Key Bahraini opposition figure handed 4yr jail term
“The Higher Criminal Court sentenced the secretary general of one of Bahrain’s political societies to four years imprisonment,” advocate general Haroon Al-Zayani told state news agency BNA.
The opposition figure escaped a more serious charge of inciting violence and calling for the overthrow of the monarchy. Had he been found guilty, he could have been sentenced to life in prison. Salman’s lawyer, Abdullah al-Shamlawi says his client can appeal the ruling.
Salman is known to have been instrumental in organizing the 2011
uprising against Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy. The 49-year-old was
the secretary general of the Al-Wefaq opposition group when he
was arrested in late December.
“Keeping Ali Salman in jail means delaying any political solution to come and reflects the government’s rejection to a political solution,” Al-Wefaq member Khalil Marzooq said.
The Bahraini group lambasted the ruling, saying it could lead to further violence. The opposition insists that Salman’s words, used for leveling charges against him, were taken out of context.
— #HumanRights4ALL (@OneLadyLibra) June 16, 2015
“The sentence gives a new lease on life to the crisis and
gives greater legitimacy to mobilize. The people have no choice
but to continue in their peaceful popular movement,”
Al-Wefaq said in a statement on its official website. “People
will not return to their homes and will not relent in their
READ MORE: Strike of Defiance: Tear gas floods Bahrain as protests mark 2011 uprising (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Al-Wefaq, which boycotted last year’s parliamentary elections, wants greater power-sharing between elected lawmakers and the monarchy, the release of political prisoners and a prime minister chosen by elected officials.
The decision to jail the opposition Shiite figure was slammed by Amnesty International UK, who said the decision, “has again demonstrated the Bahraini authorities’ disregard for the right to freedom of expression.”
The organization considers Salman to be a prisoner of conscience, who has been detained solely for expressing his views peacefully. The rights group specifically added that the Shiite leader’s detention violates Bahrain’s obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain is a state party.
— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) June 16, 2015
“Today’s verdict is shocking. It is yet another clear example
of Bahrain’s flagrant disregard for its international
obligations. Sheikh Ali Salman has been sentenced solely for
peacefully expressing his opinion,” said Said Boumedouha,
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy
“For a country that has expressed outrage at criticism of its human rights records, Bahrain has not hesitated to suppress political opposition and muzzle critical voices at every opportunity,” Boumedouha added.
On eve of jailing Sheikh Ali Salman to 4 yrs, US moves to lift arms embargo on regime accused by its own BICI of systematic torture #Bahrain
— Saeed Shehabi (@SaeedShehabi) June 16, 2015
The case against Salman had previously attracted international attention, with Iran blasting the process and the EU warning that it could destabilize the security situation in Bahrain. Meanwhile, the US, which has its Navy’s 5th Fleet stationed in Bahrain, called for Salman to be tried in a “just and transparent way,” according to AP.