A court in Bahrain has ordered the dissolution of the country's main secular opposition group. The move has been heavily criticised by rights organisations.
The National Democratic Action Society (Waad) tweeted on Wednesday (31 May) that the court had ordered its dissolution and the seizing of its assets.
The group advocates for democracy and respect of human rights in the Sunni-led kingdom of Bahrain.
The court accused the group of glorying "as martyrs" the men who had been convicted of killing three police officers during a bomb attack in 2014.
The court also said Waad had breached the country's laws by announcing it "rejected the 2002 constitution as illegitimate" and showed solidarity with the now dissolved Shia group Wefaq National Islamic Society.
Waad rejected the allegations.
The verdict can be appealed. It came after the Justice Ministry filed a case against Waad in March, accusing it of "serious violations targeting the principle of respecting the rule of law, supporting terrorism and sanctioning violence".
The move followed Waad's statement in which the group said the country was facing a "constitutional political crisis". The statement was issued to commemorate the anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising in the country, which was ultimately suppressed by the government.
Rights group Amnesty International criticised the court's ruling, claiming it signalled Bahrain was heading towards a "total suppression of human rights".
"The suspension of Wa'ad is a flagrant attack on freedom of expression and association, and further proof that the authorities have no intention of delivering on promises of human rights progress," Lynn Maalouf, Director of research at Amnesty International's Beirut Regional Office, said.
London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said the dissolution of the party was a "de facto ban on all opposition".
"The Government of Bahrain is acting with the aim of totally silencing all peaceful voices, leaving open the alternative of underground opposition and violence," Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the institute, said.
"This was allowed to happen because Bahrain feels zero geopolitical and international pressure from 'champions of democracy' in the west," he continued.
Last year, the government dissolved Wefaq National Islamic Society and revoked the citizenship of Ayatollah Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain's Shias, after accusing him of fomenting sectarian divisions.
Earlier this month, at least five people were killed and nearly 300 injured when security forces enteredQassim's home village of Diraz, near the capital Manama, where the leader's supporters had camped to protest against his citizenship being revoked.
The embassy of Bahrain in London did not respond to a request for comment.