Bahrain’s 2011 parliamentary by-elections were held following the resignation in February of 18 MPs from the main opposition association, al-Wefaq, who had been elected in October 2010 (see report on Bahrain’s 2010 parliamentary elections). This decision was taken in reaction to the government’s violence against protesters who gathered at the Pearl Roundabout in Manama to demand a new Constitution with an elected Prime Minister and full legislative powers for the Council of Representatives.
Since February, Bahrain has experienced one of the darkest periods of its history, with the military intervention of Saudi and UAE troops (on behalf of the Peninsula Shield Force) on March 14, the death of more than 30 people in clashes between the protesters and the security forces, the implementation of the state of emergency law between March 15 and June 1, and the only independent newspaper al-Wasat’s arbitrary suspension in April, followed by the prosecution of four of its staff. More than 1,500 people (0.4% of the national population aged over 15) were arrested and repeatedly tortured, and around 200 were brought before military courts. Among them, the leaders of the unlicensed Haq and al-Wafa' associations (‘Abd al-Wahhab Hussein and Hassan Mushaima’) and the Secretary-General of Wa‘ad Ibrahim Sharif, as well as other non-violent opposition figures, were sentenced in June to life in prison and five years respectively for their alleged role in "plotting to topple the regime." Two other protesters were sentenced to death.
This observation mission was made possible thanks to funding from the Spanish
Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID).
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