Bahraini regime forces have arrested a high-ranking member of the country’s main opposition party, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, for organizing protests demanding the release of the bloc’s jailed leader, Sheikh Ali Salman.
Informed sources, who declined to be named, said Mahdi al-Akri, a senior member of al-Wefaq, was arrested in the heart of the capital, Manama, a week ago while he was in the company of his family.
Akri’s family has expressed deep concern over his safety. The opposition figure is scheduled to be transferred to a detention facility following initial interrogations.
Meanwhile, al-Wefaq has announced that one of its leaders has been hit with a birdshot during a demonstration for Sheikh Ali Salman’s freedom.
On Tuesday, prominent Bahraini Shia cleric, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qassim, said anti-regime demonstrations will continue in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom as long as the secretary general of al-Wefaq is held in detention.
The remarks came a day after Bahrain’s public prosecutor extended the detention of senior opposition leader by 15 more days, despite widespread protests over the issue.
The prosecution also dismissed a request by defense lawyers to release the cleric on bail.
Salman’s lawyers say Bahraini prosecutors have formally charged the opposition figure with inciting a change of government by force, inciting hatred of a segment of society, inciting others to break the law, and insulting the Interior Ministry.
Al-Wefaq has rejected the charges as malicious and outright lies.
The European Union has warned that Sheikh Salman’s arrest will worsen Bahrain’s already fragile political and security situation.
On December 30, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Manama regime to release the al-Wefaq leader.