by: Marc Owen Jones
Published on http://www.yourmiddleeast.com
Although Bahrain has largely fallen out of the global media spotlight, a renewed government crackdown ahead of the ‘Tamorrod’ protests on August 14th is threatening to push the country towards a deeper crisis. In order to deal with this ‘terrorist’ threat, King Hamad called for an extraordinary session of parliament, and despite the questionable constitutionality of the meeting, the virtually oppositionless elected assembly agreed to 22 pieces of draconian anti-terror legislation. In testament to the dire conditions of Bahrain’s government controlled civil society, the Minister of Human Rights lauded these repressive recommendations, which included the revocation of citizenship for convicted of terrorism, and the banning of protests in Manama.
Yet despite this renewed crackdown, many of the measures proposed in the extraordinary meeting have already been in place. Thirty-one Bahrainis were stripped of their citizenship back in November 2012, and there has been a de facto ban on protests in Manama since last year. Other recent examples of reactionary laws include the approval by the upper chamber of legislation making it illegal to ‘incite hatred’ against the security forces (whatever that means). Activists are also languishing in detention, months beforegoing on trial, and evidence points to the use of forced confessions. On top of this, the government has expanded its surveillance apparatus to further limit freedom of expression. Even calling the King a ‘dictator’ on Twitter will land you in jail, as has been the case with at least eleven people.