The Bahraini Supreme Court sentenced three senior opposition members to life in prison Sunday, November 4, overturning their previous acquittals of charges of spying for Qatar. Secretary-General of the opposition Al-Wefaq group Sheikh Ali Salman and two other members, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali Alaswad, were reportedly sentenced to life in jail for divulging confidential information and receiving financial assistance from Qatar. An associated rise in civil tensions is to be expected, as well as related demonstrations, in Bahrain over the coming weeks.
The Al-Wefaq group, with strong connections to Bahrain's Shi'a majority, has campaigned for social and political reforms in the country, which is governed by a Sunni royal family. Opposition leaders have claimed that they have been targeted by public prosecutors for their political opinions. However, Bahrain's public prosecutor had appealed against a court ruling that acquitted the three opposition leaders in June 2018 - a move that was perceived as a victory for opposition figures in Bahrain.
Bahrain imposed a boycott on Qatar in 2017 due its alleged close ties to Iran and support of terrorism. Frequent clashes between demonstrators and security forces have followed the 2011 Bahraini uprising, in which many demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the incumbent government.
Individuals in Bahrain are advised to monitor developments to the situation, strictly avoid all protests and demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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