Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sheikh Ali Salman's trial postponed again

 Statement by the main opposition in Bahrain, Al-Wefaq, about Sheikh Ali Salman's trial
The Bahraini regime courts have adjourned the hearing of Sheikh Ali Salman, opposition leader and Secretary General of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, to December 14 citing reason that only part of the bench attended.
Sheikh Ali Salman was not brought into the court to attend his hearing. Lawyers said this gave negative signals as to the nature of the trial.
Salman is being tried for political activism and expression of political opinion. He was sentenced to four years in prison last June.
The defense team reiterated its requests before the court to allow Sheikh Salman to see the lawsuit papers after the prison administration violated his right to confidentiality of communication with his lawyers, that is, besides standing on the prosecution side and building the case and accusations against him.  
Al Wefaq stressed that the continuation of the trial which was described by international human rights organizations, observers and states, to be lacking the fundamental standards of a fair trial indicates the malicious motives behind the case. It must also be taken into consideration that the defense team was prevented from doing its job prior to the issuance of the sentence and during the appeal process; these facts make certain that the trial is politically-motivated.   
The adjournment of the hearing is aimed to buy time for developments.
Al Wefaq is demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Sheikh Ali Salman who is a patriotic national figure and should not be in jail. The continuation of his trial and imprisonment clearly demonstrates political reprisal, especially as consecutive international calls condemned the arrest.
The statement of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in which it said Salman is being arbitrarily imprisoned, and the statements made by the Department of State’s spokesperson who called on Bahrain to drop the charges and respect freedom of expression and assembly, make clear that there is no justification for the continuation of his detention. Further, they highlight the fact that the Bahraini Authorities are insisting to walk in the wrong direction.  
Sheikh Ali Salman enjoys a popular position between his people and wide respect by the international community, thus, the authorities should not take uncalculated and reckless decisions. Such vengeful methods only complicate the crisis and move the nation farther away from an inclusive and genuine political resolution. Bahrain needs a comprehensive national review based on the interests of the country and its citizens.
The release of Sheikh Ali Salman would represent the first step to a suitable environment for a real dialogue to reach a political settlement.
Prominent human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights have all called for the immediate release of Salman, naming him a prisoner of conscience. Bahrain is yet to respond to Prince Zaid, the High Commissioner of Human Rights at the UN, who also urged for Salman’s release.
I have asked Foreign Office Minister James Duddridge MP to demand Sheikh Ali's unconditional release, as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the US State Department had already done. The UK's policy has always been that Bahrain's constitutional and human rights problems can only be resolved by a meaningful dialogue between government and opposition. This can't happen when the Leader of the Opposition is in custody on trumped-up charges.

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