Following moves to further criminalize public dissent, the island nation of Bahrain has arrested at least two people today on charges of being “Qatar sympathizers,” based on public comments in which the two men were seen as opposed to the Saudi-led blockade on nearly Qatar.
One of the two men was identified as Issa Faraj Arhama al-Burshad, 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.
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 and the United Arab Emirates have both threatened to jail anyone expressing “sympathy” for Qatar.
UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein was critical of the moves against dissidents on the Qatar issue, saying it was a “clear violation of the right to freedom of expression or opinion.” That right, clearly, does not exist as a legal concept in either Bahrain or the UAE.