Secretary Clinton Must Press Bahrain Crown Prince on Human Rights During Visit
Washington, D.C.—Secretary Hillary Clinton and other U.S. officials meeting Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in the U.S. this week must publicly press the issue of human rights violations, including torture, mass arrests, military show trials and attacks on religious sites, said Human Rights First today. She should raise the cases of human rights defenders like Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, whose house has been attacked and who has been prohibited from leaving the country. “The U.S. government must tell the Crown Prince forcefully and unambiguously that these violations are unacceptable and seriously threaten the U.S. relationship with the Bahraini government. The reports of widespread torture, the show trials, the disappearances, attacks on Shia mosques and other serious violations must be addressed, and those responsible must be held accountable. Impunity for the guilty damages the prospects for a political solution,” said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First. “These are messages the Crown Prince and the Bahraini government must hear clearly and publicly from U.S. officials. The Bahraini authorities must be left in no doubt that the U.S. Government condemns its actions in the strongest possible terms” Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, visiting the U.S. this week, is regarded by some as a relative moderate among the Bahrain’s ruling elite, but the brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors in recent months has made dialogue about reform more difficult. Although the state of emergency in Bahrain was officially lifted June 1, little has changed. Leading opposition figures and human rights activists remain in detention or in fear of arrest. Peaceful dissent has been met with violent repression. Today, the military trials of dozens of medical personnel opened. “Amid continuing reports of protestors being shot in the streets, the Crown Prince needs to explain how the continuing repression respects human rights and advances the political dialogue,” added Dooley. “The U.S. government’s response so far has been largely muted in comparison to its rhetoric encouraging peaceful protestors in other countries in the region. It should raise these violations by name with the Crown Prince, detailing specific abuses, and demand that they end. We have seen elsewhere in the region that stability does not come through repression.” Human Rights First visited Bahrain last month. Its report, Speaking Softly, focuses on the targeting of human rights defenders and other human rights violations, and includes recommendations to the U.S. government regarding how to respond to the situation in Bahrain.