Madam President, the sponsoring of the Word Economic Forum in Davos this year by the Government of Bahrain shows its ambition to belong and to be taken seriously by the international and business communities.
Bahrain’s authorities can only be credible if they respect its citizens’ human rights, period. In a country that heavily restricts freedom of speech and of the Internet and has people fired for expressing their political opinions, business development is impossible. When tens of thousands of peaceful protestors are met with violence and doctors face political trials, investment is unattractive. Where tensions between Shia and Sunnis are growing and citizens face military trials, there is a risk of a proxy conflict involving Saudi Arabia and Iran.
EU-based companies in Bahrain should take back fired employees, and we should freeze the export of weapons and technology from the EU that is used to repress people. Bahrain’s authorities should put themselves on the right side of history and show their unconditional commitment to respecting human rights and make reforms.
The release of political prisoners, especially of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and Mahdi Abu Deeb, are of particular urgency to this House.