In response to a Bahraini court’s decision today to uphold the dissolution of the country’s main opposition political group, Al-Wefaq, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther said:
“The decision to uphold the dissolution of Al-Wefaq is a flagrant attack on freedom of expression and association and a brazen attempt to suppress criticism of the government in Bahrain.
“The Bahraini authorities have not presented any credible evidence that Al-Wefaq is anything but a peaceful opposition movement which has been seeking reform in the country in the face of increasing government repression.
“In the absence of independent institutions to scrutinize the government and hold authorities to account, peaceful opposition movements are particularly important. Silencing critical voices encourages further human rights violations and abuse of power.”
The original decision on 17 July was based on accusations that Al-Wefaq supported violence in a series of Twitter posts in 2015, criticized the government, encouraged mass marches and sit-ins to incite sectarian opposition and showed solidarity with its imprisoned Secretary General, Sheikh Ali Salman, a prisoner of conscience.
In June Bahraini authorities suspended the group’s activities, closed its offices and froze its assets.