September 8, 2017 / 9:19 AM / 2 months ago

Bahrain rejects Amnesty report citing crackdown on dissent

DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain condemned as inaccurate a report by the Amnesty International rights group accusing the Bahraini government of crushing dissent and violently cracking down on protests over the last year.

Amnesty said in a report on Thursday that it had documented how the Bahraini government, from June 2016 to June 2017, had arrested, tortured, threatened or banned from travel at least 169 activists and opponents or their relatives.

It also accused in particular Britain and the United States, who both have military facilities in Bahrain, of turning a blind eye to abuses.

“Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Kingdom of Bahrain regrets inaccuracies contained in Amnesty International’s report,” the ministry said on its twitter account.

It gave no details.

“MoFA stresses commitment of Kingdom of Bahrain to respect and promote freedoms and human rights principles.”

Amnesty International said it had documented security officers beating protesters, firing tear gas, shotguns and semi-automatic rifles directly at protesters and driving armoured vehicles and personnel carriers into protests.

Bahrain has been a flashpoint since the Sunni-led government put down Arab Spring protests in 2011. The kingdom, most of whose population is Shi‘ite, says it faces a threat from neighbouring Shi‘ite theocracy Iran.

Entitled “No one can protect you: Bahrain’s year of crushing dissent”, the Amnesty report said at least six people had been killed, including a child, in the crackdowns.

Bahrain has intensified a crackdown on critics, shutting down two main political groups, revoking the citizenship of the spiritual leader of the Shi‘ite Muslim community and jailing rights campaigners.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; editing by Ralph Boulton

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