Bahrain held parliamentary elections with the opposition banned, and in the middle of a campaign of repression without limits

With the opposition prohibited by law and seven years of brutal repression perpetrated with the complicity of its neighbors, Bahrain holds on Saturday a parliam

Bahrain held parliamentary elections with the opposition banned, and in the middle of a campaign of repression without limits

With the opposition prohibited by law and seven years of brutal repression perpetrated with the complicity of its neighbors, Bahrain holds on Saturday a parliamentary election devoid of intrigues that serve the dissidence to denounce the silence imposed on this small kingdom in the Persian gulf that was once the epicenter of the arab spring and which houses military bases, american and british.

"Over the past two years, the political opposition has been arrested, intimidated and silenced", cries out Devin Kenney, a researcher at Amnesty International. With a population of 1.5 million souls, Bahrain is a country with a shiite majority ruled with an iron fist by a royal family sunni, Al-Khalifa, in which the revolts that sprang up in 2011 were crushed by the armed intervention of the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, concerned about the effect of the uprising in their own minority shi'a.

The raids, and attacks on dissent, that has demanded political reforms and the end of discrimination against the shi'a community have not ceased since then. One of the icons of the resistance, the activist Nabeel Rajab, bears behind bars since June of 2016 after suffering intermittent arrests and accumulate hefty sentences for their peaceful work.

last November 4, the justice sentenced him to life imprisonment to Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Al Wefaq, the main opposition party policy dissolved necessarily in 2016. The Supreme Court of Appeals, which overturned an acquittal prior, he was accused of spying in the service of Qatar, with Bahrain abruptly severed relations in June of 2017 in a move coordinated with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Ali Salman had served as speaker of the dissent in an attempt to negotiations with the monarchy led by Doha.

Parliament without opposition

A total of 293 candidates competing for 40 seats in a Parliament one, in which there will be no space for discrepancies. In addition, other 137 individuals litigated to obtain a position in the local councils. The participation reached 53 percent in 2014, when the opposition boycotted an appointment with the ballot marked, this time, of arrests, allegations of torture, enforced disappearances and arrests of minors.

According to the prosecutor's office, at least six people have been arrested for trying to "obstruct the electoral process" and "confuse the voters" after "monitor" tweets "that encourage non-participation". Among them, figure Ali Rashid al-Ashiri, a former mp of Al Wefaq, who was arrested after announcing on Twitter his intention of boycotting the elections marked "farce". "Imprisoning or silencing those who challenge the ruling family, and to ban all opposition parties and independent media, Bahrain has failed to create the necessary conditions for a free choice," says Lama Fakih, deputy director of the regional Human Rights Watch.

The path to the elections, however, has been planned carefully by the court, dominated by the sectors that are most recalcitrant and opposed to establish a dialogue with the dissent. Last June, king Hamad amended the law of exercise of political rights to ban the voter turnout of those who had belonged to a political organization is dissolved or been sentenced to more than six months of imprisonment. In recent months, according to Amnesty, have been re-established checkpoints in the villages and neighborhoods of the shiite majority.

The authorities have closed any possibility of the militants of Al Wefaq, training shi'a, and Waad (National Democratic Action Society), a party, a secular, left-leaning. Last year, after a long campaign of harassment and arrest of activists, journalists, clergy, or lawyers for their ideas or their participation in peaceful demonstrations, shut down the newspaper Al Wasat, the last redoubt of independent journalism.

And have even gone as far as to withdraw the nationality bahraini opponents. The Government has denied the allegations and has been hypothesized, cynically, to set up a "Parliament representative of the diversity of views that exist throughout the society bahraini".

Punishments for not voting

however, in the days before, aware of the calls for the boycott, the authorities urged the next parliament to "adopt a strict law for those citizens who do not comply with their duties of national vote held to account". Among the measures of punishment against non-voters, a high charge quoted to postpone their retirement or to remove any priority that would have to access the state program of housing.

The continuing reports of the persecution of the moderate opposition, torture and abuses in prisons and laws, increasingly repressive, they have received a strong censure from the international community. Bahrain is headquarters of the Fifth Fleet of the US and is also home to a british base. Last week the u.s. Senate voted against blocking an agreement on arms sale to Bahrain worth us $ 300 million.

"The allies of Bahrain should not give you a carte blanche and continue doing business as usual while persist the abuses of large-scale human rights abuses," says Fakih, between calls to stop the transaction of armament and force the openness of the regime. "The international partners of Bahrain cannot remain silent. Must use their influence to pressure the bahraini authorities and to force them to respect international standards," stresses Kennedy.

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Date Of Update: 27 November 2018, 20:00

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