel carrier during anti-regime clashes in the village of Sitra, south of Manama, on February 14, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

The United Nations Committee against Torture stressed that the pair must stand trial once again.

It also said the Manama regime should ensure that people arrested on criminal charges are brought before a judge within 48 hours.

The panel asked Bahraini officials to consider repealing provisions that allow civilians to be tried in military courts, and improve conditions in prisons across the country.

Human Rights Watch, in a statement, cited family members of 12 anti-regime activists being held in the notorious Jaw Prison as saying the men are shackled whenever they leave their cells, including for medical visits.

The men are serving long prison terms in connection with the pro-democracy uprising in 2011.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.