Military courts for civilians: The new face of the Bahraini judicial system

Published March 5th, 2017 - 03:26 GMT
Bahraini protesters clash with police as they are sprayed with tear gas. [AFP]
Bahraini protesters clash with police as they are sprayed with tear gas. [AFP]

Ordinary Bahraini citizens can now be subject to military trials under Bahraini law, according to an article on Bloomberg, raising alarm in the human rights sector. The island nation, which has a majority Shia Muslim population but is ruled by an elite Sunni Muslim monarchy, has been a stage for unrest since 2011 during the Arab Spring.

While countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and Libya witnessed political upheaval that in some cases resulted in widespread civil war, the revolution in Bahrain was crushed with appalling force by the Bahraini government. Though the small country presents a veneer of calm to the outside world, there is still discontent constantly brewing, and Shia resentment festers.

On social media, people have been talking about what the new ruling means for Bahraini civilians:

One Twitter account that posts updates on the human rights situation in Bahrain provides a glimpse of some of the people who might be subject to new and improved judicial system:

The sixteen people referenced in the above tweet who are still in custody will be subject to military courts; due process at its finest. 

There have also been reports that prisoners have been denied the right to visitors:

And some families of prisoners being held in Juw Prison have told us (Bahrain Human Rights) that they have been forbidden from seeing their sons without being given clarification as to why

In addition, one Shia city in the northwest part of the country, Duraz, has apparently suffered from severe internet restrictions for 250 days as of yesterday; a quick search online will reveal that it’s not the first time that the city has suffered from being banned from technology. The city is also reportedly under a near complete blockade:

Conflicts in the Middle East have many different factors at play, and each country's specific political and social conditions mean that the experience of unrest is nuanced. However, it is only fair to recognize that a large component of political upheaval in the Gulf region, namely in Yemen and Bahrain, has been linked to Sunni and Shia sectarian differences. The Saudi government, which runs the most conservative Sunni nation in the Midldle East, has intervened in both Yemen and Bahrain to quell Shia uprisings.


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