Following moves to further criminalise public dissent, the island nation of Bahrain has arrested at least two people today on charges of being “Qatar sympathisers,” based on public comments in which the two men were seen as opposed to the Saudi-led blockade on nearly Qatar.(Aljazeera News Reported)
One of the two men was identified as Issa Faraj Arhama al-Burshaid, a human rights lawyer who filed a lawsuit attempting to challenge the blockade, accusing it of breaking up families in Bahrain by expelling Qatari citizens. The lawsuit will not happen, and Burshad has been thrown in jail for even trying to do so.
He described the measures taken by his country against Qatar as “arbitrary”.
“This siege has broken up family ties and hurt all Bahraini families,” said Burshaid. “The decision to cut diplomatic relations violates Bahrain’s constitution and laws.”
While the ban on Qataris staying in Bahrain breaks families up in the two countries, it also imposes restrictions on the free movement of Bahraini citizens, Burshaid said.
The other man was not publicly identified but was only said to have been a social media user who was accused of making postings that “opposed the decision of the kingdom” to move against Qatar.
Bahrain on Thursday declared it a crime – punishable by imprisonment of up to five years and a fine – to show “sympathy or favouritism” to Qatar or to object in any way to Bahrain’s decision to break relations and impose economic and border restrictions on its neighbour.
The United Arab Emirates made a similar move – with a possible 15-year penalty – prohibiting criticism of its government or sympathy towards Qatar “whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form”.
GCC members Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain, along with Egypt, severed ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of fomenting regional unrest, supporting “terrorism”, and getting too close to Iran, all of which Doha denies.