The regime in Bahrain has again displayed its paranoia, futility and hostility by escalating the sentence against Sheikh Ali Salman, the Bahrain opposition leader, to nine years instead of four. This is following a “reorganisation” of the judging committee of the case to include an Al-Khalifa member, and “reconsideration” of dropped and baseless accusations.
The decision flies in the face of all international agreements Bahrain has signed, ratified, and subsequently ignored, particularly Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, sabotaging the universal rights to a fair trial and proper representation.
Sheikh Ali Salman’s legal counsel confirmed previously in a press conference that he was even prevented from stationary and paper to write his defences in the early hearings, and his legal counsel were subjected to numerous and inexplicable searches, whilst the court room filled out with only members of the manipulated security apparatus and official agencies. The case as a whole is one of the most atrocious examples of a failing regime desperately trying to suppress dissenting voices.
A number of countries condemned this act by the Bahrain regime, including the US State Department and some European countries. This is in addition to the countless NGOs that have articulated their shock at this decision, and the breadth of Bahrain’s political opposition parties that demonstrated their solidarity.
Ali Alfayez, a Bahraini political activist, articulated the following:
“The Al-Khalifa regime in Bahrain will sorely regret the latest Sheikh Ali Salman sentence. It must be understood that the Bahraini Opposition remain strong and have considered all scenarios the regime have thrown at it and will throw at it.
“The transformation project from an Al-Khalifa authoritarian dictatorship to a democratic inclusive government run by the people will continue without stop or compromise, and that Sheikh Ali Salman will always be at the fore of this project.
“He is a massively prominent national leader that has far reaching and positive influence, his praiseworthy history is known to all, and the intensified and senseless sentence against him will only cement his position at the forefront of the revolution and transformation in Bahrain and in history.”