The leader of a prominent human rights body in Bahrain has called on the ruling Al Khalifah regime to free all opposition figures and political dissidents being held in various detention facilities across the Persian Gulf kingdom.
“We have gathered here today to welcome Sheikh Mohammed Ali Mahfouz. He is one of the great (opposition) figures, who was behind bars only because of his struggle for human rights and democracy in the country,” President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Nabeel Rajab said on Saturday.
Rajab, who has himself been arrested several times since the start of the anti-regime uprising, further hailed Mahfouz’s release, saying, however, that “unfortunately there are hundreds or thousands who should be released urgently in order to have a calm atmosphere, peace and reconciliation between government and the public.”
He made the remarks after Mahfouz, the secretary general of Bahrain’s Islamic Action Society, also referred to as Amal Party, was released earlier in the day after serving five years behind bars.
He had been initially sentenced to ten years in prison over a complaint by the Bahraini ministry of justice against his party.
In November 2012, an appellate court reduced his jail term to five years though.
Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on an almost daily basis in Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifah family to relinquish power.
In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to the country to assist the Bahraini regime in its crackdown on the peaceful protests.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the crackdown.
Amnesty and many other international rights organizations have frequently censured the Bahraini regime over the rampant human rights abuses against opposition activists and anti-regime protesters.