Senator Ron Wyden Submits Statement for the Record on the Deteriorating Situation in Bahrain

5 March 2020 – 27 February 2020, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) submitted a statement for the Congressional Record, addressing Bahrain’s crackdown on peaceful protestors. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) commends and supports Senator Wyden’s statement and the concerns that he raises.

In his statement, Senator Wyden expresses his concerns regarding Bahrain’s ruling monarchy’s actions against peaceful protests. He recalls when protestors were being forcefully arrested by the hundreds and killed by the dozens, what will be 9 years ago this month. He calls on the Bahraini government’s failure to hold its leaders accountable and its failure to uphold reforms.  Since 2017, Bahrain has intensified and increased its arrests and detention of those who critique the kingdom. In 2019, Bahrain’s human rights record escalates as more executions and arrests are carried out.

The senator acknowledges Bahrain as an ally to the U.S.; however, he still holds them responsible and accountable for the stress they have caused their people. He reprimands the Obama administration for allowing Bahrain to treat peaceful protesters with such severity. Senator Wyden highlights the hypocrisy of the Trump administration when the topic of human rights is discussed on the floor. Mike Pompeo speaks on the importance of human rights and the U.S.’s ability to put in place changes in a country to halt the abuse of human rights by non compliant regimes. However, in regards to Bahrain, Secretary Pompeo does not have much to say on its abuse of human rights.

Senator Wyden concludes the statement by urging his colleagues to stand against the persecution of peaceful protestors in Bahrain. He once again calls on Bahrain to halt its repression on freedom of speech and peaceful expression.

Mr. WYDEN – Mr. President, 9 years ago this month, citizens of Bahrain took up banners to defend a greater role in their society and political process.

Bahrain’s ruling monarchy cracked down on the peaceful protestors; State police and security forces arrested hundreds and killed more than a dozen, according to press reports at the time. Bahrain’s leaders promised accountability and reforms in response to international condemnation, but they would implement hardly any of them, and they rolled back some of the few they did implement.

Indeed, the situation in Bahrain has only grown worse. Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain wrote last year that “since 2017, the government has intensified the repression through the arrest, detention, and conviction of individuals who draw attention to the kingdom’s human rights record or criticise the government.”

Last month, Human Rights Watch wrote,”Bahrain’s human rights record worsened in 2019, as the government carried out executions, convicted critics for peaceful expression, and threatened social media activists.”

It gives me no great pleasure to point out the monarchy’s increasing repression. I have no personal animosity toward Bahrain, which remains an important U.S. ally.

But the U.S. Government has a duty–an obligation–to be honest with friends and allies and to hold them to a high standard. I regret to say that the Obama administration did not do nearly enough to hold Bahrain to that high standard, as I repeatedly came to this floor to discuss. The Trump administration has, for its part, been even more callously indifferent to the regime’s abuses, despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking many times about the importance of human rights.

Just last year, Secretary Pompeo said America can effect change “[b]y articulating abuses and pressuring non compliant regimes.”

So where is Secretary Pompeo when it comes to articulating Bahrain’s abuses and pressuring Bahrain’s rulers to do better? The Secretary, like  his boss, is missing in action.

I urge my colleagues to take a hard look at Bahrain’s human rights record, to talk with victims of the regime and hear their stories of persecution.

As I do every year, I renew my call on Bahrain’s rulers to change course and open space for dialogue, for free thought, and for peaceful expression and protest.

Read the statement in the Congressional Record here