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HR Groups Strongly Condemn Bahraini Gov’t Move to Dissolve Leading Secular Opposition Society Wa’ad

2017-03-07 - 10:57 p

Bahrain Mirror:  A number of human rights groups denounced in the in the strongest possible terms "the Government of Bahrain's efforts to dissolve Wa'ad and to systematically dismantle the country's independent political space."

In a joint statement published on the Bahrain Center for Human Rights website on Monday (March 6, 2017), Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights stated that the Government of Bahrain has launched legal proceedings to dissolve Wa'ad, the country's leading secular, leftist opposition society- a move that follows the government's summer 2016 suspension and dissolution of the largest political society, Al-Wefaq, which rendered Wa'ad the last major opposition group in Bahrain.

The HR organizations stressed that it is not the first time that Bahraini authorities have targeted Wa'ad and its members, noting that in 2011, "security forces arrested and tortured the society's Sunni leader, Ebrahim Sharif, for his involvement in the pro-democracy movement. Soon after Sharif's arrest, the government suspended Wa'ad [...] closing its offices and blocking its website."

"More recently, the Bahraini government re-arrested Sharif in 2015, only weeks after he was previously released from his 2011 prison term. The arrest came soon after the United States lifted an arms ban on Bahrain stemming from human rights concerns, citing Sharif's pardon as a key sign of progress," the statement further highlighted.

"The dissolution of Wa'ad would mean the government's complete destruction of the peaceful opposition bloc in Bahrain," said Sayed Ahmed AlWadaei, Director of Advocacy for the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).

For his part, Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB said: "The disturbing disdain for human rights and international institutions expressed by the new US president, coupled with the general effort to mute international criticism led by Bahrain's other key ally in the UK, has generated an emboldened Manama that feels completely secure in eliminating any legitimate challenge to the repressive status quo."

Concluding their statement, the rights groups said that the government's legal action against Wa'ad is extremely concerning and will serve to further escalate the country's political crisis, calling on the government to cease all forms of reprisal against peaceful opposition, including the arbitrary dissolution of registered societies like Wa'ad and Al-Wefaq, and to release unconditionally all political leaders, religious figures, and human rights defenders imprisoned on charges related solely to nonviolent activism or free expression.



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