Bahrain Opposition Leader Cleared of Charges
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today welcomed reports that Khalil Al Marzooq, a leader of the Al Wefaq opposition, has been acquitted by a Bahraini court and urges the Bahrain government to include Marzooq and other key opposition members in political negotiations.
“This is a rare piece of good news from Bahrain at a time when many activists remain imprisoned in Bahrain for taking part in the 2011 calls for reform,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “We urge the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain to press the Bahrain Government to ensure that Marzooq and other political leaders who remain in prison are part of a negotiated settlement to Bahrain’s crisis.”
Al Marzooq is a senior member of the Al Wefaq political group who was arrested last month on charges of “inciting and advocating terrorism” after a public speech he gave in Manama on September 6, 2013. Al Marzooq and Al Wefaq have publicly committed to peaceful non-violent means of protest, including signing a November 2012 “Declaration of Principles of Nonviolence.” During his September 6 speech, Al Marzooq reiterated his commitment to peaceful protest, stating, “We can do nothing except help and support all peaceful movements.”
Many peaceful opposition leaders jailed during the 2011 protests remain in prison, and Bahrain continues to jail those peacefully expressing their views including those who criticize the ruling monarchy on Twitter. Leading human rights defenders are harassed or jailed, and some independent international human rights organizations, including Human Rights First, are refused entry to the country. Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government to publicly press the Bahraini regime to release these political prisoners and include them in peace negotiations.