Bahrain 2010-2016


  • December 3: Secretary Clinton after meeting with Bahrain Foreign Minister in Manama: “I am impressed by the commitment that the government has to the democratic path that Bahrain’s walking on.”


  • February 14–16: Mass protests break out in Bahrain, voicing a range of grievances including political and socio-economic concerns. Police open fire killing two protestors.
  • February 17: Police clear the Pearl Roundabout. Hundreds of protestors are injured and three are killed by police using shotguns. Al Wefaq, the political society with the largest amount of seats in Parliament, announces it will suspend its participation in Parliament.
  • February 18–May 30: King Hamad declares a three month state of emergency. Hundreds of peaceful dissidents, opposition leaders, and medics are arrested and many tortured.
  • March 14: The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) agrees to send troops at the request of the Bahraini Government. Saudi Arabian troops arrive and are joined by security forces from the UAE.
  • March 16: Secretary Clinton: “We find what’s happening in Bahrain alarming. We think that there is no security answer to the aspirations and demands of the demonstrators.”
  • March 18: Government forces demolish the Pearl Roundabout Monument.
  • April 1–11: At least four individuals are tortured to death while in custody.
  • April 4–October: Military trials begin for civilians who participated in the uprisings. Hundreds of Bahrainis are tried and sentenced in these “National Safety Courts.”
  • April–May: The government destroys dozens of Shi’a mosques and religious sites.
  • May: Human Rights First releases Bahrain: Speaking Softly
  • May 19: President Obama: “And for this season of change to succeed, Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain… The only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail.”
  • June 22: Thirteen leading opposition figures, rights activists, bloggers, and Shi’a clerics known as the “Bahrain 13” are convicted on charges of terrorism by a military court.
  • June 29: King Hamad establishes an Independent Commission chaired by international lawyer Cherif Bassiouni to investigate and report on the events which occurred earlier in the year.
  • July: Human Rights First releases Bahrain: A Tortuous Process
  • September 14: The Pentagon approves a proposed $53 million arms sale for Bahrain.
  • September 24–October 1: Parliamentary elections held to replace the seats vacated by Al-Wefaq. Al-Wefaq and the rest of the opposition societies boycott the election.
  • September 29: Twenty Bahraini medical professionals arrested on felony charges after treating protesters at the Salmaniya Medical Complex are handed jail terms of up to twenty years on charges of anti-government activity.
  • September 29: U.S. State Department: “We are deeply disturbed by the sentencing today of 20 medical professionals by the National Safety Court in Bahrain.”
  • October 12–13: Members of U.S. Congress including Senators Wyden, Casey, Durbin, Menendez, Cardin, and Rubio urge Secretary Clinton to suspend the $53 million arms deal to Bahrain.
  • November: The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report is released confirming the torture of detainees, the lethal force by public security forces on civilians, and the lack of accountability of officials within the security system.
  • November 23: Secretary Clinton: “We are deeply concerned about the abuses identified in the [BICI] report, and urge the Government and all elements of Bahraini society to address them in a prompt and systematic manner.”


  • February: Human Rights First releases Bahrain: The Gathering Storm
  • May 5: Authorities arrest leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab and detain him for 24 days.
  • May: Human Rights First releases Bahrain’s Reforms—No Backdown on Crackdown
  • May 11: U.S. senior administration officials: “Now in light of our own U.S. national security interests, the United States has decided, as the press statement noted, to release additional items and services for the Bahraini Defense Forces, Bahrain’s Coast Guard, and Bahrain’s National Guard.”
  • June 14: Bahraini court confirms the convictions against eleven of the twenty medics arrested on felony charges and acquits nine.
  • July 7–December: Authorities re-arrest Nabeel Rajab. Rajab is tried, retried, and receives two years in prison.
  • August: Human Rights First Lantos Testimony on Bahrain
  • August 8: U.S. DRL Assistant Secretary Michael H. Posner testimony at the Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights: “We are concerned that more than a year after the release of the BICI report, we see reports of continuing reprisals against Bahraini citizens who attempt to exercise their universal rights to free expression and assembly.”
  • September 4: U.S. State Department: “We are deeply troubled by today’s developments in which an appeals court upheld the vast majority of convictions and sentences of 13 Bahraini activists.”
  • September 28: A military appeals court upholds the convictions for the Bahrain 13.
  • November 9: State Department spokesperson: “We welcome the ‘Declaration of Principles of Nonviolence’ issued by six opposition political societies in Bahrain on November 7… We urge the government and these six political societies to engage seriously and practically about ways to allow for the resumption of peaceful demonstrations as soon as possible.”


  • February 10: A new round of “reconciliation talks” begins, excluding key opposition figures still in prison.
  • August: State Department releases human rights report on Bahrain, simultaneously noting a failure to implement most of the recommendations while praising the King for “the commendable progress already underway.”
  • September 18: Khalil Marzooq, a leading figure in the opposition Al Wefaq political movement, is arrested on charges of inciting terrorism.
  • November: Human Rights First releases Plan B for Bahrain: What the United States Government Should Do Next


  • July 7: U.S. State Department: “The U.S. is deeply concerned by the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s decision to demand the immediate departure of Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, from the country.”
  • August: U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern refused entry to Bahrain.
  • October–November: Authorities arrest Nabeel Rajab for online comments and detain him for one month.
  • November: A coalition of Bahrain’s opposition parties, including Al-Wefaq, boycott the country’s parliamentary elections, citing the country’s failure to reform and disappointment with its national dialogue.
  • December 4: Activist Zainab Al-Khawaja is sentenced to three years in prison for peaceful dissent.
  • December 28: General Secretary of Al Wefaq, Sheikh Ali Salman, is arrested for speech-related offenses.


  • January 20: Court sentences Nabeel Rajab to 6 months in prison for online comments made in 2014.
  • February: Human Rights First releases How to Bring Stability to Bahrain
  • June 16: Sheikh Ali Salman is sentenced to four years in prison.
  • June 19: After four years in prison, activist and former leader of the secular opposition society Wa’ad, Ibrahim Sharif, is released.
  • June 29: U.S. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby: “The Administration has decided to lift the holds on security assistance to the Bahrain Defense Force and National Guard… The government of Bahrain has made some meaningful progress on human rights reforms and reconciliation.”
  • July 12: Ibrahim Sharif is rearrested three weeks after his release from prison.
  • August 6: U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Marco Rubio introduce S.2009, the BICI Accountability Act. The bill prohibits the selling or transferring to Bahrain of specified weapons and crowd control items until Bahrain implements all 26 recommendations set forth in the 2011 BICI report.
  • September 8: U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern, Joe Pitts, and Hank Johnson introduce the House version of the BICI Accountability Act, H.R.3445.
  • November: Human Rights First releases Recommendations to the U.S. Government on Bahrain


  • January 12: Triggered by the global drop in oil price, the Bahraini government cuts subsidies on gasoline, raising the price by 60%.
  • February: Increase in raids and arrests prior to the five-year anniversary of February 14th.

Published on February 11, 2016


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