The Bahrain government sentenced Mr. Naser al-Raas, a Canadian citizen with a disability, to five years in jail on October 25th, 2011 for “gathering” and “spreading false news” for the alleged crime of being present, or at worst, participating in a pro-democracy peaceful assembly in Bahrain.
“”I didn’t chant against the government; it’s not my business,” Mr. Nasser Al Raas told the Star. “The country was in chaos.”
“He remembers three mock executions held under the desert sun. And he remembers the dingy cell in the notorious Al Qala prison, where he said he spent more than a month in solitary confinement, beaten and electrocuted daily, the screams of other tortured prisoners echoing through the halls.
This torture was recorded in a medical report filed by Doctors Without Borders obtained by the Star.
Whether or not al-Raas joined protesters, his sentence violates his “fundamental rights to human expression,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.
During his military trials, al-Raas said he received regular visits from Canada’s consul in Saudi Arabia, Michael Erdman, but couldn’t get a new passport to leave the country. Canada does not have diplomatic representation in Bahrain.
Neve said he raised al-Raas’ case with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s office earlier this month.
“While it’s clear the Canadian government has been giving the case some attention, there’s no indication it’s been given high-level attention,” Neve said. “That’s what we’re looking for now with a verdict in.” ” (The Star, October 25th, 2011- see link at the end of the post)
I urge you to write or email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs to request him to give the case of Mr. Nasser Al-Raas the high level of attention it deserves. The Honourable John Baird may be reached as follows:
The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Lester B.Pearson Building, Tower A
125 Sussex Drive