On Trial for Tweets, Part 3: Nabeel Rajab

From the day he was arrested on June 13, Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been kept in solitary detention in conditions so squalid that outside observers have verified the “toilet and shower are unclean, unhygienic, and filled with potentially disease-carrying sludge.”

The start of his trial for comments he posted online has been delayed twice: it was scheduled to start on July 12, delayed until August 2, and then on August 2, it was delayed until September 5. No reason was offered regarding this week’s delay, once again.

A request from his lawyers to release him pending the start of the trial has been rejected. Rajab remains in pretrial custody.
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On Trial for Tweets: Rajab’s Trial Postponed

Since he was arrested on June 13, Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been kept in solitary detention in conditions so squalid that outside observers have verified the “toilet and shower are unclean, unhygienic, and filled with potentially disease-carrying sludge.” His trial for comments he posted online was scheduled to start today, July 12, but at the hearing the judge postponed the start until August 2.

A request from his lawyers to release him pending the start of the trial was rejected. Rajab remains in pretrial custody.

After two weeks in these conditions, Rajab was brought to a hospital in Bahrain with an irregular heartbeat. Blood tests proved that he also has a urinary tract infection and “low mononucleosis,” but he is not receiving medicine for these ailments.

Although he is being kept in solitary confinement, his right to privacy is regularly trampled: any visits from family or his lawyers are attended by Rajab, his family members or lawyers, and two police officers, who sit with Rajab and his visitors.
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On Trial for Tweets: Nabeel Rajab

One of the inadvertent effects of Bahrain’s current campaign of aggressive repression against those it deems dissidents is the simplest one: Bahrain validates the dissidents, proves their testimonies of brutality, physical and psychological torture, and repression one-hundred percent correct.

Almost two weeks after Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was arrested, he finally learned today what he is charged with: two violations of Bahrain’s penal code, violations of articles 133 and 216, which carry a combined maximum sentence of 13 years in prison. The charges stem from Tweets that he published last year. Tweets. His first hearing will be July 12.

One of the other effects, of course, is this: Bahrain’s campaign of repression stokes dissent, and dissenters become easier to identify, arrest, attempt to silence. Right now, Bahrain is making life dangerous for thousands of people as it places a choke-hold on parts of its population: Shia, human rights activists, those people unlucky enough to not be born in the ruling Al Khalifa family.
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An Appalling Arrest in Bahrain

When Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was arrested earlier today, he asked the plainclothes police officers who had spent the previous half-hour searching his house and confiscating his cellphone and other electronic devices why they were arresting him.

“We don’t know,” he was told, according to an RT interview with Rajab’s wife Sumaya. “We don’t know, but we have been ordered to do so.” And they took him away. Thirty officers were involved in the raid and arrest, which is believed was led by Bahrain’s Cybercrime Unit.

The arrest comes on the same day that the United Nations Human Rights Council opened its 32nd session in Geneva, Switzerland. Yesterday, six Bahrain human rights activists were prevented from boarding flights from Bahrain to travel to the UNHRC sessions. Bahrain has long employed that tactic of repression: forbidding activists from leaving the country to tell the world what is happening behind closed borders.
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Bahrain’s Brutality: The Story of Parweez Jawad

April 26, 2017: The artist Ai Weiwei attracted international headlines in 2015 when he went head-to-head with the Danish plastic brick maker Lego over that company’s refusal to sell him bricks in bulk for an art installation: because he had used the bricks to make portraits of political prisoners around the world, Lego felt the need to declare that it “cannot approve the use of Legos for political works” and it cut Ai off. Art lovers around the world stepped up and collected Legos for Ai and made enough noise that Lego relented and allowed him to purchase the bricks from Lego, as long as any work he produces includes a statement that Lego is not endorsing any political stances.

Ai’s portraits of 176 political prisoners took more than one million Legos to produce. Both numbers, one million and 176, make a similar point: there are many political prisoners around the world and each person’s story is intricate and takes time to tell.

Some of Ai’s faces are famous: Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning. Most of them are not. Mohammed Hassan Jawad of Bahrain (seen in Ai’s portrait at top) is not, but you ought to know about him.
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