Iran condemns Bahrain opposition chief life sentence

Iran condemns Bahrain opposition chief life sentence
Iran has accused Bahrain of 'intensifying its suppression' on Bahrain's Shia population.
2 min read
05 November, 2018
Sheikh Ali Salman's life sentence sparked outrage in Bahrain [Getty]

Iran has condemned Bahrain over the jailing for life of a prominent Shia opposition leader, accusing Manama of wanting to "intensify its suppression" of dissent.

Bahraini Sheikh Ali Salman and two of his aides were sentenced on Sunday for "acts of hostility" against Bahrain and allegedly spying for rival Gulf state Qatar.

The ruling against Salman, who headed the now-banned al-Wefaq movement, has been called a travesty by rights groups. 

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said the verdict "leaves no doubt for the international community that the government of Bahrain... intends to intensify its suppression."

He called on Bahraini officials to "put aside their police state methods and use real and serious dialogue with the opposition and critics," in a statement published late on Sunday.

Ghasemi also said Manama should refrain from issuing "inhumane verdicts against its people".

Salman and the two aides had been acquitted by the high criminal court in June, a verdict the public prosecution appealed.

Rights groups, including Amnesty International have consistently been accusing Bahrain of retreating from promised reforms and "dramatically" escalating a clampdown on political dissent.

"Despite repeated claims... to the contrary, Bahrain has been steadily backtracking on the promises of reform it made following its heavy-handed response to the uprising in 2011," Amnesty said. 

The rights group called on Manama to reverse decisions to dissolve Waad and al-Wefaq - the largest bloc in parliament before 2011.

Bahrain, a key ally of the US and home to the navy's Fifth Fleet, accuses Shia-majority Iran of provoking unrest in the kingdom. Iran denies the allegations.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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