BFF-14 UN calls for release of top Bahrain activist Rajab

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BFF-14

BAHRAIN-TRIAL-RIGHTS-UN

UN calls for release of top Bahrain activist Rajab

GENEVA, Jan 4, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – The United Nations on Friday called for
the release of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent Bahraini activist sentenced to five
years in jail for tweeting criticism of the Yemen war.

“We call on the Government of Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally
release prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and to ensure that all
Bahrainis are able to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and
expression without fear of arbitrary detention,” said Ravina Shamdasani,
spokesperson for the UN human rights office.

“We urge the government of Bahrain to stop criminalising dissenting
voices.”

Rajab, who played a key role in the 2011 Shiite-led anti-government
protests, on Monday lost his final appeal against a five-year jail term for
writing tweets deemed offensive to the state.

Bahrain’s supreme court, whose verdicts are final, upheld the jail term
against him.

He was convicted of endangering the Saudi-led military campaign, which
includes Sunni-ruled Bahrain, in Yemen and publicly offending a foreign
country, a reference to Saudi Arabia.

Rajab is also serving a two-year sentence in a separate case linked to
interviews with the foreign press.

Home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and a British military base, Bahrain is
located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran and has been ruled for
more than two centuries by the Al-Khalifa dynasty.

The country’s population is mostly Shiite Muslim, according to unofficial
estimates contested by the government. Authorities have jailed dozens of
high-profile activists and disbanded both religious and secular opposition
groups since Shiite-led protests demanding political change erupted in 2011.

They have stripped hundreds of those convicted of their citizenship,
leaving many stateless.

BSS/AFP/SSS/1841 hrs