(New York) — Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA, made the following comments today, urging the United States to speak forcefully about Bahrain’s continued crackdown on critics and other human rights violations as representatives from some 30 nations gather in Bahrain's capital for the Manama Dialogue, a regional conference on security issues.
“After eighteen months of providing cover for the Bahraini regime's pattern of abuse, Washington needs to come out forcefully for the Bahraini people and human rights defenders whose freedoms are being denied,” said Nossel. “There can be no genuine dialogue in Manama when the Bahraini authorities are silencing the country’s most prominent critics, throwing them in jail and making a mockery of promises for reforms.
The United States must take the opportunity at the Manama Dialogue to change course and hold Bahrain’s ruling family to account for its escalating crackdown on dissent and continued repudiation of human rights standards. Bahrain has reneged on the promises it made to end its violent tactics against protests and continues to jail its critics while the Obama administration stands by, placing its military relationship with Bahrain above basic freedoms and rights for Bahrain’s citizens. The kingdom’s sweeping ban on all protests, laws making it illegal to criticize the government, reports of torture by the security forces and the detention of protesters — even children — cannot be met with token criticisms by the U.S. government. This will only lead Bahrain to accept a free pass from its most important ally to continue oppression.”
In a tough new report issued Nov. 20, Amnesty International found that the Bahraini authorities have made a mockery of their 2011 promises to reform their human rights record, and instead swiftly moved to entrench repression. This pattern culminated in the banning in October of all rallies and gatherings in the country in violation of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and in November with the stripping of Bahraini nationality from 31 opposition figures.
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Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.