Bahraini Activist Sentenced to Three Years for ‘Illegal Gatherings’ Case

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Prominent Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab is sentenced to three-years in prison on Thursday for spearheading and participating in several anti-government rallies.

Reports say Rajab is already serving a three-month sentence for posting anti-government comments on Twitter. He was in court to receive the verdict.

Mr. Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

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Nabeel Rajab at his office in July 2011.

The recent verdict of Mr. Rajab has drawn criticism from the international particularly from the United States.

Today at DC, Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland says the United States is deeply concerned that a Bahraini court sentenced Nabeel Rajab to three years in prison on charges of leading “illegal gatherings.”

“The Government of Bahrain has committed to respect freedom of expression and assembly and we look to it to fulfill these commitments.” -Ms. Nuland

According to Ms. Nuland, the US expects that the verdict and sentence will be reconsidered in the appeals process without delay.

The Unites States urges the government of Bahrain to consider all available options to resolve this case.

Ms. Nuland notes that US government believes that all people have a fundamental right to participate in peaceful acts of protest.

The US government repeatedly urged the government of Bahrain to take steps to build confidence across Bahraini society, and to begin a meaningful dialogue with the political opposition and civil society, she stressed.

Ms. Nuland underlines that excessive punishment for peaceful expression in Mr. Rajab’s case case will not contribute to those efforts and only serves to divide Bahraini society further.

Nabeel Rajab is the leading human rights activist from Bahrain and the founder of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. Mr. Rajab was arrested on May this year by the Bahraini government forces.

In February 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed that the United States supports Bahrain’s move to greater reform. Secretary Clinton also emphasized that the Americans wanted to see that the human rights of the people, including right to assemble, right to express themselves be respected in Bahrain.

One year after the Pearl Uprising in Bahrain this February this year, unrest continues amid the ongoing government crackdown against protests. A report said there has been systemic and widespread use of violence in the crackdowns as well as torture of political prisoners.

Despite pledges to reform, the government of Bahrain has made little progress, and continues to deny access to the country to the international media and human rights organizations, including Freedom House.

Bahrain is ranked Not Free in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2012 and Freedom of the Press 2012 surveys.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.