Top Freedom Fighter: Five years Behind Bars

Today, December 28, 2019, marks the fifth year after the politically-motivated imprisoning of Sheikh Ali Salman, a prisoner of conscience, merely because he long called for a decent life for every Bahraini citizen, through which their dignity is well-regarded and liberated from the injustices they have been ceaselessly enduring.

Sheikh Salman is one of the most prominent opposition leaders in Bahrain, where citizens took to the capital’s streets back on February 14, 2011, to protest against political persecution and to demand democratic transformation. He was taken into custody on December 28, 2014, and convicted to four years in prison on charges related to freedom of opinion and expression.

The Bahraini imprisoned leader has endowed his freedom in order for the Bahraini citizens to obtain their right to participate effectively in managing their homeland’s affairs, to put an end to the overwhelming sectarian discrimination between citizens and to achieve equality among them as Sheikh Salman deeply believes that this is an effective safety-valve for maintaining security in Bahrain.Sheikh Salman has always emphasised that a peaceful struggle is a path towards freedom and that a genuine dialogue is a solution to finding a way out for the political crisis.

With the end of the four-year prison sentence, the Bahraini judiciary issued another life imprisonment sentence against Sheikh Salman, after deliberately convicting him for intelligence with the state of Qatar. The verdict was issued in conjunction with the Gulf-Qatar dispute and within a series of judicial rulings to clamp down on dissidents and human rights advocates. Meanwhile, thousands of prisoners of conscience are held in the Bahraini prisons because of their claim to civil and political rights.

 While the international community turns a blind eye to this systematic suppression, there is also a great disregard by Bahrain’s main allies, mainly the US and the UK. Indeed, the political persecution suffered by the Bahrainis constitutes an obstacle that hinders the achievement of stability and lasting peace in this tiny Gulf Island due to its direct implications, and that puts the community not only on edge but also makes it vulnerable to political and security disturbances.

Out of a sense of an earnest obligation for my homeland, and in my capacity as Sheikh Salman’s wife, I call on the international community and the European Union to spare no effort and effectively pressure the Bahrain government to stop its constant violations against the opposition, to launch an initiative to release prisoners of conscience and to initiate affirmative and consistent measures to deal with the citizens’ demands.

Reema Shaalan 

Wife of the prisoner of conscience, Sheikh Ali Salman