Continuing Abuses by Bahraini Government Demand Stronger Response by U.S. and International Community | Page 71 | Freedom House

Continuing Abuses by Bahraini Government Demand Stronger Response by U.S. and International Community

Washington

Freedom House welcomes yesterday’s statement by the United States at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva listing Bahrain as one of several countries that should receive additional scrutiny by the body and urges stronger U.S. and international action in response to the ongoing abuses in that country.  
 
Despite a violent crackdown by the Bahraini government, in which at least 31 people have been killed since demonstrations began in February, responses by most countries to the abuses taking place in the Gulf country—including by the United States—have been muted.  Just last week, President Obama personally met with Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and reaffirmed the “strong commitment of the United States to Bahrain.” 
 
“Freedom House welcomes yesterday’s call by the U.S. to focus the Human Rights Council’s attention on serious human rights violations occurring in the midst of protests by peaceful activists seeking political reform,” said Charles Dunne, senior program manager for Freedom House’s Middle East and North Africa program. “However, as an important ally to Bahrain, the United States must do more to stem the Bahraini government’s continued violence against and arrests of activists, journalists, medical professionals and demonstrators.  We further urge the Bahraini government to cooperate fully with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and to investigate all allegations of violence in an accountable, just, and transparent manner.”
 
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has been outspoken in response to the abuses, strongly condemning the actions of Bahrain’s government to crack down on demonstrators and hospital workers back in March and requesting a formal UN investigatory mission to the country.  While Bahrain has agreed in principle to the visit, a date has yet to be scheduled.
 
In addition to the 31 individuals killed in the violent crackdown by the Bahraini government, many protesters have been threatened, lost their jobs or homes, or been prevented from continuing their studies. The government has taken extreme measures to silence both critics and journalists attempting to provide information to the outside world, including intimidation and torture of their family members.
 
“Bahrain’s attempt to restrict coverage of the widespread demonstrations has included a crackdown on traditional and online journalists, who have been deported, arrested, held incommunicado, and some reportedly tortured,” said Courtney C. Radsch, Freedom House’s Freedom of Expression officer. “Freedom House calls on authorities to take measures to ensure the rights of its public to information and due process and to end its persecution against those demonstrating for political reform.”
Yesterday, lawyer Mohammed Al-Tajer was arrested after he defended human rights activists in court. Earlier this week, three Bahraini women were arrested after staging a sit-in in the U.N. building. At least 48 medical professionals have been arrested and put on trial in recent weeks, after being accused of playing a role in the uprising that has been going on since February.
 
Bahrain is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.
 
For more information on Bahrain, visit:
 
 
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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