January 24, 2018
On 22 January 2018, partners of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) called for the release of all detained human rights defenders in the Middle East. At the event, hosted in Beirut by GCHR and Media Association for Peace (MAP), human rights defenders were joined by Michel Forst, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, and representatives of Front Line Defenders, FIDH, CIVICUS and Amnesty International to make the public call to free their colleagues.
Host Khalid Ibrahim, GCHR’s Executive Director, mentioned some of the many human rights defenders jailed across the region, including GCHR’s two co-founders Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain, and GCHR Advisory Board member Ahmed Mansoor, jailed in the United Arab Emirates since March 2017. He noted that just as GCHR was being founded, Al-Khawaja was arrested, tortured and jailed in April 2011. He’s serving a life sentence for his peaceful human rights activities. Rajab is also serving a two-year sentence and facing up to 15 years in another trial on 21 February.
Ibrahim also noted other cases from the Gulf region and neighbouring countries, including in Syria of Razan Zaitouneh, Samira Al-Khail, Wa’el Hamadeh, Nazem Hammadi, Khalil Ma’touq and Mohamed Thatha. He mentioned some of the many dozens of human rights defenders jailed in Saudi Arabia, including Dr. Mohammed Al-Qahtani, Issa Al-Nukheifi, Essam Koshak, Walid Abu Al-Khair and Raif Badawi. In Oman, Internet activist Hassan Al-Basham is in jail, and in Kuwait, Sulaiman Bin Jassim was sentenced to seven years. In Iran, there are also many human rights defenders serving long sentences such as Narges Mohammadi, Atena Daemi and Dr. Abdolfattah Soltani. There are many others in Bahrain including Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace.