Bahrain’s main Shia opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, has denounced the continued imprisonment of its prominent leader and former lawmaker Sheikh Hassan Issa as “political revenge.”
Al-Wefaq, in a statement released on Saturday, demanded Sheikh Issa’s immediate release, noting the cleric’s detention was in line with the Manama regime’s revenge against opponent political, intellectual and social figures in the kingdom. It also stressed that such a practice was against law.
Al-Wefaq added that Sheikh Issa was one of the most prominent advocates of peace in Bahrain, and that the continued imprisonment of such a popular personality attested to the failure of the Al Khalifah regime’s policies.
“This will further wreck the political prospect in Bahrain, and fairly reveals the extent of division between people and officials. Sheikh Issa’s arrest points to the continuation of the policy of political revenge against dissidents. Rulings are being passed daily in Bahrain in the worst forms of injustice. They are politically-motivated and will not be able to stop the legitimate popular uprising,” the statement underlined.
On March 29, 2017, a Bahrain court sentenced Sheikh Issa to 10 years in prison.
He faced trumped-up charges of funding a "terrorist group" that allegedly carried out a blast in the island of Sitra, located about 12 kilometers southeast of the capital, Manama. Two policemen were killed and 66 others injured in the purported attack.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.