Lebanese interior minister said the events would undermine Bahraini authorities as Beirut tries to patch up months-old diplomatic row with Gulf states
Lebanon has banned Bahraini opposition figures from holding two events, weeks after ordering their expulsion from the country amid ongoing diplomatic tensions between Beirut and Gulf states.
In December, Lebanese Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi instructed General Security to deport members of Al-Wefaq, Bahrain‘s leading opposition party, after they held a news conference and released reports highlighting human rights abuses in the kingdom.
On Thursday, Mawlawi said he was banning two Bahraini opposition events scheduled to be held on Friday and next Monday, but it was not immediately clear who the organisers were.
“If these two events were to take place, they would undermine official Bahraini authorities and Gulf Arab states, thus blocking efforts by Lebanon to boost ties with these countries,” Mawlawi said in a statement.
In October, Saudi Arabia and its allies, including Bahrain, suspended diplomatic ties with Lebanon after then Lebanese information minister, George Kordahi, criticised Riyadh’s military intervention in Yemen.
Kordahi resigned in early December in an attempt to ease the stand-off which has impacted Lebanon’s already battered economy. A little over a week later, Mawlawi ordered the deportation, hours after a call with his Bahraini counterpart, criticising the Al-Wefaq event.
Since Bahrain’s 2011 uprising, which ended in a bloody crackdown with the help of Saudi forces, opposition parties have been banned, with dozens of political opponents jailed, triggering international criticism. Al-Wefaq was banned in July 2016.
In December, Bahraini opposition figures living in Lebanon told MEE that the deportation order put all of them in danger.
“Beirut became a refuge for so many of our colleagues and fellow activists aspiring for a better Bahrain,” said Baqir Darwish, head of the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights.