Amnesty launches online campaign to demand release of jailed Bahraini activists

Nabeel Rajab, one of Bahrain's top human rights activists, gets word from his lawyer on his appeal at his home in Bani Jamra, Bahrain, , March 15, 2015. (Photo by AP)

Amnesty international has launched an online campaign in solidarity with prominent Bahraini  human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who has been behind bars over his criticism of the ruling Al Khalifah family, urging Manama to “immediately and unconditionally” release him. 

Through its online campaign, the London-based non-governmental organization sends an email to Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah to demand the release of Rajab and put an end to the ongoing crackdown on human rights activists in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

“Email the King of Bahrain now, calling on him to free Nabeel - and stop the Bahraini authorities’ crackdown on the brave people who speak out for human rights,” the group urges public.

Amnesty underlined the importance of such online actions, which earlier contributed to the release of Ebtisam al Saegh, another human rights defender in Bahrain.

Stating that Nabeel’s verdict is imminent on February 21, the organization said, “We must mobilize quickly and effectively, before it is too late.”

The group described Rajab as one of the “brave human rights defenders” and a “prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.”

It said Rajab, who has been in detention since 2016, “spent an excruciating nine months in solitary confinement, which amounts to torture and ill-treatment.”

Last month, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation, which has the ultimate say in the case of appeals in the country, upheld a two-year jail sentence issued for the 52-year-old president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Rajab has faced two trials, one concerning his criticism of the ruling regime in alleged interviews he has given and statements made to foreign media, and another having to do with his critical tweets.

Rajab was first detained on June 13, 2016 for the tweets. He will face a new hearing over the case on February 21.

If found guilty, Rajab would face up to 15 years in jail, according to Amnesty.

Manama considers Rajab one of the leaders of the protests which the regime has been facing since 2011.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested during the crackdown with the help of Saudi and UAE troops.

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