Bahrain Sentences 20-Year-Old Poet Ayat al-Qurmezi to 1 Year in Prison

The Bahraini government has sentenced 20-year-old Ayat al-Qurmezi to one year in prison for speaking out against the king, causing “incitement and hatred” and assembling at the Pearl Roundabout, the epicenter of the anti-governments protests that began in February in the small Gulf state. A government official cited lines of her poetry that said “we are people who kill humiliation” and “assassinate misery.” According to CNN, only her mother and father were allowed to be in court with her, as well as a lawyer.

Detained since March 30, Al-Qurmezi has been tortured, says a relative, with electric shocks to her face and beatings a hose. She has been held in a near-freezing cell for days at a time and forced to clean the prison’s toilets with her hands.

A family member also says that the poet’s father led security forces to where she was hiding after they threatened some of her other siblings:

Bahraini security forces went to her house around midnight a few days before she was detained, but she was not home, the relative said.

The security forces broke things in the house and told the family they would return the following day for her. They returned the next night but she was still in hiding, the relative said.

The family member said security forces then took two of the poet’s four brothers and threatened them with guns in their faces. The father, fearing for his family’s lives, took the security forces to her. The family was assured that she would not be harmed, the family member said. However, there are rumors that al-Qurmezi has been raped and tortured, says Foreign Policy.

Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa, responded to al-Qurmezi’s sentence with this statement:

“By locking up a female poet merely for expressing her views in public, Bahrain’s authorities are demonstrating how free speech and assembly are brutally denied to ordinary Bahrainis.”

A Bahraini government official said that “Freedom of speech in this country has its boundaries and cannot touch on the leadership, and cannot call for the overthrow of the government.”

CNN also reports that two former Bahraini opposition lawmakers, Matar Matar and Jawad Fairooz, were put on trial on Sunday. Both were charged with “spreading malicious lies in an attempt to overthrow the government” and have pleaded not guilty. Legal proceedings against both men occurred on Sunday without their families being given prior notice. Fairooz’s brother said the he looked as if he had “aged 10 years.” Matar, who was elected to the lower house of the Bahraini Parliament in October 2010, was taken from his car by armed men in masks on May 2; according to CNN, he “represented the biggest constituency in Bahrain, with approximately 16,000 people.” Along with other lawmakers from Wefaq, a Shiite party — Bahrain is predominantly Shiite while its rulers are Sunni — Matar had resigned earlier this year, to protest the government’s crackdown on protesters.

The trials of 48 medical professionals, including some of the country’s top surgeons, have begun, says Al Jazeera. The doctors and nurses are accused of trying to topple the monarchy. David Michalski, of Medecins Sans Frontiers, says the trials of the medical professionals have “far-reaching consequences for patients in Bahrain,” with people injured in the protests now unsure about going to hospitals for treatment. Michalski notes that Salmaniya Hospital, Bahrain’s main state-run hospital, became “politicized” during the protests that began in February “and then in the middle of March it became militarised in the military crackdown.”

Despite all this, on Saturday, 10,000 people participated in the first public rally, organized by the Wefaq party, in Bahrain in months. Protesters “hit the streets with their faces uncovered” — unafraid to be seen.


Previous Care2 Coverage

10,000 Protest in Bahrain; Were US Arms Used Against Protesters? (VIDEO)

Obama’s 15 Minute Meeting With the Crown Prince of Bahrain

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.


KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B6 years ago


Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan6 years ago

This is disgusting,she has to endure torture and rape for writing poetry,this needs to be stopped.Don't the government realise, that these laws and their treatment of those that break them, are going to turn people against them more?

Holly D.
Holly R6 years ago

this is sickening

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson6 years ago

appalling. i hope amnesty is heavily involved.

Hanan W.
Hana W6 years ago

This situation concerning the female poet.and in fact the treatment of the people of Bahrain, is untenable. People from "so-called" liberated countries stand firmly against this brutality that is an offense to all humanity. We compare Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen to Iran in their unjust treatment of women and brutality in general, but we fail to hold our countries accountable for the roles they play in supporting such inhumanity and such governments. Enough of the rhetoric concerning treating countries differently because of political interests. If we are a just people who believe in truth and humane treatment, we must know that justice must be for all. If not, there will be no end to the insanity because where there is injustice there is imbalance. And, when there is imbalance, we all are at risk.

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y6 years ago

They are setting themselves up for worse to come. Awful treatment of women, sounds like Iran.

I thought the Pearl Roundabout had been dismantled by the govt.

Monica D.
Monica D6 years ago

Freedom of speech should prevail!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L6 years ago

The father gave up the daughter to save two sons, no surprise here.

Sandra T.
Sandra T6 years ago

F.W.C. I apologize, you are a brave 'woman'!

I misread on your profile.

Sandra T.
Sandra T6 years ago

Dear F.W.C. I am extremely sorry that you were put through this. This is so horrible and unbelievable, yet I believe every word of what you are saying.

It is the American people who have been fooling themselves that they are protected by the constitution.

Almost every single amendment has been disrespected by now, from freedom of speech to rights of privacy, to as you mentioned improper proceedings in the judicial as well as military system.

America is no longer the land of the free and the land of opportunity. It has become a fascist police state and a prison with an extremely high poverty rate.

People have no medical care, elderly and handicapped are literally left to die, people are thrown out of their own houses, because they have been ripped off by the banksters who in turn are owned by the shadow government, the NWO freemason illuminati.

When you elect your president, form either the left or right, in the end it really won't matter at this point as the elite will do the selecting for you, hired to serve the NWO agenda, not the American people.