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One jailed Bahraini activist released, another sentenced to death

Crescent International

Even as the Bahraini regime released a female Bahraini activist, Zainab al-Khawaja, another activist was handed a death sentence. Six others were given life sentences allegedly for killing a policeman a year ago.

Dubai, Crescent-online
February 19, 2014, 21:27 EST

Zainab Al-Khawaja, the Bahraini activist jailed for over a year for demonstrating and protesting against the draconian Bahraini government, was recently released.

At the same time, the minority Bahraini regime yesterday sentenced an anti-government activist to death while six others were given life sentences for killing a policeman a year ago. All the defendants denied the allegation.

Al-Khawaja, who enjoys significant popularity online, has drawn international attention on an estimated 3,000 prisoners believed to be behind bars in Bahrain on politically related charges.

Her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is a prominent activist and former president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. He is among several opposition figures currently serving life sentences. He drew attention to his imprisonment with a lengthy hunger strike in 2012.

Since February 2013, Zainab Al-Khawaja has been serving concurrently several short prison sentences handed down by lower criminal courts that related to five separate cases. She reportedly refused to appeal before higher courts because she believed that Bahrain's judiciary was controlled by the government. She also refused to pay bail.

On January 27, Al-Khawaja was sentenced to a further four months' imprisonment on a charge of “destroying government property,” as reported by Amnesty International. She was accused of tearing pictures of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa belonging to the interior ministry in May 2012. Al-Khawaja was not summoned to trial on this charge, but was rather informed of this addition to her sentence while she was still in prison.

Zainab Al-Khawaja has rekindled interest in the political opposition movement in Bahrain, which was brutally crushed by the ruling Al-Khalifa family with the help of the Ibn Saud monarchy of Saudi Arabia, following start of the Arab Spring in December 2010.

The Sunni Al-Khalifa family rules over a Shi’a majority country, and has brutally repressed any dissent to its authoritarian rule.


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