• Mon. Mar 20th, 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 globe at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly, with a lot of delegates drawing interest to shortcomings in Bahrain’s private 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.

Added than 1,700 MPs, representing about 143 parliaments, attended the occasion. European MPs had been amongst the most vocal critics of their hosts, with really a handful of members of the Danish delegation, like Søren Søndergaard, Chris Jensen Skriver and Kim Valentin, taking to the stage to get in touch with 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 take a appear at Al-Khawaja in prison. An extra delegate, Karsten Hønge, tweeted a image of himself standing outdoors Jau prison specifically exactly where Al-Khawaja is becoming 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 growing even ahead of the assembly started. In the days prime up to the occasion, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated two of its personnel members had had their visas withdrawn – a factor strongly criticised from the stage by a member of the Dutch delegation Petra Stienen, who named on the IPU president – Portugal’s Duarte Pacheco –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 actually really serious 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, in the course of his address to the 146th assembly of the International Parliamentary UnionIPU

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

In the earlier, a lot of issues have been raised about the country’s record on elections and its suppression of political parties and men and women significant of the regime.

A spokesperson for the IPU declined to comment on regardless of no matter whether Bahrain was a suitable venue for its occasion, which ran from March 11-15 under 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 issues of the day. They are possibilities for frank dialogue … MPs can raise awareness and conduct discreet diplomacy on a multitude of issues 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 developed a mockery of [the IPU’s] slogan of ‘For democracy. For everyone.’ ”

A Bahrain government spokesperson declined to address issues for this create-up about the withdrawal of visas for HRW personnel, but stated “Bahrain has a nicely-established democratic and parliamentary system” and stated Al-Khawaja was serving a sentence for “serious terrorism-related crimes following the due legal process”.

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

The anxiety group stated Al-Khawaja had seasoned a cardiac arrhythmia on February 28 and was taken to Bahrain Defence Force hospital specifically exactly where a doctor stated he ought to actually be urgently referred to a cardiologist. Even so, when Al-Khawaja refused to be handcuffed even though in the hospital, he was taken back to prison with out becoming assessed by a cardiologist.

Al-Khawaja’s daughter Maryam Al-Khawaja stated in a statement that her father “continues to endure dire prison conditions and systematic denial of enough well being-connected remedy, like so a lot of other Bahraini political prisoners.”

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

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