It is a not a travel suitcase and he is not a traveler… Every time Nabeel Rajab is summoned for questioning over one of his tweets, he leaves his home rolling his small suitcase behind him. Nabeel never leaves without it and does not take a step outside his house without it. Upon being released, he may return, embracing it with passion, after the investigations are over. However, every time he leaves with his suitcase, he never knows if they (Rajab and the suitcase) will come back home or not.
Last Thursday, on April 2nd 2015, after security forces surrounded his home as if he was a criminal ordering him to turn himself in, Nabeel refused to walk out of his home before getting his suitcase. The security officer, dressed in civilian clothing, prevented him from entering his home to get it and told him “let them get it for you”. He then asked Nabeel to go out to the policemen and wait for his suitcase at the door. Nabeel; however, said in response: “Allow me… I don’t trust you…I have bad experiences with you…I will wait for my suitcase.”
Rajab’s suitcase is always ready “as he is” to head to prison at any time. That’s what Rajab’s son, Adam, confirmed to Bahrain Mirror: “Indeed, my father’s suitcase is always ready and is in his office at all times. He prepared himself to get arrested at any moment. He is aware of the price he has to pay due to his work and the danger that threatens him. Thus, every time you enter my father’s office, you will see him working as his bag stands next to him. We got used to always seeing it standing on the alert for arrest just like my father.”
What does Rajab have in his suitcase? Why does he insist on not leaving without it? Adam says that his father “packs some clothes that are allowed to be worn in prison, hygiene products, and his medications. He insists on taking it with him because he knows that if he is arrested, he will spend a couple of days or more without being allowed to change his clothes or use hygiene products. That’s what he suffered from in his first experience in prison. Thus, he insists on not taking a step without it.”
Adam also said, “When my father was sentenced to three years in prison and detained in Jaw prison, we tried to provide him with clothes during the first two days. The officials there; however, refused, claiming that the prison’s administration provides clothes. My father stayed in the same clothes he was wearing when arrested for about two days and he refused to meet his family until they allowed him to change his clothes. He was also left for a while without his medications. That’s why he insists that his suitcase accompanies him every time.”
The clothes, hygiene products and medications are not the only things that matter to Nabeel. There are more significant things. Nabeel has much more time in prison that’s not on his hands when he’s out. For so long, his many activities and preoccupations prevented him from having the lengthy deep readings he strives for. Adam said: “My father packs two books in his suitcase; “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela and the other book is a human rights encyclopedia to make use of during his time in prison.” Nabeel packs the two books in his small suitcase, carries it and heads towards the security forces, surrendering himself, as if he is reciting Mahmoud
Oh, my intractable wound
My homeland is not a suitcase
And I am not a traveler
I am the lover and the land is the beloved!