Four Shiite protesters sentenced to death today, in the first trials related to the demonstrations that rocked Pearl Square earlier this year, with the combined Khalifa, Saudi, and UAE forces having largely quelled the protests. Hopefully not a sign of things to come:
A military court in Bahrain sentenced four Shiite protesters to death after convicting them on Thursday of killing two policemen during anti-government demonstrations last month, state media said.
Three other Shiite activists, who were also on trial, were sentenced to life in prison after they were convicted of playing a role in the policemen’s deaths.
The verdicts — which can be appealed — were the first related to Bahrain’s uprising. The kingdom’s Shiite majority has long complained of discrimination and is campaigning for greater freedoms and equal rights in the tiny, Sunni-ruled island nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.
Bahraini human rights groups blasted the verdict and said the trial, conducted in secrecy, had no legal credibility and was politically motivated.
“This verdict is a message from the government, determined to stop the democracy movement,” said Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. “It’s a warning saying ‘this is how we will treat you if you continue to demand your rights.’”
Faced with unprecedented political unrest, Bahrain’s king declared martial law and invited troops from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-ruled Gulf countries to help quell Shiite dissent after weeks of street marches and bloody clashes in the capital Manama. At least 30 people have died since Feb. 15, when the anti-government protests erupted. Four opposition supporters have also died in police custody.