Reporters without borders: Bahrain cracks down on dissent

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Media rights group Reporters Without Borders [commonly known by their French acronym RSF] has denounced what it calls ruthless suppression of minorities, political dissidents and campaigners by the government of Bahrain.

According to the Paris-based organization, the Persian Gulf emirate is repressing all dissent at an alarmingly fast rate, resulting in the imprisonment of several bloggers and journalists. The crackdown reportedly is not only limited to opposition newspapers, such as the al-Wasat paper that was shut down in June, but affects local journalists of international media outlets and even bloggers and non-professional writers.

The RSF statement comes after the Bahraini regime of king Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa sentenced blog writer Ali al-Mearaj to life in prison and journalist Mahmood al-Jazeeri to 15 years behind bars on October 30.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has experienced constant waves of protest ever since a popular uprising began in February 2011.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have been holding manifestations nearly every single day since then, and have been met with ever more extreme reactions by the regime in Manama. The protesters are demanding the abdication of the Saudi-backed Al Khalifa dynasty and the institution of an inclusive political system that will give fair representation to the nation's Shia majority.

Supported by Saudi and Emirati troops, Al Khalifa has clamped down on the opposition with growing tenacity. On March 5, Bahrain's parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of de facto martial law.

Nevertheless, the Bahraini monarch ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3.

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