Assault on freedom of expression continues in Bahrain as activists face jail for tweets

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SHAFAQNA –  Amnesty International said that “the Bahraini authorities must immediately and unconditionally release human rights activist Nabeel Rajab and opposition leader Fadhel Abbas, two prisoners of conscience who are facing long prison sentences for using Twitter to voice concerns about human rights abuses in the conflict in Yemen.”

Amnesty International announced that it will launch an urgent campaign action calling on the Minister of Justice, Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, in Bahrain to immediately release Fadhel Abbas and Nabeel Rajab.

“Both men have criticized the killing of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which includes Bahrain. They have already been wrongfully detained for months and are expecting their respective court’s verdicts in the next week,” the organization further stated.

“It is an outrage that Nabeel Rajab and Fadhel Abbas have spent even one minute in jail – the Bahraini authorities cannot silence every last critic by throwing them behind bars. They must drop all charges against Nabeel Rajab and quash Fadhel Abbas’ five year jail term, and immediately cease their relentless crackdown on freedom of expression,” said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office

Hadid continued “In a climate of increasing hostility towards dissent of any kind, Bahrain needs independent voices like Nabeel Rajab and Fadhel Abbas more than ever. They should be applauded and protected, not punished, for their brave efforts to raise human rights concerns.”

Amnesty International believes that Fadhel Abbas and Nabeel Rajab are on trial solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, and are prisoners of conscience.

“As well as calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Fadhel Abbas and Nabeel Rajab, we are urging the Bahraini authorities to repeal or amend laws that criminalize the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, in line with Bahrain’s obligations under international law,” said Samah Hadid.

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