EU parliament urges Bahrain to release top rights activist

Press TV – The chairman of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) has raised the alarm over the health condition of the prominent Bahraini human rights campaigner, Nabeel Rajab, urging his immediate release.

“The President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Nabeel Rajab, has been held in pre-trial detention for over a year because he spoke out against human rights violations in Bahrain,” Pier Antonio Panzeri said in a statement on Tuesday.

Rajab has been behind bars for criticizing the Al Khalifah regime’s involvement in the Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen.

He is currently on trial for tweets and statements deemed insulting to the regimes in Manama and Riyadh.

Panzeri said the 53-year-old human rights activist, who he has been held in solitary confinement, could be jailed for 18 years if found guilty.

Panzeri also pointed to Rajab’s “state of health which has steadily worsened during his lengthy detention and especially after he underwent surgery in April.”

He said it was “worrying” that Rajab had been banned from communicating with his family since last week.

“Nabeel Rajab’s detention violates his right to freedom of expression. I call on the Bahraini authorities to grant lawyers and family members access to Nabeel Rajab, to drop all charges against him and to free him immediately,” Panzeri said on behalf of the DROI.

In this May 14, 2015 photo, Bahraini anti-government protesters hold up images of jailed human rights activist Nabeel Rajab during a solidarity protest outside his home in Bani Jamra, Bahrain. (Photo by AP)

Anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom on February 14, 2011.

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

On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to Bahrain to assist Manama in its crackdown on peaceful protesters. Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others have been injured or arrested.