On 13 June 2017, US Congressman James McGovern delivered a speech in Congress to mark the arbitrary arrest and one-year detention of Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab. Congressman McGovern is Rajab’s advocate in the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s Defending Freedoms Project for Prisoners of Conscience and has been a champion for publicly condemning the Bahraini government’s repression of human rights in the country. In the speech, Congressman McGovern called for “the immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab” from detention, where he is currently being held for “exercising his rights to freedom of speech.” Congressman McGovern goes on to note a number of other concerning cases from the country including: the reversal of Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) recommendation 1718 that stripped arresting power from Bahrain’s National Security Agency; the Constitutional amendment that allows military courts to try civilians; the January executions of three torture victims; the dissolution of Wa’ad political society; and the closure of the country’s only independent newspaper Al Wasat.
Congressman McGovern noted the recent comments made by President Trump when he met with Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, king of Bahrain, at the Saudi Summit in May. The president stated: “We are going to have a very, very long-term relationship. I look forward to it very much – many of the same things in common.” The Congressman raises his concerns with the president’s intentions to tighten the US relationship with the monarchy, as the Bahrain government has overwhelmingly increased repression against its population since the start of 2017. Congressman McGovern states: “Bahrain is headed down an increasingly authoritarian path. It is closing off all avenues for peaceful dissent.”
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) applauds Congressman McGovern’s continued commitments to publicly calling for the release of Nabeel Rajab as the Bahraini government continues to arbitrarily detain him for free speech-related charges. ADHRB echoes the concerns of the Congressman as the Trump Administration continues to form closer ties with the Bahraini monarchy despite its role in actively increasing instability in the country by restricting all political and civil society space in Bahrain
A video of Congressman McGovern’s full speech can be seen below. Full text of the speech is included on the official US Congressional Record for 13 June 2017; click here to access that text (page H4860 – H4861).