UN Experts: Repression Campaign Took New Turn after Citizenship Revocation of Sheikh Isa Qassim, Intensified after Wa’ad Dissolution
2017-06-17 - 12:18 am
Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: U.N. human rights experts are denouncing a "sharp deterioration" in the rights situation in Bahrain, including an intensifying crackdown on opposition parties and a Shiite religious leader.
The five rights experts, who are independent but commissioned by the U.N. human rights office, said in a statement on Friday that the repression "took a new turn" in June 2016 with government moves to dissolve the main opposition party, the Al-Wefaq Islamic Society, and revoke the citizenship of highest religious authority in the country, Sheikh Isa Qassim.
They also noted a security forces' operation last month in the city of Diraz used "excessive and lethal force to disperse peaceful protesters," citing reported use of "tear gas, shotguns equipped with birdshot and lethal anti-personnel weapons."
"It is tragic that while security forces are meant to protect life, their actions have shown otherwise," the experts said.
The experts said that Bahraini authorities have resorted to "drastic measures" to curb dissent including torture, arbitrary detention, death threats and travel bans and retaliation against individuals for cooperating with international organizations, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
They went on to say that they are particularly worried about these measures, coupled with the campaign of harassment aimed at human rights defenders, who are increasingly being charged with offences for which the death penalty may be imposed, highlighting in this regard the use of repressive legislation, in particular the Law of Associations, and anti-terrorism laws.
The experts are also particularly concerned at the resumption of executions after a de facto moratorium in place since 2010, the broader powers given to National Security Agency officers and a constitutional amendment allowing for military courts to try civilians.
The United Nations human rights experts urged to halt the orchestrated crackdown on civil society, adding that the crackdown has continued to intensify with the dissolution of Wa'ad society at the end of May 2017.
"Trying to quell protests and criticism by resorting to repression and violence is not only a violation of international human rights law, it also undoubtedly leads to an escalation of tension. We fear that this increasingly hostile environment is undermining any prospect of alleviation of social and political unrest in Bahrain," they added.
The experts called on the Government of Bahrain "to immediately cease its campaign of persecution against human rights defenders, journalists and anyone else with divergent opinions, and take all measures to guarantee a safe and enabling environment for all Bahrainis, independent of their political opinions, beliefs or confession."
The five experts are: Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Annalisa Ciampi, Special Rapporteur freedom of peaceful assembly and association; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; and José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, current Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
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