Last summer the tiny Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain, a staunch US military ally, arrested 23 human rights activists, charged them with treason and brutally tortured them for months. Now, after massive protests, extensive campaigning and letters from thousands of Change.org members, all the detainees have been released!
"They released all of them!" Mohammed Al Maskati, President of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights told Change.org. "Not only that but they released a total of 250 political prisoners."
Bahraini human rights activists told Change.org on numerous occasions that the petition had gone viral in local activist communities and was getting extensive attention in the country.
"They released them for two reasons: one to give a good impression to the international community, and the Change.org petition definitely helped right from the beginning," said Mohammed, who has been in touch with Change.org since the beginning of the trial. "The second reason is to give something to protesters to bring them into a dialogue."
Last summer a number of opposition groups, which are officially illegal in Bahrain, jointly called for a boycott of upcoming elections in the tiny Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain, a staunch US military ally. Among a number of claims, the groups cited a pattern of vote rigging, corruption, “the absence of international and local monitoring" and the “legalization of dictatorship.”
Eager to maintain an aura of democracy for the outside world, the Bahraini government responded with a harsh crackdown on opposition groups. Some two dozen human rights activists, opposition members, dissident clerics and critical bloggers were arrested almost immediately and charged (among many things) with “forming an authorized group which incites to overthrow the government.”
The 23 defendants have been brutally tortured, for months on end, ever since
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Meanwhile, a snowballing legal drama involving a veritable revolution of lawyers has been unfolding. The detainees' legal team quit in protest over their client's treatment, then the government appointed new lawyers to represent them, then they quit, and on and on.
Bahraini human rights activists are calling on supporters all over the world to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to release the detainees and launch an immediate investigation into allegations that they have been tortured and sexually abused by national security officials.
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