Bahrain’s senior Shia leader Sheikh Ali Salman’s trial has been adjourned to March. Salman will remain in custody till then.
On Wednesday, Sheikh Salman went briefly on trial for a second time on charges of allegedly plotting against the Bahraini regime.
Salman, who is the leader of the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society in Bahrain, was arrested on December 28 after the government in Manama accused him of seeking regime change and collaborating with foreign powers, charges that Salman and his party have vehemently denied.
Salman is also accused of inciting hatred and disobedience in his public statements.
Salman’s arrest has triggered massive condemnation inside and outside Bahrain, with leaders, governments and international organizations across the world calling for his immediate release. The move has also sparked almost daily protests in the Persian Gulf kingdom, with many people warning the government about the dire consequences of Salman’s prolonged detention.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Western governments on January 18 to break their silence on Bahrain’s continued detention of opposition figures.
Joe Stork, who serves as the HRW’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, described the Al Khalifa regime a “serial offender” in prosecuting the “peaceful critics,” noting that Salman’s arrest was a “calculated move” to give the signal to the world that the regime is fundamentally opposed to political reconciliation and people’s rights for freedom and democracy.
Bahrain has arrested tens of activists and opposition figures over the past months.
Bahrain, a close ally of the United States in the region, has been witnessing almost daily protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011. Bahraini forces have killed nearly 90 activists over the past three years while hundreds of protesters as well as notable opposition figures continue to remain under arrest in the regime’s notorious prisons.