Case Against Bahraini Opposition Leader Should be Dismissed
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today said that the Bahraini authorities should immediately dismiss the case against prominent opposition leader Ibrahim Sharif. The trial of Sharif, who was arbitrarily arrested on political charges for his peaceful dissent, is scheduled to begin tomorrow.
“This case against Sharif is clearly part of a wider move by the Bahraini government to silence peaceful opposition voices. It also exposes the mistake made by the State Department in deciding to reward the regime with more arms without evidence that the Bahraini government has improved its human rights record,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “To the Bahraini government, the lift of the U.S. arms ban has been seen as a bright green light to double down on its repression.”
The Obama Administration announced on June 29 it was lifting its ban on arms sales to the Bahraini military, citing “meaningful progress on human rights.” Two weeks later Ibrahim Sharif, a leader of the peaceful secular leftist Waad political group, was arrested for “promoting political change through forceful means and threats and inciting hatred against the regime” after giving a speech calling for reform. Sharif’s arrest occurred only weeks after he was released from prison in June, after serving nearly all of a five-year sentence imposed for peacefully calling for reform in 2011.
“Bahrain needs Sharif and other political leaders out of jail and in talks to end Bahrain’s crisis. The U.S. government should urgently reassess its decision to resupply the dictatorship with arms,” added Dooley.
Human Rights First also calls on the U.S. Government to send an observer to the Bahraini court hearings and publicly state whether the trial meets international legal standards.
Earlier this month Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Wyden (D-WA) introduced legislation (S.2009) to ban the sale of small arms and ammunition to Bahrain until the government fully implements all 26 recommendations made by the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. Human Rights First applauds the bipartisan bill and urges Members of Congress to support the initiative.
For more information or to speak with Dooley, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at [email protected] or 212-845-5269.