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Special Report Uncertain Future: Five days in Bahrain’s Courts

Two days ago, the appeal trials of dozens of pro-democracy Bahraini doctors, nurses and MPs were concluded, their punishments ranging from 15-year prison sentences to death. Janet Salmon reports on the shameful repression of legitimate dissent in the country, and what needs to be done.

New in Ceasefire, Special Reports - Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2011 12:30 - 2 Comments


By Janet Salmon

The President of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association, Mahdi Abu Deib was sentenced to ten years and the Vice President, Jalila Al Salman, three years. The V.P. has already spent six months in jail and three weeks on a hunger strike and is in hiding.

Three members of the International Handball Association were sentenced to fifteen years for “setting fire to a police station.” Ali Yousaf Abdulwahab was sentenced to death on appeal for “killing a policeman”. Seven men had initially received death sentences, including one with his leg in plaster accused of driving the car.

On 28th September, twenty Opposition MPs and Human Rights lawyers lost their appeal against life and fifteen-year sentences. The Doctors were sentenced on 29th September, after a strong international campaign, led by
Irish activists. Thirteen got fifteen years, including Irish-trained Ali Al-Ekri and Ghassan and Bassim Dhaif.

Rula Al-Safir, Head of Nursing, got fifteen years, after six months’ detention and a three week hunger strike. Hasan Al Tooblani and Saeed Al- Samahiji, (being treated in Jordan for a stroke) got ten years and five other medics got five years.

Where does Bahrain go from here?

The Sunnis and Shiites have to sit down and negotiate the democratic rules for their country. South African whites voted in February 1992 to recognise that a minority can’t subjugate the majority for ever. Even with arms and torture equipment provided by the U.S. and U.K.

If hard-hitting and brave enough, the International Commission’s Report, due out on 1st October, could begin the process. Otherwise, the economy will decline, the banks will withdraw, tourism will cease and the educational and health systems will wither away. Young people, both Sunni and Shiite, will go abroad and talent will be permanently lost.

The choice to negotiate a new political settlement is for the people of Bahrain to make. They should be allowed to do so with no interference from the West and certainly no arms sales.

Please contact your MP asking them to support the Bahrainis, write to national papers and campaigns. Change is possible but it needs people to care.

Please see frontlinedefenders’ petition to King Khalifa and Bahrain, Free the Docs.

Janet Salmon is a consultant, writer and activist.


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Oct 2, 2011 4:00

I think there’s a problem with the petition section on the link mentioned in this piece. It’s full of adverts for clothing. Think it’s being swamped by bots.

Jan Ryan
Oct 4, 2011 12:09

I was in Bahrain teaching until recently. I read complete fabrications daily in the government controlled media. I saw discriminiation over and over. I saw armed mercenaries taking over hospitals. I worked with the victims of abuse, both physical and psychological. This government will announce their good intentions to the world but they will never, ever negotiate. Their world view is stunted. To them, the Shia are an underclass just one step above their poor and sorry Bangladeshi slaves and one step below their sad and brutal imported mercenaries. They do not represent any intelligent Bahraini Sunni – just their own interests.

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