Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group – Mr President, once again we must address the human rights situation in Bahrain. For those who wonder why and suggest that we look at Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations instead, I would like to remind them that Saudi Arabia is very closely advising – and even rolling tanks into the streets of Bahrain – and helping the Bahraini Government.
But instead of seeking dialogue or releasing political prisoners, the Parliament and the King of Bahrain have now banned the right to peaceful assembly in the capital altogether. We should remind them that certainly not all who oppose government practices are terrorists or helped by Iran. There should not be juveniles in adult detention facilities and under no circumstances can there be torture.
The implementation of the BICI recommendations and the UN Periodic Review are long overdue. The Bahraini Government should stop revoking citizenship and should release political prisoners, beginning with those with EU citizenship. Both sides in a deeply polarised society in Bahrain must step over their own shadow and come together in dialogue for the sake of the future of the country.
The media must be free. It is not, and this is very polarising at the moment. It is very disappointing that the special rapporteur for torture has been denied access. Similarly, digital freedoms are curbed, sadly also with the help of EU-made technologies, which have been used to help track and trace human rights defenders. A stronger response from the EU is needed. It will not come from the United States. I also think that this House should be more vocal in pressing for human rights for all Bahrainis before proxies like Saudi Arabia continue to use it as a playing field for their power games.