Middle East

Amnesty urges Bahrain to free woman demonstrator

DUBAI: Amnesty International urged Bahraini authorities to release a female protester after the court of cassation on Monday upheld her jail sentence for demonstrating and listening to "revolutionary" songs.

Fadhila Mubarak was sentenced to 18 months in prison and the court has rejected her appeal, the London-based rights watchdog said in a statement.
"Fadhila Mubarak is a prisoner of conscience who was reportedly beaten and tortured in detention and then sentenced in an unfair trial before a military court on spurious charges for standing up for her rights," said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, the rights group's Middle East and North Africa deputy director.
"The Bahraini authorities must release her immediately and unconditionally," she said, adding that Mubarak's sentence "only serves to demonstrate the intolerance of the authorities and the failures of the justice system."
Amnesty also called for an independent investigation into allegations of torture against Mubarak, who was arrested at a checkpoint on March 20, only a few days after security forces crushed a month-long Shiite-led protest demanding democratic change in the Gulf kingdom.
She was told that she had been stopped for playing music calling for the overthrow of the regime of the Sunni Al-Khalifa ruling family, and was asked to turn the sound down, according to Amnesty International.
"She refused and asked the police officer for identification, before being forced out of the car, beaten on the head and arrested," the group said.
She was convicted of taking part in protests at Pearl Square, the focal point of anti-government demonstrations, possessing CDs and leaflets inciting hatred towards the regime and assaulting a policeman by pulling his shirt, Amnesty International reported.
She was initially sentenced to four years in prison, but her sentence was reduced to 18 months by a military appeal court.
A total of 2,929 people were detained during the protest movement that erupted on February 24, and at least 700 remain in prison, according to an international probe commissioned by King Hamad to investigate the police crackdown on the protests that demanded democratic change.
The report published on November 23 said the death toll from the unrest was 35, including five security personnel and five detainees who were tortured to death while in custody. Hundreds were also injured.





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