For Immediate Release: July 9, 2012
Washington, DC – In a further intensification of attacks on prominent human rights defenders, the Bahrain regime today sentenced Nabeel Rajab to three months in prison for criticizing the Prime Minister on Twitter.
“There is a pattern of direct physical and judicial assault on prominent human rights defenders who speak out in the street or on Twitter,” said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First.
Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was arrested and jailed today after suggesting that residents of the Muharraq district have been showing support for the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman for financial gain. Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman is the uncle of the King, and has been the unelected prime minister of Bahrain for almost 42 years.
Rajab’s sentence follows attacks on other prominent dissidents including Zainab Al Khawaja and SaidYousif Al Muhafda, who were targeted by police on June 27 in Buri. Al Khawaja’s leg was fractured by a tear gas canister fired by police at close range. In another incident journalist Reem Khalifa was apparently attacked with a stun grenade thrown by a policeman near the Budaiya Highway on June 29. Human Rights First urges the Obama Administration to monitor these incidents, which point to an escalating trend of attempting to silence dissidents and members of civil society groups.
“The government of Bahrain has a duty to protect its country’s human rights defenders, not attack and harass them,” concluded Dooley. “Jailing Rajab for his tweet shows that freedom of expression counts for nothing with the regime. Chances of reform don’t seem to have just taken a step backwards in recent weeks, but have stumbled and fallen.”