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20-Year Prison Sentences For Nine Bahraini Protesters

20-Year Prison Sentences For Nine Bahraini Protesters

On Thursday, Bahrain sentenced nine people to 20 years in prison on charges of trying to murder a policeman, says the BBC. A well-known Shia cleric and opposition figure, Mohammed Habib al-Saffaf, was among those arrested. They were sentenced by the Lower National Safety Court, a special security court presided over by civil and military judges, that was set up in mid-March.

Last month, four Shia protesters were sentenced to death and three others to jail for life on charges of killing two policemen by running them over with cars during the protests.  On Monday, seven anti-government protesters received sentences ranging from one to three years because of their participation in anti-government protests earlier this year. Amnesty International has condemned their sentences. Says Malcolm Smart, the group’s Middle East and north Africa director:

“These trials and convictions represent yet further evidence of the extent to which the rights to freedom of speech and assembly are now being denied in Bahrain.”

Since anti-government demonstrations began in February, four protesters have died in Bahraini police custody.  47 Bahraini medical workers — 23 doctors and 24 nurses — have also been imprisoned and charged with acting against the state for treating pro-democracy protesters injured in the demonstrations. They are to be tried in a military court on charges that are tantamount to saying they have committed treason against the government.

In his speech about the US’s policy in the Middle East on Thursday, President Obama stated that the US will “promote reform across the region, and … support transitions to democracy.” In regard to Bahrain — a longtime US ally where the US’s fifth naval fleet is stationed — Obama said (with some phrases highlighted in italics by me)

Bahrain is a longstanding partner, and we are committed to its security. We recognize that Iran has tried to take advantage of the turmoil there, and that the Bahraini government has a legitimate interest in the rule of law.

Nevertheless, we have insisted both publicly and privately that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens, and we will — and such steps will not make legitimate calls for reform go away. The only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail. (Applause.) The government must create the conditions for dialogue, and the opposition must participate to forge a just future for all Bahrainis.

But how can you a dialogue when “parts of the peaceful opposition” have been executed?

 

Take Action: Sign the petition to call for the release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and other peaceful protestors!

Take Action: Sign the petition to release Bahraini doctors and nurses.

Previous Care2 Coverage

Bahraini Activist Says He Was Threatened With Rape While Detained

Bahrain State Of Emergency Will Be Lifted June 1

Bahraini Doctors and Nurses Charged With the Equivalent of Treason

 

Read more: , , , , , , , ,

Photo of the Pearl Roundabout -- where Bahraini protesters assembled after the uprising in Egypt and which was demolished on March 18 by the government -- by Harold Laudeus.

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17 comments

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1:41AM PDT on May 23, 2011

Signed.

9:15AM PDT on May 22, 2011

petition signed ans shared.

6:13AM PDT on May 22, 2011

Ah, the Fifth Fleet - impressive! But remind me again, who are they there to protect? The people, or the government determined to crush them?

'Bout as useful as the barnacles on their hulls, seems to me. What exactly are they being paid to do, if not to lend legitimacy to murderers? I must admit, I didn't quite catch that particular Pearl of wisdom, and, it seems, neither have they...

9:10PM PDT on May 21, 2011

gee it's great for america to have friends like Bahrain

3:19PM PDT on May 21, 2011

Thanks for the article.

12:12PM PDT on May 21, 2011

Petition signed also. Maybe another one should be written. Unfortunately I'm not the one to do it but it wouldn't hurt to try and keep it up front.

12:07PM PDT on May 21, 2011

And their government will not change so long as our fleet is stationed there.

6:57AM PDT on May 21, 2011

NATO will give the Bahrain democracy a wide berth, won't they?

5:09AM PDT on May 21, 2011

Sad but true... Keep speaking the truth! Thank you.

4:52AM PDT on May 21, 2011

What about Bahraini Policemen, they killed thousands since Feb-11, why not Bahraini Goveornment they step, and to saveguard by public himself they have to defend themselves as Government left them to die. This is diplomatic action is not accepted. As lift is important of Civilians and Policemen both, but justice is not equal. Sentence for 9 yrs. than also for all those killed civilians even chrush their heads too.

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