Authorities in Bahrain have freed 200 political prisoners, including a young woman poet jailed for severely criticising the crown prince during pro-democracy protests.
Twenty year old Ayat al-Qurmizi was jailed for 12 months after reading her anti-monarchist poem in public in Manama earlier this year.
The release of prisoners comes less than two weeks after talks between opposition and pro-government groups began.
After leaving jail to a rapturous welcome, al-Qurmizi said: “I honestly didn’t expect things to be like this outside. In prison we hardly got any news and we very rarely heard what was going on outside. Sometimes family members would feed us information, but I didn’t expect it to be like this.”
Just two days ago, leaders of the main Shi-ite opposition party threatened to pull out of the new-found dialogue claiming serious reforms were unlikely to emerge from the talks.
Bahrain’s Sunni rulers clamped down hard on the pro-democracy demonstrations drawing criticism from the west.