On Tuesday 25 June, during the 41st session of the Human Rights Council, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) delivered an oral intervention during the Item 2 General Debate with the High Commissioner. In the intervention, ADHRB raised concerns about statelessness in Bahrain, the closure of civil society space, the dissolution of all the major opposition political groups, and the closure of the last remaining independent newspaper. Continue reading for the text of the intervention, or click here for a PDF.
Madame High Commissioner,
ADHRB would like to thank you for your opening remarks and for calling the Council’s attention to important thematic concerns, including statelessness, and impunity.
We see the Bahraini government consistently use these tactics to repress fundamental freedoms. In the past few years, Bahrain has effectively closed civil space, dissolved all the major opposition political groups, and closed the last remaining independent newspaper. It has jailed political opposition leaders and human rights defenders, like Nabeel Rajab, a human rights defender and leading figure who called for human rights across the region, and Abdulwahab Hussain, Sheikh Ali Salman, and Hassan Mushaima, political leaders who called on Bahrain to respect the right of self-determination. In this, its agents have acted with impunity, torturing protesters and denying prisoners necessary health care.
Now Bahrain has taken new measures to suppress dissent, targeting social media and further criminalizing online activism. Recent amendments to the kingdom’s anti-terror legislation allow prosecutors to charge citizens with “promoting terrorism” simply for liking or sharing a tweet that the government deems “damages national unity.” The Bahraini government also is increasingly using citizenship revocation as a tool of reprisal, specifically against political opposition and human rights defenders. Since 2011, over 900 Bahrainis have had their citizenship revoked – leaving many vulnerable and stateless.
A country with such a record should not be a member of the Council. The Council must take concrete steps to hold Bahrain accountable, including through invoking General Assembly resolution 60/251 to revoke its membership due to its rights abuses, and release all political prisoners.