Video: Intervention for US Congressman McGovern Calling to Immediately Release Nabeel Rajab

2017-06-16 - 6:46 p


Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): US Congressman James McGovern called to immediately and unconditionally release the prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab.

In an intervention in front of the US Congress on Tuesday (June 13, 2017) McGovern said Rajab, who was arrested a year ago, is a prominent human rights defender and has won several international human rights awards. He added that Rajab's work is internationally recognized. The congressman went on to say that Rajab was unjustly imprisoned several times since 2011 for participating in protests against the government.

He explained that "On April 2015, Nabeel was arrested following tweets criticizing the Saudi-led Coalition air strikes in Yemen and the torturing of Bahraini detainees in Jaw prison. "He was released after 3 months later, but prosecution ordered his re-arrest in June 2016 over the same case. He is being held on numerous charges and is on trial on two separate cases for his human rights work. If convicted on all charges, he would face up to 18 years in jail."

McGovern wondered about the charges brought against Rajab and said that he is accused of insulting a statutory body, spreading rumors and offending a foreign country. "In other words he is accused of exercising his right to freedom of speech," he commented.

He further stated that last December a court ordered Nabeel's release on bail but he was immediately re-arrested over a new case for giving statements to foreign news outlets. Meanwhile, the prosecution said that his statements "spread false news and rumors". Rajab had criticized Bahrain's refusal to allow journalists and human rights groups access to the country. By the way "On August 2014, I was denied permission to visit Bahrain with Brian Dooley who works for human rights first."

McGovern tackled Nabeel's health condition and the 2 surgeries he underwent while in prison due to medical negligence and being held in solitary confinement after publishing an article in the New York Times (September 2016), in which he urged the Obama administration to use its leverage to resolve the conflict in Yemen instead of supplying arms to the Saudi-led coalition.

"A second New York piece by Nabeel appeared just last month on May 17, where he urged the trump administration to review its relations with the authoritarian regimes like Bahrain. I request the congress consent to introduce these two articles to enter the records so this house can see for itself the kinds of opinions that the Bahraini government consider so dangerous," he added.

He continued "The Obama the state department repeatedly called on Bahrain to release Nabeel and drop the charges against him and also halt the sale of F16 to Bahrain to improve its human rights. In contrast the new administration has lifted the halt on the F16 sales and failed to call for Nabeel's release."  However, Trump talked about stable relations with Bahrain.

The congressman reviewed the deteriorations recently took place in Bahrain, saying "On January 5th, the government restored arrest and investigation powers to its National Security agency, notorious for torturing detainees in 2011. On January 15th, Bahrain carried out its first executions since 2010 killing 3 men who were allegedly tortured to make false confessions. On February 21st, Bahrain constitution was amended to allow military courts to try civilians. On May 31st, the government dissolved the secular opposition political party Wa'ad that was the last major opposition party still operating in the country after Al-Wefaq was dissolved last summer. On June 4th, the government ordered Al-Wasat, the country's only independent newspaper to be suspended indefinitely."

He commented "Bahrain is headed down an increasingly authoritarian path. It is closing off all avenues for peaceful dissent, but the President of the United States does not get it." He continued "Could that have to do with the income he earned when the Bahraini government held its national day celebrations at the Trump International Hotel last December? What I know is that appearances matter and Bahrain is an increasingly volatile and dangerous place for our military personnel. We should not enable the Bahraini government's repression."

US Congressman James McGovern concluded his intervention saying: "I call for the immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab and all others jailed for peaceful political views and I urge the Trump administration to join me."

Arabic Version


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