Bahrain’s parliamentary elections, due to take place on 12 November, are being held in an environment of political repression following a decade in which the authorities have infringed upon human rights, curtailed civil society, banned political opposition parties and shuttered independent media, Amnesty International said today.
From 2016 onwards, the Bahrain authorities ramped up a campaign to eliminate political opposition, banning opposition political parties that had existed legally before the uprising in 2011. The government has outlawed major opposition parties and independent media, and also imprisoned prominent opposition leaders. Consequently, Bahrain today lacks any non-imprisoned political opposition leaders or independent media willing to sharply criticize the government in public.
“Over the past 11 years, the Bahraini authorities have crushed all forms of dissent and severely clamped down on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” said Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“In Bahrain today, there is no genuine, political opposition and no independent media, while critical human rights organizations are unable to operate freely inside the country. Holding this general election will not address the atmosphere of repression and the denial of human rights that has gripped Bahrain for years.”
At least 12 prisoners of conscience, including protest leaders from 2011 and Ali Salman, the head of major opposition party al-Wefaq, are currently languishing in prison.