US Congressman Calls on Bahrain to Release Prisoners of Conscience
Member of US Congress James McGovern called on the Bahraini authorities to release political prisoners and prisoners of conscience “immediately and unconditionally.”
He expressly referred to the leader of political opposition, Hassan Mushaima, 72 years old, who is serving a life sentence, and his health condition is deteriorating.
McGovern, who chairs the Tom Lantos Human Rights Committee of the US Congress, noted that the committee had received many requests for assistance recently on human rights issues in Bahrain.
During a virtual hearing held by the Commission, McGovern mentioned human rights defenders in Bahrain, especially Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja, Dr Abdul-Jalil Al-Singace, Naji Fateel, Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary-General of the dissolved Al-Wefaq Association, and photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan.
The session addressed the human rights situation in the Middle East and North Africa ten years after the Arab Spring and its implications for the United States’ foreign policy.
In addition to the committee members in Congress, many human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, participated in the hearing.
Earlier, Senator McGovern called on President Joe Biden’s administration to punish Bahraini officials known for committing horrific human rights violations.
He suggested that the Biden administration take advantage of the global Magnitsky powers to punish those who have suffered no consequences for their actions.
McGovern presented a statement to Congress in which he addressed Manama’s crackdown on peaceful protesters on the tenth anniversary of the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain.
The Democratic Representative addressed the US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the tenth anniversary of the peaceful protests, which raised great aspirations for change in Bahrain.
On February 14, 2011, thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets in peaceful protests across the country to demand democratization and social and economic reform.
However, demonstrators came under a fierce attack from Bahraini security, who used pepper spray, rubber bullets, and even rifle bullets.
The US Representative reviewed the tragic events that occurred to those who participated in the peaceful demonstrations the moment they stormed their sit-in in the centre of Manama.
In his testimony to the House of Representatives, he quoted a report published in the “New York Times” titled: “When a king opens fire on his people, he no longer deserves to be the ruler.”
He cited the report on the abuses committed by the Bahraini regime and the condemnation of leaders of countries worldwide of violence employed to silence voices calling for reform.
James McGovern addressed the Speaker of the House of Representatives, saying: “The people of Bahrain have waited ten years to achieve their demands for reform.”
McGovern stressed that President Joe Biden expressed the commitment of the United States to human rights and the need to put an end to the violations committed in several regions.
The American politician demanded that Washington take several steps towards Manama, which is to stop the United States from selling weapons to Bahrain.
The Pentagon also called for a contingency plan to move the US Fifth Fleet out of Bahrain.
Last month, The US State Department criticized Bahrain’s human rights record and accused the security authorities of committing various violations. This was stated in the Human Rights Report for the year 2020 issued by the Ministry annually; to shed light on the human rights situation worldwide.
According to the report, human rights violations in Bahrain included torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and harsh detention conditions, including inadequate medical care in prisons.
Violations also included arbitrary arrest, imprisonment of politicians, arbitrary, unlawful interference with privacy, and restrictions on freedom of expression, the press, and the Internet, such as censorship and blocking of websites.
In addition, violations included interfering with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, imposing restrictions on freedom of movement, and revoking citizenship and restrictions on political participation.
The report stated that the government prosecuted lower-ranking members of the security forces after committing human rights violations after investigations conducted by government institutions.
However, human rights NGOs confirmed that the investigations were slow and lacking in transparency.
Recently, 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.
The letter also called on the administration of US President Joe Biden to re-impose restrictions on arms sales to Bahrain pending an improvement in the country’s human rights record, including the $ 8.5 billion deal to Bahrain during the Trump administration.