Bahrain jails political activists

31 Jan, '07

A court in Bahrain on Wednesday sent two political activists to jail for possessing leaflets calling for a boycott of recent legislative elections, their lawyer said.

Mohammed Saeed Al Sahlawi, a dentist, received a one-year jail sentence while insurance executive Hussein al Hibshi was sentenced to six months in prison, lawyer Mohammed Ahmad told AFP.

“This ruling is unfair and illogical. It bypassed the defence argument… that the defendants were only exercising their right to free expression and that the material seized in their possession stressed the need to abide by peaceful means in expressing views,” Ahmad said.

“We have no choice but to appeal the ruling,” the lawyer added.

New York-based Human Rights Watch had on Tuesday urged Bahrain to drop the charges against the two political activists, who went on trial on January 7 on charges of possessing unlicensed leaflets ”containing inflammatory material and false information.”

The pair were arrested last November 16 after being found with leaflets that called for a boycott of the November 25 legislative polls.

They were charged under articles of Bahrain’s penal code which ”criminalise the dissemination and possession of materials that could “damage the public interest’,” HRW said.

The Shiite-led opposition won control of more than 40 percent of seats in parliament, which however has to share its legislative powers with an upper chamber appointed by the king.

The arrangement prompted a boycott of 2002 polls, the first since the parliament was scrapped in 1975. Some of Bahrain’s opposition kept up the boycott because demands for constitutional changes were not met.
Khaleej Times :: 31 Jan, ’07

Disgusting. Another blow for freedom of speech in Bahrain.

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Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Global Voices Online | 31 Jan, '07
  2. BahBlog | 31 Jan, '07
  1. Anonymouse says:

    I just came to know that there are demonstration near Sh. Aziz mosque.

  2. Esra'a says:

    I’m going to get the Bahrain Uncensored site redesigned and up by this weekend, if I get the chance to.

    I just wish there was an easier and safer way to go about this than to get all risky. I hate it that when it comes to these things, we’re not so far from turning into Egypt, whose treatment of human rights activists is just horrific. I feel really sorry that our governments don’t know this thing called “communication.” Don’t just silence us, confront us productively for once. Jeez. Every other person who opens his mouth gets threatened and then thrown in jail.

    Their claim remains, “tarnishing the country’s reputation.” Sure, as if these acts against freedom of expression which should be guaranteed are not tarnishing their reputation at all, no.

    Numbskulls. I get it that they’re scared of external threats. I get it that they’re shivering from Iranian-funded activism. But some things are just taken way too far. They should understand that the more they fear, the more we feel compelled to do something.

  3. mahmood says:

    Their claim remains, “tarnishing the country’s reputation.” Sure, as if these acts against freedom of expression which should be guaranteed are not tarnishing their reputation at all, no.

    Truer words have not been said.

    It is rather sad and disgusting that they still think that gestapo tactics actually work in this day and age.

    What they’re doing is simply creating a whole cadre of enemies by imprisoning freedom of speech, rather than making friends.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “I get it that they’re shivering from Iranian-funded activism. But some things are just taken way too far. They should understand that the more they fear, the more we feel compelled to do something.”

    My dear Esra’a it’s open rantings like this that create the worrisome situation… The first thing that came to mind when reading your statement was that you would, under the right circumstances, be willing to go to such measures and that my friend, is very worrisome, to me as a Bahraini national.

  5. Anonymous says:

    BTW Esra’a; Off your site, I tried clicking on the censored sites i got access to Al-Hiyak and Bahrain Online.

  6. Esra'a says:

    I’m not sure if I understand your remark. How is a statement in support of freedom of expression a “rant,” furthermore, why would you be worried if a fellow citizen decides to do something to help guarantee this right? Is that really threatening to you?

    If anything should worry you, it’s apathy. Not activism.

  7. Esra'a says:

    Anonymous, Bahrain Uncensored is not just my site, it’s Mohammed’s as well (emoodz.com), and it hasn’t been updated in months mainly because I got busy with the Free Kareem campaign and wanted a break from risky local politics. The main point of it was to help unblock Mahmood’s Den as soon as possible, and when his site was finally unblocked, we took a long pause and now we have yet to figure out the basic theme of the site.

    I will go over the content/links (with those willing to participate) and edit with relevant updates. If anyone wants to help out remember that we are trying to put together a small group of 5-10 people who are responsible for updating the site whenever it needs to be updated. You can either contact me or Mohammed if you’re interested.

    We’d like this to serve as a source of information as opposed to a site that can risk getting banned as well, so I hope that soon we can put together an effective strategy that can guarantee our safety.

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