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Amnesty rejects charges against jailed Bahraini Prominent cleric Sheikh Ali Salman

6 June 2015 12:46

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Amnesty International has dismissed as “groundless” the charges brought by the Bahraini judiciary against prominent Shia cleric and opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, calling for his immediate release from prison.

Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Program, said Friday that the Britain-based organization has demanded the freedom of Salman, who heads Bahrain’s main opposition bloc al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, ever since he was detained last December.

The Amnesty official further said there is no concrete evidence that Sheikh Salman has resorted to violence or appealed his followers to carry out acts of violence during demonstrations against the ruling Al Khalifa regime.

He added that Amnesty International has over the past few years been monitoring the statements made by the 49-year-old respected cleric, and is aware of the fact that Sheikh Slaman, his Wefaq party and other political factions have all stressed the peaceful nature of anti-regime rallies.

Bahraini protesters hold placards portraying Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of the opposition bloc al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, during a demonstration against his arrest in the village of Diraz, Bahrain, on June 5, 2015.

Sheikh Ali Salman has neither explicitly nor implicitly called for a campaign of violence, and for that reason the Amnesty wants him freed from jail as soon as possible, Boumedouha said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters staged a rally in the northwestern Bahraini village of Diraz, situated about 12 kilometers (7 miles) southeast of the capital, Manama, following Friday prayers, urging Sheikh Salman’s freedom.

Bahraini regime forces arrested opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman on December 28, 2014 on charges that included attempts to overthrow the incumbent regime and collaboration with foreign powers.

Bahraini protesters hold placards portraying Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of the opposition bloc al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, during a demonstration against his arrest in the village of Diraz, Bahrain, on June 5, 2015.

He has strongly denied the charges, emphasizing that he has been seeking reforms in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom through peaceful means.

In a similar statement on Friday, the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) renewed calls on the Manama regime to immediately release the al-Wefaq leader.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on the streets of Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for the Al Khalifa family to relinquish power.

The ongoing heavy-handed crackdown on peaceful demonstrations has left scores of Bahrainis dead and hundreds of others injured.

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