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US State Department: Human rights in Bahrain at Center of Biden’s Policy

State Department spokesman Ned Price said that human rights in Bahrain will be “at the center of our policy” in the Middle East.

This came in a response from the American spokesman to a question during a press conference about Washington’s stance on the ongoing human rights violations in the kingdom ruled by the Al Khalifa family with an iron fist.

“We bring our values with us in the context of every bilateral relationship. That includes with our close security partners,” he told reporters.

“The advent of the Trump administration in 2017 heralded an unprecedented government crackdown in Bahrain which continues to this day,” the activist groups said in a statement.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of London-based BIRD, said some leaders of the 2011 uprising remain in exile or imprisoned.

“Until US policy in Bahrain focuses on resolving the consequences of 2011 and pushing for democratic reform, the political crisis in the country will remain unresolved,” he said.

A coalition of activist groups Thursday urged the new US administration to address a “dramatic deterioration” in Bahrain’s rights record as part of Washington’s policy revamp on the Gulf region.

Fifteen organizations, including Amnesty International and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), called on President Joe Biden to restore human rights “as a key feature of American diplomacy” in the Gulf.

In an open letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, they said that Bahrain’s rulers had been “emboldened” by former president Donald Trump’s public disdain for international human rights norms.

Since Bahrain’s 2011 uprising, which ended in a bloody crackdown with the help of Saudi forces, opposition parties have been banned, with dozens of political opponents jailed, triggering international criticism.

In July 2016, Bahrain’s judiciary dissolved the leading opposition party Al-Wefaq over allegations including “harboring terrorism”. A year later, the secular opposition movement Al-Waad was also dissolved.

And in July 2020, the kingdom’s highest court upheld death sentences against two Shiite men convicted of murdering a police officer in a bomb attack in 2014 in a trial Amnesty has described as “grossly unfair”.

“The advent of the Trump administration in 2017 heralded an unprecedented government crackdown in Bahrain which continues to this day,” the activist groups said in a statement.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of London-based BIRD, said some leaders of the 2011 uprising remain in exile or imprisoned.

“Until US policy in Bahrain focuses on resolving the consequences of 2011 and pushing for democratic reform, the political crisis in the country will remain unresolved,” he added.

 

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