Bahrain: Opposition Leaders Sentenced to Jail

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam has been sentenced to 15 years in jail today in absentia.

Over two months ago, a Bahrain military court sentenced four men to death for allegedly killing a policeman, with the sentence being upheld for two after appeal. This decision was heavily criticized worldwide, especially by human rights organizations.

The opposition in Bahrain suffered another a blow today after the military court, or National Security Court as it is called in Bahrain, sentenced 21 opposition figures to jail. Eight of them received life sentences. One of those sentenced to life imprisonment was the notable human rights activist Abdulhadi Khawaja. His daughter Maryam (@maryamalkhawaja) tweeted the sentence and his reaction inside the court:

@maryamalkhawaja: Alkhawaja was sentenced to life, and he said that the ppl will continue on their path, he was beaten and removed from court

Maryam has also tweeted the reaction of her sister Zainab, who was on hunger strike for her detained father and husband two months ago:

@maryamalkhawaja: Zainab Alkhawaja (@angryarabiya) shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great!) when the sentence was read, and was arrested because of it.

The 21 jail sentences have garnered many reactions and provoked criticism towards the regime of Bahrain because they came following calls for a national dialogue in the country, which saw massive protests starting on February 14.
Managing Editor of Foreign Policy magazine Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) was one of the first to tweet about the irony in sentencing opposition figures and asking for national dialogue. Hounshell used Waad party co-head Ibrahim Sharif, who was sentenced to five years in jail, as an example saying:

@blakehounshell: To review: the Bahraini regime called for dialogue with al-Waad and then sentenced its co-leader to five years in prison.

Swedish foreign affairs minister Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) reacts:

@carlbildt: Eight activists in Bahrain sentenced to life imprisonment. Unacceptable. Will be appealed. Genuine national dialogue imperative.

Famous columnist Sultan Al-Qassemi (@SultanAlQassemi) from the UAE also made several comments on the struggle of opposition in Bahrain and how they are still strong, saying:

@SultanAlQassemi: in Feb Bahrain's opposition was the most powerful force in the country, able to shape its political future. It can't be more different today

From Bahrain, Mohammed Ashor (@MohmdAshoor) tweeted with a disappointed tone about the way the regime of his country is dealing with the opposition. He tweeted right after the sentences were made, saying:

@MohmdAshoor: I will never be convinced by any “dialogue” will our people are in jail. Not just the big names, everyone.

Another tweet from Bahrain was written by writer Ali Alsaeed (@alialsaeed), this time with a lot of rage and disappointment too:

@alialsaeed: See, told you, everything is perfect, beautiful and rosey in Bahrain. Now sit down on that motherf***ing table and ‘dialogue’ with me.

Egyptian blogger and human rights activist Rami Raoof (@RamyRaoof) was among many Egyptians to tweet about the news of the Bahraini court. He then made a critical comment on the Sectarian division used to address the issue in Bahrain:

@RamyRaoof: I don't agree with human rights groups that address the situation in Bahrain as Sunni vs. Shia. I would prefer Opposition vs. Regime

Another Egyptian blogger Tarek Amr (@gr33ndata) wrote his opinion about the way people are caring less about what is going on in Bahrain and caring more about what is going in Syria. He wrote:

@gr33ndata: You might hate me for this. But sometimes is feel Syria is overrated and Bahrain is underrated.

British blogger and PhD student Marc Owen Jones (@marcowenjones) tweeted about the use of military courts against opposition leaders in Bahrain, an issue that has been going on in countries like Egypt too, post the January 25 revolution:

@marcowenjones: The whole point of a military court sentencing civilians is so that it can subvert the process of justice for the sake of politics.

Blogger Ali Abdulemam has also been sentenced to 15 years in jail, however, this sentence was made in absentia, as Bahrain center for Human Rights (@BahrainRights) tweeted it:

@BahrainRights: Blogger Ali @abdulemam was sentenced in absentia to 15 years. He spent 6 months last year in jails, tortured #Bahrain

Asma Darwish (@Eagertobefree) the sister of the detainee Mohamed Darwish, who went on hunger strike for her brother, has also tweeted several tweets on the court decisions and the way the detainees looked like:

@Eagertobefree: Quoting from a frnd who was in the court room: everyone looked so different, Mushaima and alkhawaja more. Yet all were so strong.

Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab (@NABEELRAJAB) has tweeted all the events of today's court session and captured a scene that he described as “disgusting”. Rajab noted:

قام العساكر في المحكمة بعمل مقزز وهوبتقبيل بعضهم البعض وتقديم التبريكات في قاعة المحكمة وامام الاهالي على الحكم الصادر على النشطاء
@NABEELRAJAB: The soldiers in the court have done a disgusting thing which is kissing each other and congratulating each other in the court in front of the detainees’ families after the imprisonment sentences were made against the activists.

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.


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