Bahraini Opposition Group Al Wefaq Suspended
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today said that the suspension of Bahrain’s main opposition group Al Wefaq is part of an alarming new crackdown by the government, designed to eliminate all remaining opposition in the country.
“The Bahraini government seems determined to kill all avenues of peaceful dissent. This is a dangerous course, and is likely to fuel extremism and deepen political instability,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “Bahrain has targeted leading human rights figures and opposition leaders in recent weeks; today’s move is a major statement of intent by the regime that any prospect of reform is over.”
Yesterday human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was arrested in his home and is still being held in custody. Earlier this week the government prevented a group of human rights activists from attending the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, and last week activist Zainab Al Khawaja was forced into exile after being detained for months with her infant son.
Human Rights First urges the U.S. government to hold its ally Bahrain accountable for its human rights abuses. In 2011 President Obama publicly urged the Bahraini government to enter a dialogue with Al Wefaq. The president should reiterate that call now, and call on the suspension on the group to be lifted. The organization also urges members of Congress to support legislation that would limit the U.S. government’s complicity with the Bahraini regime. Bipartisan bills in the House and Senate, which would impose a ban on small arms sales to Bahrain’s security services until all 26 of the reforms promised in the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report have been implemented, are picking up support.
“Bahrain is creating massively dangerous problems for itself and its allies by eliminating all opposition voices,” said Dooley. “Washington can’t afford to support a regime intent on self-harm and needs to act immediately and decisively to persuade the Bahraini ruling family to take corrective action.”