Bahrain’s prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been taken to hospital from prison following the deterioration of his health in solitary confinement.
The Bahrain Mirror, a website close to the opposition, said Tuesday that Rajab was hospitalized in a military health facility in Manama.
Rajab was arrested on June 13 following an intensive search of his house in the northwest of the country. His detention was extended on June 21. Reports suggest he has been subjected to harassment in jail. He is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and has played a major role in leading the popular protests in the country over the past five years.
The family of Rajab blamed the regime in Manama for the deterioration of his health, saying the decision to put him in solitary confinement had no justification. They said the regime should be held accountable for repeated reports of harassment against Rajab in jail.
The arrest of Rajab, as an internationally-respected figure, sparked condemnations around the world. Last week, lawmakers in the European Parliament called for the release of the rights activist, dropping of all charges against him, and lifting the travel ban that was previously imposed on him.
Supporters of Rajab said he had an irregular heartbeat when he was taken to hospital. They said he was “in isolation for 15 days.”
Bahrain has seen an escalation in the regime’s crackdown on dissent over the past few weeks. Manama first suspended the country’s main opposition group al-Wefaq before it stripped top Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim of his citizenship.
On Tuesday, a top court in Manama sentenced 11 people to three to 15 years in jail. Bahrain’s criminal court said the people were convicted of carrying out attacks against security forces during protests in a neighborhood of Manama in February 2015. They were also convicted of possessing explosives and stirring public disorder. Six of the convicts were slapped with 15-year jail terms, according to a local newspaper.
Al-Wefaq lawyers quit court proceedings
Also on Tuesday, lawyers for al-Wefaq said they had withdrawn from court proceedings to dissolve the opposition group after they saw an attempt by the regime to accelerate the process.
“The defense team is finding it impossible to carry out its duty legally and professionally in light of the very short period” given to prepare, the three lawyers said in a joint statement, adding that authorities had also refused to allow them access to documents at the Wefaq headquarters.
The administrative court was initially planned to hear al-Wefaq’s case later on September 4, but a new session was held Tuesday and the next hearing was set for July 4.
Bahrain suspended all activities of al-Wefaq on June 14 and ordered its offices closed and assets frozen. The United Nations, along with other international organizations, expressed concern, saying the move could escalate the situation in the country.
Bahrain, a close ally of the United States in the Persian Gulf region, has seen a wave of anti-regime protests since mid-February 2011.
Manama’s heavy-handed crackdown on peaceful demonstrations with the help of Saudi Arabia has left scores of people dead and hundreds more injured.