Bahrain absolute monarchy news update

This video says about itself:

Index on Censorship: Nabeel Rajab, Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Index on Censorship: Nabeel Rajab, president of the 2012 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Advocacy award winning Bahrain Center for Human Rights, discusses the human rights situation in his country during a meeting.

5 September 2014.

12 February, 2015. Bahrain: Arrest of 17 years old Hussain Ghazi Alhalawachi. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is appalled over the ongoing arbitrary arrests and detention of children under the age of 18 in blatant disregard to the international laws and conventions: here.

MANAMA (Reuters) – Bahrain has postponed until March 4 a hearing by Nabeel Rajab, one of the Arab world’s most prominent democracy campaigners, on his appeal against a conviction for publicly insulting two state institutions, according to his Twitter account: here.

By Brian Dooley in the USA:

February 11, 2015, 07:00 am

Washington’s shaky bet on Bahrain

Washington’s reaction to repression by its military ally Bahrain is getting predictable. The kingdom is part of the coalition fighting ISIS, but it’s shaken by government-backed sectarianism and polarization at home. In response to government abuses, the Obama administration offers a mix of private censure—but gives loud applause for baby steps of reform.

Too often administration officials say that despite the presence of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Washington doesn’t have much leverage over the Bahrain government.

Some members of Congress have consistently pressured the State Department and called for reforms from the Bahrain regime. These voices are holding up what’s left of America’s reputation among democracy activists in the Gulf. …

Last August [Member of Congress Jim] McGovern and I planned a trip to Bahrain to fact-find on the human rights situation there—but the Bahrain government blocked our visit.

Today at a Hill briefing with McGovern, Human Rights First is releasing a list of ideas that the administration can use immediately to push for reform in Bahrain and help establish some stability in this key military ally.

Washington can’t afford a volatile Bahrain—it has sunk too many assets into the kingdom to tolerate its current unpredictability. But international financial analysts warn of an economic downturn because of the slump in oil prices and its failure to find a political solution to the ongoing unrest. It will be four years this Saturday since Bahrain produced the largest (per capita) of the region’s 2011 demonstrations for democracy. And the protests continue.

After a violent government crackdown, parliamentary elections, and some cosmetic reform, the fundamentals haven’t changed. A ruling family backed by a Sunni minority controls the government. The king’s uncle remains the country’s unelected prime minister. The security forces include virtually no one from the country’s majority Shia population, and grievances about corruption and other government abuses that triggered the 2011 protests continue to rock the country.

The Ministry of the Interior says three more policemen were injured in an attack in the capital Manama last weekend. Political prisoners pack the country’s overcrowded jails. Prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab should receive an appeal verdict today. He was sentenced to prison for six months for criticizing the security forces in a tweet.

Things are going downhill quickly in Bahrain and no amount of State Department handwringing will help. What’s needed are measures to show the Bahrain people that the U.S. government understands and supports their efforts for reform and is interested in more than a military relationship with the dictatorship that oppresses them.

There are several things the Obama administration could do right away to encourage stability and make Bahrain less of a gamble for Washington. For starters, it could publicly state whether the trials its embassy officials observe meet international standards. Spoiler: they don’t. This would show the Bahrain government and people that the U.S. government is unhappy with the country’s judicial independence and competence, and that from now on U.S. government officials will not just witness unfair proceedings without commenting on their obvious injustice. Bahrain needs a political solution that that includes opposition leaders, not silences them in prisons.

Washington could also use its powers under Presidential Proclamation 7750 to deny visas to government officials believed to be involved in corruption, showing Bahrainis that it is taking steps against kleptocratic officials who steal from public funds. It could push for on broader representation within its security forces by refusing to train exclusively Sunni groups of officers and withholding equipment and arms until presented with real evidence of change in recruitment and promotion practices.

There are plenty more things the U.S. government should be doing if it wants to help stabilize Bahrain, including a strong push for the release of political prisoners—something President Obama hasn’t called for since 2011.

Heavy security will likely prevent the sort of mass uprising on Saturday that erupted four years ago, but don’t be fooled by the flimsy calm. Bahrain remains a shaky bet for the United States—but there’s plenty Washington can do about it.

Dooley @dooley_dooley is a director at Human Rights First.

When asked whether he was concerned about the human rights records of US allies like Egypt, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, Obama hedged, saying that the US has to press for human rights improvements while also pursuing other national-security objectives — to “do both things”: here.

Why Bahrain Needs Security Force Reform: here.

Middle East studies scholars are protesting the decision of the Bahraini government to revoke the citizenship of 72 individuals, including that of Masaud Jahromi, a professor of telecommunications engineering at Ahlia University: here.

Ali Abdulemam is a Bahraini blogger and founder of Bahrain Online, a pro-democracy news website and forum. He is also a member of research and advocacy group Bahrain Watch and a human rights defender with Bahrain Center for Human Rights. In August 2010, Abdulemam was arrested by Bahraini authorities, accused of “spreading false information” and imprisoned. He was released in February 2011 and subsequently went into hiding following anti-government protests and a crackdown by the government on protesters. Convicted in absentia for plotting to overthrow the government, Abdulemam was sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 2013, Abdulemam was granted political asylum in the UK: here.

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