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Poet released from prison but sentence still standing

(WiPC/IFEX) - 15 July 2011 - The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International welcomes the release on 13 July 2011 of poet and student Ayat Al-Gormezi (f), one month after she was sentenced to one year in prison on anti-state charges for poems critical of the Bahraini King. Ayat Al-Gormezi's family fear that she remains at risk of re-arrest since the sentence against her has apparently not been revoked. PEN continues to call for the charges against Ayat Al-Gormezi to be quashed and for the immediate and unconditional release of all those who remain detained in Bahrain for the peaceful expression of their views, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain is a signatory.

According to PEN's information, Ayat Al-Gormezi, aged 20, was freed unexpectedly on 13 July 2011. Hundreds gathered around her home in Sadad to welcome her. No reason has been given for her release, although it is thought that international pressure may have been a contributing factor. Al-Gormezi was arrested on 30 March 2011 after reciting protest poems at a pro-democracy rally in Pearl Square in the capital, Manama, in which she criticised the monarchy and called for greater democracy. She turned herself in after police raided her house and threatened her family. Her trial began on 2 June 2011 and she was sentenced on 13 June 2011 by a special security tribunal on anti-state charges including inciting hatred towards the regime. The trial did not comply with international standards of fairness. On 21 June 2011, an alleged forced confession by Ayat Al-Gormezi was broadcast on state television.

An excerpt of Ayat Al-Gormezi's poetry follows:

We do not like to live in a palace
And we are not after power
We are the people who
Break down humiliation
And discard oppression
With peace as our tool
We are people who
Do not want others to be living in the Dark Ages
(Translated from the Arabic by Ghias Aljundi)


BACKGROUND:

Protests led by Bahrain's majority Shia community against the government's policies have been underway since mid-February 2011. The Bahraini security forces have responded with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators. Dozens of civilians have reportedly been killed and many more wounded. The Bahraini government declared a State of Emergency on 15 March 2011 and brought in troops from neighbouring Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, to help suppress dissent. The State of Emergency was lifted on 3 June 2011 but many of the detainees arrested under that law are still in detention, including Abduljalil Alsingace, who was sentenced to life imprisonment on 22 June 2011.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Please send appeals:
• Welcoming the release of poet and student Ayat Al-Gormezi and calling for the charges against her to be quashed;
• Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Bahrain, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bahrain is a signatory.


APPEALS TO:

His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa
King of Bahrain
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O.Box 555
Rifa'a Palace
Kingdom of Bahrain.
Fax: +973 176 64 587

Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs
P.O.Box 450
Al-Manama
Kingdom of Bahrain.
Fax: +973 175 31 284

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Bahrain in your country if possible.

***Please contact this office if sending appeals after 15 August 2011***

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