Bahraini citizens protest normalization with Israel, demand prisoner release
Bahrain has the most political prisoners in the Arab region, detaining over 15,000 people for their political views alone
By News Desk - February 06 2023

(Photo Credit: Reuters)

Hundreds of Bahraini citizens staged demonstrations on 5 February to protest against Manama’s normalization with Israel and demand the unconditional release of several political prisoners.

The rallies took place in the villages of Diraz and al-Markh, where people denounced the Israeli military’s increased acts of aggression against the Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, further reiterating their support for Palestine’s sovereignty and Palestinian resistance groups.

Participants of the demonstrations held signs expressing solidarity with Bahraini inmates subjected to mistreatment and torture and pictures of opposition leaders.

Bahrain has the most political prisoners in the Arab region, detaining over 15,000 people for their political views, with 4,500 prisoners living in inhumane conditions.  The prisoner files and testimonies of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) confirm the use of severe physical and psychological torture.

“We have recorded cases of deaths inside prisons as a result of systematic neglect, delay, interruptions, intentional mistreatment, and deprivation of adequate care for both detainees in detention centers and prisoners in the central prison,” the BCHR organization stated.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) previously reported that the government in Bahrain regularly violates defendants’ rights to fair trials, preventing them from accessing legal counsel during interrogation sessions and the right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses.

On 16 November 2022, Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, a well-known Bahraini human rights defender, faced a series of new charges over his protests from prison and is already serving a life sentence, according to several rights groups.  Khawaja was imprisoned in 2011 after leading peaceful protests calling for fundamental freedoms in Bahrain.

His initial charges include sedition and “insulting a foreign country”-Israel- which undermines Bahrain’s normalization deal with Israel, known as the Abraham Accords.

In October last year, a Bahrain court sentenced eight anti-government activists to death, according to a report published by BIRD and Human Rights Watch.

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