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Bahrain opposition leader jailed for tweet criticising Sudan's Bashir

Ebrahim Sharif has been sentenced to six months imprisonment over a tweet [Getty Images]

Date of publication: 13 March, 2019

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Ebrahim Sharif has been sentenced to six months in prison over a tweet criticising Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir.
Ebrahim Sharif has been convicted and sentenced to six months in prison by a Bahraini court for criticising Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, according to Amnesty International.

The opposition leader tweeted in December a picture of Bashir with the text "Get out of here, man". Sharif intends to pay the 500 dinars (over $1,300 USD) fine issued along with the six month prison sentence and appeal the ruling.

Sharif was sentenced under Article 215 of the Bahraini Penal Code, which sanctions imprisonment for up to two years for "publicly insulting a foreign country... or its leader".

"Ebrahim Sharif's trial and sentencing is simply the latest development in the Bahraini authorities' sustained and systematic repression against their own citizens. Bahrainis are being made to pay a hefty price for simply expressing their views," said Amnesty International's Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf.

Sudan's Bashir has increased his crackdown on dissent under a state of emergency after months of protest against his rule.

The Sudanese regime has faced condemnation from activists and human rights groups for the treatment of peaceful protesters. 

In 2009 and 2010 Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court on multiple counts, including war crimes.

"30 years ago, Omar al-Bashir came on the back of a tank claiming 'salvation'," Sharif's tweet read.

"During his reign, civil wars have piled up, the South seceded, and he has impoverished, starved and degraded the kind and noble Sudanese people. The time has come for freedom for the Sudanese and the departure of the dictatorial president. #Cities_of_Sudan_Are_Rising_Up."

"It is flabbergasting that someone can be made to appear before a court and stand trial, let alone serve a sentence, for simply having expressed their opinion on Twitter," said Maalouf.

Sharif is the General Secretary of the secular opposition group National Democratic Action Society - more commonly known as Waad - dissolved by the Bahraini judiciary in 2017.

Waad is classified as a political association - formal political parties are not allowed under Bahraini law.

Opposition movements have been outlawed and hundreds of dissidents have been imprisoned, with many stripped of their nationality, after the Sunni-ruled kingdom was hit by waves of unrest in 2011.

Shia-led protests demanded a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister but were crushed by security forces. 

Since then, authorities have outlawed the main Shia opposition group, al-Wefaq, which held the largest bloc in parliament before 2011, and the main secular opposition group, Waad.

Sharif was arrested for his role in the Bahraini uprising and spent four years in prison from 2011 to 2015. 

Amnesty International reported allegations in 2011 that he was being tortured by state security forces while in detention.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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