Jailed Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab named an honorary citizen of the city of Paris

(Paris, 6 June 2018) Today, the Council of Paris has unanimously awarded honorary citizenship to activist Nabeel Rajab, in recognition of his fight for freedom, democracy and human rights. Yesterday, the Bahrain High Criminal Court of Appeal upheld Nabeel’s five-year jail term for Tweets condemning the use of torture in Jaw Prison and the bombings of the Saudi coalition in Yemen. Sentenced to a total of seven years imprisonment resulting from trials that made a mockery of justice, his health has steadily deteriorated. FIDH and Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) welcome the award of this prestigious distinction, and reiterate their demand for his immediate release.

Only 19 individuals (and one institution) have received the status of Honorary Citizens of Paris since its institution in 2001. This emblematic award distinguishes personalities fighting for democracy, respect of human rights and freedom. Among the laureates of the honorary citizenship of Paris are: Nelson Mandela, Shirin Ebadi, Dalaï Lama, Taslima Nasreen, Hu Jia, Ales Bialiatski, former vice-president of the FIDH.

Co-founder and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), and founding director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), Deputy Secretary General of FIDH, Nabeel is also member of the Middle East Advisory Committee to Human Rights Watch.

“The award of the city of Paris reminds the Bahraini authorities that the imprisonment of Nabeel does not interest only some Gulf monarchies or NGOs. It has become the symbol of ruthless repression in the country. Facing international outrage, the Bahraini authorities should release Nabeel without further delay, together with the other incarcerated activists, whose only fault is to have asked for a little more democracy and freedom. By naming him as a citizen of honor, a prestigious distinction reserved for emblematic human rights activists, the city of Paris sends to our imprisoned and ill colleague, who is subjected to a shocking prison regime, a sign of fraternity and hope,”

Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President

Nabeel was sentenced to seven years in prison for having publicly condemned the human rights situation in Bahrain and the indiscriminate shelling by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen in his various Tweets, interviews and op-eds. The international community has repeatedly denounced the judicial harassment that marked the trials. Nabeel was abused and mistreated in deplorable prison conditions and faced violence while incarcerated with members of the Islamic State. His health has since continued to deteriorate, causing fears for his life.

In concluding observations on Bahrain in May 2017, the UN Committee against Torture (UN CAT) pointed out that it was "particularly concerned" about the arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of human rights defenders, including Nabeel Rajab.

Press contact :

+33 / mchebat@fidh.org / @MS_Chebat

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