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Bahrain court upholds military court rulings against activists

Bahrain has sentenced twenty activists to prison sentences ranging from five years to life.  Among those sentenced were Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, who underwent a 110-day hunger strike earlier this year in protest of his torture and mistreatment by security and prison staff.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights reported on the verdicts on the cases of twenty activists which were upheld from previous sentences by military courts today.  Charges included attempting to overthrow the government.

The sentences may be appealed to the Supreme Court in Bahrain.  Some analysts have speculated that the government is holding the activists as a bargaining chip in upcoming talks with the opposition; others posit the rulings are a concession to hardliners with the government and an attempt to send a defiant message to the U.S. and other nations who have called for clemency.

Whatever the motives, the widely-condemned sentences will surely continue to polarize the nation and obstruct dialogue.  The government’s official news media has branded the activists as “terrorists.”

The thirteen activists who are currently imprisoned were charged by the National Safety Court, a military tribunal, in June 2011 after being arrested in February and March 2011.  These trials were later deemed unlawful and have been criticized as violations of human rights.  It is acknowledged and documented that the confessions that led to the June sentences were extracted through extreme instances of torture.  Yet, today those sentences were upheld by a civilian court.

“Today’s court decision is another blow to justice and it shows once more that the Bahraini authorities are not on the path of reform but seem rather driven by vindictiveness.” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Programme (AFP).

Sentenced to life in prison:

  • Abdulwahab Hussain Ali
  • Abduljalil Abdullah Al Singace, Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy
  • Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, President, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
  • Abduljalil Mansoor Makk (Abdul Jalil Miqdad)
  • Mohammed Habib Al Safaf ( Mohammed Habib Miqdad)
  • Hassan Ali Mushaima
  • Saeed Mirza Ahmed. ( Saeed AlNouri)

Sentenced to fifteen years in prison:

  • Abdul Hadi Abdullah Mahdi Hassan ( Abdulhadi AlMukhodher)
  • Mohammed Ali Ismael
  • 
Mohammed Hassan Jawad

Sentenced to five years in prison:

  • Abdullah Isa Al Mahroos
  • Ibrahim Sharif Abdulraheem Mossa
  • Salah Hubail Al Khawaj

Seven activists were sentenced in absentia. Sentenced to life in prison was Saeed Abdulnabi Shehab.  The remaining six activists who are not currently in prison were sentenced to fifteen years:

  • Akeel Ahmed Al Mafoodh
  • Ali Hassan Abdulla (Ali Abdulemam) – blogger
  • Abdulghani Ali Khanjar
  • Abdulraoof Al Shayeb
  • Abbas Al Omran
  • Ali Hassan Mushaima


Here are some of today’s news stories on the developments.

Andrew Hammond, Reuters: UPDATE 2-Bahrain court upholds sentences on uprising leaders

Al Jazeera: Bahrain courts uphold activists’ conviction

Associated Press: Bahrain court upholds life sentences for opposition activists (appeared in Washington Post and New York Times)

Frank Gardner, BBC News: Bahrain appeal court upholds activists’ convictions

Is Reconciliation in Bahrain Still Possible? Al-Jazeera’s ‘The Stream’ Discusses (Video)

Is reconciliation in Bahrain possible?  The government says it is committed to reforms, but crackdowns on protestors continue. So how can both sides establish mutual trust? And what are the steps needed to pave the way forward?

Al Jazeera’s social media television show The Stream looks to the future of the country and examines the prospects for meaningful political reform.

Featured in this video are The Stream presenter Imran Garda  and co presenter Malika Bilal and guests Matar Matar (Al-Wefaq), Fahad Albinali (Bahrain Information Affairs Authority) , and Nabeel Rajab (Bahrain Center for Human Rights).

Bahrain is the focus for Monday’s edition of The Stream

Bahrain will be the focus of Al Jazeera English‘s innovative “social media” television show, The Stream, this Monday, June 4, at 3:30 p.m. EST (19:30 GMT), 10:30 p.m. Bahrain time. The guests are President of Bahrain Center for Human Rights Nabeel Rajab (@NABEELRAJAB) , former Member of Parliament for Al Wifaq and political activist Matar Ebrahim Matar (@Matar_Matar) , and an IAA spokesperson.

The host and guests will discuss such questions as

  • Is reconciliation between the opposition and the government still possible?
  • What are the prospects for constructive reforms and reconciliation?
  • What steps need to be taken?

This edition of The Stream will be produced by Aws Haidari.  You can follow him on Twitter @awshaidari and tweet him and @ajstream your thoughts and comments before the show.  Alternatively, you can follow this link to upload a video or record your questions and comments. If you your comment doesn’t fit in a tweet, you can leave one on their Facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/AJStream.

During the live show on Monday, you can use Twitter hashtag #AJStream , and tweet The Stream host Imran Garda (@ImranGarda) and the digital producer Malika Bilal (@mmbilal) to share your thoughts and questions.

The Stream is a half-hour television show, is broadcast in English, and is live-streamed online.  Watch The Stream live online http://stream.aljazeera.com for free.

In the DC area, The Stream and other Al Jazeera programs appear on Cox cable channel #474 and on Comcast #275, as well as on other television channels.

The Stream, which features stories that are topical on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even Pinterest, appears on Al-Jazeera English Monday – Thursday, and has gained popularity since its launch in April 2011.

“The idea is to tap into conversations that are already happening around the world from people who understand the issues but don’t have the opportunity to participate in mainstream media, ” said former The Stream host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin.

Thanks for sharing the news of this television program and important discussion with your friends.