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May 23, 2011

Bahrain Responds to Obama Speech by Continuing Crackdown

Washington, D.C. — Bahraini authorities have reacted to President Obama’s May 19 speech, in which he urged the Bahraini government to “create the conditions for dialogue,” and made clear that “the United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region,” by continuing their brutal crackdown.  On Saturday 21, the home of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was attacked, and the following day two death sentences were confirmed against two young Shiite men, Ali AlSingace and AbdulAziz AbdulRedha, who had been convicted in a secret military trial on April 28 for the alleged murder of two policemen. Their trial fell far short of international standards. Bahraini TV aired video of the convicted men confessing to the murder of the policemen—confessions that may have been extracted by use of torture.  Human Rights First has found many credible reports from Bahraini protesters detained by the security forces being subjected to beatings and other forms of torture. There are serious questions about these confessions and allegations. “The U.S. should condemn these sentences and take further steps to pressure Bahrain to end its continuing crackdown,” said Brian Dooley of HRF. “It should seek to send observers to the military trials, should appoint an Ambassador to Bahrain, and should criticize specific human rights violations in Bahrain by name, including torture, arbitrary arrests, disappearances and attacks on human rights defenders.” Nabeel Rajab,  President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), told Human Rights First,  “For the second time in a few weeks, my family’s house was attacked early morning today (Saturday) by gas bombs while the whole family was sleeping. Today’s attack was different because the gas bombs were shot by a gun into the house, purposely breaking the window of my brother’s, Nader Rajab, section where he lives with his family. We had very frightening moments rescuing my brother and his wife and his daughter as they were close to serious suffocation. This is an attempt to murder a member of my family to pressure me to stop my human rights activities. Thank God the gas bombs fell on the tile and not the carpet, which could have caused fire and could have killed the whole family while they were asleep.” Earlier this month, Human Rights First published a report on human rights defenders critique of the U.S. government’s response to the Bahraini crackdown. The complete report and recommendations can be found here.  

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