2015 worst year for Bahraini activists: Opposition bloc


Bahrain's main opposition bloc says 2015 has been the worst year for the Bahraini people in terms of the human rights situation in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.
In its annual report, Liberties and Human Rights Department (LHRD) at al-Wefaq National Islamic Society said that Bahraini forces arrested 1,765 people, among them 120 children, in 2015 amid a total ban on protests across the country.
The report said that there was an all-out ban on gathering and demonstrations across Bahrain in 2015, adding that the regime's curtailing of fundamental freedoms is most probably an undeclared punitive measure in response to the opposition’s decision to boycott the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Despite the ban, said the LHRD, Bahrainis held 6,403 protests, of which 2,035 were repressed by police using teargas and shotgun, which left over 700 people injured.
The 149-page report details 24 cases of arbitrary killings of civilians, including minors, where the judiciary failed to do justice in 2015.
It revealed that the judiciary acquitted the majority of security policemen who had been referred to trial in this context, or it convicted and punished them with lenient sentences.
Bahraini protesters hold placards during a demonstration against the arrest of Sheikh Ali Salman (portrait), the head of the opposition movement al-Wefaq, in the village of Diraz, west of the capital, Manama, July 31, 2015. © AFP
The Bahraini authorities have continued their practice of systematic torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners, in order to force them to give information or confessions, or for the purpose of punishment, or in some cases due to sectarian discrimination, the report added.
The LHRD further said that the Bahraini authorities have used nationality revocation to punish the opposition through ministerial decisions, royal decrees and court rulings.
Since 2012 and up until 2015, the authorities in Bahrain revoked the citizenship of 260 nationals, most of whom politicians, human rights defenders, media activists and clerics, over accusations of “harming the interests of the kingdom,” or acting in “contrary to the duty of loyalty”.
Bahrain has been rocked by uprisings since February 2011, with protesters calling on the Al Khalifah family to relinquish power.
In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to the country to assist the Bahraini regime in its crackdown on the peaceful protests.
Scores of people have been killed and many more arrested in the heavy-handed crackdown on demonstrations.
Amnesty International and other rights groups have repeatedly censured the Bahraini regime for its human rights abuses against opposition activists and anti-government protesters.