9-28-2011By Brian Dooley
Director, Human Rights Defenders
One major lesson the United States should have learned from the Arab Spring is to stop supporting dictators. Apparently, the Pentagon didn’t get this memo.
The U.S. Department of Defense is now preparing to sell $53 million worth of armored Humvees and missiles to the dictatorship in Bahrain—at the same time that the Bahraini government is violently cracking down on pro-democracy advocates.
U.S. Secretary of State Clinton recently urged countries selling weapons to Syrian President Assad to “get on the right side of history.” And President Obama stated that America “cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.” The Pentagon seems to be on a different page.
The Bahraini government has cracked down on pro-democracy advocates in Bahrain. In my recent visits there, I’ve documented mass arrests, torture, and four deaths in custody. Government forces have killed dozens more in the streets. In addition, Bahraini courts continue to unjustly try people—including medics who were arrested simply for treating wounded activists.
Senator John Kerry has long opposed arming tyrants. And as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has the responsibility to investigate why the United States is rewarding a tyrannical country with a record of violently abusing its citizens.
Resuming arms sale to Bahrain contradicts the United States’ support for regional stability and peaceful reform in the Middle East. It’s time to make sure that the United States gets on the right side of history.