Bahraini authorities on May 7 arrested prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, according to the country’s Interior Ministry. According to his lawyer, Rajab was arrested for messages he posted on Twitter criticizing the Interior Ministry. Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), a group that has been critical of the Bahraini regime’s response to protests and demonstrations in Bahrain which have been ongoing since February 2011. Following Rajab’s arrest, the BCHR expressed concern that “[t]he authorities in Bahrain have used many methods in attempting to prevent and/or limit human rights defenders in Bahrain from carrying out their work of documenting and reporting on human rights violations in the country.” Rajab was charged with insulting a statutory body and will be detained for seven days.
Rajab was arrested last month just before a planned demonstration against the imprisonment of another prominent rights activist, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, and charged with participation in illegal gatherings. In March, Amnesty International urged the Bahraini government to release al-Khawaja, who had at that time been on a hunger strike in protest of his charges for 50 days. That same month the UN expressed concern over the escalation of the government crackdowns on protesters. In addition to open violence against activists, Human Rights Watch released a report in March claiming protesters are being convicted in unfair trials. All of this comes after the government announced constitutional reforms in January that were rejected by opposition groups.
From Jurist, May 7. Used with permission.