Former Bahraini legislator barred from leaving country for treatment

Bahraini authorities have prevented a former lawmaker from traveling abroad for treatment in the latest restrictions imposed by the ruling Al Khalifah regime on political dissidents and pro-democracy activists in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Ebtisam al-Saegh wrote on her official Instagram page on Friday that Osama Muhana al-Tamimi was stopped at Bahrain International Airport as he was trying to travel to the Omani capital city of Muscat on board an Oman Air fight, Arabic-language Bahrain Mirror news website reported.

Tamimi’s family said they had confirmed electronically that there was no travel ban against him, demanding the restricting to be lifted

The former Bahraini legislator recently suffered a stroke, and his doctor advised him to receive medical treatment abroad due to a blood clot in his brain.

Amnesty International, in a statement released on July 3, expressed “grave alarm” over the actions taken against Tamimi, which include the targeting of his businesses and personal safety.

“The actions against al-Tamimi come in a climate of escalated state intimidation aiming to quash free expression. In addition to official agencies’ actions against al-Tamimi – including multiple summonses and an attempt to confiscate his personal phone without a warrant – there have been a number of incidents targeting al-Tamimi’s businesses and personal safety in recent years which the government has failed to adequately investigate,” the statement read.

“The broader context involves a series of recent statements by the highest officials, including the King, that criticism of government, especially on social media, will not be tolerated,” it added.

Tamimi entered Bahrain’s Council of Representatives after the by-elections of October 2011. He became known as a harsh critic of the ruling Al Khalifah regime while in parliament and as one of the few Sunni parliamentarians willing to speak out against repression of Shia citizens.

He called for the resignation of Prime Minister Khalifah bin Salman Al Khalifah in an April 2012 speech. Tamimi called for the release of prominent human rights activist and prisoner of conscience Nabeel Rajab in another parliamentary speech on February 11, 2014.

On May 20, 2014, the Council of Representatives removed Tamimi from parliament in a secret vote following deliberations that were closed to the press.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established. Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.

Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3, 2017.

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