State Department Report on Bahrain Confirms Extent of Repression

The U.S. State Department showed once again today it is not lacking information about the repression happening in Bahrain, just short of the will to do much about it.

The 2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released this morning include a detailed assessment of human rights violations in Bahrain, a key U.S. military ally. As illustrated in today’s report, the U.S. policy of muted public criticism over the last three years clearly hasn’t worked. Human rights abuses continue and U.S. government failure to take more vigorous action damages its credibility in the region.

The report describes government repression on civil society, including “the lack of due process in trials of political and human rights activists, medical personnel, teachers, and students”.

While the report notes “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,” the US continues to arm Bahrain’s Sunni-dominated military and show strong support for the dictatorship.

The report commendably names prominent human rights activists who have been imprisoned or harassed, including Naji Fateel, Nabeel Rajab, Ali al-Ekri, Ibrahim al-Dimistani, Sayed Yousif al-Muhafadha,  Mahdi Abu Deeb, and Mohammed al-Maskati. The Bahraini government reacted to largescale peaceful demonstrations in early 2011 with a crackdown on political dissent and human rights activism. Many of the leaders of the 2011 protests remain in prison with estimates of thousands of others also jailed for protest-related activities. Since 2011 there has been an increase in violent protests against the regime.

The U.S. government clearly has a grasp of the reality of repression in Bahrain, begging the question of what the State Department intends to do about these abuses. It is not enough to continue down the patch of general silence on this human rights crisis. It is not enough to send U.S. government officials to attend trial hearings of prominent dissidents but fail to make public statements about the unfairness of what they saw in court. The United States should make it known there will be negative consequence on the U.S.-Bahrain relationship if the repression continues.

For more information check out: Plan B for Bahrain



  • Brian Dooley

Published on February 27, 2014


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