Bahraini Opposition Leader Ebrahim Sharif Arrested
Washington, D.C.– In response to yesterday’s arrest of Bahraini opposition leader Ebrahim Sharif, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley issued the following statement:
“The arrest Ebrahim Sharif, less than a month after his release from prison, is another hammer blow to any prospect of a political settlement in the kingdom. Sharif’s arrest comes less than two weeks after the State Department cited Bahrain’s ‘meaningful progress on human rights reforms’ as a reason to resume arms sales to the country’s military. The U.S. decision to reward the Bahraini government with more weapons despite its continued targeting of dissidents seems even more mistaken now that Sharif is back in custody.”
Ebrahim Sharif was reportedly arrested Sunday for comments made during a Friday speech, remarks that Bahraini authorities claim “encouraged the overthrow of the government and incited hatred.” Sharif’s arrest comes less than a month after his release from prison, where he had been for more than four years. 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.