Iran Condemns 'Heavy Sentences' on Bahrain Protesters
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has condemned "heavy sentences" handed down by courts in Bahrain to pro-democracy Shiite protesters there, Tehran media reported on Thursday.
"The intensification of the crackdown on protesters and the heavy sentences will lead nowhere. Bahrain's government should take appropriate measures to respond to the demands and wishes of its people," Salehi said in remarks on Wednesday, Iran's state television reported on its website.
Scores of opposition activists and protesters in Bahrain have been given stiff punishment, including several death sentences, on charges related to a month of pro-democracy protests.
The sentences have been criticized as harsh by Human Rights Watch, the United Nations, the United States and many other Western countries.
Among those convicted are 20 Shiite medics of Manama's largest hospital, the Salmaniya Medical Complex. They were found guilty of "incitement to overthrow the regime."
Some of the others sentenced, including women, were found guilty of "calling for the overthrow of the political system using force and illegal means," according to Bahrain's official BNA news agency.
The protests against the Sunni dynasty of al-Khalifa, launched in February by the Shiite majority in the country, were violently suppressed and left 30 dead.
Iran, which is also predominantly Shiite, vocally supported the uprising in the tiny Gulf Island and strongly criticized the crackdown. Bahrain in return accused Iran of meddling and fanning sectarian unrest.
Iran also slammed the military intervention by Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf countries in Bahrain to help the crackdown on the protesters.