Bahrain’s Waad society says five year prison term for leader ‘harsh’

June 26, 2011

The National Democratic Action Society “Waad”, Bahrain’s largest liberal society, said that it was shocked by the sentencing of its secretary general to five years in prison, but added that started action to appeal the verdict.

“We believe that the sentence against Ebrahim Shareef and other defendants was too harsh,” the society said. “We have already instructed his two lawyers to lodge an appeal as per the legal texts,” the society said during an emergency meeting.

Ebrahim was sentenced to five years on Wednesday for his alleged role in anti-government activities aiming to topple the regime.

Eight other opposition figures sentenced

Eight other opposition figures were sentenced by the National Safety Court of First Instance to life in prison and ten others to 15 years in prison for their alleged roles.

Under Bahrain’s national safety rules, the verdicts of the court could be appealed within 14 days.

However, Waad, which boycotted the parliamentary elections in 2002, but reversed its stance in 2006 and 2010 and fielded Ebrahim as a candidate, said that it would take part in the national dialogue, a forum promoted by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to bring together all parties and several NGOs to help shape the future of the country.

“We welcome the call to the dialogue and we will send in our vision. We do stress however that there should be the right setting for the talks,” the society said.

Two-month ban lifted

It also hailed the decision to allow it to resume its public activities after the authorities lifted a two-month ban on the society.

Waad this week published a statement in which it distanced itself from calls to bring down the regime.

Al Wefaq, the largest political opposition society, has yet to announce officially whether it would be taking part in the national talks.

‘Frustratingly torn’

According to insiders, Al Wefaq is “frustratingly torn between political pressure to participate in order to preserve its status in the nation’s political landscape particularly with the emergence of the powerful National Unity Rally, and street pressure imposed by those who oppose any active role in the talks.”

The decision to extend a deadline to hand in visions about the political, social, economic and rights topics to be debated at the national dialogue is likely to give the society extra time to ponder its options.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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