Bahraini and international speakers participated in a virtual seminar on human rights violations in Bahrain, coinciding with the February 14th revolution’s tenth anniversary.
The conference was held under the European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) auspices entitled “The Arab Spring in Bahrain: Ten Years Later” and was sponsored by European Parliament Member Ernst Ortason.
Ortason discussed the Bahraini opposition’s situation today, a decade after the outbreak of protests calling for democratic transformation in Bahrain.
Ortason said that the political opposition situation in Bahrain has been getting worse since the 2011 revolution.
He raised the issue of 12 people at imminent risk of execution, including Muhammad Ramadan and Hussein Musa.
Devin Kenny, a researcher at Amnesty International, indicated that the authorities had cracked down on the pro-democracy movement.
But he expressed his hope that the opposition would regain its movement in the next decade.
Kenny noted the changes that have occurred in the country since the turn of the century.
“In 2002, opposition activists returned from exile, and Al-Wasat newspaper began publishing in 2002,” he said.
Today, Al-Wefaq was dissolved in 2016, Al-Wasat was closed in 2017, and prominent activists have been sentenced to life in prison.
Escaping from the Punishment
The former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression David Kay raised the policy of impunity in Bahrain.
He said that the authorities failed to hold to account the perpetrators of torture and abuse in prisons and during the arrests.
In addition to human rights violations in Bahrain, impunity is strongly present in Bahrain, Kay added.
Bahraini human rights activist Alaa Al-Shehabi spoke about the feminist role in the popular revolution.
She said that women’s participation played a significant role in the beginning and continuation of the uprising, which angered the government.
She indicated that Bahraini women activists such as Najah Youssef and Maryam Al-Khawaja and teachers, doctors and workers, played a significant role in the revolution.
Al-Shehabi indicated that the 2011 revolutions exacerbated women’s conditions in the spring countries because of governments’ reaction and because of the Western political alliance with some of these countries, such as Bahrain, especially after normalization with Israel.
In her notes, Jade Bassiouni of the anti-death penalty organization Reprieve spoke about the suspension of executions between 2010 and 2017 in Bahrain.
“However, as of 2017, Bahrain has resumed executions, and there are currently 27 people at risk of execution, 12 of whom are at imminent risk of execution.”
She noted that Muhammad Ramadan and Hussein Musa’s death sentence was based on confessions extracted under torture.
Bassiouni recommended that the Bahraini authorities “end the death penalty and recommend that the European Union pass legislation against the death penalty”.
Letter of reprimand
Last week, diplomatic sources revealed that the European Parliament members sent a strongly worded letter of reprimand to the Bahraini foreign minister, Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani.
This came when European parliamentarians met with the Bahraini minister on a visit to Brussels’ European Parliament headquarters.
According to European sources, with whom “Bahraini Leaks” spoke, the deputies met with the Bahraini minister for 35 minutes.
During this period, this minister heard sharp criticism about the conditions of detainees in prisons and the death sentences that await approval only by King Hamad bin Isa.
Members of the European Parliament threatened to take practical measures in case Bahrain did not improve its black human rights record.
They threatened to pressure their governments to reduce diplomatic relations between the European Union countries and Bahrain due to human rights violations.