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Authorities deny application for public sit-in

(BCHR/IFEX) - The Bahraini authorities informed a group of individuals requesting permission to stage a public sit-in that their application was not approved and furthermore instructed them that it should be withdrawn, because it was submitted at such a late date. Four registered political groups (Alwefaq, Waad, Amal and Al-Ekha'e) had called for the sit-in to protest the latest security measures taken by the authorities, which have resulted in a series of house arrests of activists and the prosecution of well known dissident figures.

According to the Ministry of Interior (MOI), the sit-in violates Article 245 of the Bahraini law which focuses on public acts or means of publicity that may impact on judicial bodies, those in charge of an investigation or witnesses, or influence public opinion in the interest of a party to a proceeding or an investigation.

BCHR president Nabeel Rajab commented on the ministry's decision, saying, "This is utterly outrageous. The MOI and the Public Prosecution violated this particular Article when TV (stations) aired the said confessions by those detained in the alleged Terror Plot, without considering the rights of those detainees, who were not aware that they were videoed and later broadcast . . . Moreover, peaceful sit-ins are a way of expression, especially in a country that has shut down all its political and human rights discussion forums and Internet sites."

According to BCHR, this is an additional type of restriction to freedom of expression imposed by the authorities on organizations and groups. "There is no excuse for the authorities to ban a registered organization from exercising its basic right of assembly and expression," Rajab further added. "It is no wonder that some groupings prefer not to notify the authorities when deciding to hold a protest in public. We are concerned about the series of restrictions and bans (and fear) that they will lead to outbursts and irrational ways of expression."

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