STATEMENTS

European Parliament’s damning resolution on Bahrain

The international human rights community has welcomed the approval by an overwhelming majority of the European Parliament – 633 votes for, 11 against and 45 abstentions – of a resolution condemning in the strongest terms the human rights situation in Bahrain. The EP’s resolution confirmed that ten years after the Bahraini “Arab Spring” uprising had been crushed by local authorities supported by military assistance from Saudi Arabia, the Bahraini authorities continue unabated to criminalise free speech and silence any peaceful dissent, including by targeting children, despite their hollow promises of political reform. This systematic crackdown, ranging from the application of the death penalty to arbitrary arrests and prosecution, torture, intimidation, travel bans and revocation of citizenship, leads to a brutal denial of civil and political rights and freedoms of association, assembly, and expression in the country. The EP made an unequivocal call urging the Bahraini authorities: to stop their repressive and retaliatory practices against human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and political activists, both inside and outside the country; to guarantee a safe and free space for civil society organisations, independent media and political societies to operate in Bahrain, including those that had been dissolved; to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience, detained and sentenced for merely expressing their opinions, and to drop all charges against them; to halt the use of the death penalty and ensure that judicial procedures fully comply with international fair trial standards; and to allow for thorough and credible investigations into allegations of torture and other cruel, degrading treatments against detainees, with a view to holding those responsible accountable.
The tenth anniversary of the military invasion of Bahrain by Saudi and Emirati forces was marked by native Bahrainis inside and outside the country who called for the immediate and conditional withdrawal of the invaders. Several demonstrations were held in the past few days, denouncing the military attack that caused death and mayhem. It led to the quashing of the Revolution, destruction of the Pearl Roundabout and monument, the imposition of martial law and the forming of military courts. Outside Bahrain several activities were held including protests outside the Saudi and khalifi embassies in London and online seminars to mark the detention of the leaders of Revolution and the demolition of over 40 mosques.
On 10th March Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed that police in Bahrain had beaten children who were arrested in protest-related cases last month, and threatened them with rape and electric shocks,. According to the rights group, four children remain in detention and are being tried as adults, including a 16-year-old with a serious medical condition. HRW has called for action to be taken and for the children to be released. “Bahrain should release all children when there are alternatives to detention and drop abusive charges against them,” the report read. ‘The UK, US, and other governments should ensure that their security support to Bahrain is not being used to torture and humiliate kids’. In some of the cases cited, children as young as 13 were arrested, beaten and threatened.Later,theyweresummonedbyaprosecutorwithouttheirparentsoralawyerpresent. BillVanEsveld, the associate children’s rights director at HRW, said that the instances of abuse against children in Bahrain are the latest example in a long record of harm done to children in the country. “The UK, US and other governments should ensure that their security support to Bahrain is not being used to torture and humiliate kids,” he said.
On 9th March the Students’ Union and employees of the University of Huddersfield in Britain called on the university administration to suspend a training program for a police academy in Bahrain involved in human rights violations. The Union urged the university administration to suspend a partnership program it ran in cooperation with the Royal Academy of Police in Bahrain. This was against the background of documented cases of widespread torture of political prisoners inside the academy building. University employees and the University Colleges Association (UCU) published a letter demanding that the university end its association with the academic program “immediately” affirming that “It is reprehensible for the University of Huddersfield to assist an organization implicated in torture,” the letter said. Education is not for facilitating torture.
Political prisoners at Bloc 14 of the notorious Jau prison have started a protest against khalifi officials following a serious attempt on the life of a jailed political figure. An attempt to assassinate Sheikh Zuhair Ashoor has left him with serious wounds and led prisoners to protest at the regime-inspired attack by a “jailed” former soldier. Last month the regime was criticized for forcibly disappearing the Sheikh for more than one year and was humiliated into submitting to the demands to end its brutal treatment of Sheikh Ashoor. This latest attempt on his life is seen as an act of revenge by a regime whose pride and reputation had been tarnished by those episodes.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
17th March 2021(info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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