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Bahrain’s Top Opposition Leader: Six Years of Persecution for Adopting Democracy and Reconciliation

By Sondoss Al Asaad | American Herald tribune | December 28, 2019

Although freedom of expression is a ratified constitutional right; yet it constitutes a heinous crime and poses an existential threat to the Manama regime. For instance, Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary-General of the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Bahrain’s top opposition political group, who has been held in custody since 2015, enters on Dec 28th his sixth year of arbitrary detention.

Indeed, the persecution of this peaceful leader is related to his commitment to peaceful protest and anti-corruption, marginalization and monopolization of power policies.

Al-Wefaq top leader had been initially serving a 4 years sentence on charges of ”insulting the interior ministry and inciting hatred.”

Prior to the current ongoing uprising, Sheikh Ali Salman had been severely tortured and arrested without trial, in 1994, before being exiled for more than 15 years.

The Bahraini High Court of First Tier acquitted Sheikh Salman on 21 June 2018; however, the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal, on 4 November 2018, and handed him a life sentence after finding him guilty of spying for Qatar ”to transfer confidential information in exchange for financial compensation.”

Al-Wefaq slammed the verdict calling it a ”political revenge.” Sheikh Ali Salman’s co-defendants, former MP and Sheikh Hassan Sultan have also been sentenced to life in prison, while in absentia.

Seen as part of the diplomatic row with Qatar and following Saudi Arabia and other states’ boycott of what they call Doha’s ”extremist policies,” Sheikh Salman’s trial shifted to an intelligence-sharing case, relating to a clipped audio recording of a telephone call with Qatar’s former Prime Minister.

The incomplete clip was made in 2011, as part of mediation between Manama and the opposition, overseen and encouraged by the US, to deal with the political upheaval, i.e. it dates back to several years ago.

The edited clip was thus smeared by the Bahraini government to prolong the imprisonment of Sheikh Salman, merely because he long called for democratic reforms including a constitutional monarchy and elected prime minister.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt accused Qatar of ”supporting terrorist groups and of being too close to Iran,” allegations Doha has vigorously denied.

Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising had erupted in February 2011 but was violently suppressed by Saudi troops.

Ever since the tiny archipelago has been wracked by unrest as the government has stepped up its prosecution campaign against all forms of peaceful opposition demanding reforms, freedom of expression, release of political prisoners and to put an end to the politically-motivated discrimination against the Shiite majority population.

The government has curbed the rights to freedom of association and assembly, outlawed opposition groups, detained thousands of dissents, provoked the citizenship of hundreds and unfairly prosecuted citizens in military courts, accompanied with a wide range of physical, sexual and psychological torture and ill-treatment.

Bahrain hosts the US Navy’s 5th fleet and a UK permanent base. Those two powerful allies; however, have blatantly failed to speak out about the deteriorating human rights status-quo, ongoing crackdown on prisoners of conscience and the politically motivated conviction and unlawful imprisonment of Sheikh Ali Salman and the rest of opposition leaders.

December 29, 2019 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | ,

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