Front Line is deeply concerned following reports received concerning the ongoing media harassment of human rights defenders Nabeel Ahmed Rajab, Abduljalil Alsingace and Maryam Alkhawaja, since 16 October 2008. Nabeel Ahmed Rajab is the founder and acting chairperson of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Abduljalil Alsingace is the head of Human Rights Unit of the Haq Movement of Liberties and Democracy in Bahrain, and Maryam Alkhawaja is a youth activist and former leader of the student organisation AIESEC-Bahrain.
Further InformationPosted 30/10/08 - On 16 October 2008, inflammatory articles written by members of the elected house of representatives, writers, and editors of some local newspapers concerning the aforementioned human rights defenders were published in the local Arabic newspapers Alwatan, Al-Ayam, Akhbar Al-Khaleej, Alwaqt and Al-Bilad, as well as in the regional newspapers Al-Khaleej and the Khaleej Times. These articles classified the human rights defenders as “traitors to Bahrain and stooges of the United States,” and interpreted the participation of the aforementioned human rights defenders in a briefing held on 15 October 2008 in Washington DC., USA, concerning the “Impact of Political Reform on Religious Freedom in Bahrain,” as a call for foreigners, specifically the United States Congress, to interfere in local affairs. Furthermore, these newspaper articles called for the Bahrainian authorities to take action against Nabeel Ahmed Rajab, Abduljalil Alsingace and Maryam Alkhawaja.
The briefing of 15 October was open to the public and attended by representatives of human rights organisations, think tanks, the United States State Department, the United States Commission of International Religious Freedom, the Bahrain Ambassador to the United States and members of media.
During the briefing, Nabeel Ahmed Rajab focused on figures echoing the systematic discrimination against Shia citizens of Bahrain on high posts in Governmental and public offices, employment in security and police force, and education opportunities. Nabeel Rajab highlighted the numerous public organisations in which Shia have no presence. Abduljalil Alsingace discussed the different aspects of religious discrimination against the Shia population in Bahrain covering three main topics; worship premises allocation and maintenance, religious education opportunities and limitations, and public and media accessibility for Shia. Maryam Alkhawaja brought her personal experience of being a young Shia in Bahrain, and the subsequent repercussions discriminatory practices have on her, her family and friends. At the end of the session, the delegation put forward recommendations to alleviate the anguish caused to Shia citizens as a result of the discriminatory practices by the local Authorities, stressing the need to intervene to ensure perseverance of rights of Shia to be treated as citizens of equal rights and not discriminated against in any form.
Front Line is concerned that the media harassment against Nabeel Ahmed Rajab, Abduljalil Alsingace and Maryam Alkhawaja is due to their legitimate peaceful activities in defence of human rights in Bahrain, in particular their participation in the briefing concerning the “Impact of Political Reform on Religious Freedom in Bahrain.” Front Line also expresses its concerns for the security and physical and psychological integrity of Nabeel Ahmed Rajab, Abduljalil Alsingace and Maryam Alkhawaja.
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