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HRW: Detained Bahraini Activist Nabeel Rajab’s Health Worsens

2017-04-26 - 5:20 p

Bahrain Mirror: Prominent Bahraini human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, is suffering from health problems that have developed or deteriorated during more than 10 months of arbitrary detention, reported Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The HR group stressed in a statement released on Wednesday (April 26, 2017) that the charges raised against him violate his right to free expression, adding that there is evidence he has been punished arbitrarily. It further stated that on April 8, Rajab's family expressed concern that the open wound from surgery to correct a urological/colorectal condition was at risk of infection due to the unhygienic conditions of his cell at East Riffa police station. "An April 8 statement by the Bahrain Embassy in the United Kingdom said that he had been transferred him to the Public Security Forces Clinic in Qalaa that evening."

His family told HRW, the authorities returned him to his cell two days after an April 5, 2017 operation, contrary to medical advice, leading to his re-hospitalization on April 8. He is currently in the Public Security Forces Clinic in Qalaa.

The human rights organization highlighted that the thirteenth hearing in Rajab's trial is scheduled on May 17, adding that at a December 28 session, a judge ordered Rajab released on bail. But authorities immediately re-arrested him and charged him with making "false or malicious" statements in television interviews in which he criticized the Bahraini authorities' refusal to allow journalists and rights groups into the country. The third session of this second trial is scheduled for May 3. Rajab faces up to 18 years in jail if found guilty on all charges.

"The conditions of Rajab's detention have at times appeared to amount to arbitrary punishment," said the group, stressing that his family told HRW that he has been in solitary confinement since September 4, when the New York Times published an opinion piece he wrote about human rights abuses in Bahrain. On December 20, Le Monde published an article by Rajab. Bahraini authorities interrogated him about both articles and referred both cases to the public prosecution for investigation into alleged violations of article 134 of the penal code relating to alleged "false or malicious information."

"Filing criminal charges against Nabeel Rajab solely for his peaceful criticism and then refusing to free him while the courts cavalierly postpone hearings shows Bahrain's contempt for the most elemental human rights," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Nabeel Rajab should not be in jail, and his deteriorating health underscores the injustice of arbitrarily detaining him."

"The silence on Bahrain's flagrant disregard for human rights from London, and now from Washington under Trump, is nothing less than shameful," Stork stressed.

Bahraini authorities arrested Rajab in June 2016, following his social media comments critical of Saudi Arabian airstrikes in Yemen and alleged torture in a Bahrain prison. Since then, his health has deteriorated dramatically. He has undergone two operations, suffered two bouts of heart palpitations that required emergency medical care, and has developed a range of other medical conditions, including a low white blood cell count and depression.



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