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Bahrain

EU, rights groups urge Bahrain to end crackdown on dissidents

The EU and the 35-member UN Human Rights Council have urged the Bahraini regime to put an end to its heavy-handed crackdown against political dissidents as the Al Khalifah regime keeps up its policy of repression.

During a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session on Wednesday, Slovakia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva Fedor Rosocha, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, voiced concerns “about measures against Bahrain’s opposition political society.”

Brussels is alarmed with the “dissolution of the opposition al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the 9-year-long prison sentence handed down to its Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman, detention and travel bans on human rights activists, and the re-arrest of Nabeel Rajab,” said the joint statement he read out.

It went on to say that the signatories are troubled by the “revocation of nationality of Bahraini citizens, including prominent figures such as Sheikh Issa Qassim.”

Bahraini authorities revoked Sheikh Qassim’s citizenship on June 20. They had earlier dissolved al-Wefaq besides the Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by the 79-year-old cleric, and the al-Risala Islamic Association.

Rosocha further stated that the EU and other world states are “worried about allegations of torture” in Bahrain, and want Manama to extend an invitation to Juan E. Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

‘Free Rajab’

Meanwhile, twenty-two NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, have sent letters to 50 states, urging them to pressure Bahraini authorities to release Rajab.

The rights groups asked the addressees to “speak out on Bahrain’s continued misuse of the judicial system to harass and silence human rights defenders.”

Rajab, who has been repeatedly detained for organizing anti-regime demonstrations and publishing Twitter posts deemed insulting to Bahraini officials, was pardoned for health reasons last year, but he was re-arrested on June 13.

The 52-year-old activist is going to stand trial over tweets he posted in March 2015, criticizing Manama’s involvement in the atrocious Saudi aerial bombardment campaign against Yemen in addition to mistreatment and torture at Bahrain’s notorious Jaw Prison.

He also faces fresh charges after the US daily The New York Times published an op-ed by him about the Manama regime’s repression. Rajab faces up to 12 years in prison in Bahrain.

Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis, calling on the Al Khalifah family to relinquish power.

Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been deployed to the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on peaceful protests.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the Bahraini crackdown on the anti-regime activists.

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