First Published: 2014-05-25

Activist Nabil Rajab appeals for ‘serious dialogue’ in Bahrain
Bahrain releases prominent Bahraini Shiite activist Nabil Rajab after he served two-year jail term.
Middle East Online

Advocating rights with sectarian discourse

DUBAI - Prominent Bahraini Shiite activist Nabil Rajab issued an appeal on Sunday for "serious dialogue" in the Sunni-ruled kingdom following his release after serving a two-year jail term.

Rajab was arrested in the wake of the crackdown on a month of Shiite-led protests in 2011 demanding political reforms, and was jailed for taking part in "unauthorised" demonstrations.

He was freed on Saturday, and is now calling for a fresh round of dialogue between the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty and the opposition representing the Gulf archipelago's Shiite majority.

"Unfortunately, the situation today is worse than when I went to jail because of an upsurge in violence, which we reject," Rajab said by telephone.

"The only solution is a serious dialogue between the royal family and the opposition" dominated by the Shiite movement Al-Wefaq, said Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.

"Attempts at dialogue undertaken in the past were not serious and were rather messages to reassure international public opinion" about the situation in Bahrain, he said.

The opposition has campaigned for the establishment of a genuine constitutional monarchy in Bahrain.

It took part in two rounds of national dialogue, before quitting the negotiations complaining that the authorities were not prepared to make enough concessions.

"We cannot continue to judge people, to restrict freedoms and suppress protests because violence does not produce political solutions," said Rajab, adding he still supported "peaceful demonstrations and rejects violence."

Rajab was awarded Norway's Rafto Prize for rights defenders in September along with his centre's founder, Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence for plotting with others to overthrow the monarchy.

Strategically located just across the Gulf from Iran, Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and is a major offshore financial and services centre for its Arab neighbours in the oil-rich Gulf.

 

Saudi warns of 'disastrous consequences' over US 9/11 law

3,800 Syrian civilians killed by Russian strikes in one year

World leaders attend Shimon Peres’ funeral

UN warns 100,000 people trapped in South Sudan town

Bulgaria approves full-face Islamic veil ban

Jordanians rally against gas deal with Israel

Israel pays Turkey $20 million compensation for Gaza flotilla raid

Egypt MP suggests university virginity tests

Morocco to speed repatriation of citizens in Germany illegally

Turkey opposition leader condemns Erdogan’s ‘coup against democracy’

French jets set off to join action as battle for Mosul looms

Moroccan left hopes to offer 'third way' at polls

Renault signs Iran auto venture

Saudi border guard killed, 3 civilians hurt by shelling from Yemen

Turkey issues warrants for judicial, prison staff

MSF warns Syria, Russia to stop ‘bloodbath’ in Aleppo

Russia waiting to see OPEC freeze deal details

Police raid Casablanca market after rumours of sex dolls

UN warns 700,000 will need aid once Mosul offensive starts

Saudi seeks oil leadership in economic pinch

Egypt court suspends block on island transfer to Saudi

Bid for international Yemen war probe fails at UN

UN warns 'hundreds' in Aleppo need medical evacuation

Palestinian president to attend Peres funeral

King Abdullah visits home of murdered writer

Amnesty accuses Sudan of using chemical arms against Darfur civilians

Bahrain says 9/11 bill will harm US

9/11 bill puts US, Saudi cooperation in question

UN envoy says Syria talks 'very difficult with bombs falling'

Erdogan says Moody's was 'bought' after downgrade

Erdogan: Turkey may need state of emergency for more than a year

Iraqi activist wins Norway rights prize

Kidnapped German woman, baby freed in Syria

Turkey stops Kurdish TV broadcasts

A year of bombing in Syria triggers limited interest in Russia

Obama defends refusal to use military force to end Syria civil war

US Congress overrides Obama's veto of Saudi 9/11 bill

OPEC agrees deal to cut oil output

Palestinians react to death of Peres

Poverty takes toll in rebel-held Yemen fishing village

Kerry threatens to end negotiations with Russia on Syria

Kuwaiti court scraps petrol price hike

Iraq requests more US troops to take on IS in Mosul

Airstrikes hit hospitals in rebel-held Aleppo

Iran nuclear chief says not worried about Trump