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BCHR event in Copenhagen - Opinions Are Not Crimes


On 1 September, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), together with the cultural center VerdensKulturCentret, held an awareness and solidarity event on the occasion of its detained president Nabeel Rajab in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The two-hour long event under the name “Opinions Are Not Crimes” was held in order to raise awareness about restricted freedom of expression and the most recent and ongoing governmental crackdown in Bahrain which started in June this year, targeting oppositional politicians, human rights defenders, civil society defenders and the Shia community in an unprecedented way.

Trine Christensen, Secretary General of Amnesty International Denmark, opened the event with a keynote speech (Watch Christensen's speech on Youtube) on the recent events in Bahrain and BCHR president Nabeel Rajab’s case. Subsequently, the VICE documentary “An inconvenient Uprising” was shown to the audience, providing an half-hour long overview of the 2011 uprisings and ongoing, but vastly forgotten struggle for democracy. During the second half of the evening, NGO guest speakers presented diverse insights into the case of Bahrain and the MENA region. Sara Brandt, policy and research officer from CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, spoke about forms of civic action and ways to strengthen civil society in the MENA region. BCHR’s vice president Said Yousif Al-Muhafdah casted light on digital activism in Bahrain and how the government attempts to control and persecute internet users and social media activists such as Nabeel Rajab. Al-Muhafdah used his speech (Watch Al-Muhafdah's speech on Youtube) to introduce BCHR’s newly released report on internet censorship and surveillance in Bahrain entitled “Digital Rights Derailed in Bahrain”. The closing speech was given by human rights defender and co-director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, Maryam Al-Khawaja, who put the focus on the role of the Western societies and their partly indifferent and biased politics regarding human rights violations in the Middle East in general and in Bahrain in particular.

At the end of the event, the audience was encouraged to show their support for Nabeel Rajab by sharing his fate and case via social media and by taking solidarity photos or writing birthday postcards for him, which will be sent to the West Riffa Police Station in Bahrain, where he is currently kept detained.

The entire event was live-streamed via twitter and reached more than a thousand people. Video footage of the event will soon be made available on BCHR’s website and social media channels.

We are very grateful for everyone who joined the event both on site or via the live-stream.

Special thanks goes to VerdensKulturCentret (Global Copenhagen) in Denmark, for their hosting and assistance during the event. Last but not least, we thank all the hard-working people for their tremendous support which made this event possible. And we thank once again all guest speakers for their appearance and very insightful inputs.

Live tweets from the event can be re-read on https://twitter.com/BahrainRights. The live streamed movie will be available on Twitter until 6pm CEST.




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