MANAMA (Press TV) – Thousands of people have staged nationwide demonstrations across Bahrain on the eve of the ninth anniversary of the popular uprising against the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty.
Demonstrators took to the streets in the capital Manama as well as the village of Sanabis, which lies in the suburbs of Manama, the northwestern village of Diraz, located about 12 kilometers (seven miles) southeast of the capital, Bilad al-Qadeem suburb of Manama and the village of Tubli, west of the island of Sitra.
They called for the immediate release of the 54-year-old prominent Shia cleric and secretary general of the dissolved al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Sheikh Ali Salman, and other political prisoners.
On January 28, 2019, the Supreme Court of Bahrain upheld a life sentence against the Shia opposition leader over charges of spying for Qatar.
According to a statement released by the public prosecutor, the court confirmed the verdict against Salman and his aides Ali al-Aswad and Hassan Sultan for "spying for a foreign state in order to ... overthrow the government.”
The London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy condemned the ruling at the time.
"This is political revenge and an insult to justice,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the group’s director of advocacy.
"Punishing peaceful dissidents for leading protests against the corrupt ruling family has nothing to do with justice. This verdict shames Bahrain’s rulers and their allies …, namely the U.S. and UK.”
The trio had been initially acquitted by the high criminal court, but the decision was later overturned by an appeals court on November 4, 2018.
Demonstrations in Bahrain have been held on a regular basis ever since a popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.
The participants demand that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure censured by human rights campaigners as tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law in the country. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3, 2017.