Report on Freedom of Assembly and of Association in Bahrain



 Report on Freedom of Assembly and of Association in Bahrain

October 2022

Bahrain Center for Human Rights 

Executive Summary

The state of the rights to peaceful assembly and association is dim in Bahrain. More than two decades ago, the Bahraini government promised its citizens political reform and a democratic transition. But in 2022, Bahrain is more repressive than ever. Notwithstanding the numerous international and regional obligations that it holds to protect and promote the freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the government of Bahrain has systematically dismantled political opposition and cracked down on dissent. Demonstration permits are required to assemble; even then, protestors face being forcibly dispersed by security forces or long sentences through overly vague and exploited national security laws. Since their violent crackdown on the 2011 pro-democracy uprising, thousands of individuals have been convicted in violation of their right to freedom of expression. Notably, twelve of the country’s most prominent Shia religious and political leaders are imprisoned—eleven of whom have been detained since 2011 for their participation in pro-democracy protests.

Concerningly, given the upcoming November 2022 parliamentary elections, political opposition groups have been dissolved—notably, Al-Wefaq and Wa’ad, the two most popular political societies in Bahrain—its leaders are imprisoned, and those previously affiliated with banned political societies are denied their right to participate in political life. Those affiliated with these groups critical of the government have even been deported by neighboring states to face punishment in Manama. Bahraini authorities have also directed security forces to “end the misuse of social media,” resulting in the harassment and imprisonment of its critics online. The case studies examine the long-term imprisonment of three prominent human rights defenders for attempting to peacefully assemble or for their associations with political groups.

This research was carried out by Sayed Yousef AlMuhafdah of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) as part of the WeActTogether campaign, which highlights the role that civil society has played in successfully advocating for rights and freedoms while also highlighting the importance of civil society as a platform from which individuals may voice their opinions and demands. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Innovation for Change Middle East and North Africa Hub (I4C MENA) work together jointly on this project, and BCHR is a partner. Visit:

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