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 VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid