UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- A national dialogue is the only way the government of Bahrain can address the legitimate aspirations of its people, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
A high court in Bahrain said Monday it upheld verdicts issued to human rights activists in what the official Bahrain News Agency described as the "terror plot case." Sentences for activists accused of plotting against the government range from five years to life in prison.
"The convicts stood trial over charges of establishing and joining an illegal group aiming to overthrow the political system using force and terrorist means," the official news agency stated.
The activists were sentenced on charges stemming from an uprising against the government in 2011. The demonstrations coincided with the so-called Arab Spring, a series of pro-democracy events that swept across much of the Middle East and North Africa.
Ban, in a statement issued through his spokesman's office, expressed deep regret over the sentences.
"He reiterates his firm belief that the only way to promote peace, stability, justice and prosperity in Bahrain is through a national dialogue which addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis, and in which all communities can participate freely, without fear or intimidation," the statement read.
Bahrain's government says it's committed to a series of reforms outlined by an independent commission of inquiry probing the government's crackdown on opposition supporters in 2011.