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Iran slams Bahrain crackdown on dissent, suspension of al-Wefaq

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari

Iran has censured Bahrain for suspending the activities of the Arab country’s main Shia opposition group, saying such moves will further complicate the conflict in the tiny Persian Gulf state.

On Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari accused the Manama regime of “confronting peaceful public protests by intensifying security measures, jailing moderate [political] leaders and human rights activists and shutting down the offices of peaceful political and social associations.”

Such an approach by the Bahraini government will “complicate the domestic crisis in the country,” Jaberi Ansari added.

He further expressed hope that the Al Khalifah regime would pave the way for restoration of peace and stability to the island country by taking confidence-building measures and initiating serious negotiations between the Manama government and the opposition.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Bahraini Justice Ministry announced that the kingdom had suspended all activities of al-Wefaq National Islamic Society and frozen its assets. The Bahraini ministry accused the country’s main opposition group of promoting tension and extremism.

The headquarters of Bahrain's main opposition party al-Wefaq is seen in this photo taken in Qadam, west of Manama, on October 28, 2014. © Reuters

Manama also dissolved two other opposition groups, namely al-Tawiya and al-Risala Islamic associations.

Officials in al-Wefaq denounced the suspension as illegal and called on the international community to take action in the face of the Bahraini regime’s suppression of dissident.

Al-Wefaq’s Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman has been in prison since December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the regime and collaborating with foreign powers, which he has denied.

Bahraini women hold placards bearing the portrait of Senior cleric Sheikh Ali Salman during a protest against his arrest at the al-Wefaq headquarters in Zinj, near Manama, May 29, 2016. © AFP

Bahrain revokes citizenship of 8 Shias

In another development on Thursday, a Bahraini criminal court sentenced eight Shia nationals to 15 years in prison each and stripped the defendants of their citizenship.

According to a judicial source, the eight were accused of forming a “terror” group in 2014, possessing arms and attempting to kill policemen in the Bahraini village of Nuwaidrat.

Two other defendants were also handed down jail terms of three years each for participating in an unauthorized demonstration in the same village in June 2014.

Since mid-February 2011, Bahrain, a close ally of the US in the Persian Gulf region, has been witnessing almost daily protests demanding that the ruling family relinquish power.

The Al Khalifah regime is engaged in a harsh crackdown on dissent and widespread discrimination against the country's Shia majority. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the island country.

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