European Parliament calls for EU sanctions against Bahrain

The European Parliament today endorsed a strong worded resolution addressing the ongoing human rights violations in Bahrain. The effort led by Dutch Member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) calls for targeted EU sanctions against human rights violators inBahrain. “For almost two years now the world has ignored the lethal violence used against Bahraini peaceful protestors. We have to be consistent in our policies and impose sanctions to force the Bahraini authorities to respect rights and freedoms”, Schaake says.

Activists
Since February 2011 protests take place in Bahrain. The Bahraini population, of which Shias make up around 70 percent and the rest is mostly Sunni, is being closely watched by Saudi-Arabia and Iran. Bahraini authorities received Saudi support through tanks that were sent to assist in suppressing revolts. Demonstrations in which citizens call for more democracy are increasingly sectarian. Schaake: “People suffocate from the excessive use of tear gas, bird shot is fired from a very close range. Doctors face jail time for providing basic medical care, activists are sentenced to life long imprisonment in flawed trials. Schaake led several other initiatives that got Parliamentary backing.

Arrested
Also bloggers and youth activists who use social media to inform a vast international public about the situation in their country, are being arrested. “Sayed Yousif al-Muhafdha (@Saidyousif) was arrested in Bahrain on 18 December. Two weeks earlier he was one of the speakers during a roundtable inBrussels I organized on the human rights situation in his country. A Bahraini diplomat also attended that meeting.” The Liberal MEP sought to visit Bahrain with an official Parliamentary delegation, but was the only Member of European Parliament who was not granted a visa.

Recommendations
In November 2011 an independent commission of inquiry (BICI) on the request of Bahraini king Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa presented a set of recommendations and reforms which would meet the protestors’ demands. Despite several commitments by the authorities no changes have been made. Schaake: “The authorities keep referring to the BICI report as the silver bullet, but so far it is nothing more than their paper reality. By imposing sanctions the EU finally shows it is getting serious.” Schaake notes that the United States refrains from criticizing the Gulf state, which is likely related to the US Navy’s 5th fleet being based there.

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