Pro-democracy Bloggers Sentenced to Life in Bahrain
Abduljalil Al-Singace, sentenced to life imprisonment. Photo: Bahrain Center for Human Rights
On June 22 twenty-one Bahraini bloggers, human rights activists, and political activists were found guilty of plotting to topple the Bahraini monarchy. Eight of the convicted were sentenced to life imprisonment, including blogger and professor Abduljalil Al-Singace.
Al-Singace, who is confined to a wheelchair for medical reasons, was previously in jail in Bahrain from September 2010 to February 2011 before being arrested again in March. His blog promotes democracy and human rights in Bahrain, and he serves as the chairman of the Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy , a political organization which supports civil liberties and democracy.
Also sentenced to life imprisonment was the co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Abdulhadi Alkhawaja. Alkhawaja’s pro-democracy activities as a college student in London forced him to remain abroad from 1980 until 2001, when a general amnesty by the Bahrain government allowed him to safely return. Since his return Alkhawaja has been detained, arrested, and physically assaulted due to his involvement with organizations such as the BCHR.
The twenty-one defendants were found guilty of 12 anti-state charges, including organizing a terrorist group with which to overthrow the Al Khalifa royal family and rewrite the country’s constitution. A spokesperson for the UN has stated that “There are serious concerns that the due process rights of the defendants, many of whom are well-known human rights defenders, were not respected and the trials appear to bear the marks of political persecution.”
Since the beginning of the Bahraini uprising, Amnesty International has estimated that over 500 Bahrainis have been detained including poet Ayat al-Qarmezi who was sentenced to one year in prison for reading a pro-democracy poem in public.