Ten years after the revolt of the people of Bahrain, oppression in the small Gulf state has only increased. Dissenters, human rights defenders, clergy and independent civil society are severely oppressed. There is no room for the peaceful expression of your opinion or for political activism.
The massive protests that erupted in 2011 were fueled by growing discontent with the authoritarian regime and cronyism in the sharing of government work. The government also refuses to answer for torture and arbitrary detention. In addition, the government is ignoring key recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), an independent panel commissioned by the king in response to international concerns following the crackdown on the 2011 protests.
Only gets worse
Since 2011, structural changes in Bahrain have only worsened. Opposition parties have been banned, the only independent media outlet has been shut down, and new laws giving rise to political participation have been repealed. The leaders of the 2011 protest are being held in appalling conditions and human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, are routinely violated, ”Amnesty International’s Lynn Maalouf said. Bahrain has dashed the hopes and expectations raised by the massive protests 10 years ago. He responded with brutal repression. This was facilitated by the shameful silence of Bahrain’s Western allies, especially the UK and US.
Inspired in part by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, which began on February 14, 2011, tens of thousands of Bahraini citizens gathered at the Pearl Roundabout in the capital’s financial district, Manama. The demonstrators had camped there for several weeks. The Bahraini government has requested the help of a Saudi-led intervention force in neighboring countries to end the protest. The BICI report revealed that between February and April 2011, at least 19 people were murdered by the authorities. Eight of them were killed as a result of excessive force by the security forces and five others as a result of torture. Thousands of people have been arrested, including protest leaders and opposition members who remain in jail after very unfair trials.
The government does not adopt recommendations
Recommendations are made in the BICI report of November 2011. All allegations of assault by independent forensic experts must be promptly investigated, with the burden of proof falling on the state to demonstrate compliance with the law. law. The National Security Intelligence Agency should stop interfering with national law enforcement. The BICI also recommends a relaxation of censorship and the political opposition should be allowed access to state-controlled media. But 10 years later, none of these recommendations have been implemented by the Bahraini authorities, in violation of their obligations under international human rights law.
Bahrain’s treatment of critics since 2011 is illustrated by the treatment of Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of the now banned Al-Wefaq party, the largest legal opposition party. He was first jailed in 2014 for critical political speech. In 2016 his sentence was doubled and in 2018 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for participating in mediation efforts during the uprising. The Bahraini authorities have accused Ali Salman of “espionage” for Qatar. The mediation efforts, in which the government of Bahrain also participated, was an initiative of Qatar.
The second major opposition party, the non-sectarian Wa’ad, was also banned, and its former chairman, Ebrahim Sharif, spent five years in prison for supporting the 2011 protests.
Especially since 2016 dissidents – including political activists, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, Shiite clergy and peaceful protesters – face increasing repression, including threats, subpoenas, travel bans, arrests, interrogations and imprisonments.
The Pearl Roundabout, which became a symbol of hope for reform in February 2011, was bulldozed and paved after the uprising collapsed in March 2011.
Amnesty International urges the authorities in Bahrain to fully and effectively implement the recommendations contained in the BICI report. The organization also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of any person imprisoned alone for having peacefully exercised their human rights and for the charges against them to be dropped.
Learn more about the human rights situation in Bahrain.