News / Middle East

Rights Activist: One in Every 1,000 Bahrainis in Detention for Political Reasons

Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights says that bloggers, others active in social media, are facing particularly hard times.

Residents of the Shiite Muslim village of Malkiya, Bahrain, southwest of Manama, watch - some with stones in hand and others photographing riot police and tanks moving in - Sunday, March 20, 2011
Residents of the Shiite Muslim village of Malkiya, Bahrain, southwest of Manama, watch - some with stones in hand and others photographing riot police and tanks moving in - Sunday, March 20, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Human rights groups are expressing concern about escalating crackdowns on Shi'ia protesters by the Sunni monarchy of Bahrain. Inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, protesters took to the streets beginning February 14 to voice demands for reform and equal rights.  At least 27 people are reported to have died and hundreds of people have been detained by security forces.

Nabeel Rajab is president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. VOA's Cecily Hilleary reached him by phone in Manama and asked him for an update.

Listen to Cecily Hilleary’s interview with Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab:

Hilleary: We are hearing reports of the arrests of doctors and nurses today and also of activists. What can you tell us about what is going on today in Bahrain?

Rajab: The situation is very critical. You have approximately one for every 1,000 citizens detained right now for political reasons. The Bahrain government, it seems, is going ahead in cracking down. Peaceful protesters were calling for democracy and [an] elected government with [a] constitution written by the people as they were inspired by other countries [which] gained democracy through revolutions.

Nabeel Rajab
Nabeel Rajab

Bahrainis thought that they, too, deserve to have democracy, an educated society, [a] society that has a culture, but unfortunately [the] Bahrain situation looks different than the others, because you have an army which is imported from the outside – from Pakistan, Jordan, Syria and Yemen. At the same time our government invited other troops – from Saudi Arabia, to deal with the peaceful protests.

So this is the situation we are facing. The protests were attacked completely. Villages were seized and surrounded by GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and [by the] Saudi army, and people were killed; thousands were injured, hundred were arrested. Hundreds of people are hiding. Hundreds of people were terminated from their work on a sectarian basis. Many salaries were cut and many students studying abroad were asked to come back, and their financial help was stopped – just because they have said they need to change [their] government or they want to have democracy or just because they participated in a protest outside [a Bahraini] embassy or inside Bahrain.

Things are pretty bad here in Bahrain. Over 400 people were detained here over the past two weeks.

Hilleary: You were once arrested. Based on your own experiences, what do you believe they are going through right now?

Bahraini citizen Sayed Abbas Sayed Mahdi is listed by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights as a victim of beatings by security forces
Bahraini citizen Sayed Abbas Sayed Mahdi is listed by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights as a victim of beatings by security forces

Rajab: Taking into consideration our history of human rights and seeing international human rights organizations reports in the past two years, we have [a] culture of torture, committing torture by our government. Bahrain is a very well-known country in practicing torture. Many international organizations have urged Bahrain to stop the systematic torture and urged the government to open an investigation into the systematic organized torture, but unfortunately the Bahrain government always ignores this.

So I would assume that most of those bloggers, most of those website administrators and human rights defenders are facing torture now and at least one man died [the day] before yesterday and he was imprisoned. And we believe strongly that he died because he was tortured by people interrogating him. So I am afraid that many bloggers and [those] who are active in the net - on Twitter and Facebook – are facing very hard times at this point in time.

Hilleary: And what about you – are you fearful of speaking out as you do?

Rajab: Arrests, harassments and intimidation will never stop an activist who believes in his work and believes in the importance of his work. I do believe in my work very much. I was arrested, as I told you, and I was beaten up, but that has encouraged me to do more activism, believing [that] this situation cannot continue. And this activism that we are doing – it has a cost. The cost might reach – it might be our life – but, you know, once we believe in our work, one I believe in my work, I am willing to see [through] the changes that I am fighting for.

Hilleary: You are speaking with the Voice of America. We have an audience in the Middle East, but also on Capitol Hill and within the administration. If you had a chance to give a message, what would it be?

Rajab: We would ask our American friends who believe in democracy and who believe in human rights – and that is the majority of Americans – we share the same values, we share the same principles. Human rights organizations in the United States are doing a great job. We ask them, we urge them, to look at our country to help our people, because we know that they respect what we are fighting for to help us by [putting pressure] on the administration to put pressure on the Bahraini government to stop its violence towards peaceful people who are calling for very legitimate rights guaranteed by international conventions, and we thank all these people in the United States who are with us now, who are supporting us, we appreciate their help and that will never be forgotten; it will always be appreciated by our people.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More