Bahrainis stage rallies to voice solidarity with political prisoners
Dozens of demonstrators in Bahrain have taken to the streets across the tiny Persian Gulf country to express solidarity with political prisoners and jailed activists, especially prominent opposition figure Sheikh Ali Salman.
On Wednesday, protesters staged a rally in the capital, Manama, and demanded the release of Salman, who is the 49-year-old secretary general of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
The marchers, carrying portraits of Salman and Bahrain’s national flags, also called for an end to the mistreatment of inmates currently being held in the notorious Jaw Prison.
A similar protest was also staged in the village of Nuwaidrat, situated about 10 kilometers (six miles) south of Manama.
Protesters marched along the streets in the villages of al-Daih, located six kilometers (3.7 miles) west of Manama, as well as al-Musalla on Tuesday to demand the cessation of abuses against prisoners at the hands of Al Khalifa regime forces.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has blasted the Bahraini regime over the conditions at Jaw Prison, calling on authorities to allow prisoners to contact their families. The rights group said in a statement on its website on Thursday that a number of prisoners have not contacted their families since a protest at the jail last month.
HRW said the relatives of four inmates have spoken to its representatives, adding that they have not received any phone calls from their loved ones at the prison and have been told by police and prison officials that they cannot pay visits. The rights group said that credible sources have reported that the number of these inmates who have not been in contact with their relatives may be as high as 80.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa family to relinquish power.
Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.