Poetry News

Bahraini Poet Stands Trial Today

By Harriet Staff

The Independent reports that a 20-year-old Bahraini woman--arrested two months ago for reading a poem during a protest calling for regime change in the wake of such movements in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere--will stand trial in front of a military tribunal today. Ayat al-Gormezi is being held up as a symbol for Bahrain's fight for freedom, especially for women, under a repressive government that has just recently ended martial law. Still, international journalists are not allowed in the country, and more and more reports have come in that "women have been singled out as targets for repression. Human rights groups say that hundreds have been arrested. Many women complain of being severely beaten while in custody."

Gormezi read at a pro-democracy rally lines like: "We are the people who will destroy the foundation of injustice." She also addressed King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa directly: "Don't you hear their cries, don't you hear their screams?" It seems her poem's offense to the Sunni ruling family was the direct cause of her arrest, which occurred after police raided her home and forced four of her brothers to the ground at gunpoint, demanding to know where she was. Her mother has not seen Gomezi since she was taken into custody, though it's reported that she "did talk to her once by phone and Ayat said that she had been forced to sign a false confession. Her mother has since been told that her daughter has been in a military hospital after being tortured."

The Telegraph also reports on the matter, providing information on Iran's strange involvement:

Hundreds of protesters, including 65 women, remain in custody. Activists say many of them have been tortured.

Miss Ghermezi was hailed as martyr in Tehran after state media claimed she had fallen into a coma after being gang raped by her interrogators and that she had subsequently died.

The reports led to protests by women in Tehran. As the campaign gathered pace, her name was given to a vessel carrying Iranian activists to Bahrain to join the protests. The Ayat al-Ghermezi and a second boat were intercepted by the Bahraini navy last month and turned away.

Bahraini officials denounced Iran for peddling deliberate misinformation as an attempt to worsen instability in the kingdom, where more than 30 Shia protesters have been killed by the security forces since pro-democracy protests erupted in February.

"Tehran never misses out on an opportunity to undermine Bahrain," said Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Mubarak, a Bahraini government spokesman. "Naming a ship after her to give her celebrity status is unacceptable."

Originally Published: June 3rd, 2011