Last updated: 15 July, 2011

Jailed Bahraini poet released

A Bahraini activist jailed for reading a poem at a pro-reform protest has been freed, Amnesty International said on Friday, calling for conditions allegedly attached to her release to be dropped.

“Ayat al-Qarmezi, a poet and university student at the Faculty of Teachers in Bahrain, sentenced to one year in prison for reading a poem, was released on July 13,” the rights group said in a statement.

“Shortly after her release, Amnesty International talked to her lawyer and family, who said that Ayat was well and happy to be free. However, her release is reportedly conditional on not travelling outside Bahrain or speaking to the media about her detention,” it said.

“Amnesty International is calling on the authorities to remove any that have been imposed, to annul her conviction and to clarify her current legal status,” the statement said.

Qarmezi read a poem addressed to Bahrain’s King Hamad at a February protest in the capital Manama.

“We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery / Don’t you hear their cries, don’t you hear their screams?” it said.

Shiite-led protesters calling for reforms in Shiite-majority but Sunni-ruled Bahrain demonstrated from mid-February until mid-March, when security forces carried out a bloody crackdown on the demonstrators.

Authorities said that 24 people, mostly protesters, were killed in the unrest. Hundreds of activists were arrested in sweeps that continued after the protests were quashed.