Not content with imposing an extreme prison sentence of 3 years on Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, for “illegal assembly”, the Bahrain Government’s Minister of State for Media Affairs, ironically called Samera Rajab, gave a press conference on Saturday responding to widespread international criticism of the sentence and virtually blaming Nabeel Rajab personally for most of Bahrain’s problems.
The minister claimed firstly that Nabeel Rajab had had a “free and fair trial”.
This of course is impossible when the king, his family and the administration to whom you are opposed also make, impose and administer the laws and control the judiciary. With members of the ruling Al Khalifa family acting as judges (no jury), who is going to oppose their wishes?
Although Nabeel Rajab has the right of appeal and the expectation (or at least hope) is that the term of the sentence will be reduced, 3 years is extreme by any measure. In any Western country a fine, a conditional discharge would be more likely or a worst a couple of weeks in prison for a repeat offence – but 3 years?
This is nothing but spite and vindictiveness and an attempt to remove the leadership of the protest movement. (EDITOR: Bring on a new generation of leaders I say!)
In her press conference (reported in the Gulf Daily News as “Justice Done”!) the Minister then went on to claim that Nabeel Rajab’s call to protest “are reported to have caused riots, road blocks, fires, and destruction of public and private property”.
Where is the direct evidence for that? Especially as Nabeel has a reputation for opposing violence and has only ever promoted peaceful demonstration.
But he is also now responsible not only for his own behaviour but apparently for that of everyone who opposes the Al Khalifa Government! In fact, violence has arisen because the frustration after more than a year – actually generations – of failure by the Government to respond to calls for democracy and sectarian equality, has boiled over into anger.
“These acts of incitement and direct participation,” the Minister blathered on, “Have compromised public order and the safety of citizens through the use of petrol bombs, along with other improvised weapons, against public and private property; as well as assault against police officers, leaving a number of them injured”.
(This is the same Information Minister whose criteria for “justice” is based on an expressed admiration for Sadam Hussein, the former dictator in Iraq!)
So now Nabeel is also responsible for “petrol bombing”, the use of “improvised weapons”, destruction of “public and private property”, “assaulting police officers” and “leaving a number of them injured”.
As Nabeel Rajab has never done any of these things personally and there was no evidence to show that he had or has ever incited anyone else to do them, there can be no doubt that both his arrest, trial and sentence are purely, 100% political and therefore vindictive.
On top of all that Nabeel Rajab is, according to the Minister responsible as well for “direct negative impact on economic and commercial activity in those areas of the capital which have prompted proprietors and businesses owners to request intervention from the Ministry of Interior to protect their interests and immediate safety”.
So somehow Nabeel has managed to “ruin the economy of Bahrain” as well. Nothing to do then with the violence perpetrated by the security forces against protesters and the excessive use of teargas and shotgun pellets?
They will be blaming him next for the sharp rise in insurance premiums to cruise liner companies preventing them from calling at Manama and to Bahrain’s failure to win more than one bronze medal at the Olympics! You can read the full report at the Information Affairs Authority (IAA) website, HERE:
Meanwhile, other leading Opposition figures, Zainab AlKhawaja, her father Abdulhadi AlKhawaja and 12 other of his compatriots all sit in jail as trials and appeals are delayed time after time on the whim of the presiding judge on the day.
The justice system in Bahrain is a joke and testimony to the ignorance of the ruling Al Khalifa family who think they can continue to suppress the legitimate claims of the majority of their population for democracy and the right to freedom of expression and assembly.
This stupid obstinacy will cost them dearly – eventually. Suppression breeds resistance – a law of nature. Extreme suppression breeds extreme resistance. History and the political direction of the 21st century are not on the Al Khalifas’ side. Sumood! (Steadfast!)
Please sign and support the AVAAZ petition to free Nabeel Rajab, HERE:
More than 5000 people worldwide have signed in the last 3 weeks.