Rights groups denounce Bahraini policy of mouth-muzzling and freedoms deprivation
Salam for Democracy and Human Rights condemned Bahrain’s continued silencing and banning cyberspace that express criticism to the government.
On November 10, the Bahraini authorities banned a virtual webinar entitled Economic Recovery Plan… an Analytical Vision, organized by the National Democratic Gathering, a legally licensed political association.
The organization said that the National Assembly Society “received a call from the Ministry of Justice stating that the webinar was banned. The Waad Ibrahim Sharif Association (a political association dissolved by the government in 2017) would participate in it. This may be the reason for the ban, as the Bahraini government used the Ministry of Justice previously on October 28 in cancelling Ibrahim Sharif’s participation in a symposium.”
“The cancelled webinar was on the Financial Balance Program. Preventing Ibrahim Sharif from participating might be a harsh implementation of the amendments made to the Law on the Exercise of Political Rights, Law No. (25) of 2018, which in its content is depriving all Members of dissolved political societies or those who have been convicted in political cases from engaging in politics and participating in elections.”
The organization added, “through practical experience, it was found that the practical application of this unfair law goes beyond the denial of participation in the elections, but rather is isolating a wide category of citizens and preventing them from engaging in any form of expression of opinion in political affairs or running for boards of directors of civil society institutions.”
It pointed out that the Law was detailed to take revenge on the state’s political opponents of the citizens. The government uses this Law to stifle criticism and suppress the freedoms of citizens in violation of the International Bill of Human Rights.
It said that “in addition, power is exercised over civil society institutions in general and political associations in particular, which are still authorized to suppress the right to freedom of expression and criticism of the government, as happened with the National Assembly and the Bahraini Democratic Youth Society.”
An online seminar was banned by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development in May 2020 entitled “Normalization with the Zionist Enemy in the Gulf,” organized by the Bahrain Democratic Youth Society. The organization explained that “political isolation measures are not the only means used by the Bahrain government to suppress basic freedoms only. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development also shut down the Al-Wasat newspaper permanently in 2017.
The Anti-Cybercrime Department of the Ministry of Interior summon and interrogate bloggers and activists on social media sites. On May 30, 2019, the Ministry of Interior published on its Twitter account a warning to citizens stating that following social media sites for opponents of the authority is a crime.
According to Salam, “the current press law allows the Ministry of Information to block websites by an administrative decision at a time when the government has a monopoly on all media broadcasting outlets and newspapers.”
Salam for Democracy and Human Rights condemned “Bahrain’s continued policy of silencing and prohibiting the use of online space for content that is against or critical of the government. It is the last remaining means through which Bahrainis can criticize the performance of the government and officials, including administrative and financial corruption.”
The human rights organization called for “the abolition of all legal articles in all domestic legislation that lead to the deprivation of political rights, due to the constitutional violation and the violation of basic human rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two international covenants.”
Salam Organization urged the government of Bahrain to “provide a legal and regulatory environment that allows independent media and expression of opinion, and to demand the release of all prisoners of conscience in prisons based on their opinions, positions, or demands for rights and political partnership.”