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HR Conference in Beirut Demanding Radical Change in Int’l Policies towards Bahrain

2019-01-18 - 1:22 am

Bahrain Mirror: An international conference on the human rights situation in Bahrain was held in Beirut, with the participation of international human rights organizations, experts, activists and researchers.

Members of prominent organizations such Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights First, IFEX, FIDH, Civicus and others participated in the discussions of the topics of the conference organized by Bahrain Interfaith Center with the cooperation of Bahrain Center for Human Rights under the title of "Bahrain: 8 Years of Repression under International Silence".

All participants, according to the final statement, agreed on the emergency of implementing a new international strategy to deal with the ongoing deterioration of the human rights situation that have been happening under the silence of the international community, including the UK and USA. 

Advisor of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman, was among the prominent speakers. He spoke about international speeches sent to Bahrain and UN recommendations on human rights status in Bahrain and how the government responded.

Brian Dooley, the advisor at Human Rights First, said "I think there is something emerging from US congress," considering that the murder of Khashoggi has changed the equation. "I think there is some hope the congress would renew its interest in Bahrain issues," Dooley added.

For his part, deputy director at Human Rights Watch, Joe stork, who attended the conference, said that "the silence we are talking about is not international, it is enforced silence in Bahrain."

London-based human rights defender, Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadai, also took part in the conference through a videotaped speech, and so there was a similar participation for the daughter of the detained human rights activist Nabeel Rajab.

A solidarity stand with football player, Hakeem Al-Araibi, was staged during the conference. Al-Araibi is still arrested at a Thai prison waiting for a judicial order to extradite him to Bahrain.

Some of the topics discussed revolved around the harassment and prosecution of human rights defenders, the closure of civic and political space, the lack of democratic political pluralism, the ban on the entrance of UN special rapporteurs to Bahrain amongst others. 

The participants presented a group of recommendations including calling on international diplomatic missions Bahrain to observe trials of political activists and human rights defenders and report on due-process violations; making use of the diplomatic missions to enter Bahrain and check on status of prisoners of conscience; working on convincing the king end violations as well as activating the role of EU parliament, US Department of State and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The recommendations also included making use of influencing foreign media outlets; calling on special rapporteurs on torture to visit Bahrain and linking it to CAT obligations; scoping missions to assess which countries, businesses or organizations have most leverage on Bahrain; campaigning ahead of F1 races and focusing on broader trends of repression in Bahrain, not just prominent human rights defenders, especially in Arabic Media. 

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