Index on Censorship: Wa’ad Calls for Solidarity against its Dissolution
2017-04-15 - 7:37 p
Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: Index on Censorship said in an article it published on its website the Farida Ghulam, the wife of Ebrahim Sharif, the former secretary-general of Bahraini opposition group National Democratic Action Society (Wa'ad), has written an open letter to political and human rights institutions worldwide calling for solidarity against the dissolution of Wa'ad.
Ghulam's letter asks for national figures, Arab organizations and international institutions to help "protect the little remaining freedoms enjoyed by Bahrainis that have been undermined over the past few years".
On 6 March 2017, the Ministry of Justice filed a lawsuit calling for the dissolution of Wa'ad following a statement made by the political societies of the National Democratic Movement, a secular group of which Wa'ad is a part, demanding a "comprehensive national consensus to end the political and constitutional crisis" in Bahrain.
The Ministry of Justice has accused Wa'ad of "advocating violence" and supporting an "environment that incubates terrorism", arguing that statements made by the political societies represented a departure from established principles.
Ghulam's letter indicates that the Ministry of Justice has purposely failed to refer to key documents, statements and positions taken by Wa'ad and other opposition groups in building its case, including the Manama Document issued in October 2011 and the Declaration of Principles of Nonviolence presented in November 2012. This confirms Wa'ad's commitment to "peaceful means, rejection of violence and adoption of dialogue and consensus building to find solutions in political differences".
Ghulam also says that the authorities have taken and interpreted words from Wa'ad statements "at will and out of context".
The first hearing of the case against Wa'ad took place on the 20 March 2017 and the final hearing is scheduled for the 17 April 2017, with a judgment expected to be passed within one month.
The time of the comments made by the National Democratic Movement marks six years since the end of the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain, which saw numerous protests take place in opposition to the repressive government.
Actions taken by the Bahraini authorities to dissolve Wa'ad follow their crackdown on opposition parties since the mass protests of 2011, with two other opposition groups, Amal and Al-Wefaq, dissolved as a result of similar lawsuits. Secretary-general Sheikh Ali Salman was sentenced to nine years in prison. The citizenship of the group's spiritual leader, Sheikh Isa Qassim, was also revoked and new charges were brought against Ebrahim Sharif over tweets he published on Twitter.
The former Wa'ad leader was imprisoned and tortured in 2011 for his role in campaigning against Bahrain's political regime alongside a group of other human rights advocates known as the Bahrain 13. He was rearrested in 2015 a few weeks after his initial release, following a speech where he called for sustained peaceful opposition against the country's authorities.
Sharif also faced charges in November 2016 after comments he made to the Associated Press regarding Prince Charles' visit to Bahrain, although these were later dropped. He now faces a further three years in prison.
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