Crowds of protesters took to the streets in and around Manama calling upon the ruling monarchy to release Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of the Al-Wefaq party, and expressing outrage over the arrest of yet another senior opposition leader, Jameel Kadhim.
Hundreds of protesters could be seen marching and waving Bahraini flags and placards as police kept a vigilant watch on the rally. The ongoing protest movement intensified following the arrest of Jameel Kadhim, the president of Al-Wefaq’s consultative council, RT reported.
Kadhim was arrested outside party headquarters in Manama and taken to prison on Wednesday. In the press briefing prior to his arrest, Kadhim told his followers to continue a “peaceful and civilized movement until victory” is reached, promising to continue his fight in prison. Al-Wefaq issued a statement condemning his arrest as “security and judicial tools to punish opponents”.
Sayed Yousif al-Muhafda of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said that change will never come as long as the ruling family cracks down on the opposition.
“The government, they don’t want any dialogue at all. For the last 2-3 years they are just lying to the international community that there is a progress, there is a dialogue, but this is the reality. People who should be in the dialogue are in jail right now,” Almuhafda said.
As a member of Bahrain’s main opposition group, Kadhim was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail for a tweet back in October over alleged election bribes. Bahrain’s Lower Criminal Court found him guilty of disrupting the elections and ordered him to pay a 500 Bahraini Dinar (US$1,300) fine in addition to serving his jail sentence. Kadhim’s lawyer, Abdullah Al Shamlawi, said his client would appeal against the conviction at the High Criminal Appeals Court.
The sentencing comes as Al-Wefaq’s main figure, Sheikh Ali Salman, arrested on December 28, still remains in prison amid ongoing clashes between protesters and security forces. He is also facing a jail sentence and is in custody pending an investigation on violence incitement charges.
Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the al-Khalifa dynasty.
Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.
So far, tens of protesters have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured.