Fri Jun 10, 2011 1:26AM
Thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrate against the Bahraini king in Manama's Riffa Area near the royal palace (file photo).
Bahrain's opposition party al-Wefaq says the Manama regime is to put nearly 400 people on trial over their alleged roles in peaceful anti-regime protests.
The party said that up to 50 people have already been sentenced, with penalties ranging from a short prison term to execution, Reuters reported on Thursday.
A Bahraini government official, who demanded anonymity, rejected the opposition's statement saying al-Wefaq's trial data was exaggerated.
“It's much less than that,” he said, but did not specify any number.
Thousands of anti-government protesters have been staging demonstrations in Bahrain since mid-February, demanding various reforms, an end to ethnic discrimination in offering government jobs and allowing political representation, and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.
On March 14, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed troops to the kingdom to help Bahraini forces to suppress the nationwide protests.
Scores of people have been killed and many more arrested and tortured in prisons in the Saudi-backed crackdown on protests in Bahrain -- a longtime ally of the US and home to a huge military base of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission held an emergency meeting at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to discuss the crisis in Bahrain.
The rights group urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navy Pillay, to send a fact-finding mission to Bahrain to investigate abuses.
The UK-based group also condemned Saudi Arabia for sending troops to the Persian Gulf state.