Zainab al-Khawaja Released on Bail
Human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja, sentenced last week to a month in prison, was released on bail yesterday after serving over a month in prison since her arrest in April. She is due back in court on June 24 to face further charges of organizing anti-government protests. Following this and other recent releases, Amnesty International urged the Bahraini government to “immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience,” specifically Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and twelve other opposition leaders still in prison.
Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi writing in the New York Times called on the U.S. to push harder for reforms on the heels of these prisoner releases, adding that the 2004 Free Trade Agreement between the two countries would be an appropriate tool in that effort. Nada Alwadi echoed this sentiment, arguing the U.S. is well suited to starting a dialogue due to its allies both in the government and the opposition. Morgan Roach of the Heritage Foundation, however, criticized the Obama administration’s judgement thus far, saying they “failed to also recognize violence committed by the opposition.” Roach believes the U.S. should be wary of support for al-Wefaq, as well as some human rights groups, that she believes are tied to Iran. Three other analysts also weighed in on the debate in the New York Times.