Bahrain Denies Brian Dooley Entry
Washington, DC – Bahrain has denied Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley’s request to visit the kingdom next week, a step Dooley notes sends a “terrible signal” to those closely following the Bahraini regime’s crackdown on those fighting for democratic reform. The Government of Bahrain suggested such visits should be delayed until March. The latest denial comes less than two weeks after Bahrain refused to admit Rick Sollom of the U.S.-based nonprofit organization Physicians for Human Rights.
“Bahrain’s decision to block observers from entering the kingdom only suggests its government has something to hide,” Dooley said. “They may talk a good game, but denying or delaying access to human rights organizations undermines their claim to have learned from past mistakes.” In a letter to Bahrain’s Minister of Human Rights and Social Development, Ms. Fatima Al Balooshi, Dooley wrote that the letter denying him access was surprising given the government’s recent claims that NGOs would have unfettered access. In fact, during a meeting with Minister Al Balooshi and her staff on Nov. 24, Dooley was told that NGOs would be granted access to Bahrain if they gave five days’ notice of their arrival. In addition, on Oct. 21, Bahrain Minister for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa assured Dooley and other observers that NGOs would not be denied access to the kingdom. In his letter to Minister Al Balooshi Dooley noted. “At the release of the BICI report in November, HRH King Hamad assured the world that ‘any Government which has a sincere desire for reform and progress understands the benefit of objective and constructive criticism,’ and that the day of the report of the BICI report ‘turns a new page of history.’ Delaying or denying access to independent human rights observers runs counter to these statements.” Dooley has visited Bahrain three times since the uprising began last February and is the author of three reports about the ongoing crackdown.