Bahraini authorities have barred members of a delegation from the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights from entering the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown against pro-democracy activists and opposition figures.
“I regret to inform you that the Kingdom of Bahrain has refused to allow a delegation from the European Parliament to visit Manama for technical reasons, which we did not expect,” Pier Antonio Panzeri, the Chairman of the European Parliament human rights delegation, said on Sunday.
On April 4, Bahraini officials did not allow a Danish parliamentarian and an Irish human rights activist, who were scheduled to meet Bahraini activists, to enter the country.
Danish legislator Aslan Rasmon and Irish activist Brian Dooley had planned to meet with imprisoned Bahraini human rights activists, including former president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, to find about the reality of civil liberties in the kingdom.
Khawaja is currently serving a life sentence for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Manama regime.
The well-known political activist has reportedly been subjected to physical and sexual torture while in prison, requiring a four-hour operation in a military hospital following injuries to his head. His family has also been harassed since his imprisonment.
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 dynasty 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.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.