Bahrainis hold hundreds-strong protests throughout Manama, venting rage at a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that has more than doubled the jail sentence against the country’s top opposition leader.
On Tuesday, the protesters defied a curfew placed over the village of Saar, west of the capital, chanting angry slogans and setting the British flag on fire.
Protesters also took to the streets in the Bilad al-Qadeem area of Manama, calling for the immediate release of Sheikh Ali Salman.
Security forces fired tear gas canisters in the al-Ma’ameer area south of the capital to counter a similar protest.
The Shia cleric, Salman, who is the secretary general of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, was arrested on December 28, 2014 after the government accused him of seeking regime change and collaborating with foreign powers.
On Monday, the court increased a four-year prison sentence already issued against him by five more years.
Human Rights Watch has called on the Bahraini regime to immediately release the cleric, saying dialogue must replace suppression.
Salman has “consistently supported peaceful political reform and should be at a negotiating table with Bahrain’s government, not languishing behind bars,” Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East director with Human Rights Watch, said last October.
Since 2011, the Manama regime has been cracking down on political dissent.
London has also proven a staunch ally of the ruling Al Khalifah regime. The UK government has approved more than 45 million pounds (63.5 million dollars) worth of arms sales to Manama since the onset of the popular uprising.
Back in March, The Independent reported that British forces were providing training to Bahrain’s armed forces on using sniper rifles amid the regime’s ongoing campaign of suppression.