The regime in Bahrain has disgracefully opted to suspend the most prominent and largest political party in Bahraini society, the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society. It is a move to shut down and end any political order the indigenous Bahraini people use and to silence opposition and dissenting voices.
The regime has compounded unlawful and aggressive decisions with further hostile decisions, with the shut down of other civil societies as well the arrest of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and intensifying the sentence of Al-Wefaq’s secretary-general, Sheikh Ali Salman, to nine years instead of four.
Further, two long established Bahraini societies, the Al-Ta’wiya and Al-Resala, were closed down and banned from further activities, with incoherent and sensationalized headlines published against them.
The decision to suspend Al-Wefaq was, according to the regime’s news agency’s manic statement, “expedited” by request of the Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments, which is headed by, unsurprisingly, an Al-Khalifa family member. The go ahead to suspend Al-Wefaq came within two hours of the request sent by the Ministry, giving no time or opportunity for Al-Wefaq’s legal counsel to legally challenge the decision.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the regime opted to sign and ratify years ago, specifically confirms in Article 22 that, “everyone has the freedom of association with others.” Under such a remit, political parties, civil societies, and independent institutions should maneuver and flourish – but the regime is intent on stifling and curtailing this freedom in Bahrain. Further, the regime has given no legal recourse for any victim of its actions, preferring quick and aggressive actions.
Bahrain Campaign believes the Al-Khalifa regime simply does not have the capacity nor the resolve to ever be able to clamp down fully on the freedoms of the Bahraini people, and such hostile decisions only confirm to the population and the international community that it is incapable of administering the country. The regime evidently seems to be senselessly trying, but failing, to shut out any dissenting voice. The silence of the regime’s allies gives the go ahead for the regime to continue such actions. The UK in particular has shielded the regime from criticism and provided protection to it in international arenas, allowing the regime to impede full-scale democratic change in the country. This has even resulted in the UN Torture expert, Juan Mendez, to urge the UK, rather than the regime, to allow him into Bahrain.
In addition, the silence and lethargy of the international community to act in a united and strong fashion against this despotic regime will give it further belief that it can hang on to its powers – despite the Bahraini people rejecting its authority and legitimacy, and demanding root-level and complete democratic transformation.