(MENAFN) Referring to a statement by Bahraini Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, Human Rights Watch(HRW) condemned the Bahraini regime over threatening to crack down on activists and dissidents that criticize the despotic Al Khalifah regime online.
The Minister said on March 25 that Manama was already tracking accounts that "departed from national norms, customs and traditions," and threatened unspecified new legislation and heavy punishments against "violators.
"No one can mistake the government's latest assault on the shrinking space for dissent," said Deputy Middle East Director of HRW Eric Goldstein in a Saturday statement.
"A vow to punish those who 'depart from national norms and customs' is clearly aimed at anyone who criticizes the government's policies," the HRW official added.
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. Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al-Khalifah regime's crackdown.