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Bahrain Moves to Ban Opposition Party and Let Army Courts Try Civilians, The Guardian

2017-03-07 - 4:16 am

Bahrain Mirror: The Justice Ministry in Bahrain has filed a lawsuit to dissolve the secular Wa'ad Society, while the government has taken steps to transfer many civilian judicial cases to a military court, in what appears to be a new crackdown on dissent and human rights in the island kingdom, reported Patrick Wintour in an article published on The Guardian website on Monday (March 6, 2017).

The newspaper's diplomatic editor said that on Monday, Bahrain's justice ministry filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the main remaining opposition group on the grounds that it undermined security, according to the state-run Bahrain news agency (BNA).

He added that the ministry claimed that the secular National Democratic Action Society, or Wa'ad, had perpetrated "serious violations targeting the principle of respecting the rule of law, supporting terrorism and sanctioning violence by glorifying people convicted for terrorism cases." Wintour also noted that the authorities last year dissolved the then largest opposition group al-Wefaq and revoked the citizenship of the country's top Shia Muslim cleric.

He further highlighted that on Sunday the upper house of parliament approved a constitutional amendment that critics say will allow authorities to run the country under an undeclared state of martial law, explaining that the change will allow civilians to be tried by military courts if the case involves the military.

Wintour added that in a sign of the tensions, the mother-in-law and brother-in-law of the UK-based Bahraini activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei were taken into custody by the Bahraini authorities on Sunday.

"Red lines are now being crossed in Bahrain, yet the British government refuses to endorse a balanced motion at the human rights council criticising Bahrain," said Alwadaei.

The Guardian editor also stressed that the Gulf state, which has deep UK military and trading links, has been repeatedly accused of curtailing freedoms of expression, association and assembly, adding that rights groups allege that torture and other abuses are common, especially in the country's notorious prisons.



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