How Syria and other countries use emergency rule to quash dissent

The concept of emergency rule has been at the forefront of much of the Mideast unrest. Meant to help a country in times of danger, emergency law has sometimes been turned into a political tool.

Bahrain

Bahrain instituted a state of emergency on March 15 after weeks of antigovernment protests. The emergency law, intended to last three months, authorizes the country’s armed forces to take all actions necessary to protect the country and citizens’ safety, according to the announcement of the law.

The state of emergency announcement came the day after Bahrain’s government allowed 1,000 Saudi troops into the country to help it maintain order; the following day, security forces cleared the capital's main protest encampment and Shiites have since reported discrimination at security checkpoints.

According to Bahrain’s constitution, declaring emergency law allows the government many powers, including the ability to control citizens’ movement and transportation; ban gatherings, NGOs, newspapers, and political societies; make arrests; and monitor residents’ correspondence.

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