Amnesty urges Bahrain to release political prisoners
Published Monday, July 23, 2012
Amnesty International appealed on Monday for Bahrain to release all prisoners of conscience “immediately and without conditions,” days before appeals in the cases of a prominent human rights activist and a group of medical workers.
A court on Tuesday will consider the appeal of leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab.
He was sentenced to three months in jail for making inflammatory comments on Twitter about Bahraini Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman al-Khalifa during his official visit to the area of al-Muharraq.
Next week a Manama court will try a group of nine health professionals for their role in anti-government protests last year.
“The charade of justice has gone on too long in Bahrain, and all prisoners of conscience must be set free immediately and unconditionally before these appeals take place," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Programme Director.
"All convictions against them should be quashed."
Amnesty International is also concerned about a judge’s recent decision to move all future hearings of 13 prominent Bahraini opposition activists behind closed doors, where they would be filmed.
Following this decision the 13 men, who maintain their innocence and who also claim to be prisoners of conscience, requested the court to appoint them new lawyers.
The men are serving sentences which range from two years to life imprisonment for their alleged participation in pro-democracy protests last year.
“In the first place they should not be tried for exercising their rights, yet not only are they tried but the trial has been moved behind closed doors in an apparent attempt to conceal the truth,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
Following an uprising which broke out in February 2011 the Bahraini government has banned all protests in the capital, and has been violently suppressing nationwide, peaceful protests demanding social and political reform.