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Bahrain court suspends main opposition group
Bahrain court suspends main opposition group

[JURIST] A Bahrain court on Tuesday ordered the country’s main Shiite opposition group, Al-Wefaq [GU Berkley Center Backgrounder] to suspend all activities. Bahrain’s Ministry of Justice [official website, in Arabic] filed the lawsuit [JURIST report] in July. The ruling means that Al-Wefaq cannot operate for three months in the Gulf island kingdom. The group cannot organize rallies or press conferences, issue statements or use its offices. Earlier this month Al-Wefaq announced it would boycott November 22 elections because it felt that the government did not genuinely engage in reconciliations efforts following protests to the Sunni monarchy in 2011. The group plans to appeal the decision.

Political tensions remain high in Bahrain following protests that began in 2011. In July the leader of the Al-Wefaq party was charged over meeting with a US diplomat [JURIST report]. In April a Bahrain court sentenced [JURIST report] eight activists to life in prison for killing a policeman and participating in anti-regime protests last August. In March a Bahrain court sentenced [JURIST report] 13 citizens to life in prison and one man to 10 years in prison for attempting to kill a police officer and participating in an illegal protest. Also in March Bahrain’s Fourth High Criminal Court convicted 11 defendants [JURIST report] of possessing weapons, ammunition and explosives and of manufacturing bombs for terror purposes, which resulted in 15-year prison sentences for the accused and significant fines. In late 2013 a judge in Bahrain rejected [JURIST report] a request from human rights activist Nabeel Rajab to approve his conditional early release, for which Rajab was eligible under Bahraini law. US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki commented that the US continues to urge Bahrain to permit all sectors of society to peacefully voice their political views.