The Iranian Foreign Ministry has expressed its serious concern over the move by Bahrain’s appeals court to uphold a “long-term” jail sentence handed down to senior Shia opposition cleric, Sheikh Ali Salman.
“Unfair, violent and repressive treatment of peaceful and moderate Bahraini leaders will not only fail to solve the country’s numerous problems, but will likely lead to the disillusionment of the enthusiasts for, believers in and supporters of peaceful approaches,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Monday.
He addressed the Bahraini officials and said providing military bases to extra-regional countries, requesting and welcoming foreign military forces and paying their expenses from the Bahraini people’s money would fail to “guarantee security” in the country.
The Iranian spokesperson added that “only reliance on popular power and national reconciliation” will be the best guarantee for the security of countries and governments.
During a Monday trial session, Bahrain’s appeals court ruled to uphold a nine-year jail sentence handed down to Sheikh Salman, the secretary general of the country’s dissolved al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, despite widespread criticism both at home and abroad against his imprisonment.
On October 16, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial of the senior Shia opposition figure, who had been sentenced to nine years in jail in previous trials.
Earlier this month, the tribunal adjourned the trial of Sheikh Salman to December 12.
He was arrested in December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the Manama regime and collaborating with foreign powers. Sheikh Salman denies the charges, saying he has merely been seeking reforms in the country through peaceful means.
Amnesty International and other human rights groups have slammed his arrest and called for his release.
Bahrain has been witnessing almost daily protests against the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty since mid-February 2011.
Manama’s heavy-handed crackdown on demonstrations, aided by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has left scores of people dead and hundreds more injured.