Amnesty International has denounced the recent prison sentence handed down to prominent human rights activist and pro-democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab as “shameful and unfair.”
The London-based non-governmental organization, in a post published on its official Twitter page on Wednesday, stated that the 52-year-old president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights is “a prisoner of consciousness and must be released immediately and unconditionally.”
It added that the decision by Bahrain’s High Court of Appeal to uphold a two-year jail term against Rajab is an attempt to suppress his fundamental right to freedom of opinion.
Back in July, a Bahraini sentenced the human rights activist to two years in prison on charges of “spreading fake news that undermine the prestige of the state.”
The charges stem from Rajab’s television interviews with foreign journalists, where he shed light on the grim situation of human rights in Bahrain and said the Manama regime does not allow human rights rapporteurs to enter the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.
He faces a further 15 years in prison over a separate set of charges related to his criticism of the ruling Al Khalifah family and the Wahhabi ideology.
On November 19, a Manama court postponed until December 31 the trial of the prominent Bahraini human rights activist.
On December 22, 2016, Bahraini authorities accused Rajab of making comments that “harm the interests” of the Manama regime and other Persian Gulf kingdoms through an article attributed to him and published by French daily Le Monde.
The article slammed the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group for their crimes against humanity. It also condemned Persian Gulf Arab countries for their failure to stop the spread of the violent Wahhabi ideology.
Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia and freely preached by its clerics, fuels the ideological engine of terror organizations such as Daesh and Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda's Syrian branch formerly known as al-Nusra Front. Takfiri terrorists use the ideology to declare people of other faiths “infidels,” justifying the killing of their victims.
Rajab, who was detained on June 13, 2016 for tweets that criticized Manama’s role in the deadly Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen, could face up to 15 years in jail.
Liz Throssell, the spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that Rajab was arrested for “exercising his right to freedom of expression.”
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3.