Recently named honorary citizen of Paris, Nabeel Rajab faces new persecutions

Press release
en fr

On 18 June, while the honorary citizenship ceremony was held for detained Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab in the City Council of Paris, the police entered his cell and confiscated all his belongings. The award attribution had already outraged the Bahraini authorities, which triggered a diplomatic imbroglio between France and the Kingdom. Nabeel, detained under a particularly severe detention regime, was temporarily transferred once more to a hospital on July 2, 2018, before being sent back to his cell with unsanitary conditions. FIDH condemns this inhuman harassment and reiterates the demand for his immediate release.

On 6 June, the City Council awarded the status of Honorary Citizen of Paris to Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahraini Center for Human Rights and Deputy secretary general of the International federation for Human Rights (FIDH). This distinction is reserved to honor human rights activists, salute their fight for freedom or contribute to their liberation. Nelson Mandela, Taslima Nasreen and Ales Baliatski were among the previous laureates. On 12 June, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for Nabeel’s immediate release, describing him as a “symbol for human rights defenders and respect of freedom of expression in Bahrain”. It added that this case “runs counter to the Government of Bahrain’s own commitments”.

While the award ceremony was taking place in Paris on June 18, his cell was sacked by several policemen and all his belongings were confiscated. These humiliating reprisals are in line with Nabeel’s systematic harassment which lasts for years in retaliation for his human rights work in Bahrain and the Gulf States.

The distinction granted by the Council of Paris has resulted in an open diplomatic crisis between France and Bahrain.

Nabeel Rajab’s health is increasingly worrisome, compounded by severe prison conditions and a deliberate obstruction to appropriate health care. On the night of 1 and 2 July, Nabeel was removed from his cell to be transferred to a hospital, following extremely severe back pains and increasing difficulty in movement. These pains are the direct consequences of police brutality and require an urgent operation. His condition is further aggravated by a lack of physical exercises, Bahraini government having ordered to lock him up 23 hours a day in his cell.

During his hospital visit, Nabeel Rajab was given pain medication through perfusion and then returned to prison. He could not receive any further examinations or treatments. He suffers from other health problems that wasn’t treated.

"Without proper treatment, Nabeel’s health problems cause him great suffering. The choice of the Bahraini authorities is to maintain this suffering. Refusing him a proper medical care must be interpreted as a form of ill-treatment which deliberately endangers his life. We call on the chancelleries in Manama to put pressure on the authorities to ease this inhuman regime and allow Nabeel in receiving the care he requires. We ask them to demand for his unconditional release, also requested by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Parliament.”

Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President

Detention conditions of this emblematic human rights activist are just appalling. Locked in a dirty and sinister cell, infested with insects, Nabeel does not even have a table to eat. Despite his back problems, the authorities are forcing him to eat on the floor. Facing consecutive forms of deprivation, he is forbidden from having books, reading newspapers, having a television or any writing materials.

Subject of several international campaigns demanding his release, Nabeel Rajab has been in prison since 2016 for having publicly denounced the war in Yemen led by Saudi coalition and the use of torture in Bahraini prisons in his various tweets, interviews and op-eds.

Press contact
Ms. Maryna Chebat (French, English) - Tel: +33648059157 (Paris)
Read more