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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bahrain: Hassan Mushaima preps for return after 308 prisoners released, trial cancelled

Haq movement leader returning to Manama, Bahrain

Hassan Mushaima, the leader of the Shia movement known as Haq is in Lebanon preparing to return to Bahrain, now that King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has released over 300 prisoners, over 100 of which were political prisoners. The King has also cancelled ongoing trials for 25 Shia activists who had been on trial since last year for plotting against the state, indicating how much the Gulf kingdom's rulers (close allies of Washington) want to get reform talks with protest leaders under way.

Sheikh al-Mugdad released from custody

Sheikh Mohammed Habib al-Mugdad, a prominent Shia cleric who was among those released from custody on Wednesday, headed the prisoners' march to Manama's landmark square that has become the centre of the protest.

Al-Mugdad, who was detained in August, told reporters he was tortured and repeatedly beaten in custody. He showed signs of what he said were electric shocks on his chest, stomach and legs.

He said he spent three months in solitary confinement because he had criticized the government for "denying rights to Bahrainis and not sharing wealth."

"I faced torture because they wanted to silence me," al-Mugdad said. "They did not succeed and I am marching with my people, joining them in a peaceful protest to get our rights."

The government said in its email that it takes allegations of mistreatment in custody "extremely seriously" and is "committed to thoroughly investigating all and any claims made."

Bahrain's Shia community has complained of discrimination and political persecution in the kingdom. It has staged protests in the past, but the latest unrest is the most serious challenge to the Sunni monarchy.

Source: news.ca.msn.com

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