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Bahrain vows to come down hard on anti-regime social media activists

Bahraini authorities have said they would adopt “severe measures” to hunt online political dissidents and anti-regime activists. (Illustrative photo)

Bahraini authorities have announced they would be taking "severe measures" to track down political dissidents and anti-regime activists who use social media as the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty does not shy away from its heavy-handed crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifah said in a statement that the Manama regime was adopting “severe measures to deal with unprecedented chaos by disruptive social media accounts.”

He added that some social media dissidents have been flagellated by authorities for what he described as “spreading malicious rumors.”

“We are not far from tracking down those behind this, and taking legal action against them,” Khalifah said, adding that if necessary new legislation could be passed.

Online social networking sites, notably Twitter, are a major platform for human rights activists in Bahrain, where Human Rights Watch (HRW) has expressed deep concern over the high number of citizenship revocations and Amnesty International has protested at proceedings that have failed to meet the standards of a fair trial.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.

Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.

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