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
- Bahrain Court Upholds Life Sentences for Activists (nytimes.com)