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Bahrain regime violates privacy right, suppresses free speech: Rights group

11 March 2016 7:10


A Bahraini human rights group has expressed deep concern over the Al Khalifah regime’s continued violation of Bahrainis’ right to privacy and the suppression of free speech in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights, in a statement released on Thursday, announced that Bahraini authorities have recently introduced stringent security restrictions against people’s discussions and messages on social media networks.

It added that Bahrain’s Education Ministry asked all secondary school heads on March 6 to examine the contents of all messages sent by teachers and students in WhatsApp groups, and threatened to take legal action against anyone found to have sent messages deemed insulting to authorities.

The rights group further argued that the surveillance of the contents of private WhatsApp groups and messages constitutes a gross violation of individual’s right to privacy, and an attempt to prevent people from sharing news and ideas in contravention of international principles and conventions.

Earlier on Thursday, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights censured the Bahrain regime for its harsh crackdown on dissent, calling on Manama to carry out fundamental reforms.

Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein expressed concern about frequent cases of arrest of dissidents in Bahrain, saying such measures show that the government is determined to muzzle rights campaigners in the country.

The senior UN official also called on the country’s judicial officials to stop handing down sentences that strip dissidents of their nationality, saying the Persian Gulf monarchy is in need of “deep and fundamental reforms.”

Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on an almost daily basis in Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifah family to relinquish power.

In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on peaceful protests. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the ongoing heavy-handed crackdown on the anti-regime rallies.

Amnesty International and other rights groups have repeatedly censured the Bahraini regime over the “rampant” human rights abuses against opposition activists and anti-regime protesters.

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