Amnesty urges Bahrain reverses 'unlawful dissolution' of opposition group

Amnesty urges Bahrain reverses 'unlawful dissolution' of opposition group
Amnesty International’s Middle East research director called on Bahraini authorities to ensure that opposition party Waad is allowed to reopen and resume its activities.
2 min read
22 January, 2019
Waad was dissolved in 2017 [Getty]
A Bahraini court decision to uphold a ruling to dissolve an opposition group has been slammed as another example of the kingdom’s crackdown on any form of dissent, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

The Bahraini Court of Cassation’s announced it would uphold the ruling against opposition group National Democratic Action Society - more commonly known as Waad - and confiscate its assets in October 2017.

“The court’s decision to dissolve the opposition political group Wa’ad, a group committed to non-violence, is just the latest manifestation of how the authorities have been resorting to all means, including the judiciary, to crush any form of dissent in their country," Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, Lynn Maalouf said in a statement on Tuesday. 

“Amnesty International calls on the Bahraini authorities to ensure that Wa’ad is allowed to reopen and resume its activities without delay and uphold the rights to freedom of association and expression," the Maalouf continued.

"The international community must also use its leverage with the Bahraini authorities to push them to put an end to their systematic crackdown on opposition, which has been going on for far too long, unchecked,” she added.

The Sunni-ruled kingdom has been hit by waves of unrest since 2011, when security forces crushed Shia-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Opposition movements have been outlawed and hundreds of dissidents have been imprisoned - with many stripped of their nationality.

Since 2011, authorities have outlawed the main Shia opposition group, al-Wefaq, and the main secular opposition group, the National Democratic Action Society, or Waad.

Rights group Amnesty International has previously accused Bahrain of retreating from promised reforms and "dramatically" escalating a clampdown on political dissent.

"Despite repeated claims... to the contrary, Bahrain has been steadily backtracking on the promises of reform it made following its heavy-handed response to the uprising in 2011," Amnesty said. 

The rights group called on Manama to reverse decisions to dissolve Waad and al-Wefaq - the largest bloc in parliament before 2011.

Bahrain, a key ally of the US and home to the navy's Fifth Fleet, accuses Shia-majority Iran of provoking unrest in the kingdom. Iran denies the allegations.

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