Published today, 24.06.11, in The Muslim News by Elham Asaad Buaras
Bahraini poet Ayat al-Gormezi was sentenced to a year imprisonment on June 10 for writing and reciting a pro-democracy poem criticising the monarchy.
The 20 year-old became the latest academic to be punished for a thought crime in the Gulf Island, when she read out her poem in a pro-democracy rally in in Manama’s Pearl Roundabout in February. The poem was addressed to King Hamad bin ‘Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain's head of state.
Its lyrics include the lines, “We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery/ Don’t you hear their cries, don’t you hear their screams?” She was forced to turn herself in to the authorities on March 30 after masked police raided her parents’ house repeatedly and reportedly threatened to kill her brothers unless she did so.
Her lawyer was not allowed to address the military court.
Her brother, Yousif Mohammed said her treatment in prison had improved in recent days, in contrast to the extreme mistreatment she received when she was first detained at the end of March when she was hit in the face with electric cable, held for nine days in a tiny cold cell and was forced to clean toilets with her hands.
Her family, who has has lodged an appeal against the sentence, say the change in the authorities’ behaviour towards her is due to the international publicity given to her case.