Bahrain Releases Major Political Leader from Prison
Washington, D.C. – In response to today’s reports that Ebrahim Sharif, leader of Bahraini liberal secular group Waad, has been released from prison Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley issued the following statement:
“More than four years after President Obama called for the release of peaceful opposition leaders in Bahrain, Ebrahim Sharif is finally free. This is a long overdue move by the Bahraini government for someone who should never have been jailed in the first place.
“The release of Sharif is an important, and hopefully game-changing step for Bahrain. Bahrain needs leaders like Sharif, the others jailed with him in 2011, and other political prisoners who have since been convicted to be out of prison and helping Bahrain navigate its way out of its political crisis. We hope his release will be the first of many.
“The Obama Administration should immediately applaud this move and press the Bahraini regime to release other political leaders and human rights activists who remain in jail.”
Ebrahim Sharif was tortured and convicted by a military court in 2011 with other peaceful opposition leaders in a violent government response to calls for reform. He was sentenced to five years in jail. A major international campaign has called for his release and of the dozen major figures jailed with him.
Other leading opposition figures imprisoned in 2011 remain in jail, and the Bahrain government’s failure to reform since widespread pro democracy protests broke out in February 2011 has resulted in years of instability.