17 Senators and Members of Congress call for the release of Nabeel Rajab and all Bahrainis detained for crimes related to freedom of expression
August 10, 2012
His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa AI-Khalifa
The Amiri Court, Riffa Palace
P.O. Box 555
Your Royal Highness,
We write to express our concern regarding Nabeel Rajab and other Bahrainis who have been prosecuted for crimes related to freedom of expression. We understand Mr. Rajab was imprisoned for calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister via Twitter, an Internet-messaging program. We respectfully request that you use your authority to order Mr. Rajab’s release under the universal principle that all citizens should have the right to peacefully express disagreement with their government.
Reports indicate many Bahrainis have been imprisoned for peaceful political activities since the start of pro-democracy demonstrations in February 2011. According to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), the National Safety Courts convicted approximately 300 people for exercising their right to free expression and peaceful assembly. Since Your Excellency’s endorsement of the BICI report and its recommendations, Bahraini officials have repeatedly stated that individuals prosecuted for political speech would be released, and that no one would face prosecution for exercising these rights.
We recognize that the Bahraini government has taken positive steps to implement certain BICI recommendations. These steps represent important progress. However, recent charges against Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, run counter to the government’s assurances that individuals will not be prosecuted for peaceful political speech. Bahraini authorities have prosecuted Mr. Rajab five separate times, and in each case the charges appear to have been based on peaceful dissent and peaceful protests. Mr. Rajab was sentenced to three months in prison after “tweeting” that the Prime Minister should resign.
Mr. Rajab is also facing three other active prosecutions related to “illegal gatherings;” however, reports indicate prosecutors have produced no evidence that the protests at issue were violent or threatened violence.
In sum, we remain very concerned about the ongoing prosecution of peaceful opposition activists such as Nabeel Rajab for taking part in activities protected by international law and the Bahraini Constitution, notwithstanding Your Excellency’s acceptance of the BICI recommendations and the government’s reassurances that it does not conduct political prosecutions. We therefore respectfully urge the government to unconditionally and immediately release all Bahrainis being held for crimes related to freedom of expression.
Keith Ellison, Member of Congress
Patrick Leahy, United States Senator
John Conyers, Member of Congress
Ron Wyden, United States Senator
Raul Grijalva, Member of Congress
Alcee Hastings, Member of Congress
Rush Holt, Member of Congress
Michael Honda, Member of Congress
Hank Johnson, Member of Congress
Barbara Lee, Member of Congress
Zoe Lofgren, Member of Congress
James P. McGovern, Member of Congress
James P. Moran, Member of Congress
John Olver, Member of Congress
Jared Polis, Member of Congress
Charles Rangel, Member of Congress
Jan Schakowsky, Member of Congress
Posted on August 11, 2012, in Detained Bahraini Activists, U.S. Congressional Support and tagged Bahrain, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, Nabeel Rajab, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on 17 Senators and Members of Congress call for the release of Nabeel Rajab and all Bahrainis detained for crimes related to freedom of expression.