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Bahrain’s opposition leader denies charges against him

The trial of prominent Bahraini opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman has concluded, with the Shiite leader denying all charges against him.

Salman’s lawyer has called for his immediate release.

Salman, the Secretary General of Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, went before a regime court on Wednesday, with representatives from the US, UK and France attending the session.

On the eve of the trial, Salman called on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and world nations to increase their efforts to enable the Bahraini people to choose their government democratically.

The detained opposition leader said it is a moral responsibility to support a nation’s right to peaceful assembly and protection from suppression.

“O the international community, I am a prisoner for the same reasons Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, equality, freedom, democracy, and the people of Bahrain’s calls for equality in citizenship, freedom and democracy and to support them is a moral duty and is the right attitude towards history,” said Salman.

“I see that the International Community should support the right of the people of Bahrain to elect their government in a democratic way,” Salman added.

Salman also said he was willing to spend his entire life in prison for the sake of the happiness of Bahrainis, saying that the people of Bahrain, as a nation, are the source of all powers if they remain united.

Salman was arrested on December 28, 2014 after Manama accused him of seeking regime change and collaborating with foreign powers, charges that Salman and his party have vehemently denied.

The opposition leader is also accused of inciting hatred and disobedience in his public statement.

Salman’s arrest has triggered massive condemnation inside and outside the monarchy, with leaders, governments and international organizations across the world calling for his immediate release.
Bahrain, a close ally of the United States in the Persian Gulf region, has been witnessing almost daily protests against the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, with Manama using heavy-handed measures in an attempt to crush the demonstrations.

Bahraini forces have killed scores of activists over the past years of uprising, while hundreds of protesters as well as notable opposition figures continue to remain under arrest in the regime’s notorious prisons.


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