HRW: Bahrain Rulers Want to Wipe Out Peaceful Opposition Movement
2016-06-18 - 7:25 p
Bahrain Mirror: Human Rights Watch (HRW) stressed that the Bahrain government should end its efforts to close down Al-Wefaq, and reverse the decision to close the group's headquarters and seize its funds, as well as release leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab.
"Nobody should be under any illusion as to what Bahrain's rulers are up to - nothing less than squeezing the life out of its peaceful opposition movement," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. "Bahrain's allies in London, Washington, and elsewhere should publicly condemn these actions and let Bahrain know there will be consequences."
The HRW statement highlighted that "Bahrain prohibits political parties, and Al Wifaq is by far the largest of approximately 20 licensed political societies, including Islamist and secular, pro-government, and opposition."
A Bahrain News Agency report said that Al-Wefaq has "worked for decades on diverting from the concept of the state, [and to] secure legal cover for acts associated with extremism and terrorism."
The authorities have produced no evidence to support their allegations. Al-Wefaq was a leading signatory of a declaration of non-violence, issued in 2012 by Bahrain's opposition groups, and regularly urges protesters to remain peaceful and condemns violence against the security forces, the HRW statement further read.
"The Bahrain government should end its efforts to close down Al Wifaq, and reverse the decision to close the group's headquarters and seize its funds, Human Rights Watch said. The authorities should also release Rajab," it stressed.
"Bahrain's once vibrant activist community is in danger of being wiped out and Bahrain's friends in the UK government are failing to speak out against this dangerous and totally unjustified action," noted Stork.
The UK government has not publicly criticized the arrests or prosecution of Nabeel Rajab or Sheikh Ali Salman, nor has it called publicly for the release of any of Bahrain's high-profile political detainees, many of whom have been serving life sentences since 2011 - although it makes public statements on behalf of human rights defenders in other countries around the world. In April 2016, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said there had been "progress on human rights in Bahrain throughout 2015," despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary.
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