Monday, June 13, 2011

Bahrain tries dozens at military courts

Bahraini protesters demand an end to 40 years of rule by Al Khalifa dynasty.

Source: Press TV

Thirty three people in Bahrain face military court hearings, despite the lifting of martial law in the country, reports say.

The defendants, including two former lawmakers and a female poet, are accused of trying to topple the government and also face other charges.

The opposition estimates that 400 civilians have been tried in military courts so far, including seven people who have been sentenced to prison terms of one to six years on charges ranging from incitement to murder.

The two former lawmakers, Matar Matar and Jawad Fayruz, who were captured in early May, appeared in court, being accused of "public incitement for regime change and deliberately spreading biased rumors, in addition to taking part in public gatherings," AFP reported, adding that the defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, a renowned Bahraini human rights activist and poetess Ayat al-Qurmezi was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of participation in “assembly for the purpose of committing crimes, and instigating hatred to the regime.”

"By locking up a female poet merely for expressing her views in public, Bahrain's authorities are demonstrating how free speech and assembly are brutally denied to ordinary Bahrainis," said Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director Malcolm Smart in a statement.

The demonstrators have been calling for an end to the Al Khalifa family's over-40-year-old rule over the Persian Gulf country, since demonstrations broke out in the country as part of the wider Islamic awakening in the Middle East and North Africa.

The state-ordained court has already sentenced several people to death over the protests.

On March 14, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed troops in Bahrain to help crush the nationwide anti-government rallies.

Scores of people have been killed and many more arrested and tortured in prisons as part of the clampdown in the country -- a longtime United States ally and home to a huge military base of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

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