Bahrain Starts Trial of 22 More Over Protests

Bahrain Starts Trial of 22 More Over Protests

Bahrain began trials for 22 more people on Tuesday over their role in protests earlier this year, part of a growing number of trials and dismissals the opposition called a provocation ahead of a planned national dialogue.

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Opposition groups have said hundreds of people are on trial, in what they call a revenge move by Bahrain’s discriminate rulers after they quashed anti-government protests in March led mostly by the country’s majority Shi’ite population.

“This is revenge, pure and simple,” said one opposition figure, who declined to be named.

The government says the numbers on trial are far fewer than the opposition estimates, and that the number of those facing charges compared to the thousands who protested proves it only pursues those it suspects of a crime.

Bahrain’s state news agency BNA said the Persian Gulf state’s military was holding trials for 52 people, most of them in their second hearing. Of these, the 22 new defendants faced charges ranging from calling for regime change, spreading photos to hurt the country’s reputation, and carrying swords, it said.

The government last week lifted the state of emergency it imposed in March after protests and is calling for a national dialogue to plan reforms next month, but tensions are simmering as small protests erupt daily in some Shi’ite neighbourhoods.

Separately, activists said Bahrain’s Polytechnic university dismissed around 47 students over political statements they had posted on Twitter and Facebook.

The university’s vice president told the local daily al-Ayam several students were dismissed due to unconstitutional acts after an in-depth questioning of the students, but did not say how many were expelled.

Bahrain’s leading Shi’ite opposition group, Wefaq, said the trials and new student dismissals conflicted with dialogue.

“The Wefaq Society feels these practices and abuses … by Bahraini authorities conflict with its official call for dialogue, and considers them provocative,” it said in a statement.

The tiny Persian Gulf island kingdom quashed weeks of democracy protests in March, calling in military help from nearby Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait for support.

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