Letter from Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH

Dear Friends,

Last week, on 16 August 2012, FIDH Deputy Secretary General, Nabeel Rajab, President of Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by the Lower Criminal Court in Manama, Bahrain, in relation to three cases brought against him over the past months. These are as follows:

Nabeel was charged with “participating in an illegal assembly” and “calling others to join”, following a protest organised on 31 March 2012 in Manama to denounce the detention of the founder of GCHR, former President of the BCHR, and former MENA Director at Front Line, Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja.

Nabeel’s second charge was for “involvement in illegal practices and incitement to gatherings and calling for unauthorised marches through social networking sites” following preparations for a protest in Manama on 12 January 2012.

The third charge against Nabeel concerned “participating in an illegal assembly” in relation to several protests that took place in Manama in February 2012.

This week, on August 23, 2012, Nabeel Rajab was acquitted in another case by the Higher Appeals Court after a tweet he posted on his Twitter account on 2 June 2012, criticising the Bahraini government. However, he remains arbitrarily detained on the basis of the three other cases.

We are all the more concerned that on August 23, Mr. Rajab stated in court that he had been subjected to physchological and physical torture.

These acts of judicial harassment and Nabeel’s on-going arbitrary detention aim to stifle his legitimate use of the right to freedom of expression and assembly, and to hinder his human rights activities.

Since 16 August 2012, FIDH has taken a number of steps to call for Nabeel’s immediate and unconditional release, including through:

– An urgent appeal of the Observatory (16 August): http://www.fidh.org/Bahrain-Nabeel-Rajab-sentenced-to

– A FIDH press release (16 August): http://www.fidh.org/Nabeel-Rajab-sentenced-to-3-years

– Endorsement of a joint letter from more than 40 human rights groups (17 August): http://www.fidh.org/Release-Bahraini-human-rights

– A FIDH press release in response to a statement of the US State Department (21 August): http://www.fidh.org/U-S-government-turns-a-blind-eye

The mobilisation of our movement  can be of a great support to our Deputy Secretary General. You can help to obtain the release of Nabeel Rajab by undertaking the following actions:

– sign, date and send the letter attached to the Bahraini authorities, demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab (please use the emails / fax numbers which appear on the letter);

– publish the four statements above on your website and disseminate them to your contacts;

– raise awareness about these developments, if possible, in the media at the national level;

– sign the petition, and disseminate it to your contacts.

Please keep us informed (communication@fidh.orgobs@fidh.orgmmo@fidh.orgcfralin@fidh.org )of any action you will take, so that we can follow-up accordingly

Many thanks in advance for your solidarity.

Warm regards,

Souhayr Belhassen

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