18 November 2015 – The Bahraini government last week sentenced opposition politician Majeed Milad to two years’ imprisonment for acts related to his exercise of free speech. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Center for Rights and Democracy (BCHR), and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) condemn the criminal prosecution of peaceful political dissidents, and demand that the Government of Bahrain release all those currently incarcerated for their peaceful acts of free expression.
Majeed Milad is a member of Al Wefaq, the largest political society in Bahrain, and the former president of the Capital Governorate Municipal Council. Police arrested Milad on 1 July 2015, just two days after he gave a speech in Ma’ameer in which he criticized the ruling family for “seizing the national wealth,” and making decisions “without involving the Bahraini people.” The government charged and convicted him of “inciting non-compliance with the law.”
“The trial of Majeed Milad was a sham,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the Advocacy Director of BIRD. “If due process truly existed in Bahrain, Milad would never have been arrested. He should be at the negotiating table, not in chains.”
In addition to sentencing Milad to two years in prison, the government also postponed its trials against Sheikh Ali Salman, the imprisoned Secretary-General of Al Wefaq, and Ebrahim Sharif, the former president of Wa’ad. Sheikh Ali Salman is currently appealing a four-year sentence for inciting public disobedience and insulting the government; his next trial date is scheduled for 14 December. Ebrahim Sharif, who had his next trial date postponed to 15 December, stands accused of “inciting hatred” and “encouraging the overthrow of the regime.” Last week, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) released a decision in which it ruled that Sheikh Ali Salman’s imprisonment is arbitrary and stands in violation of international human rights law.
“The detention of Sheikh Ali Salman, Ebrahim Sharif, and Majeed Milad only adds to the monumental number of political detainees in Bahrain,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. “With the majority of the opposition now behind bars, Bahrain has rejected reconciliation and reform in favor of silence.”