Shiite opposition rally banned, more activists jailed
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Fourteen members of a Shiite opposition party in Bahrain were sentenced Tuesday to up to 10 years in jail for their role in pro-democracy protests earlier this year. Bahrain successfully crushed the protests in March with help from Saudi troops.
AFP - Bahraini authorities banned Tuesday the Shiite opposition from organising a demonstration against the jailing of medics and activists over their roles in pro-democracy protests quelled in mid-March.
The head of Public Security, Major General Tareq Mubarak bin Daina, turned down the request by Bahrain's main Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq to organise a "human chain" protest in Manama, BNA state news agency said.
The security chief said the location for the protest, which had been planned to take place outside the offices of Al-Wefaq in Zinj, west of Manama, "is not suitable security-wise."
He said the protest "could cause traffic bottlenecks... while it will be difficult for organisers and security bodies to control the human chain, which might affect the safety of participants and those using the road."
Bin Daina ordered security measures to ban the event, BNA said.
Al-Wefaq slammed the ban as "illegal" and an "indication of constraints on the freedom of expression," in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
It said the "human chain for solidarity with the prisoners of conscience and medics" was planned to take place in a secondary road and not on the artery cited in the ban.
On Monday, a Bahraini special court established to try defendants accused of taking part in a month-long Shiite-led protests slapped jail verdicts ranging between 15 and 25 years on 36 Shiites.
The same National Safety Court outraged international human rights organisations by condemning 20 medics to up to 15 years in prison for charges including attempting to overthrow the regime.
It had also sentenced 21 opposition leaders and activists to between two and 25 years over plotting to overthrow the regime in the Gulf monarchy.
Scores of Shiites were also been tried in the quasi-military court, including at least five sentenced to death for killing policemen.
Authorities said in May that 405 detainees had been referred to courts, while 312 were released.