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Bahrain Sentences Opposition Leader to Life in Jail

Alwaght– Bahraini regime has sentenced three senior opposition members into life in prison on Sunday, in another blow to freedom of expression in the West-backed Persian Gulf kingdom.

A statement from Bahrain’s public prosecutor said the court sentenced Sheikh Ali Salman, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali Alaswad, members of the , al-Wefaq group, to life in jail.

Sheikh Ali Salman is the Secretary General of the main opposition party in Bahrain, al-Wefaq national Islamic Society, which was dissolved in July 2016. The opposition leader was sentenced by the regimes court to 4 years in jail in 2015 but his sentenced more than doubled to nine years during the first appeal. In October 2016, Court of Cassation had taken a step in right direction by rejecting the extension of the sentence and ordering a retrial. He had been acquitted by the high criminal court in June 2018, a verdict the public prosecution appealed.

Sheikh Salman had been charged, along with Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali Alaswad, of conspiring with Qatar in 2011 to overthrow the government.

The Sunni-ruled Persian Gulf state has been hit by waves of unrest since 2011, when security forces along with Saudi forces  crushed majority Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Since then, thousands have been jailed, freedom of expression has been suppressed, hundreds of Bahrainis have had their citizenship stripped and the majority Shiite population lives in fear in what has become for them a police state.

Amnesty International strongly condemned the Bahraini court’s decision to sentence Sheikh Ali Salman to life in Jail with the human rights group’s Middle East and North Africa director Heba Morayef saying” This verdict is a travesty of Justice that demonstrates the Bahraini authorities’ relentless and unlawful efforts to silence any form of dissent. Sheikh Ali Salman is prisoner of conscious who is being held for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of Expression”.

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