Bahrain frees two former opposition MPs

Move comes amid pro-reform gestures that state-appointed investigator says could lead to release of 150 more detainees.

    Former parliamentarian Matar Ibrahim Matar was among those released on Sunday [Reuters]

    Bahrain has freed two former parliamentarians from the Shia opposition and several other detained activists who were arrested in anti-government protests earlier this year.

    The release on Sunday of ex-MPs Jawad Fairouz and Matar Ibrahim Matar, of the Al-Wefaq opposition party, follows a claim from the head of a state-appointed commission on the protests that Bahrain would eventually release about 150 detainees.

    The move also comes after Bahrain's king accepted a series of political reforms drawn up by a government-sanctioned national dialogue committee created to address popular grievances, The Associated Press reported.

    Bahrain has sentenced eight opposition members to life imprisonment for their involvement in the pro-democracy protests that spread across the island nation in March.

    More than 1,000 people were detained by the government during the protests and at least four activists died in custody.

    Vow to continue

    The state news agency said the detainees were released because the time they spent in custody may amount to the sentence they would receive after trial.

    Fairooz and Matar were arrested in May on anti-state security charges and still face trial. Last month, the two pleaded not guilty to spreading false news and joining illegal gatherings.

    "I am part of the peaceful opposition that will continue its legitimate demands for meaningful reforms,'' Matar told the AP after his release.

    The two resigned from parliament along with the rest of the Wefaq bloc in February following the government crackdown on anti-government protests.

    Also set free on Sunday was Mohammed al-Tajir, a human rights lawyer, who has was taken into custody in April.

    The government crushed protests by implementing a series of emergency laws and with the help of foreign troops from neighbouring Gulf countries.

    Activists and rights group say at least 32 people were killed during the uprising earlier this year.

    Emergency laws were lifted in June, but activists and witnesses have told the AP that riot police still use sound bombs and tear gas on a regular basis to confront protesters.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Revival: The Muslim Response to the Crusades

    Revival: The Muslim Response to the Crusades

    This part of 'The Crusades: An Arab Perspective' explores the birth of the Muslim revival in the face of the Crusades.

    Going undercover as a sex worker

    Going undercover as a sex worker

    A photojournalist describes how she posed as a prostitute to follow the trade in human flesh.

    Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

    Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

    It's time to change the way we talk and think about Africa.