10 July 2015 – Yesterday, the European Parliament passed an urgency resolution calling for an EU-wide ban on tear gas and crowd control equipment exports to Bahrain and for the immediate release of Nabeel Rajab and other prisoners of conscience, in a move welcomed by Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), and Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR).
The urgency resolution, “On Bahrain, in particular the case of Nabeel Rajab”, calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab, President of the BCHR, and other imprisoned rights defenders and political activists, including Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Sheikh Ali Salman, Naji Fateel, Sheikh Mohammad Habib al-Muqdad, and Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace. It also criticizes Bahrain’s failure to implement key recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and the Universal Period Review.
“Nabeel is being punished for speaking to the world,” said Said Yousif Almuhafda, Vice-President of BCHR. “He has been harassed ever since his return from his trip to Europe last year, when he met with the European Union in Brussels.”
In a key recommendation, the resolution, “Calls for an EU ban on exports of tear gas and crowd control equipment until investigations are conducted into their improper use and until the perpetrators of such improper use are held accountable.”
“Human rights abuses continue on a massive scale,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. “It is heartening to see the EU recognize this, especially at a time when the United States has decided to rekindle its security relationship with Bahrain through renewed arms sales.”
The passing of the urgency resolution follows major security developments between Bahrain and its international allies. In late June, the United States announced that it is lifting a four-year ban on military sales to the Bahrain Defense Force and National Guard that was first instituted following the violent suppression of protests in 2011. Earlier in June, the United Kingdom also finalized its plan to build a new naval base in Bahrain, on which construction is expected to begin later this summer.
“As the European Parliament sends a message against Bahrain’s rights violations, the British government should be ashamed of its base being built there, which symbolizes their complicity in the abuse of rights defenders and political activists,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD.
This is the first resolution on Bahrain adopted by the current parliament, elected in April 2014, and marks continued European concern for the state of human rights in the Gulf country. It follows a February 2014 urgency resolution that also expressed concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain.
ADHRB, BIRD, and BCHR call on the Government of Bahrain to follow the recommendations of the urgency resolution. In particular, and in line with its obligations to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture, Bahrain must immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners, end the use of torture in prisons, repeal the law allowing the arbitrary revocation of citizenship, and re-open dialogue with the opposition to reach a peaceful, lasting political resolution.