Bahrain: Unabated Repression, HRW Says in Its 2019 World Report

2019-01-18 - 5:07 ص

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued its 2019 world report on human rights around the globe, in which it said that the Bahraini authorities continue repression in Bahrain through targeting dissidents and attacking freedom of expression and assembly.

The organization said in the report that Bahrain cracked down on peaceful dissent during 2018, virtually eliminating all opposition.  No independent media were allowed to operate in the country in 2018, and ahead of parliamentary elections in November, parliament banned members of dissolved opposition parties from being able to run.

Peaceful dissidents were arrested, prosecuted, ill-treated, and stripped of citizenship. "The Bahraini authorities have demonstrated a zero tolerance policy when it comes to free media, independent political thought, and peaceful dissent," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "Despite the stream of arrests and convictions of dissidents, Bahrain's allies have failed to use their influence to improve Bahrain's rights record at home or abroad."

The government detained a former member of parliament, Ali Rashed Al-Asheeri, after he tweeted about boycotting the elections. He was released on bail three days after the election. On November 4, the Bahrain High Court of Appeals overturned the previous acquittal of a prominent opposition member, Sheikh Ali Salman, sentencing him to life in prison on espionage charges. Salman is the leader of Bahrain's largest political opposition group, Al-Wefaq, which was outlawed in 2016.

The report also brought the case of upholding the 5-year jail term against Nabeel Rajab and sentencing Duaa Al-Wadaei to prison in absentia as well as attacking female human rights defenders held in the Isa Town Prison, Hajer Mansoor Hasan, Najah Yusuf, and Medina Ali by the prison officials.

HRW stressed that the oversight bodies did not investigate credible allegations of prison abuse or hold officials who participated in and ordered widespread torture during interrogations since 2011 accountable.

"According to one human rights group, in 2018, the courts stripped 305 people of their citizenship, bringing the total since 2012 to 810," said the report, adding that "Bahraini prisons held 14 people on death row."

The organization said that "despite significant human rights concerns in Bahrain and its participation in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which is committing serious violations of international humanitarian law, the United States State Department approved five major weapons sales to Bahrain between January and November."

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