Nabil Rajab is a Bahraini rights activist, who currently heads Bahrain Center for Human Rights and Gulf Center for Human Rights, and is a legal counsel in the Human Rights Watch.
Besides his work in the human rights field, Rajab used to work in contracting, until the Bahraini authorities targeted his sourse of income, so he left it, devoting himself to the rights field.
He did not appear on media before the 14th of February revolution emerged in Bahrain. The bloody incidents that took place in the monarchy, as well as the arrest of political and rights activists, urged him to speak to media outlets in order to reveal the truth on what is really happening in that country. This made him known among observers as a “news agency”.
In his speech, you can touch his pride of his Bahraini identity and his grief over the agony that the Bahraini people are suffering. As he reassures that the Bahraini people have a unique culture and history which precedes Al-Khalifa family’s presence in the island, he stresses that this people has a tough history of oppression, suffering, and tyranny, and that the incidents of the 14th of February were not new.
Battle of the King against His People
In an exclusive interview with Al-Manar website, Rajab stated that the political opposition forces in Bahrain are certain now that the current regime is ineligible of ruling the country, considering that most of the forces have not been demanding the end of the regime because of the current local and regional situation.
Pointing out that this was the first time that Bahraini King Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa was challenged; Rajab explained that the people were aware that their battle was against the king directly, for he was the one legally and morally responsible of the violations practised against the Bahrainis.
Arms Free Protests Is a Point in Favor of the People
The Bahraini rights activist praised the “peaceful protests of the Bahraini people," stressing "the leaderships’ certainty that this is the only way to achieve their demands.” He considered that the arms free protests is a point in favor of the people against the regime. Nevertheless, according to Rajab, there is fear that the political and rights leaderships’ influence on the people could decrease due to the intense violence being practiced by the regime and its excessive use of force.
“Personally, I am against the use of the Molotov, and so are the political assemblies. However, some could resort to its use due to the worsening situation,” he said.
Rajab clarified that “the Molotov was used by a small number of protestors only in the last couple of months, after the despair that people felt seeing their sons getting killed, imprisoned, and tortured unlawfully, while the government and the world remained silent.”
“When people where being killed in the roundabout, the Molotov was not used. When they (security forces) attacked the hospitals and besieged them for months, killing people and arresting doctors and patients, the Molotov was not used… yet the government did not permit any protest against the king,” he pointed out, adding: “the demonstrations got attacked, not because of their violence, but because of their criticism to the king… they don’t want any word that criticizes the king to come out.”
Members of the Ruling Family Involved in Torturing Detainees
Nabil Rajab said that the regime transformed the rights movements into a personal enmity between the people and the ruling family, considering that this enmity explains some members of the ruling family’s involvement in torturing the detainees, such as Khalifa bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa.
In addition, he referred to a previous report for the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, which documented the blatant involvement of the King’s sons Nasser and Khaled in the torturings; and indicated that some women in Al-Khalifa family were also involved, naming Noura Al-Khalifa.
Tackling a possibility of joining Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, Rajab pointed out that he was the first to raise this topic in public, and assured that this requires the approval of the native people not the naturalized ones in Bahrain.
He assured that the Bahraini people totally opposed such a proposal, excluding any possibility that such a topic could be presented seriously.
“I hope that Saudi Arabia does not get involved in such a project, like it got involved in Yemen previously,” the Bahraini activist said.
Abdul Hadi Khawaja: Critical State of Health, Denmark Working on His Case
Rajab stated that the health state of Bahraini rights activist Abdul Hadi Khawaja, who is detained by the Bahraini regime and has been on a hunger strike for 40 days now, is deteriorating, as he lost a lot of weight and was brutally tortured.
He pointed out that Khawaja’s jawbones have over 11 screws after they were broken by the security forces, and that the signs of torture are clear on his face; and considered that from the beginning, the detained activist spoke openly, and directly criticized the corruption of the regime and the ruling family.
“We used to advise him to tone down his criticisms, for we used to believe that a more flexible attitude would help us achieve our goals. But after one year and with the intensified killings and oppression, we found out that Khawaja’s attitude was the most appropriate one,” Rajab emphasized.
He revealed that Bahrain Center for Human Rights is still following up Khawaja, and other political activists’ cases. Rajab also pointed out that during his visit to Denmark a few days ago, he raised Khawaja’s case, as he carries the Dutch nationality, assuring that the officials there are also working on finding a diplomatic solution for Khawaja’s problem.
Violating Sanctities to Ignite Sectarian Incitements
Regarding violating sanctities by burning the holy Quran, destroying mosques, and assaulting shrines, the Bahraini activist considered that this aims at dragging the Shiites into a sectarian conflict, which would reinforce the regime’s claims that the movement in Bahrain is a sectarian one.
Rajab said that the regime’s goal is to turn the conflict between the people and the ruling family into a Shiite-Sunni conflict.
“However, the people were aware of that, and responded to all the violations with flowers… they distributed flowers at their Sunni brothers’ mosques,” he said.
According to Rajab, the regime’s second goal is to prove that Bahrain did not exist before Al-Khalifa, and that Bahrain’s history began when Al-Khalifa family resided in Bahrain some 200 years ago.
“This is why they intended to attack the shrine of the significant figure (in reference to Imam Ali’s companion Sasa bin Sawhan), which proves that Bahrain has a history that exceeds 1000 years,” he pointed out.
Translated by Sara Taha Moughnieh