In a letter sent to more than 200 international bodies, Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights and The Gulf Institution for Democracy and Human Rightshave reached out to the concerned international stakeholdersto informed them about why they believethe upcoming elections in Bahrain lacks the impartiality and independency.
The three prominent Bahraini human rights organisations, told the international organizations and stakeholders in their letter, that not all Bahraini citizens are able to practice their constitutional rights to participate in the general elections without intimidation and fear for their own security. They have also stated in the letter that the oppression against the opposition is still going on, and the serious violation of rights of Bahraini citizens to equal opportunity to vote and to be elected, which is clearly stipulated in the constitution of Bahrain and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
The three organizations have also highlighted that the Bahraini authorities prepared the ground for the 2018 Elections in enhancing barriers against opposition groups. In June 2018, the King ratified the amendment to Law No. 14 of 2002 that prevented individuals from running for parliamentary elections permanently, including those previously convicted to a jail sentence of six months or more; leaders and members of dissolved political organizations that were dissolved; and whoever destroys or disrupts the conduct of constitutional or parliamentary life by terminating or leaving the parliamentary work in the Council, conditions in fact applied to almost all of dissidents and political societies, as many of political leaders have been arbitrarily punished to jail sentence while political groups forcibly dissolved in the past 7 years.
In 2012, the Bahraini government arrested 200 members of the Islamic Action Society (Amal) and dissolve the organization for their participation in the 2011 uprising. In 2016, Al-Wefaq, the largest political society in Bahrain, was also forced to close, with its funds arbitrarily liquidated. In the following year, the National Democratic Society (Wa’ad), the largest liberal party, went through the same path on the charges of inciting terrorism.
A number of members and leaders of political societies remain under surveillance of the government, or in jail. The Secretary-General of Al-Wefaq, Shaikh Ali Salman, for instance, has been in jail since December 2014, being accused of provoking hatred against the regime and he been life sentenced.