…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
Random header image... Refresh for more!

In Bahrain, life in prison just for protesting

Commentary: Among the ridiculous crimes in the US ally: doctors jailed for chanting slogans, a nurse convicted for stepping on the prime minister’s photo.

In Bahrain, life in prison just for protesting
Joshua Colangelo-Bryan – 31 May, 2012 – Global Post

NEW YORK — “Of course we have free speech in Bahrain,” the official told me. “But you cannot ask to change the government — that’s a crime.” While it was striking to hear a government representative speak so candidly, it wasn’t exactly news.

Having extensively researched criminal trials in Bahrain, the island nation off Saudi Arabia’s coast, I knew this perverse understanding of “free speech” has been the basis for hundreds of prosecutions against peaceful protesters and activists, often leading to lengthy prison sentences.

On May 16, authorities initiated the latest such prosecution, opening the trial of Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights defender, on charges of “offending an official body.” The relevant offense, according to the government, was caused when Rajab criticized authorities via Twitter for not prosecuting attacks by armed groups against civilians.

Such charges, which once would have perhaps seemed satirical, are by now just commonplace. Indeed, over a year ago, amid massive pro-democracy demonstrations, Bahrain’s king established special military courts, called National Safety Courts. These courts convicted hundreds of people for engaging in peaceful protest and assembly activities that are protected by international law and Bahrain’s constitution — or would be if courts actually applied the constitution.

For example, in a high-profile case against 21 activists and opposition figures, the military court sentenced eight defendants to life terms, 10 others to 15-year terms, and three to shorter terms. What manner of conduct led to these severe punishments?

According to the verdict, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a human rights advocate and protest leader, had “advocated the overthrow of the regime” by protesting in favor of a republic, as well as “a willingness to sacrifice, disobedience, a general strike, and marches.” Prosecuters also charged that he had “insulted the army” and “impugned the integrity of the judiciary.” …source

Add facebook comments

There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment