Seven Shiite activists in Bahrain are on hunger strike in protest at the forthcoming trial of campaigners accused of trying to launch a coup, according to a statement received today. The seven, who began their fast at an activist's house yesterday evening, aim to highlight "the deteriorating situation in Bahrain" and "call for the release of political prisoners, in particular Hassan Mesheima and Mohammed al Moqdad," the statement said.
The trial of Mesheima, general secretary of the opposition Haq (Rights) movement, cleric Moqdad and Haq's spokesman Abdeljalil al Singace is scheduled to begin on February 23, defence lawyer Jalila al Sayed said on Wednesday. The three are among 35 people accused of having helped plan attacks during the annual national holiday on December 16. Alleged offences include "formation of an illegal group", "attempting to change the political regime by force" and "possessing explosives," according to the charge sheet. If convicted, the accused men face heavy prison terms.
Mr Mesheima, Mr Moqdad and Mr Singace were detained on Jan 27, though Mr Singace was later freed and transferred to a guarded house. Haq was established in late 2005 as a splinter group of the Islamic National Accord Association, the main Shiite political formation in Bahrain, which is led by a Sunni dynasty though most of the population is Shiite. *AFP