US ‘Deeply Troubled’ as Bahrain Upholds Sentences for Activists

As a Bahrain court upheld jail sentences against 20 opposition activists, the United States of America today expressed deep concern over the decision.

Reports say opposition activists were convicted of plotting to oust the government. Eight of the prominent activists are facing life in prison.

In his remarks today in Washington DC, Acting Deputy Spokesperon Patrick Ventrell urged the Government of Bahrain to abide by its commitment to respect detainees’ right to due process and to transparent judicial proceedings, including fair trials and access to attorneys.

Over 100,000 protesters took part in a prodemocracy march on 22 February 2011.

He stressed that it is important that verdicts are based on credible evidence and that judicial proceedings are conducted in full accordance with Bahraini law and Bahrain’s international legal obligations.

“We call on the Government of Bahrain to investigate all reports of torture, including those made by the defendants, as it has pledged to do, and to hold accountable those found responsible.” – Mr. Ventrell

The United States continues to call on all parties, including the government, to contribute constructively to reconciliation, meaningful dialogue and reform that brings about change that is responsive to the aspirations of all Bahrainis.

Mr. Ventrell underlined that Bahrain needs dialogue and negotiation to build a strong national consensus about its political future, strengthen its economic standing, and make it a more prosperous country and a more stable ally of the United States.

Last month, prominent Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to three-years in prison for spearheading and participating in several anti-government rallies.

Reports say Rajab is already serving a three-month sentence for posting anti-government comments on Twitter. He was in court to receive the verdict.

Mr. Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

The United States is deeply concerned that a Bahraini court sentenced Nabeel Rajab to three years in prison on charges of leading “illegal gatherings.”

The Unites States has urged the government of Bahrain to consider all available options to resolve this case.

US government believes that all people have a fundamental right to participate in peaceful acts of protest.

The US government repeatedly urged the government of Bahrain to take steps to build confidence across Bahraini society, and to begin a meaningful dialogue with the political opposition and civil society, she stressed.

Nabeel Rajab is the leading human rights activist from Bahrain and the founder of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. Mr. Rajab was arrested in May this year by the Bahraini government forces.

In February 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed that the United States supports Bahrain’s move to greater reform. Secretary Clinton also emphasized that the Americans wanted to see that the human rights of the people, including right to assemble, right to express themselves be respected in Bahrain.

One year after the Pearl Uprising in Bahrain in February last year, unrest continues amid the ongoing government crackdown against protests. A report said there has been systemic and widespread use of violence in the crackdowns as well as torture of political prisoners.

Despite pledges to reform, the government of Bahrain has made little progress, and continues to deny access to the country to the international media and human rights organizations, including Freedom House.

Bahrain is ranked Not Free in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2012 and Freedom of the Press 2012 surveys.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.