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(New York) – Amnesty International today called on the authorities in Bahrain to immediately release Fadhila Mubarak, an activist convicted for her involvement in last year's pro-reform demonstrations, after a court upheld her 18-month prison sentence.
Amnesty International considers Mubarak -- the first woman activist to be convicted for her involvement in last year's pro-reform demonstrations -- to be a “prisoner of conscience.”
“Fadhila Mubarak’s sentence only serves to demonstrate the intolerance of the authorities and the failures of the justice system [in Bahrain],” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program. “They must also launch an independent investigation into allegations of torture against her and bring those responsible to justice."
Mubarak was arrested last March 20 after she was stopped in her car at a checkpoint. She was told she had been stopped for playing music calling for the overthrow of the regime. Forced from her car, she was beaten in the head and arrested.Later, during interrogation she was said to have been repeatedly beaten all over her body by female policewomen.
A military court found Mubarak guilty of several charges in May and sentenced her to four years in prison. In June, after four appeal hearings, the court reduced her sentence to 18 months in prison.
Thousands of Bahrainis demonstrated against the government and called for political reforms, freedom, democracy and social justice last February and March. Their protests were brutally crushed in mid-March.
Dozens of peaceful protesters were killed, hundreds were arrested and many were tortured and beaten. Scores received lengthy prison terms after unfair trials before military courts.
More than 4,000 people were dismissed from their jobs and more than 30 Shi'a prayer centers were demolished.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.