What Do Diraz Protestors Say?

2017-05-24 - 1:44 ص

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): After the court verdict was issued against the Shiite religious authority in Bahrain Sheikh Isa Qassim on Sunday (May 21, 2017), ruling a suspended one year prison sentence with a 100,000 BD fine, the Interior Ministry summoned the heads of obsequies in Diraz and asked them to intervene in order to end the open sit-in protest held outside Sheikh Qassim's house. The ministry further noted that it is "tiring for the residents and police" in the area, claiming that the Sheikh will not be subject to any harm.

How did the demonstrators react to yesterday's verdict? What is their response to the Interior Ministry's notices? Will they end their sit-in after an entire year of protesting in the square opposite to Ayatollah Qassim's house?

Outrage at the Sheikh's conviction was the first reaction from the protesters, who increased in numbers as soon as the verdict was announced. Attired in shrouds, angry protestors marched alongside the highway in a mass procession while beating drums.

"It is an act criminalizing a religious obligation, and not only a religious authority. It is criminalizing a legitimate right that can not be repudiated," said one of the protesters. Nonetheless, the protesters stressed that what triggered their open sit-in was not the trial, but the revocation of the Sheikh's nationality. "The reason behind holding our sit-in a year ago was the withdrawal of the Sheikh's citizenship, not the trial. The trial most certainly aggravated the situation, but the root cause was the revocation and the possible consequence of exiling the Sheikh at any time, and this is what we will only allow over our dead bodies," they stressed.

After the ruling was issued, the protesters met with each other and discussed, in the presence of law experts, the risks and dangers that the verdict could lead to. "We have reached to the conclusion that today's verdict is not aimed at absorbing and simmering down the anger in the street, or correcting the wrong decision to prosecute the Sheikh. It rather implies an open threat," the protestors said. How is that?

Firstly: There is no guarantee protecting the Sheikh from possible deportation as long as his nationality is revoked.

Secondly: There is a lack of clarity regarding the Sheikh's situation in the event the payment of the hefty fine of 100,000 Bahraini dinars, was not made. Some legal opinions state that non-payment of a fine leads to six months of imprisonment, while others asserted that the fine can not be imposed since the ruling issued was a suspended prison sentence, and that physical coercion may not be carried out if the accused is sentenced to a suspended penalty, according to Article 364 of the criminal proceedings.

Thirdly: There is no guarantee that throughout these three years of the suspension period the authorities will not arrest the Sheikh under a fabricated pretext or new charge.

Fourthly: The prosecution's decision to appeal the sentence is possible, especially since it has consistently demanded the most severe penalty to be issued against the Sheikh, so no one knows where the case can be taken.

The protesters' concerns; however, do not stop at this point, but go further and are more serious: "We find that what was issued today is an numbing verdict, the aim of which is to deceive the people into thinking that the Sheikh will not be imprisoned, and thus feel safe and end the open sit-in and clear the square, leaving the Sheikh alone for them to handle. If that takes place, we do not rule out the possibility of having the Sheikh arrested over a newly fabricated charge or deported outside the country. So this is how we read into the verdict today. What has further heightened our fears is the fact that the Interior Ministry summoned some of the Diraz residents so that they would mediate to end the sit-in. We have concluded from this that the authorities have entered a new phase, which is their intention to end the sit-in. They are now attempting to make it end without losses, before they go forward with ending it by force."

The protestors further stressed that "the government is betting on the intervention of the heads of obsequies in order to end the siege, which is hard to take place. It betting on the exhaustion of the people and their inability to further tolerate siege, which is out of the question. We have witnessed for an entire year the great steadfastness of the Diraz residents and their dedication to protect and defend the Sheikh."

But how long will this sit-in continue? The answer is: "There is no reason for us to end the sit-in as long as there are no guarantees for the safety of Sheikh Qassim. This sit-in will carry on until the nationality of the Sheikh is reinstated, and his arbitrary prosecution comes to an end. Only then this open sit-in will end without losses, and if that does not happen, we all offer ourselves as sacrifices.

Arabic Version

The original Arabic version of this report was published the day before the raid and attack launched on protesters in Diraz.
التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع

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