Report: Bahraini elections a “sham” as boycott calls lead to imprisonment

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London – On 12 November 2022, Bahrain will hold its parliamentary and municipal elections. 

  • The report finds that the elections “will be the most restricted in 20 years”, “will not be free, fair or democratic, but will be sham elections which are devoid of legitimacy and serve the purpose of maintaining the status quo” and “will provide nothing more than a false veneer of democracy in a transparent attempt to legitimise what continues to be an undemocratic state ruled by a dictatorial monarchy.”
  • The report further finds that heavy repression in the run-up to these elections has explicitly targeted political dissidents, and makes the revelation that this will prevent an estimated 80,000 individuals from running for the elections, and deny over 70,000 individuals their right to vote.
  • In the wake of the state criminalising freedom of expression in the run-up to elections, the report finds that they will take place in “in a climate of sustained intensified repression, fear-mongering and intimidation.”
  • The report features quotes from important opposition and civil society voices which are impacted by these policies, these include the leader of the dissolved secular party Wa’ad, Ebrahim Sharif, and senior member of Al-Wefaq.
  • The report makes recommendations to the governments of Bahrain, EU member states and the UK, calling on Bahrain to repeal its repressive legislation, reinstate forcibly dissolved political societies and release imprisoned opposition figures, human rights defenders and death row inmates.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), commented:A cycle of repressive laws passed over twenty years, alongside threats of imprisonment to those who publicly call for a boycott, place this year’s election as the worst since the parliamentary processes resumed in 2002. Dismantling and excluding opposition voices by forbidding them from running, imprisoning them and forcing them into exile makes a mockery of democratic principles. These are nothing more than pseudo-elections.”

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