• Tue. Mar 21st, 2023

Bahrain Battles Critics As It Hosts The World’s MPs


Mar 17, 2023

International Parliamentary Union, held in Bahrain from March 11-15, 2023IPU

Bahrain has faced an uncomfortable week hosting hundreds of parliamentarians from about the planet at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly, with lots of delegates drawing focus to shortcomings in Bahrain’s personal human rights record and to the position of some regime critics in jail, like Bahraini-Danish citizen Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who has been imprisoned due to the fact 2011.

Much more than 1,700 MPs, representing about 143 parliaments, attended the occasion. European MPs had been amongst the most vocal critics of their hosts, with numerous members of the Danish delegation, like Søren Søndergaard, Chris Jensen Skriver and Kim Valentin, taking to the stage to contact for Al-Khawaja to be released. These calls had been echoed by delegates from Finland, Iceland, Ireland and elsewhere.

Søndergaard stated the Bahraini authorities had ignored his request to go to Al-Khawaja in prison. A different delegate, Karsten Hønge, tweeted a image of himself standing outdoors Jau prison exactly where Al-Khawaja is getting held and added “His crime? Standing up for human rights and freedom of speech.”

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), described the assembly as “a PR disaster for the Bahraini regime”.

Human rights group kept out

The criticisms of Bahrain had been increasing even ahead of the assembly began. In the days top up to the occasion, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated two of its employees members had had their visas withdrawn – some thing strongly criticised from the stage by a member of the Dutch delegation Petra Stienen, who named on the IPU president – Portugal’s Duarte Pacheco – to make an official statement clearly denouncing it.

HRW, which holds permanent observer status with the IPU, also pointed to the “extensive record of severe human rights abuses in Bahrain”, like the continued detention of Al-Khawaja and restrictions on freedom of expression and association.

Bahraini-Danish citizen Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja to be released from Jau Prison in Bahrain, for the duration of his address to the 146th assembly of the International Parliamentary UnionIPU

Many Bahrainis had been also arrested in the lead-up to the occasion, like Ebrahim Al-Mannai – seemingly for tweeting a statement that Bahrain need to repair its legislative program and make the parliament “positive and influential … in the lives of the people”. The Public Prosecution Workplace stated it had received reports about individuals “misusing social media” by publishing phrases and recordings “that would prejudice public order and the specifications for safeguarding safety and national peace”.

In the previous, lots of queries have been raised about the country’s record on elections and its suppression of political parties and people essential of the regime.

A spokesperson for the IPU declined to comment on no matter if Bahrain was a appropriate venue for its occasion, which ran from March 11-15 below the slogan “Promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: Fighting intolerance”. Even so, the spokesperson stated “IPU Assemblies are an open space for delegates to express themselves freely on the concerns of the day. They are possibilities for frank dialogue … MPs can raise awareness and conduct discreet diplomacy on a multitude of concerns which concern democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

Niku Jafarnia, Bahrain researcher at HRW, noted that the IPU’s leadership had remained silent about the arrest of opposition activists, the continued detention of Al-Khawaja and the withdrawal of visas, adding that the silence “has only served to reinforce Bahrain’s whitewashing of human rights abuses, and has produced a mockery of [the IPU’s] slogan of ‘For democracy. For every person.’ ”

A Bahrain government spokesperson declined to address queries for this short article about the withdrawal of visas for HRW employees, but stated “Bahrain has a properly-established democratic and parliamentary system” and stated Al-Khawaja was serving a sentence for “serious terrorism-associated crimes following the due legal process”.

On the day the occasion closed, Amnesty International issued a statement calling for the quick and unconditional release of Al-Khawaja, who it described as a prisoner of conscience.

The stress group stated Al-Khawaja had skilled a cardiac arrhythmia on February 28 and was taken to Bahrain Defence Force hospital exactly where a physician stated he need to be urgently referred to a cardiologist. Even so, when Al-Khawaja refused to be handcuffed when in the hospital, he was taken back to prison without having getting assessed by a cardiologist.

Al-Khawaja’s daughter Maryam Al-Khawaja stated in a statement that her father “continues to endure dire prison situations and systematic denial of sufficient health-related remedy, like so lots of other Bahraini political prisoners.”

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Dominic Dudley is a freelance journalist with additional than two decades of expertise in reporting on organization, financial and political stories in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

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