For Immediate Release: April 18, 2011
Washington, DC – As Bahraini Minister for Finance Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohamed Al-Khalifa visits Washington, DC this week on the heels of escalating violence against civil society in Bahrain, Human Rights First is calling on the Obama Administration to make clear publicly its opposition to ongoing abuses. According to the group, nearly 600 government critics have been detained in the last two months and four have died in police custody this month already. In a statement issued today, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley stated:
“It’s time the Obama Administration lived up to its own rhetoric on democracy in the Middle East by speaking out unambiguously on continuing abuses in Bahrain. Lawyers and doctors are being targeted as the authorities pressure those who have provided legal and medical assistance to protestors. The whereabouts of many of those captured, including human rights defender Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and prominent lawyer Mohammed Issa Al Tajer – who was arrested on April 16 when dozens of men came to his house and took him away – remain unknown.
“How bad is the US Government waiting for things to get before it speaks out forcefully? The Bahrain government should not be held to a different standard because of its ties to Saudi Arabia or for any other reason. The U.S. Government needs to make a decisive break from supporting dictators if it is to have credibility with those in the region working for democracy. The Bahraini Minister for Finance, Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohamed Al-Khalifa, should return home with no doubt that the US opposes what his government is doing and will not tolerate the beating, killing and detention of peaceful protestors.”