The authorities on Tuesday dissolved the human rights group after leading Bahraini human rights activist Abd Al-Hadi al-Khawaja criticised the prime minister and called for him to quit.

Nabil Rajab, president of the BCHR told Aljazeera.net: "On Friday we were discussing economic rights and poverty in Bahrain at a meeting in a social and cultural centre called the Uraba club.

"More than half of Bahrain's population is living under the poverty line and we have facts and figures to prove this.

"During the discussion, al-Khawaja, the centre's executive director, said the Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa and the government are responsible for the poverty.

"This angered the government, so they closed the Uraba club down, then they arrested al-Khawaja."

Continue fighting

Bahrain's prime minister has
been accused of economic failure

"An order for the centre's closure has been sent to a newspaper, but we still haven't received anything.

"It is shocking that just because of the criticism of the prime minister the centre is being closed down.

"Whether they manage to close us down or not we will continue to keep fighting. The centre is only two years old, before the centre we were still actively fighting for human rights issues across the world and we are not going to stop now," Rajab added.

Government stance

"The BCHR contravened the 1989 Societies Law and that is why we have closed it down," Labour Minister Majid al-Allawi told Aljazeera.net

"Rajab and the group have been writing letters over the past year inciting violence in the country. As a supposed human rights group they have taken a biased anti-government stance," he added.

"Saying that we are violating human rights is wrong, in fact we are hoping to expand our free thinking groups"

Labour Minister Majid al-Allawi

"In no way are we stopping people's right to express their opinions. We have over 360 societies operating in Bahrain, including political societies, women's societies, economic societies and at least three human rights societies.

"Saying that we are violating human rights is wrong, in fact we are hoping to expand our free thinking groups."

Al-Allawi told Aljazeera.net he made numerous offers to meet with the BCHR but Rajab refused.

"They have also closed their fax line so that we cannot get our letter through to them, and now they are complaining that they have not received it," al-Allawi said.

He said al-Khawaja was not arrested for speaking out against the prime minister; he was arrested for violating a number of laws which incited protests against the country.

"After two weeks the BCHR have the right to appeal against our decision to close them down," al-Allawi added.