SALAM: Authorities in Bahrain continue to target former MPs for exercising their Parliamentary right of supervision and accountability

SALAM: Authorities in Bahrain continue to target former MPs for exercising their Parliamentary right of supervision and accountability
Policy of targeting former MPs by the Bahraini authorities for exercising their parliamentary right of investigating and holding accountable members of the executive branches continues with court cases rife. The Lower Criminal Court of Bahrain has imprisoned former MP Khaled Abdelaal for a year, after being accused of “tweeting” an alleged insult against the Interior Ministry during his time as MP. Public prosecution first charged him in April 2014.
Mr Abdelaal said, “the formation of the whole case indicates the decline in freedoms in Bahrain and the falling of the transparency ceiling and freedom of opinion to an unprecedented level …”. He added that “the allegations and grounds for indictment do not stand up in the case, especially when considering the role of an elected MP by people, who supervises the executive authority branch, including the Ministry of Interior”.
Mr Abdelaal also stressed the following:
“This illogical judicial ruling is a punishment for person or MPs who are expressing the grievances of the people, punishing MPs for exercising duties of supervision and accountability. It is a confirmation of the accusation that the legislative authority is a sham and discredited authority that has no capacity to deal with its own affairs.
“The way of MPs are being dragged in the corridors of the courts is an explicit threat to current and future MPs who are tempted to direct blame or criticise any government ministry or institution. It will ensure the Bahraini democratic process remains without any meaningful of reforms.”
SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights examined the cases of a number of former MPs who were targeted and punished for their political views, many of whom come from different backgrounds and sections of society. Their cases clearly illustrate the extent the Bahraini authorities are going to ensure a constricted policy on freedom of opinion and expression against all citizens, including members of parliament, and is further proof of the absence of democracy in Bahrain.
The Bahraini authorities adopted a restrictive and targeted policy against all its dissidents, including MPs who do not belong to the opposition, who only expressed a dissenting opinion. Examples include Khaled Abdel Aal and Osama al-Tamimi. One of the former MPs and victim of targeting by the Bahraini authorities, Jawad Fairooz, president of SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, said:
When I served as MP, it was my duty to hold the government accountable or any official. A media personality warned me that the authorities do not accept my activities or the exercising of my right to scrutinise those accountable, and that I will be a target of revenge sooner or later you.”
Mr Fairooz added that during the period of his arrest, one of the investigators in Bahrain’s security apparatus said to him the following:
Who do you think you are to hold ruling figures accountable or to even question them?! Even if they are ministers.
Mr Fairooz firmly believes that the targeting of MPs only confirms that the Bahraini authorities remain adamant on targeting freedom of opinion and expression, including MPs who are entitled and obligated to express their opinions and hold the government and its officials accountable. Moreover, the International Parliamentarians Federation has condemned the targeting of former MP Jawad Fairooz and Matar Matar in its report published in 2013.
SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights affirms that freedom of opinion and expression is not kept in Bahrain and former and current MPs are targeted simply for exercising their right to opinion and scrutiny. MPs constitutional right under Article 89, dissidents, and human rights activists are unable to exercise any rights. Thus, such rights and duties exist only in theory and on paper.
In addition, SALAM reiterates that the targeting of former MP and former head of Al-Wefaq’s parliamentary group, General Secretary Sheikh Ali Salman, and former MP and head of the Al-Wefaq’s Consultivative Council, Jameel Kadhim, came in retaliation for their opposition activities and a restriction on their freedom of opinion and expression. SALAM calls for their immediate release and the dropping of charges against them.
The following are the names of MPs who have so far been targeted:
Former MP Sheikh Ali Salman: Secretary General of Al Wefaq and the former President of the largest opposition bloc in parliament. Currently detained because of his political views and awaiting a verdict on 16 June 2015. Note that he was targeted in one of the marches by direct and deliberate tear gas shot and was summoned for investigations several times. His home has been attacked repeatedly with tear gas.
Former MP Matar Matar: Detained for several months where he was subjected to various forms of torture. Left Bahrain and is currently living in the USA.
Former MP Khalil Marzooq: Chairman of the opposition bloc in parliament. Arrested and prevented from traveling for a long time for frivolous charges and was released after baseless arrest.
Former MP Jameel Kadhim: Currently serving six months in prison because of a tweet on social media site Twitter.
Former MP Jalal Fairooz: Had his nationality revoked, his wife was targeted in her work place and his daughter’s university scholarship was revoked as revenge for his activities. Currently living outside of Bahrain.
Former MP Majeed Al Sabeaa: Has been arrested and detained for several days.
Former MP Osama Al-Tamimi: Had his parliamentary membership revoked as a result of his human rights activities and for fighting corruption. Deprived of his pension, while his business was attacked with machine guns after criticizing the Prime Minister. Was imprisoned recently for approximately one month until his release following the temporary grant of bail. Awaits his sentencing.
Former MP Jawad Fairooz: His house was attacked by Molotov cocktails several times and then arrested, tortured and deprived of his pension. Also had his nationality revoked, and his family were targeted, including wife, who was arrested and tortured. Currently living outside of Bahrain.
Former MP Khaled Abdelaal: Has been sentenced to a 1-year imprisonment because of a tweet in which he criticized the practices of the Ministry of the Interior during a period in which he was MP.
In addition, a list of opposition MPs were published and distributed to the Gulf States to prevent them from entering.
SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights confirms that Bahraini authorities are no longer committed to the even the simplest right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the law is used to punish all those who attempt to exercise it.