Home Page > News Item > BAHRAIN: Poet sentenced.

Update #1 to RAN 28/11

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International protests the one-year sentence handed down to poet and student Ayat Al-Gormezi (f) on anti-state charges for poems critical of the Bahraini King. PEN calls for her immediate and unconditional release, and that of all those currently detained in Bahrain for the peaceful expression of their views, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain is a signatory.

According to PEN’s information, Ayat Al-Gormezi, aged 20, was arrested on 30 March 2011 after reciting protest poems at a pro-democracy rally in Pearl Square in the capital, Manama, in which she criticised the monarchy and called for greater democracy. She handed herself in after police raided her house and threatened her family. Her trial began on 2 June 2011 and she was sentenced on 13 June 2011 by a special security tribunal on anti-state charges including inciting hatred towards the regime. The trial did not comply with international standards of fairness. Her family have reportedly lodged an appeal. Al-Gormezi was reportedly hospitalised as a result of severe ill-treatment in the weeks following her arrest, although according to her brother her treatment has now improved as a result of international attention to her case.

We do not like to live in a palace
And we are not after power
We are the people who
Break down humiliation
And discard oppression
With peace as our tool
We are people who
Do not want others to be living in the Dark Ages
(Translated from the Arabic by Ghias Aljundi)

Background
Protests led by Bahrain’s majority Shia community against the government’s policies have been underway since mid- February 2011. The Bahraini security forces have responded with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators. Dozens of civilians have reportedly been killed and many more wounded. The Bahraini government declared a State of Emergency on 15 March 2011 and brought in troops from neighbouring Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia to help suppress dissent. The State of Emergency was lifted on 3 June 2011 but the detainees arrested under that law are still in detention.

For further background go to:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/poet-who-became-symbol-of-bahrain-resistance-is-jailed-2296762.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/12/bahrain-student-jailed-protest-poems/print

See RAN 28/11

Please send appeals:
Protesting the sentence handed down to poet and student Ayat Al-Gormezi, solely for the peaceful expression of her views;
Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Bahrain, including Ayat Al-Gormezi, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bahrain is a signatory;

Send appeals to:
His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa
King of Bahrain
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O.Box 555
Rifa’a Palace
Kingdom of Bahrain.
Fax: +973 176 64 587

Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs
P.O.Box 450
Al-Manama
Kingdom of Bahrain.
Fax: +973 175 31 284

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Bahrain in your country if possible.

Please contact this office if sending appeals after 30 June 2011

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at PEN International Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy.mccann@pen-international.org

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