Nabeel Rajab

Nabeel Rajab

Nabeel Ahmed Abdulrasool Rajab (Arabic: نبيل أحمد عبدالرسول رجب‎, born on 1 September 1964) is a Bahraini human rights activist and opposition leader. He is president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR). He is also a prominent international human rights activist. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch's Middle East Division, Deputy Secretary General for the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), former chairman of CARAM Asia, member of the Advisory Board of the Bahrain Rehabilitation and Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO), and president of Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR).


Read Nabeel's Open Letter to President Obama - Bahrain Centre For Human Rights


Rajab — a winner of the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards in 2012 — was arrested on April 2 on charges involving a series of recent tweets and an opinion piece published in the Huffington Post. If he is convicted on all current charges, Rajab — who was only released from jail last May after two year’s detention — could face more than 10 years in prison.

His last jail sentence followed protests during the Formula One race in April 2012, and he was a leading mediator in securing a commitment from Formula One — announced last week — to respect human rights in Bahrain and other countries in which it conducts business. It is the first time in its history that Formula One has committed publicly to respecting internationally recognised human rights in all of its operations.

Rajab’s continued harassment and prosecution is a clear violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”.

Rajab started his human rights activity during the 1990s uprising before going on to become involved in campaigning on behalf of migrant workers in GCC countries. He subsequently became a leading campaigner against civil and human rights abuses in Bahrain including torture and deaths in official custody. He is known for his pioneering use of social networking as an important element in human rights campaigning which has brought him into conflict with the authorities. Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Reporters Without Borders have described him as being targeted by Bahraini authorities for his human rights activities.

During the Bahraini uprising, in which he led numerous protests, he has clashed with the political authorities and security forces. His house has been attacked with tear gas, he has been arrested several times, he has allegedly been beaten, and he has been the target of death threats. As well as criticising the Bahraini government itself, he has also been sharply critical of the role of Bahrain's allies, including the United States.

Following protests during the Formula 1 race in April 2012 that attracted media attention, Rajab was arrested and incarcerated several times. On 9 July, he was detained and sentenced to three months prison for having "insulted Bahrainis" in a Twitter message and most recently on 16 August, while still in detention, Rajab was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on three protest-related charges. The verdict has drawn criticism from Bahrain's western allies and human rights organizations. In December, 2012, the sentence was reduced to 2 years in prison after appeal.[5] In December 2013, a court denied him early release. He was released on 24 May 2014, after serving 2 years in prison. He was re-arrested on 1 October over criticizing the government on Twitter. On 2 November he was released on bail, pending his next trial on 20 January 2015.

Rajab's human rights work has been recognized internationally but within Bahraini society he remains a figure of controversy. Labeled as the informal leader of the uprising and a hero to protesters, Rajab is viewed by government supporters as a troublemaker.

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Last modified onTuesday, 14 July 2015 22:11