(Beirut) – Bahraini authorities should immediately release the unjustly imprisoned political opposition leaders Ibrahim Sharif and Sheikh Ali Salman.
The nature of the political movement in this country has been, from the beginning, peaceful and moral. The opposition understands well that violence is the domain of the authority. Violence is where the authority has the upper hand over opposition, but morality is where the opposition has the upper hand. Violence is the authority’s playing field, not ours.
Sharif concluded his speech by saying that “There is no solution in this country but reform.”
The charges against him are wholly without foundation and violate international standards on freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said.
In June 2011, a military court sentenced Sharif to five years in prison on demonstrably spurious “terrorism” charges, and despite allegations he was tortured in pretrial detention. He was released on June 19, just weeks before his re-arrest.
At the first session of Salman’s appeal hearing, on September 15, 2015, the judge, as at previous hearings and without any explanation, refused Salman’s lawyers permission to present potentially exculpatory evidence. Representatives from the United Kingdom and United States embassies were in court at the time to witness the judge’s refusal.
Salman has been in detention since his arrest on December 29, 2014. On June 16, 2015, Bahrain’s Fourth Superior Criminal Court convicted him on three speech-related charges and sentenced him to four years in prison.