HRW: Bahrain’s tolerance for dissent approaching vanishing point
Human Rights Watch has warned about the deterioration of human rights situation in Bahrain, saying the ruling Al Khalifah regime used fabricated charges last year to harass, intimidate, and imprison human rights advocates and their relatives.
The international non-governmental organization said in a report on Thursday that the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom continued its “downward spiral on human rights.”
“Bahrain’s tolerance for dissent is approaching [a] vanishing point, erasing whatever progress it made after promising to make reforms following the unrest in 2011,” HRW’s Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson said.
The report further shed light on flagrant human rights violations in Bahrain in 2017.
They include the execution of three Shia activists Abbas al-Samea, 27, Sami Mushaima, 42, and Ali al-Singace, 21, in January following unfair trials, sentencing 14 political dissidents to death, ratification of a constitutional amendment giving military courts jurisdiction over civilians, and using excessive deadly force in a raid on a sit-in protest in the village of Diraz, which left five demonstrators killed and dozens wounded. The sit-in had been in place in support of the country’s most prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim.
Manama regime authorities also stripped 105 persons of Bahraini citizenship since late October, effectively placed more than 20 rights activists, lawyers, and political opposition figures under a travel ban, ordered dissolution of the opposition National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad) and closure of the country’s only independent newspaper al-Wasat, and upheld a two-year prison sentence against distinguished human rights activist Nabeel Rajab over TV interviews between 2015 and 2016.
Moreover, a criminal court in Manama on October 30 sentenced three relatives of human rights defender Sayed al-Wadaei to three years in prison on dubious terrorism-related charges in a bid to punish the exiled activist.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have been holding demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment a month later.