MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) – Bahrain has forbid Amnesty International from holding a soccer game that aimed at publicizing its call for the release of the three Bahrainis detained in Guantanamo, according to reports Saturday. Bahrain’s Social Development Minister Fatima al-Belooshi told the local press in reports published Saturday that the local chapter of Amnesty International was prohibited from holding events because it was not registered with the government.
“We can’t allow any group to function in the name of any international organization without gaining formal recognition,” al-Belooshi said.
Naser Berdestani, the representative of the local chapter of the London-based human rights watchdog said that the government informed him Thursday that he could not hold the match scheduled for Friday.
Berdestani canceled the game because “Amnesty International respects the rule of law,” he said. The group set up a Bahrain chapter in 2002.
He told the AP that supporters of the local chapter were to play in the game, with one team representing Guantanamo prisoners, the other the U.S. military. In April, Bahrain’s Human Rights Society held a protest calling for the release of Salah Abdulrasool Al Blooshi, 24, Isa Abdulla Al Murbati, 41, and Juma Mohammed Al Dossary, 32, who are approaching their fifth year of detention without trial.
Three Bahrainis, including a member of the Bahraini royal family, were released in November.