Bahrain frees protest poem woman
Manama - A Bahraini woman, jailed for reciting poems critical of Gulf kingdom's rulers during a wave of protests earlier this year, was released from prison on Wednesday, her brother said.
Ayat al-Qurmezi, 20, became a minor celebrity among protesters after reciting poems critical of Bahrain's king and prime minister in the capital's Pearl Square, which was the hub for Shi'ite-led demonstrations that broke out in February.
One verse, addressed to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, included 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?"
Al-Qurmezi was detained in March during a raid on her family house. Last month she was convicted of anti-state crimes in a special security tribunal and sentenced to a year in prison as part of the Sunni rulers' crackdown on Shi'ite-led uprising.
Al-Qurmezi's brother, Youssef, told The Associated Press that his sister was released on Wednesday. He did not know if charges against her were dropped.
The court's decision drew sharp denunciations from opposition groups and the international rights group Amnesty International, which said the verdict highlighted how free speech is "brutally denied" by Bahrain's authorities.
At least 32 people died during the five months of protests and crackdowns in Bahrain, the home of the US Navy's 5th Fleet.
Hundreds of protesters, activists and doctors and nurses who treated protesters were detained and tried in the military-linked tribunal set up under martial law.
Bahrain lifted emergency rule in June and released some of those detained, including 28 doctors and nurses.
At least 20 medical professionals remain in custody.
A group of Irish doctors, activists and politicians was in Bahrain on Wednesday to visit the jailed doctors and nurses, including three doctors who studied in Ireland.
The group asked for permission to visit them in prison, but received no response from authorities.