U.S Government Should Overhaul Strategy in Bahrain as Foreign Ministry Asks Senior State Department Official to Leave the Country
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today said that the Bahrain Foreign Ministry statement declaring U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski unwelcome in the country is a very troubling sign that the ruling family is not serious about political reform and negotiating an end to the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders that began in 2011. Bahrain’s statement was issued after Malinowski met with members of leading Bahraini opposition group, Al Wefaq.
“The Bahrain government has once again revealed itself to be an erratic, embarrassing, and unreliable partner. Today’s action shows clearly that the regime has so much to hide on human rights that it is nervous about its closest military ally meeting directly with opposition and civil society groups,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “The U.S. government is right to explore relations with members of Bahrain’s opposition and civil society because reform will not happen without the participation of these leaders."
Malinowski met with Al Wefaq, a political group which has publicly committed to peaceful non-violent means of protest, including signing a November 2012 “Declaration of Principles of Nonviolence.” Many peaceful opposition leaders jailed during the 2011 protests remain in prison, and Bahrain continues to jail those peacefully expressing their views, including those who criticize the ruling monarchy on Twitter. Leading human rights defenders are harassed or jailed, and some independent international human rights organizations, including Human Rights First, have been refused entry to the country. Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government to publicly press Bahrain, home of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, to release political prisoners and include them in peace negotiations.
"The United States cannot continue to believe that its current policy in Bahrain is going to yield a result for long-term stability,” added Dooley. “Bahrain’s decision to cozy up to Putin's government at a time when Washington is trying to isolate the Kremlin is bad enough, but designating senior State Department official Tom Malinowski as unwelcome should prompt a full review of the basis of the bilateral relationship and the prospects for a resolution to the current situation.”
For more information or to speak with Dooley contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-845-5269.