Bahraini demonstrators call for release of Sheikh Salman
Scores of anti-regime protesters have staged rallies in Bahrain, calling for the democratization of the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom and the immediate release of the leading opposition figure and Shia cleric, Sheikh Ali Salman.
The demonstrators held a rally in the northwestern village of Diraz, located about 12 kilometers (seven miles) southeast of the capital, Manama, following Friday prayers, demanding the release of Salman, who heads Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
The protesters, carrying portraits of Salman and Bahrain’s national flags, also said they will continue their street demonstrations until their demands for democracy and restoration of people’s rights are met.
Similar protests were also held elsewhere across Bahrain. Several people sustained injuries when Bahraini regime forces fired buckshot bullets to disperse protesters in the western village of Karzakan, Arabic-language Bahrain Mirror news website reported.
Salman was detained on December 28, 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the ruling Al Khalifa regime and collaboration with foreign powers. He has strongly denied the charges, emphasizing that he has been seeking reforms in the kingdom through peaceful means.
On June 16, a Bahraini court sentenced Salman to four years in prison on charges such as insulting the Bahraini Interior Ministry and inciting others to break the law. He was acquitted of seeking regime change.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called on the Manama regime to immediately release the al-Wefaq leader.
Anti-regime protesters have been holding 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 people dead and hundreds injured.