Stories from Quick Reads and Bahrain
A Bahrain court today [March 15, 2015] postponed its verdict in an appeal made by leading Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab against a six-month prison sentence until April 15.
The case concerns comments he made about ISIS on Twitter. Rajab was initially convicted of “denigrating an official body” in tweets that likened Bahrain's security apparatus to an “incubator” for fighters of the radical group ISIS.
Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights — not recognised as a legal entity by the government — was only released from prison in May 2014 after serving two years for “disrupting the public order.”
That sentence came after Rajab was arrested for trying to investigate human rights violations that took place during Bahrain's popular uprising in 2011.
The tweet for which he was convicted suggested that Bahrain's security institutions had a number of staff that had joined terrorist groups, including ISIS.
Following today's hearing, Rajab tweeted to his 260K followers on Twitter:
تاجيل حكم المحكمة الذي كان يفترض صدوره اليوم في قضية تويتر الى 15 أبريل مع استمرار إبقائي ممنوع من السفر #البحرين
— Nabeel Rajab (@NABEELRAJAB) March 15, 2015
The court has postponed its verdict in the Twitter case hearing, which was supposed to be made today, until April 15, while continuing to ban me from travel
Index on Censorship remarked:
.@NABEELRAJAB has court appearance delayed until Apr 15. Travel ban stays in place. Bahrain must end harassment!
— Index on Censorship (@IndexCensorship) March 15, 2015
A video by WITNESS on the Human Rights Channel of YouTube wrapped up some of the most significant protests and human rights abuses of 2013. Dozens of clips shot by citizens worldwide are edited together to show efforts to withstand injustice and oppression, from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, Cambodia to Brazil.
A post on the WITNESS blog by Madeleine Bair from December 2013, celebrates the power of citizen activism using new technologies including video, while readers are reminded that the difficulty of verification and establishing authenticity remains a big obstacle.
“Citizen footage can and is throwing a spotlight on otherwise inaccessible places such as prisons, war zones, and homes,” says Bair. “But given the uncertainties inherent in such footage, reporters and investigators must use it with caution.”
Doha News charts reactions from Qatar residents following the aftershocks of an earthquake which hit southern Iran today. The aftershocks were also felt in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, where offices in high rise buildings were evacuated.
“Gulf countries awfully quiet about Gaza,” tweets Foreign Policy editor Blake Hounshell. Lebanese journalist Antoun Issa adds:
@antissa: Amazing how eager GCC are to arm Arabs to fight each other, while disappearing completely when it comes to Palestine. #Gaza
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is made up of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Bahraini blogger Ali Al Saeed suggests:
@alialsaeed: Perhaps disgruntled citizens from around the world should consider starting their own country? Worth a try.
UAE-based journalist Hassan Hassan Storfies how Iranian translators distorted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi's speech, at the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Tehran, replacing Syria with Bahrain and Arab Spring with Islamic Awakening.
Salafist MPs from Bahrain visited Syria, where they provided assistance to the Free Syrian Army, says The Angry Arab News Service.
Nabeel Rajab is scheduled to be sentenced in a case brought against him by the Bahraini government on March 15, concerning comments about ISIS that he made on Twitter. Convicted of “denigrating an official body” in tweets likening Bahrain's security apparatus to an “incubator” for ISIS fighters, Rajab was initially sentenced to six months in prison. His sentence is being re-issued following a judicial appeal made by his legal defense in early February.
Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (dissolved and declared an illegal entity by the government), was released from prison in May 2014 after two years’ imprisonment for “disrupting public order.” Rajab was arrested and jailed following his efforts to investigate human rights violations surrounding Bahrain's popular uprising in 2011.
Bahrain interior ministry allegedly ordered 1.6 million teargas canisters to use against protesters, and South Korean company DaeKwang is believed to be one of the major suppliers. R. Elgin wrote in Marmot's Hole blog about the ironic history of tear gas– a notorious symbol of Korean government's clampdowns back in 70-80s becoming a money-maker nowadays. Earlier this month, net users tweeted photos of protesters outside the Korean embassy in London, calling Korean companies to stop selling toxic gas.
From Bahrain, where the ongoing anti-government protests are portrayed in mainstream media as a Sunni/Shia sectarian clash, blogger Nader AbdulEman writes [ar]:
أنا الطائفي الذي اريد حكومة منتخبة أنا الطائفي الذي ارفض التمييز وأطلب العدل والمساواة أنا الطائفي أطلب برلمان كامل الصلاحيات
@NaderAbdulEmam: I am the sectarian who wants an elected government. I am the sectarian who refuses discrimination and calls for justice and equality. I am the sectarian who demands a fully empowered parliament.
Kim Kardashian completed a visit to Kuwait and is now visiting Bahrain. Here's Brian Whitaker's take on her visit.
Bahraini lawyer Mohammed Abdulameer tweets [ar]:
@wastilawyeR: One of those accused of insulting the King of Bahrain was sentenced by the Criminal Court to six months imprisonment and the confiscation of his laptop and telephone, which were tools in his crime
Human rights activist Mohammed Al Maskati, who is attending the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, tweets:
@MohdMaskati: Authorities in #Bahrain put obstacles to access #UN website for live stream because of my intervention in the #HRC21 http://twitpic.com/aucktm
He shares the screenshot above which shows the blocked site with the censorship message. The page can now be accessed in Bahrain.
Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab's teenage son Adam tweets [ar]:
My father was found innocent of insulting the people of Muharraq after he spent two and a half months in prison
Rajab was handed a three-month prison sentence for tweets, which the court said insulted the inhabitants of Muharraq. The appeals court acquitted him today. Separately, Rajab is facing a three year jail sentence for taking part in anti-government protests.
Bahrain riot police fired at a protest, injuring opposition Al Wefaq Society head Shaikh Ali Salman. Online, this video of the attack is being circulated. The society's Twitter account tweeted [ar] saying the politician was injured, along with another young man, who was hit by a sound grenade fired at close range to his head. Protests started in Bahrain on February 14, 2011.