A college student who wrote critical poems about Bahrain’s royal family during pro-democracy protests in the island kingdom earlier this year was sentenced to one year in prison today by a military court.
According to the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, which reported her sentence, Ayat Al Gormezi was found guilty of taking part in illegal protests, disrupting public security, and inciting hatred of the Bahraini government.
Ms. Gormezi, who read her poems aloud in videos posted on YouTube, has been detained since March 30. She was physically and psychologically abused by security officials during the initial days of her detention, according to a person familiar with her case. Her poems questioned the parentage of the prime minister and imagined the king speaking with the devil.
Gormezi’s ordeal and hundreds of others documented by Bahraini and international human rights groups underscore a deeply troubling aspect of the Bahraini government’s policy of repression: Apart from quashing political dissent, the Sunni-led government appears bent on psychologically humiliating the island’s Shiite majority into silent submission.
The main opposition party, Wefaq, says that around 400 Bahrainis, including 48 medical personnel and 22 opposition figures, have been brought before military courts as part of the government’s almost three-month-old crackdown on the pro-reform movement.