US urged to pressure Bahrain to release top Bahraini rights activist

Press TV – An American human rights organization has called on the US State Department to pressure Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release prominent human rights activist and pro-democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab, who has been kept behind bars over his criticism of the ruling Al Khalifah regime and the Wahhabi ideology.

Brian Dooley, a senior advisor at Human Rights First, said that the administration of former President Barack Obama had called for Rajab’s release, but under President Donald Trump, “the State Department has stood obstinately silent.”

He added, “The White House has also lifted human rights conditions—including Rajab’s release—on the sale of weapons to Bahrain’s dictatorship. If this administration wants stability in Bahrain, it should resist human rights abuses, not enable them.”

“Rajab has been subjected to a sham trial and not been allowed to attend some of his own hearings. Silencing peaceful dissent will only encourage violent protests, and make Bahrain an even more dangerous place,” Dooley said.

Meanwhile, Bahraini rights groups, in an open letter to a number of Western ambassadors in Manama, have called for assistance over securing Rajab’s freedom.

The groups warned about Rajab’s “precarious situation,” stating that the 52-year-old activist, who chairs the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, is likely to be sentenced to three years in prison during his upcoming court hearing on July 10.

The letter, addressed to the ambassadors of the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Canada and Australia, asked the envoys to ensure Rajab will get a fair trial.

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. It also slammed 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 terror organizations such 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.

In this file photo, Bahraini pro-democracy demonstrators take part in an anti-regime rally. (Photo by AFP)

Rajab, who was detained on June 13, 2016 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.”

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

On March 5, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.

Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3.