Bahraini Court Temporarily Releases Opposition Leader
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Khalil al-Marzouq, a senior Bahraini opposition politician who had been arrested last month on charges of inciting and advocating terrorism, was temporarily released on Thursday.
Khalil al-Marzouq, the Assistant Secretary General of al-Wefaq, the main opposition party in the Bahrain, was detained on charges of inciting youth violence and trying to overthrow the government two weeks after a public speech he gave in Manama on September 6.
Marzouq is a former deputy speaker of parliament, who resigned along with other al-Wefaq MPs when the Al Khalifa regime launched a deadly crackdown on popular uprisings in February 2011.
Soon after his detention, Amnesty International called his arrest "the authorities’ latest move to tighten the noose on political opposition in the country and silence anyone seen to be critical of the authorities."
“Over recent months, the Bahraini government has increased its threats and attacks against political associations which are critical of the government, in particular al-Wefaq. This must stop and Bahrain’s allies can no longer hide behind the National Dialogue to mute their criticisms under the pretext that it could derail the process,” said AI.
The arrest of Marzouq prompted the Wefaq Party to suspend its participation in talks with the government aimed at ending the turmoil in Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet.
National dialogue talks begin in February in an effort to end the unrest that has plagued island nation since early 2011.
Wefaq has repeatedly stated that it is against the use of violence and are committed to achieving change through peaceful means.
Marzouq, appearing in court for the first time amid tight security, denied all charges. The judge said he could go free until his next hearing on November 18.
Unrest has gripped Bahrain since a 2011 uprising led by its Shi'ite majority demanding reforms and more share in government in the kingdom ruled by the al-Khalifa dynasty.
At least 80 people have been killed in the unrest since 2011, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.
In July 2013, the Bahraini monarch issued several decrees which, among other things, banned demonstrations, sit-ins and public gatherings in Manama indefinitely and toughened punishments stipulated in the 2006 anti-terrorism legislation.
In early September the minister of justice issued a decree adding new restrictions on political associations. Political associations must now notify the ministry of justice three days before any meeting with a foreign diplomat and must take place in the presence of an official from the ministry of foreign affairs.