For over a year and 313 days, ever since December 28th, 2014, the Bahraini authorities have incarcerated the secretary general of AlWefaq Islamic Society, an opposition party, Sheikh Ali Salman, for charges related to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by international conventions, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) that states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” In this context, the Bahraini authorities have conducted several show trials that were a complete mockery of justice, as they entirely lacked judicial integrity and independence, and these trials were subsequently used by the authorities as grounds to continue to incarcerate Sheikh Salman, according to his defense counsels.
The freedom of expression is considered essential for the rule of law and for economic, social, and political progress in Bahrain. However, the Bahraini authorities continue to systematically crack down on the freedom of expression.
Sheikh Ali Salman is the secretary general of the largest political opposition group in Bahrain and the Gulf region, and his arrest and continued incarceration is a setback for human rights in the region, and it ensures the consecration of tyranny, the abolition of individuals’ right to participate in the political process, and the people’s right to be the source of authority.
The Bahrain German Organization for Human Rights and Democracy (BGO) affirms that all the charges against Sheikh Salman have been falsified, and such false charges aim to achieve narrow political gains at the expense of suffocating the voices of individuals and political parties calling for democratic transition in Bahrain.
BGO calls on international and human rights organizations to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Sheikh Salman and the dropping of the charges against him. BGO urges international organizations to take serious and effective steps to compel the Bahraini authorities to respect human rights and honor its human rights commitments under international law by releasing all prisoners of conscience, including Sheikh Salman, from unjust incarceration.