Marietje Schaake - Mr President, the unrest and human rights violations in Bahrain will not be overshadowed by fancy advertising campaigns or the sponsorship of the World Economic Forum on CNN. Anyone who looks more closely at Bahrain realises that it is shameful that the Royal Family and the government have not managed to adequately address the human rights concerns and grievances of the population. Let me stress that they do not need interference from either Saudi Arabia or Iran in their domestic affairs.
Instead, the BICI report, as well as the Universal Periodic Review recommendations, should be implemented, full stop. We also identify a few other urgent reforms that must take place. We oppose forced disappearances and the use of special or military courts to try suspects of so-called national security crimes. Clearly, doctors must not be hindered or see their work politicised. Especially when it comes to juvenile detainees, Bahrain should treat them in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the country is a party. In this resolution we also call for a moratorium on the death penalty and hope it will be abolished.
Prominent human rights activists, such as Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and his daughter, Zainab, have not yet been released, and neither have Nabeel Rajab or Ibrahim Sharif. Once again we call for the release of all political prisoners and human rights activists.
On a more positive note, I hope that the decision by the Arab League to set up an Arab Human Rights Court in Manama will serve as a catalyst and a reminder about the respect for human rights that needs to be guaranteed in Bahrain and across the region.
The sad thing is that, looking at the entire Middle East, one would hope that problems in Bahrain that are solvable will be dealt with once and for all, so that its ambitions on the global stage are not just economic or strategic, but are matched with granting the people of Bahrain rights and opportunities and so that I, as an MEP, can swiftly visit the country without being denied a visa.
Marietje Schaake (ALDE), blue-card question – Mr Van Orden, I was happy to hear you say that you were also concerned about interference from outside actors, such as Saudi Arabia, in Iran. It was actually our group that proposed to refer to this concern in the resolution, but it was your group, as well as the EPP, that did not want to refer to that.
We must look at the broader context in the Middle East when addressing the problems in Bahrain and to make sure that we can overcome them, because we have worse crises to deal with. I just wanted to ask you whether you agree that this is a matter for concern.