Bahrain’s third parliamentary elections under King Hamad took place in an atmosphere of strong political tension. The election campaign period was preceded by a wave of arrests of more than 200 mostly-Shi‘i individuals accused of inciting or involvement in street violence. It especially targeted the leaders and members of unlicensed political associations, Haq and al-Wafa', which had called for a boycott of the elections, accusing them of being involved in a “terror network” and plotting to overthrow the government by instigating unrest. This was followed in September by the blocking of the main opposition association’s website, the banning of the publications of four opposition political associations and the withdrawal of their publishing licences. In addition, the government dissolved the board of the independent Bahrain Human Rights Society, closed down all the electronic websites and forums that hold critical political opinions, and arrested bloggers.
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