Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab arrested in Bahrain (video)

Posted May 7, 2012 by Anne Sewell
Nabeel Rajab, one of the subjects interviewed in Assange's "The World Tomorrow" to be aired on Tuesday this week, has been arrested in Bahrain.
Nabeel Rajab  human rights leader in Bahrain.
Nabeel Rajab, human rights leader in Bahrain.
Isa Alhammadi
Recently interviewed by Julian Assange on the upcoming episode of "The World Tomorrow", Nabeel Rajab, a human rights activist has been arrested on his return to Beirut.
According to Sayed Yousif al-Muhafda, a member of the BCHR, "The police arrested him near the plane's door. They said they had an arrest warrant from the public prosecutions office ... he was allowed to call his family after the arrest but they could not see him."
Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and is the foremost critic of the Al-Khalifa regime in the country, which continues its brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters.
With over 140,000 followers on Twitter, he is one of the most well-known online activists in the Arab world.
There has been no comment from authorities on the reasons behind the arrest although Assange believes that Rajab was arrested because of the interview.
However, AFP is reporting that Rajab was arrested due to his activities on Twitter.
His lawyer, Mohamed al-Jishi told AFP on Sunday that Rajab is to be detained for one week for "insulting a statutory body."
"The representative of the public prosecutor has ordered his detention for seven days for insulting a statutory body via Twitter," he continued. This referred to what activists said were tweets criticizing the interior ministry.
Jishi says that Rajab has denied the charge, stating it "aims at hindering my rights work and my right of expression."
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights, led by Rajab, has played a significant role in anti-regime demonstrations in the country over past months. The movement has been working to draw attention to crackdowns on demonstrators and abuse by the Bahrain security forces. Rajab is also affiliated to international groups including the Human Rights Watch.
Over the past 14 months, Al-Khalifa forces have been using tear gas, pepper spray and stun grenades on protesters in Bahrain. Apparently this had not been broadcast widely in the Western media and the abuse only came into focus due to the protests surrounding the F1 Grand Prix event.
The Al-Khalifa family has ruled Bahrain for two centuries and are Sunni Muslims, whilst 70% of the population are Shiites, who now demand greater rights and freedoms. Protests against the ruling family started in February 2011, as the Arab Spring revolutions began in the region.
Official reports state that around 85 civilians have been killed during the 14-month period. However, activists say that the real figure is much higher than this.
Apparently the U.S. has been arming Bahrain's leadership against peaceful demonstrators, while calling for Syrian leader Bashar Assad to step down. It has been assumed that the main reason for this is that the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, just across the water from Iran.
Rajab has criticized the U.S. many times for giving arms to Bahrain authorities, while turning a blind eye to the violence in the country. He states that it is outrageous that the U.S. is assuring everyone that the situation in Bahrain is improving and says, “America’s representative in the Human Rights Council is saying, 'We will not talk about Bahrain this session because Bahrain is improving itself and it is doing better' when people are dying on a daily basis.”
Rajab has claimed that the major Arab news channels are ignoring the crackdown on protesters in Bahrain because these channels are controlled by the ruling families, who do not wish to see a pro-democracy uprising in their kingdoms.
“When it comes to Bahrain, this is the last thing the Saudis want to see – a revolution in Bahrain… which is going to have a negative impact on Saudi Arabia,” he stated.
Rajab also believes that the Saudis sent troops to Bahrain to assist its Sunni rulers in quelling the mostly Shiite uprising mainly because of their close ties with the West.
In the interview with Assange he stated that the Saudis did it “for the interests of the United States, for the interests of many European countries, for arms sales, for the flow of the oil.”
Rajab pointed out that the Saudis, the U.S. and other countries in the West appear to prioritize their mutual interests "over and above the human rights of the people of Bahrain."
In the interview he tells Assange that he has already been detained, kidnapped and beaten in front of his family over his criticism of the regime in Bahrain. He was apparently detained for half a day after being beaten in the streets, and he recalls that a few months before this detention, he was kidnapped from his home by masked security personnel.
The security personnel then blindfolded and handcuffed him, and he was taken to an unknown place and tortured.
The latest episode of "The World Tomorrow" was recorded last week. In the interview Rajab stated that on the same day he announced on Twitter that he was going to be interviewed on RT. Immediately, his house was surrounded by around 100 police armed with machine guns. He stated that he was lucky that he was not there at the time.
Rajab aims to inform the international media of the situation in Bahrain and says that he resents the fact that when Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain to suppress the protests, nothing was broadcast in the international media.
He further blames the same Saudi Arabian regime for sending troops to Libya in order to topple Muammar Gaddafi from power. Further, he states that they are now sponsoring an attempt at regime change in Syria by supporting the opposition who are fighting against President Bashar al-Assad.
The human rights activist stresses that the Bahrain revolution is still on-going and that half the population is taking part in this. “In none of the revolutions we had in the history of the past 50 years would you see 50 per cent of the population out in the street in one protest. But you will see [this] in Bahrain,” he concludes.
Tomorrow's episode will be an interesting one and will also include the Egyptian activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah. The episode will be aired on RT on Tuesday at 11:30 GMT and will be published on Digital Journal shortly thereafter.
Later Update: Apparently the arrest was confirmed to be because of Rajab's tweet about appearing on the Julian Assange show on RT News.
Update: Video opinion by London-based author and journalist Afshin Rattansi