In one of his latest Twitter post, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, Bahrain’s top Shiite religious authority, said Manama sought to eliminate “the peaceful method of calling for reform by imprisoning the pacifist, Sheikh Ali Salman“.
Ayatollah Qassim equated Sheikh Salman’s jailing to the imprisonment of peaceful political activism.
In another tweet, the top Shiite cleric described Sheikh Salman as a “pillar of the reformist movement in Bahrain and a man of sincerity.”
Sheikh Isa Qassim made the remarks as Bahraini activists and opposition figures call on Manama to release Sheikh Ali through a Twitter campaign marking 7 years since the arrest of Sheikh Ali Salman.
These activists are using the somber occasion to reiterate their solidarity with Sheikh Ali Salman, head of al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s leading opposition group, which was dissolved in 2016 as part of Manama’s widening crackdown on dissent.
In a message marking 7th years since his arrest, Bahrain’s jailed opposition leader thanked the Bahraini people for their support, adding he was grateful for their solidarity.
Sheikh Salman, the Secretary-General of the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, wrote that he fell short in his quest to provide them with their rights.
“I cannot give you the sacrifice that you deserve” he wrote, adding, “I wish you all the luck, peace, security, and for all your demands of freedom and dignity to be fulfilled”.
Hundreds of citizens have taken to the streets to demand Manama to free him, amid the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
Sheikh Salman was initially jailed for 4 years following an unfair trial over charges relating to speeches he delivered.
In November 2018, he was sentenced to life in prison, following multiple unfair trials, over bogus espionage charges.
Sheikh Ali Salman; The Prospects of Bahrain
Meanwhile, there is no end in sight for political prisoner Abduljalil Al-Singace’s hunger strike, which is dragging into its 176th day this week.
Singace suffers from multiple chronic illnesses, and his health has only worsened since the start of his hunger strike in July.
The jailed Bahraini activist’s only demand for ending the hunger strike is the return of his confiscated academic research.
According to the high-profile Manama critic, political activist Ali Muhanna has once again been summoned for questioning at a local police station.
Muhanna is the father of prisoner of conscience Hussein Muhanna, who was severely tortured and coerced into confessing to crimes he did not commit before being sentenced to life imprisonment in a mass trial involving 168 defendants.
He has been tireless in his campaign to secure his son’s release and that of other political prisoners. This will be his eighth interrogation this year alone.
Besides, a video of the mother of 3 minors, Muhammad Jaafar Al-Kuwaiti (15), Muqtada Jaafar Al-Kuwaiti (15) and Muntadhar Jaafar Al-Kuwaiti (14), arrested on Monday, was circulated by activists via social media.
The mother is increasingly concerned about their unexplained detention, asking why it was taking so long for her children to return home.
The 3 minors were ordered to appear for questioning by the public prosecutor’s office, and then placed under arrest.
In 2019, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reported arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and torture of children in Bahraini jails.
Hussein Mohammed Ahmed Makki, another Bahraini political prisoner, suffering from sickle cell disease, is reportedly experiencing health complications as his family pleads for his release.
Makki is currently in Bahrain’s Salmaniya Hospital due to unspecified complications resulting from his illness.
Last year, he was infected with COVID-19 when the virus spread through the kingdom’s detention facilities. Maki has already served more than half of his 8-year prison sentence in Bahrain’s notoriously brutal Jaw Prison.
Also family of Hassan Abdullah Habib is pleading with authorities in Jaw Prison to immediately transfer him to hospital, as he is reportedly scheduled to visit the local Salmaniya hospital next week, but the family says that’s not soon enough. They told activists Hassan was in ‘bad shape’ during a video call earlier this week.
Several Bahraini prisoners have died in detention since the start of the year amid reports of willful medical negligence in Jaw Central Prison, which is notorious for denying detainees adequate medical care, including those who suffer from injuries or grave chronic illnesses.