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Reuters: Bahraini Court Dissolves Main Secular Opposition Group

2017-05-31 - 7:24 p

Bahrain Mirror- Reuters: A Bahraini court on Wednesday ordered the dissolution of the main secular Waad opposition group and the seizure of its assets, Waad said on its Twitter account.

The ruling is part of a wider crackdown by the Western-allied government that has included outlawing opposition groups, imprisoning and trying prominent rights campaigners and revoking the citizenship of a religious leader.

It followed a Justice Ministry petition filed in March accusing the National Democratic Action Society, known as Waad, of "serious violations targeting the principle of respecting the rule of law, supporting terrorism and sanctioning violence".

The Arabic-language al-Wasat daily newspaper said that the high administrative court decided to "dissolve the National Democratic Action Society (Waad), confiscate its assets for the benefit of the state treasury".

"The Government of Bahrain is acting with the aim of totally silencing all peaceful voices, leaving open the alternative of underground opposition and violence," Sayed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy in an emailed statement.

The ruling is subject to appeal.

Officials did not immediately respond to an email inquiry by Reuters for a comment on the report.

The Western-allied kingdom, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based, has been a political flashpoint since "Arab Spring" protests in 2011 were put down by the Sunni-led government with the help of Gulf Arab states.

The crackdown entered a new phase last year when authorities banned the main Shi'ite Muslim opposition group, al-Wefaq, and revoked the citizenship of Ayatollah Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain's Shi'ites.

Last week, five people were killed and nearly 300 were detained when security forces moved against Qassim's home village of Diraz, near the capital Manama. Supporters had camped out there in a protest since authorities revoked his citizenship last year accusing him of fomenting sectarian divisions.

The raid came days after U.S. President Donald Trump said during a visit to Riyadh when he met Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa that Washington's ties with the Sunni-ruled kingdom - long strained over its human rights record - would improve.

Attacks on public targets have jumped this year after authorities carried out a death sentence on three men convicted of a deadly bombing of policemen in 2014. Bahrain accuses Shi'ite Iran of fomenting violence in the kingdom, a charge Tehran denies.




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