U.N. Rapporteurs Call for Rights Compliance in Bahrain
Last week, several U.N. human rights rapporteurs calledon the Bahraini government to “comply with the rights to peaceful assembly and expression and immediately release those arbitrarily detained for exercising their legitimate freedoms.” Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders Margaret Sekaggya said “The sentencing of Nabeel Rajab represents yet another blatant attempt by the Government of Bahrain to silence those legitimately working to promote basic human rights.” Maina Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association, contended that “the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly should not be subject to prior authorization from the authorities.”
Meanwhile, Bahraini human rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja wrote a letter to Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi to protest her recent barring and deportation from Egypt. In the letter, al-Khawaja decried “unlawful and hostile treatment [she] was subjected to at Cairo’s International Airport” after she was prevented from entering the country for “top secret reasons.” She was allegedly threatened with deportation back to Bahrain, where there is a warrant for her arrest. In April, al-Khawaja was also initially denied entry into Egypt, though she was let in after receiving the help of a lawyer and Egyptian activists.
In Bahrain, reports have emerged that the government ordered the transfer of Sunni cleric Adel Hassan al-Hamad from a prominent mosque to a less-prestigious position after al-Hamad described a land donation to the Catholic church as “an attempt to please Western nations.” The cleric warned that “silence in such matters could drag divine consequences” when urging his followers to act on the development. Justin Gengler examines al-Hamad’s actions and demotion in the larger context of the government’s “balancing act” with Bahraini Sunnis, and notes that dozens of Sunni cleric opposed the announcement of the church’s construction.
Finally, Abdulhadi Khalaf contends that Bahrain’s ability to sustain power through massive popular unrest stems from two factors: the United States’ reticence to pledge support to protesters like it did in Egypt and the composition of the Bahraini military which excludes “two-thirds of the indigenous population” from serving, and arrangement that allows “the Bahraini regime to remain confident that its military and security forces will remain loyal.”