By Darrin Simmons
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
MANAMA, Bahrain-Following charges of inciting anti-government protests to topple the government force, 50 people have been sentenced to between five and fifteen years in jail for “training elements to commit violence and vandalism and attacking security men.
Activists reported that the government accused the convicted of being involved in the February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition and other protests against the government since 2011. The group has been described as a terrorist organization by Bahrain’s head of public prosecution.
Since February 2011, daily protests have been ongoing by members of the Shia Muslim majority who are demanding that the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty give up power. When asked for comment, an official said a government statement regarding the matter was in preparation.
“This was a sham trial with a political verdict, they should be released immediately,” stated Maryam Al-Khawaja, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. It was further stated that it was a “black day for justice.”
Other civil rights groups have reported that many of those convicted were denied access to a lawyer and provided confessions under torture. In a separate action, two police officers were jailed for torturing a protest to death in his prison cell in 2011.
Sixteen of the defendants were hand fifteen year terms, while four were jailed for ten years and the other thirty defendants received five years.
“This is the result when you have a court with a judge appointed by the king of Bahrain. The court is just a tool to suppress the opposition and human rights defenders, and to acquit those who torture and kill protesters,” stated Yousif al-Muhafda, deputy-head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
One of the defendants to receive a fifteen year sentence was Njai Fateel, who is a well-known blogger and protest organizer who had been jailed and tortured twice before his latest arrest in May. Fateel has been prevented from providing testimony describing torture in prison in.
Another defendant was Rihanna al-Moussawi who was arrested for taking part in an anti-government rally during the Formula One race in April. She was sentenced to five years and was also denied a lawyer.
“All of those who were jailed today are activists and protest leaders in their villages. The authorities just want to send a message to the opposition to stop and to accept the political situation as it is,” stated Muhafda.
For more information, please see the following:
Alakhbar-Bahrain jails 50 activists for up to 15 years-September 29, 2013
Aljazeera-Scores of activists imprisoned in Bahrain-September 29, 2013
BBC-Bahrain unrest: 50 Shia Muslims sentenced to up to 15 years-September 29, 2013
New York Times-Bahrain Dissidents Said to Get Prison Sentences-September 29, 2013