For Immediate Release: January 30, 2012
Washington, DC – The United States Government should explain what’s behind fresh reports of military sales to Bahrain and publicly condemn the Kingdom’s ongoing crackdown in the run-up to the February 14 anniversary of the Bahrain uprising, said Human Rights First in a statement today.
“It appears that the Bahrain regime is conducting pre-emptive strikes as the anniversary nears,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “Meanwhile, there are new reports that the U.S. intends to go ahead with a military transfer to Bahrain.”
This most recent military sale news comes just one day after Human Rights First heard reports from local sources in Bahrain detailing the Jan. 29 night raids on homes in the village of Beni Jamrah. At least 22 homes are believed to have been targeted in pre-dawn raids and five men arrested. Two of them are believed to be recently released detainees.
“Masked civilians and riot police targeted the homes,” the Bahrain Center for Human Rights told Dooley. “They started around 2 a.m. They came with police dogs and broke down doors – they didn’t show any arrest warrants and just beat the people as they took them away. The whole village was covered in tear gas – women were screaming, dogs were barking, it was a real mess.”
This morning, 20 medics being prosecuted by the Bahrain regime for treating wounded protestors and for telling the international media the truth about what was happening during last year’s uprising were back in court for an appeal hearing. A military court initially sentenced the medics, who had confessions tortured from them, to prison terms of between five and 15 years. One of the medics, Dr. Fatima Haji, told Human Rights First what happened this morning, noting, “The hearing started at 10.45 a.m. and ended after 15 minutes. It was adjourned until February 27 by when they intend to formulate a committee from the Ministry of Health, forensic doctors from the Ministry of Interior and Bahrain University to examine us medics and get a report on our torture accusations. They’re buying time as revenge by putting our lives on hold…after 10 months they want to examine us? Are they kidding?”
The long nightmare for the medics and other Bahrainis facing baseless prosecutions and sham trials goes on as court dates continue to be shunted further and further along the calendar. The government seems content to delay the process instead of having charges dropped against those being prosecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Human Rights First’s Dooley and other human rights observers have recently been denied entry to Bahrain as democracy activists prepare to mark the first anniversary of the uprising there. The Feb. 14, 2011 uprising was met with a series of violent attacks by the regime – attacks that continue to this day.
“The mounting fear is that events to mark the anniversary will be attacked again this year and that the people’s right to demonstrate peacefully will be denied by the regime,” said Dooley. “It is hard to think of a worse time to transfer military goods to the Bahraini regime.”