ADHRB Strongly Condemns Obama Administration’s Decision to Release Arms Sales to Bahrain

29 June 2015
Contact: Kate Kizer,

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) strongly condemns the U.S. administration’s decision to lift the ban on foreign military sales to the Bahrain Defense Force and the National Guard. The State Department notes that its decision to lift the hold on the sale of arms is based upon the “implementation of many key recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.” However, the Department’s own 2013 progress report on Bahrain’s implementation of the BICI recommendations demonstrated that the State Department considers only five of 26 recommendations to be fully implemented. In the years since, neither ADHRB nor the international community has seen progress in the meaningful implementation of the remaining recommendations.

Further, for every “key recommendation” of the BICI report that the State Department claims to have been implemented, its own Human Rights report for 2014 illustrates the countless human rights abuses that the Government of Bahrain continues to carry out against its own citizens. Additionally, the Department’s statement omits any concerns about the human rights abuses committed by members of the Bahrain Defense Force, which were documented by the BICI Commission.

“The State Department’s decision to resume arms sales to the Bahraini government who continues to carry out human rights abuses against its critics sends the wrong message,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. “While the State Department has been a responsive partner in promoting democratic reform in Bahrain, this decision undermines its own calls for reform in Bahrain and the rest of the region.”

ADHRB echoes the sentiments of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in his most recent letter to Secretary Kerry, and today’s statement by Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) warning that the administration’s decision is “a dangerous step backwards for human rights in Bahrain.” ADHRB urges the Obama administration to reconsider its decision and to respect pro-democracy voices in Bahrain by preventing further weapons transfers on the basis of cosmetic reforms.