Prominent Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab goes missing

Bahraini human rights activists listen during a press conference of International organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) in the Bahraini capital Manama on 28 February 2013. At left is seen a poster asking for the release of Nabeel Rajab, an activist who is behind bars for organizing protests. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed al-Shaikh)

Published Thursday, May 16, 2013

Prominent Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab has been removed from his cell to an unknown location, losing all contact with his family and lawyer, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights reported Wednesday.

In an appeal sent out by the human rights group, Rajab had reportedly witnessed prisoners at the central Jaw prison being tortured.

Rajab’s wife had received a phonecall from Rajab testifying on what he had witnessed in the prison. Shortly after, Rajab’s wife was told that her husband had been removed from his prison cell.

His lawyer, family and fellow activists have not been in contact with him since.

Tweet from head of the BCHR, Yousif al-Muhafda

On Wednesday, six Bahraini tweeters were sentenced to one year in jail each for insulting the King and “misusing the right of free expression.”

Torture in Bahraini prisons is very commonly used to force prisoners to sign confessions. In February of last year, leading political prisoners began refusing food after reporting systematic abuses in Bahrain’s jails, including beatings, torture and the use of tear gas.

Nabeel Rajab, who founded the Bahrain Center for Human Rights in 2002, has been in custody since June 6 on charges of "public insults against plaintiffs," the prosecution said in a statement at the time of his rearrest in June 2012.

The avid Twitter user has been charged with insulting the security forces, posting comments on Twitter deemed insulting to a government body and organizing peaceful protests.

His activism has given him the largest Twitter following in Bahrain, and the fourth largest in the Arab world.

The BHCR appeal calls for the immediate release of Rajab “as it is believed that he has been targeted solely due to his legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights.”

(Al-Akhbar)

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