Nabeel Rajab, the co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, a human rights defender, and a prominent figure in Bahrain’s pro-democracy struggle, remains in prison in Bahrain, serving a two-year sentence for calling for “illegal gatherings,” after already having served three months for tweeting a critical comment about the Bahraini regime.
Human rights activists in Bahrain and internationally are organizing a Global Week of Action for Nabeel from March 21-28. To help free Nabeel, we need you to join us in taking action!
Working in partnership with human rights organizations, the week will include peaceful rallies around the world calling for Nabeel’s release, advocacy, and a massive social media push, using videos, photos, Twitter, Facebook and the participation of prominent musicians and public figures to publicize Nabeel’s unjust imprisonment and the plight of prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.
We call on you to join in the Global Week of Action. By calling collectively for Nabeel’s release, and the release of all Bahraini prisoners of conscience, we are acting in support of the basic human rights of nonviolent assembly and freedom of speech.
For those around the world:
Demonstrations are already being organized in Washington DC on March 22 and in London, Cairo, Paris, and Kuwait, on March 23. Dublin is holding an Awareness Day for Nabeel Rajab. Click here for more information about actions in your city and see details below:
We encourage you to organize a demonstration or vigil in your hometown during the Global Week of Action. You can include Nabeel’s image by printing a photo of him. Register your action at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can post it on the campaign website. Be sure to tweet photos and videos of your public action to @dont4getnabeelr and email them to email@example.com.
Other ways to support the campaign:
If you are from one of the states with a Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee, please call your Senator with the following request. If you do not have a Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee, please call the Chair of the Committee. (Committee members and phone numbers listed below)
Sample script for call to U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Members:
“Hello. My name is _____ from ______ and I am calling to urge the US administration to hold a hearing about Bahrain, with a focus on the prisoners of conscience being held by the Bahraini regime.
I am especially concerned about Nabeel Rajab, president and co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Nabeel was arrested last year for practicing the fundamental human rights of freedom of speech and peaceful assembly and is serving a two year prison sentence. He has been kept in isolation from other political prisoners. The other co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is also in prison, and went on hunger strike in February 2012 for 110 days, until he was force-fed by authorities.
I urge the Foreign Relations Committee to hold a hearing about these human rights abuses and to work for justice for all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.”
|Robert P.||Casey, Jr.||PA||D||(202) 224-6324|
|Richard J.||Durbin||IL||D||(202) 224-2152|
|James E.||Risch||ID||R||(202) 224-2752|
For those in Bahrain:
Please click HERE for a full schedule of actions in solidarity with Nabeel Rajab and all Bahraini prisoners of conscience.
For information about actions planned, please contact Jihan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together, we can call out with Nabeel’s message of democracy and human rights for all Bahrainis. As Nabeel himself said, “I will not stop and I’m teaching people not to stop. If everybody will keep quiet after putting [the activists] in jail, then it’s a disaster. We should challenge that. We should be willing to pay the price for the struggle for the freedom that we fight for.”
Thank you for your support as together we build the global movement for Nabeel, Bahrain and human rights.
In solidarity and struggle,
Background about the situation in Bahrain:
Popular protests demanding greater political freedom began in Bahrain in February, 2011 and have been characterized both by grave human rights abuses on the part of the government and by the courage of Bahraini pro-democracy and human rights activists who continue to stand up to an oppressive regime, despite facing arrest, torture, injury and death. A report released by an international commission of inquiry in November 2012 confirmed the Bahraini government’s use of torture, as well as other forms of physical and psychological abuse, on detainees.
For more on Nabeel Rajab
For more on pro-democracy protests in Bahrain
For more on the international commission of inquiry and the Bahraini regime’s use of torture
For more on American arms sales to Bahrain
Ali Al-Sheikh was a 14 year old boy who was killed on August 30 2011–the first day of the Eid celebration–by a tear gas projectile shot by riot police directly at his head at close range. (Some of you might remember the blog post I wrote about him, Ali’s Unused Camera.)
I had the chance to meet Ali’s warm and gregarious father, Jawad Al-Sheikh, when he welcomed me into his family’s home, and took me to the site where Ali was killed, and to Ali’s grave.
Jawad was arrested on October 26 on charges of “illegal gathering” and remains detained.
Following, is a video of Jawad, as he took me through the site where Ali was killed and where he is buried, and explained to me what happened on that day, and the harrassment that the Al-Sheikh family continues to experience to this day.
With hopes for the unconditional release of Jawad Al-Sheikh, so he can return to his family who has already known too much loss and pain–and with hopes for the freedom of all of Bahrain’s political prisoners.
Jen Marlowe, The Progressive
A woman I call m strode down the main road of her village in a burqa, with a large red and white Bahraini flag wrapped around her shoulders, fluttering vigorously in the breeze. She carried a poster, which she allowed me to look at. It had four small plastic dolls glued to the surface. One doll, wrapped in a white shroud, lay inside a small yellow box. Two other dolls had black hoods covering their heads and faces. One of the hooded dolls hung from its feet. The other’s arms were bound behind its back. The fourth plastic doll was imprisoned behind strips of black tape and was next to some rubber bullets and a small plastic cylinder.
“They kill our children,” she explained, referring to the kingdom’s security forces. “They suffocate them. They use all kinds of weapons.” Her hand swept over the rubber bullets and the cylinder, which represented a tear gas canister. The bound and hooded dolls in stress positions didn’t require much interpretation, but she emphasized how commonly both male and female youth are tortured in Bahrain’s prisons.
Then M. flipped the poster over, revealing three black cutout figures hanging from nooses with paper bags over their heads. “We won’t accept anything but a death sentence,” was written in Arabic in black marker across the top. The effigies were identified with signs on their torsos: Salman, Khalifa, and Hamad, the crown prince, prime minister, and king of Bahrain, respectively.
“Hang them,” she insisted. (more…)
Jen Marlowe | TomDispatch
Jihan Kazerooni and I drove past scores of armed riot police on Budaiya highway as her iPhone buzzed non-stop: phone calls, Skype calls and, incessantly, Twitter. I had wondered what the phrase “Twitter revolution” really meant when I heard it used in connection with Iran in 2009 and Egypt in 2011. Here, in the small Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain, I was beginning to grasp the concept.
I was in that country for three weeks as a part of the Witness Bahrain initiative, a group of internationals seeking to document and expose human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime against protesters and activists. Aside from brief spurts of coverage, the crisis in Bahrain had largely been ignored by the U.S. media.
Perhaps the lack of coverage of the predominantly Shi’a uprising against an increasingly repressive Sunni monarchy can be explained, in part, by this: Washington considers that monarchy its close ally; Bahrain is the home of the Navy’s 5th Fleet, and the beneficiary of U.S. arms sales. Perhaps it has to do with the U.S.-Saudi friendship, and the increasing tension between the U.S. and Iran. Bahrain has been portrayed as a battleground for influence between neighboring Saudi Arabia (a supporter of the monarchy) and nearby majority Shi’a Iran.
Ignoring the revolution underway there and its demands for freedom and democracy is, however, perilous. If activists move from largely peaceful demonstrations toward the use of violence, Bahrain could prove the powder keg that might set the Persian Gulf aflame. Peaceful activists like Jihan currently hold sway, but given the brutality I witnessed, it’s unclear how long the Bahraini revolution will remain nonviolent.
Jihan took me under her wing, introducing me to dozens of Bahrainis who had been directly affected by the regime’s crackdown on the pro-democracy uprising. They were not difficult to find. There was someone in nearly every Shi’a family, Jihan’s included, who had been fired from his or her job, arrested, injured, or killed. Sunni opposition activists (though much fewer in number) had been harshly targeted as well. (more…)
by Jen Marlowe
We think, though we are not certain, that the tear gas canister we saw being fired is the one that hit the boy on the top of his head.
It was nighttime, and we were watching from some distance, but we believe we saw the shot hit somebody in the head, the boy was injured in the same neighborhood, and his was the only head injury from that particular neighborhood on that particular night.
By the time we arrived at the “clinic” the boy’s wound had been cleaned and the hair around it was shaved, prepared for stitching.
About the boy: he was thirteen years old, small and skinny, wearing a red t-shirt with white stripes and was terrified. Not only had his head been split open when the protest ended in clashes and a tear gas canister was fired directly at him by the riot police, but his fifteen year old brother had also been arrested, and the brother’s fate was unknown. When the boy covered his face with his hands and began to weep, it was for his brother, he told us, not because of his wound.
About the “clinic”: it was the living room of a family who had made it available for this purpose. The boy sat on a thin mat on the floor, two women nurses wearing black abayas and hijabs crouched down next to him, gauze, cotton balls, ointment and rubber gloves strewn on the floor between them.
If the boy’s family took him to a proper clinic or to the hospital, he might be arrested for having participated in a protest. If the nurses treating him were discovered, they, too might face arrest.
“But we have to do something,” one nurse, a young woman with a quiet voice and flashing eyes said to me. “When I see this happening, especially to the children, I can’t just sit and do nothing.” (more…)