Bahrainis Condemn Crackdown on Shiites Scholars, UN Condemns Military Court Convictions


Saturday 5 May 2018
Bahraini People rallied on Friday to protest  ruling Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown on Shiite scholars, including prominent cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim.
The march was held in the village of Abu Saiba near the capital Manama, with the protesters carrying a huge banner portraying the cleric, the spiritual leader of the country's Shiite majority.
Sheikh Qassim was stripped of his nationality two years ago after being convicted of illegal collection of funds and money laundering as well as inciting violence.
The ageing cleric was hospitalized over his deteriorating health last month.
The prominent cleric has been a vocal supporter of the peaceful protesters, who have been demanding that the Manama regime stop its discrimination and violent practices against the Shiites since 2011.
The Friday’s protests also called for the release of Sheikh Ali Salman, secretary general of al-Wefaq, the country’s biggest opposition group, which was dissolved by the authorities after the uprising.
The 52-year-old cleric has also been convicted of inciting unrest, and has been in jail on a nine-year prison sentence since late 2014.
The UN denounces Death Sentences against 4 Bahrainis
UN human rights experts have called for the retrial of four men sentenced to death by a Bahraini regime's military court in a collective trial that breached fair trial and due process guarantees and confessions obtained under torture.
The experts welcomed, in a statement the UN published on its website on April 30, 2018, the news that the King of Bahrain commuted the death sentences to life in prison but deplored the imposition of the capital punishment in the first place. "The fact remains, that they should have never been convicted on the basis of flawed trials, let alone sentenced to death, and they still face life sentences," they said.
The men were forcibly disappeared for several months, held in solitary confinement in small cells for a prolonged period and subjected to torture and ill-treatment to obtain confessions which were then used against them in court. They did not have access to legal representation until late in the trial proceedings and the court reportedly refused to investigate the defendants' allegations of torture in custody.
"While welcoming the decision to annul the death sentences, we call on the authorities to ensure that the four men are retried in accordance with international law and standards", the experts said. "The allegations of enforced disappearance and torture must be promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated with a view to holding those responsible to account and preventing future similar occurrences."
They further urged the west-backed  Bahrain regime to pardon all other death sentences and ensure that all these and other pending capital punishment cases are retried in full respect of fair trial and due process guarantees in compliance with the treaty obligations the country has undertaken under the ICCPR and CAT.
"We also ask that the authorities reinstate the citizenship of all four men as well as that of all others that have been punished in the same manner in the same collective trial against established international human rights law and standards", they added.
The UN experts called on the King of Bahrain to reverse the amendment.
The experts had previously sought clarifications from the Government on this case.
The Manama regime has been pressing ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown on political dissidents since 2011. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds injured or arrested during the regime’s crackdown.