Boiling with civic unrest, yesterday marked a dangerous flash point in Bahrain.
Feb. 14 was the first anniversary of widespread protests against the government. The violent crackdown that followed those 2011 protests caused the country to slide into a crisis that still festers with human rights abuses. Yesterday, Bahraini protesters took to the streets to demand that the government keep its promises to make much needed political reforms.
The coming week will bring an appeal hearing for two teacher leaders — Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb — who were punished for organizing a peaceful teacher strike during last year’s protests.
Tortured, denied due process, and unfairly convicted of “inciting hatred” and “attempting to overthrow the ruling system by force,” Jalila and Mahdi were sentenced to three and 10 years, respectively. Their next appeal hearing takes place on Feb. 19.
During a December hearing, Mahdi showed obvious signs of being beaten. Our sources say he remains in poor health, yet his lawyer’s request for release on bail was denied. Mahdi may die in prison, and the Bahrain government will have more blood on its hands.
Bahrain’s leaders have pledged reform, yet abuses continue. Protesters like Jalila and Mahdi brave violence day in and day out in their march for basic freedoms.
Show Bahrain’s human rights defenders that we have their back.
Senior Director, Individuals at Risk Campaign
Amnesty International USA