In Jail For Reading a Poem Against Bahrain’s Government

by Sampsonia Way    /  June 23, 2011  / 1 Comment



After facing brutal physical and psychological torture, Ayat al-Qarmezi from Bahrain was sentenced to one year in prison on June 12. Al-Qarmezi, 20 years old, is a teacher-in-training and was arrested for reading her anti-regime poem at a pro-democracy rally in February at Manama’s Pearl Square.

The rally was part of a series of clashes during the Arab Spring between pro-democracy protesters and the Sunni minority-led regime under King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. Al-Qarmezi’s poem denounces Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa as well as his nephew, the king.

After the reading, Al-Qarmezi and her family were harassed and received death threats. The police ransacked her parents’ home and threatened her four brothers at gunpoint, forcing the young activist to come out of hiding. Al-Qarmezi was arrested on March 30 as part of a crackdown on political dissidents.

After her arrest, Al-Qarmezi’s captors held her for fifteen days before she was allowed to call her family to tell them that she was still alive. According to The Independent, during her first nine days of detention, security forces beat the young woman across the face with an electric cable, forced her to clean lavatories using only her hands, kept her in solitary confinement in a “tiny cell with the air conditioning turned to freezing,” and did not make any serious attempt to carry out an interrogation.

The Independent has also reported that security forces threatened to rape Al-Qarmezi and post photos of her on pornographic websites. Finally, the young prisoner’s captors forced her to sign a false confession. Al-Qarmezi was found guilty of participating in illegal protests, disrupting public security, and inciting hatred against Bahrain’s regime. Her lawyers plan to appeal the one-year prison sentence.

Organizations like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and PEN International are calling for Al-Qarmezi’s immediate and unconditional release.

To send appeals for Al-Qarmezi’s release:

His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa
King of Bahrain
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O.Box 555
Rifa’a Palace
Kingdom of Bahrain.
Fax: 973 176 64 587

Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
P.O.Box 450

Al-Manama
Kingdom of Bahrain.
Fax: 973 175 31 284

You may also send copies of your appeal letters to the diplomatic representatives for Bahrain in the US and the UK:

Her Excellency Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo
Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain
3502 International Drive NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 202 342 1111,
Fax: 202 362 2192
Email via website http://www.bahrainembassy.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=section.home&id=6

His Excellency Shaikh Khalifa bin Ali bin Rashid Al Khalifa
Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain
30 Belgrave Square,
London
SW1X 8QB
Fax: 020 7201 9183
Email: ambassadorsoffice@bahrainembassy.co.uk

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

View all articles by Sampsonia Way

One Comment on "In Jail For Reading a Poem Against Bahrain’s Government"

  1. Ayat December 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm ·

    Excellent article and good work. beautifil ayat thanks for share with us !

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