UN Official Urges Release of Bahraini Political Dissident


TEHRAN (FNA)- A high-ranking United Nations official has called upon Bahraini authorities to immediately release opposition activist Zainab al-Khawaja, who was recently detained by Al Khalifa regime forces along with her son in the Persian Gulf kingdom.
UN Official Urges Release of Bahraini Political Dissident

Michel Forst, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, made the plea in a statement released on Friday, press tv reported.
Bahraini regime forces, carrying video cameras, raided the home of Khawaja’s in-laws before coming to her apartment in the capital, Manama, on last Monday, taking her and her son Abdulhadi to a local police station.
Zainab al-Khawaja is the daughter of leading human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence in connection to his influential role in the 2011 protests against Al Khalifa regime.
She faces three years in prison on a number of charges, including tearing up pictures of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Also on Friday, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Bahrain to protest the continued imprisonment of prominent cleric and opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman.
Protesters staged a rally in the northwestern village of Diraz following Friday prayers, demanding the freedom of Salman, who is the secretary general of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
The protesters also called for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, and denounced the religious discrimination being exercised against followers of Shia Muslim sect in the country.
Sheikh Salman was arrested on December 28, 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the ruling Al Khalifa regime and collaborating with foreign powers. He has strongly denied the charges, emphasizing that he has been seeking reforms in the kingdom through peaceful means.
In June 2015, a Bahraini court sentenced him to four years in prison on charges such as insulting the Bahraini Interior Ministry and inciting others to break the law, however he was acquitted of seeking regime change.
Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous rallies on an almost daily basis in Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa family to relinquish power.
In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on peaceful protests.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the crackdowns.
Amnesty and many other international rights organizations have frequently censured the Bahraini regime over the “rampant” human rights abuses against opposition activists and anti-regime protesters.