Bahrain Battles Critics As It Hosts The World’s MPs

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 several delegates drawing consideration to shortcomings in Bahrain’s personal human rights record and to the position of some regime critics in jail, which includes Bahraini-Danish citizen Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who has been imprisoned considering that 2011.

Extra than 1,700 MPs, representing about 143 parliaments, attended the occasion. European MPs had been amongst the most vocal critics of their hosts, with a number of members of the Danish delegation, which includes 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 mentioned the Bahraini authorities had ignored his request to check out Al-Khawaja in prison. A further delegate, Karsten Hønge, tweeted a image of himself standing outdoors Jau prison 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 increasing even prior to the assembly began. In the days major up to the occasion, Human Rights Watch (HRW) mentioned two of its employees members had had their visas withdrawn – some thing strongly criticised from the stage by a member of the Dutch delegation Petra Stienen, who named on the IPU president – Portugal’s Duarte Pacheco –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 really serious human rights abuses in Bahrain”, which includes 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, through his address to the 146th assembly of the International Parliamentary UnionIPU

A number of Bahrainis had been also arrested in the lead-up to the occasion, which includes 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 mentioned it had received reports about persons “misusing social media” by publishing phrases and recordings “that would prejudice public order and the needs for guarding safety and national peace”.

In the previous, several queries have been raised about the country’s record on elections and its suppression of political parties and men and women important of the regime.

A spokesperson for the IPU declined to comment on whether or not 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”. Nonetheless, the spokesperson mentioned “IPU Assemblies are an open space for delegates to express themselves freely on the challenges of the day. They are possibilities for frank dialogue … MPs can raise awareness and conduct discreet diplomacy on a multitude of challenges 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 write-up about the withdrawal of visas for HRW employees, but mentioned “Bahrain has a effectively-established democratic and parliamentary system” and mentioned 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 instant and unconditional release of Al-Khawaja, who it described as a prisoner of conscience.

The stress group mentioned Al-Khawaja had knowledgeable a cardiac arrhythmia on February 28 and was taken to Bahrain Defence Force hospital exactly where a physician mentioned he need to be urgently referred to a cardiologist. Nonetheless, when Al-Khawaja refused to be handcuffed although in the hospital, he was taken back to prison devoid of becoming assessed by a cardiologist.

Al-Khawaja’s daughter Maryam Al-Khawaja mentioned in a statement that her father “continues to endure dire prison circumstances and systematic denial of sufficient healthcare therapy, like so several other Bahraini political prisoners.”

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

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