SHAFAQNA IN COLLABORATION WITH THE BAHRAIN MIRROR – The “ENGLISH PEN” association called to join its solidarity stand outside the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on King Charles St., London. Along with PEN, along with Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Index on Censorship on Thursday (October 6), from 12:00 noon until 1:00 pm. The protest intends to express solidarity with human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, and urge the British government to speak out on his behalf.
“We are now joining forces to urge our own government to do more to pressure its ally Bahrain to respect freedom of expression and release Rajab unconditionally,” PEN added.
The organization addressed those who can’t take part in the protest, saying, “If you’re unable to join the protest you can still show your support for Nabeel Rajab ahead of Thursday’s hearing by sharing details of his situation on social media with the hashtag #ReleaseNabeel.”
“Last month, English PEN joined BIRD, Index and others to stage a protest outside the Embassy of Bahrain, marking Rajab’s 51st birthday and calling for his release. The organizations were also among more than 20 rights groups to urge governments around the world to speak out on his behalf,” PEN further stated in the statement published on its website.
It indicated “Meanwhile, concerns for his health and well-being are mounting, in light of the poor conditions in which he continues to be held.”
According to PEN, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has expressed ‘concern’ over the re-arrest of Nabeel but has not called for his release. It also noted, “At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2016, the UK stated it will be continuing its technical assistance to Bahrain and encouraged ‘constructive and inclusive dialogue.'”
“We believed that the UK’s statements do not reflect the facts on the ground, nor the fact that Bahrain’s human rights situation is worsening. Nabeel Rajab’s charges, all related to his free expression and carrying lengthy prison terms, and the ongoing detention and persecution of other peaceful activists are a reflection of Bahrain’s failure to reform”, the UK-based association went on saying.
It is expected that Nabeel Rajab is due to be sentenced this Thursday, 6 October 2016, and faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. PEN clarified, “The charges against him include spreading “false or malicious news, statements, or rumors” during wartime, “offending a foreign country” and “offending a public institution” under articles 133, 215 and 216 of the Penal Code, in connection with comments made on Twitter in 2015 documenting allegations of torture at the Central Jaw Prison and criticizing the Saudi coalition war in Yemen.”
Following the publication of a letter from Nabeel Rajab in the New York Times, the Public Prosecution Office has also charged him with ‘intentionally broadcasting false news and malicious rumours abroad impairing the prestige of the state’, for which he could face an additional year in prison, PEN added.