EU lawmakers call for release of Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab

Lawmakers in the European Parliament (EP) have called for the release of a prominent rights activist in Bahrain as pressure mounts on Manama to end the crackdown on political dissent.

In a letter sent to the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Thursday, 37 MEPs urged immediate measures to secure the release of Nabeel Rajab from jail in Bahrain.

“As Members of the European Parliament deeply concerned with human rights, the rule of law, and the right to freedom of expression, we urge you to take urgent action to secure Nabeel Rajab’s immediate release, the dropping of all charges against him, as well as lifting the travel ban that was previously imposed on him,” said the letter.

Rajab, a prominent rights and political campaigner in Bahrain, was arrested on June 13 following an intensive search of his house in the northwest of the country. His detention was extended on 21 June. Reports suggest he has been subjected to harassment in jail.

The EU lawmakers also slammed the regime in Manama for increasingly suppressing dissidents, saying Rajab’s release must be followed with “an end to the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders, and all measures taken by the Bahraini government to stifle legitimate opposition and freedom of expression.”

Bahraini protesters carry a poster bearing portraits of jailed human right activists Nabeel Rajab (L) and Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja during a demonstration on May 1, 2015, in a village west of Manama. ©AFP

The letter also criticized the regime for its decisions to revoke the citizenship of opponents and rights campaigners.

“Bahrain continues the practice of stripping opposition and human rights activists, or dissidents of the Bahraini diaspora of their citizenship, leaving many stateless,” the letter further read.

Bahrain, a close ally of the US in the Persian Gulf region, has seen a wave of anti-government protests since mid-February 2011.

Manama’s heavy-handed crackdown on peaceful demonstrations with the help of Saudi Arabia has left scores of people dead and hundreds more injured.

The clampdown has taken a swipe in recent week with the government imposing bans on major political and rights groups.

Last week, Manama revoked the citizenship of top Shia cleric Shiekh Isa Qassim, prompting huge criticism at the international level. Manama has also suspended the activities of the main Shia opposition bloc al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.

By Press TV