A human rights group has called upon the US Congress to block the sale of combat helicopters and aircraft missiles to Bahrain in the wake of the ruling Al Khalifah regime’s heavy-handed crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners and political dissidents in the tiny Persian Gulf country.
“It is simply absurd that the Trump administration has decided to effectively reward the Bahraini military for violating international law – right after the State Department itself reported on a widespread human rights crisis in Bahrain,” Husain Abdullah, the executive director of Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, said in a statement released on Wednesday.
The Pentagon, in a statement released last Friday, announced that the US State Department had approved the possible sale of attack helicopters to Bahrain for an estimated cost of $911 million.
Bahrain has reportedly requested attack helicopters AH-1Z, replacement engines, AGM-114 and APKWS II missiles, as well as radars, communications systems and other equipment.
The Pentagon has delivered the required certification notice to the Congress. The congressmen have 30 days to block the deal.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.