Canadian could face 5 years in prison for peaceful protest

After visiting Bahrain, Naser al Raas, a Canadian citizen, was arrested, tortured, and held in solitary confinement for one month.  He was then released but has now been sentenced to charges that could lead to five years in prison.  Mr. al Raas, who is presently working in Kuwait, was visiting his sister in Bahrain when he made the mistake of watching a protest.  He was at the airport to return to work when arrested.

Joe Foster, Green Party Human Rights Critic, urges the Canadian Government to take immediate action to put pressure on the government of Bahrain regarding Naser.  Foster stated, “The charges should be dropped and the sentence should be quashed. He definitely should not go to prison.”

What Bahrain is calling a “crime is the internationally recognized right of freedom of expression, association and assembly. It is a universal right (Article 20) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Bahrain is one of the Gulf States facing the Arab Awakening:  people protesting for their rights and democracy.  The Pakistan Green Party has also urged action, noting that Bahrain has also sentenced medics who treated protesters injured in the crackdown.

Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party stated, “It is essential that Canada takes its traditional role of championing human rights and democracy during the process of finding peaceful solutions in response to the Arab Awakening.”

Amnesty International has started a campaign to drop the case against Naser: