Reports of Bahrain Police Deaths Mark Urgent Need for Political Solutions
Washington D.C. – Human Rights First today expressed concern over Bahrain government reports that three policemen have been killed in explosions today. The ongoing occurrence of violence in the country underlines the urgent need to find a solution to Bahrain’s political unrest.
“The news that several more policemen were killed today is tragic for Bahrain and for those trying to bring about a peaceful end to the country’s instability,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “Violent protests will not achieve the wholesale change that Bahrain urgently needs.”
Prior to today’s news the Bahrain government had reported ten police casualties over the last three years, with over 2,500 injured as a result of the political unrest which continues in the small island kingdom. Dozens of civilians have also been killed since large peaceful protests urging political reform broke out in early 2011.
While most demonstrations in Bahrain continue to be peaceful, violent protests are increasingly common. Peaceful opposition leaders jailed during the 2011 protests remain in prison, and Bahrain continues to jail those peacefully expressing their views including those who criticize the ruling monarchy on Twitter. Leading human rights defenders are harassed or jailed, and independent international human rights organizations, including Human Rights First, are refused entry to the country.
“Bahrain, which is home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, needs to find a way out of this cycle of escalating protest and repression if it is to end its political crisis and avoid more casualties,” said Dooley. “A real political solution should involve freeing political prisoners and civil society leaders who are still in jail. An inclusive political settlement should start immediately.”
The U.S. State Department noted in its country report on Bahrain issued last week that, “The most serious human rights problems included citizens’ inability to change their government peacefully; arrest and detention of protesters on vague charges, in some cases leading to their torture in detention; and lack of due process in trials of political and human rights activists, medical personnel, teachers, and students, with some trials resulting in harsh sentences.”