Brian Dooley, the director of Human Rights Defenders program at the US-based Human Rights First organization, said on Saturday that the participants at the Manama Dialogue 2015, which began on October 30 and will run until November 1, have a duty to pile up pressure on the Bahraini regime so that it changes its way of dealing with members of the opposition and political dissent.
Dooley, who was speaking to a Bahraini television, said the Al Khalifa regime in Bahrain should be forced to carry out “serious political reforms,” including releasing political prisoners, dropping the charges against leaders of the opposition, opening up a dialogue with opponents of the regime and paying more respect to freedom of expression and human rights principles.
For more than four years, Bahrain has been gripped by a popular uprising with citizens initially demanding more freedom and democracy and an end to discriminatory policies. The protests later turned into outright calls for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa regime.
Dooley blasted the Bahraini regime for its continued crackdown on activists and opposition members who, according to Dooly, have reasonable and logical demands, adding that restrictive policies by the regime has led to more tension and insecurity in the kingdom.
He also criticized the government for denying a visa to a New York Times journalist who reportedly planned to cover the conference in Manama, saying the refusal clearly shows how the regime tries to close its doors to the outside world and to continue its crackdown.