MANAMA (Dispatches) – A
bipartisan group of United States senators has called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to press the Bahraini regime to end the “violent, systemic repression” of its population.
“We write to raise our concerns about the government of Bahrain’s troubling rights record and to better understand your administration’s strategy for pressing this issue with our important ally and partner,” a group of seven influential U.S. senators wrote.
The Persian Gulf state and U.S. military ally has been condemned by international human rights groups after imprisoning thousands of protesters, journalists and activists following a popular uprising against the monarchy in 2011 that was put down with force and help from Saudi Arabia. Since then, political opposition in Bahrain has been banned and independent media shut down. There have been reports of torture and forced confessions in death penalty cases, some involving political prisoners accused of “terrorism”.
Signatories to the letter were Democratic Senators Ron Wyden, Patrick Leahy, Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin and Jeff Merkley, along with Republican Marco Rubio.
They called on Blinken to “promote reform and respect for basic human rights” in Bahrain.
“We have long raised concerns about the situation in Bahrain,” the senators said.
“Bahrainis continue to call for agency and accountability, often at great risk to their safety and that of their families,” the letter said.
Husain Abdullah, a Bahraini exile who founded Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, praised the letter and said “Bahrain is a test case” for the Biden administration.
“The government of Bahrain is an egregious, persistent and blatant violator of the rights of its citizens on nearly every level,” Abdullah said in a statement on the group’s website.
In August, human rights groups called for an independent investigation into the death of 35-year-old Bahraini prisoner Hassan Abdulnabi Mansour, who died in custody after being denied essential medication and treatment.
Mansour was the third prisoner to die in Bahrain since April from medical negligence, rights groups said.