Bahrainis protest activist jail terms

Bahraini demonstrators hold posters of jailed human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja during a protest rally in a village west of Manama. (File photo)

Bahraini protesters have staged demonstrations to show solidarity with over a dozen prominent activists sentenced to jail terms earlier this week.

The rallies were held on Thursday in the towns of Bilad al-Qadim and Sitra despite the Bahraini regime’s continuous crackdown.

Bahraini forces tried to disperse the crowd by using tear gas and shot guns. Several people were reportedly injured in the violence.

On Monday, Bahrain’s top court handed 13 opposition figures jail terms ranging from five years to life in prison.

The activists, including prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, were arrested on charges of involvement in anti-regime demonstrations in 2012.

Amnesty International has condemned the move as outrageous and urged the Bahraini regime to overturn the sentences.

The Bahraini uprising against the Al Khalifa rule in the Persian Gulf island nation began in February 2011. The regime promptly launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests and called in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring states.

A report published by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry in November 2011, found that the Al Khalifa regime had used excessive force in the crackdown and blamed Manama for torturing political activists, politicians, and protesters.

In the face of mounting pressure to end their popular revolt, Bahraini protesters vow to continue holding anti-regime demonstrations until their demand for a democratically elected government is met.