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AFP: Bahrain Seeks Dissolution of Secular Opposition Party

2017-03-07 - 5:35 am

Bahrain Mirror - AFP: Bahrain's justice ministry said Monday it filed a lawsuit to dissolve a secular opposition party, the state-run news agency said, months after the country's main Shiite opposition party was banned.

The justice ministry "has filed a lawsuit requesting the dissolution of the National Democratic Action Society (Waed), in light of Waed's serious violations of the principle of respect for the rule of law, its support of terrorism... and for its promotion of political change by force," according to a statement carried by state-run Bahrain News Agency.

The Sunni left-leaning former head of Waed, Ibrahim Sharif, was freed in July after he served a one-year jail term for anti-regime incitement.

He had already served four years of a five-year sentence over the 2011 protests before being released under a royal amnesty in June last year.

Bahrain's government has come under international criticism for criminalizing dissent in the Shiite-majority Gulf kingdom, home to the US Fifth Fleet.

Sunni authorities in Manama have accused its Shiite neighbor Iran of stirring unrest in the kingdom. Iran has denied any involvement.

A 2011 uprising seeking a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister was crushed with deadly force by the authorities and hundreds of Shiite protesters have been arrested since then.

On Sunday, the upper house of parliament approved a constitutional amendment enabling military courts to try civilians accused of crimes that include terrorism, a concept with a broad legal definition.

Last year, a court ordered the dissolution of the country's main opposition party, Al-Wefaq, for "harboring terrorism" and its leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, has been behind bars since 2014.

Shiite Al-Wefaq was the largest bloc in Bahrain's elected lower house of parliament. Its members resigned en masse in protest against the state crackdown on the 2011 protests.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch accused Monday the authorities of "apparently targeting" the family members of Sayed al-Wadaei, an outspoken Bahraini activist based in London.

"This looks like a cowardly attempt to break the resolve of an activist by attacking his family," HRW deputy Middle East director Eric Goldstein said.

"The Bahraini authorities forced Sayed al-Wadaei into exile in Britain, where he's a thorn in their side. Since they can't touch him, they've resorted to threatening and harassing his wife, infant son, and in-laws," he said.

HRW said the Bahraini authorities had since Thursday detained Wadaei's brother-in-law and mother-in-law.

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