UK MPs from different parties, Calls for Release All Bahrain Political Prisoners

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SHAFAQNA- UK MPs from different parties, excluding the ruling Conservative Party, have already made a similar motion three years ago, demanding the release of opposition figures in Bahrain, namely their leader Sheikh Ali Salman. They called on the British government to intervene to secure the release of all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain, yet little progress has been made since then.

British Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake is leading a movement in the UK Parliament calling for the adoption of a motion for ending degrading treatment against political prisoners in Bahrain, suspending technical assistance programs to Bahrain and release of all political prisoners, including opposition leaders.

Brake and 18 other MPs from different parties, excluding the ruling Conservative Party, have already made a similar motion three years ago, demanding the release of opposition figures, namely their leader Sheikh Ali Salman. They also called on the British government to intervene to secure the release of all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain, yet little progress has been made since then, Bahrain Mirror reported.

Since the eruption of the February 14 protests more than seven years ago, 28 motions have been submitted on Bahrain in the British Parliament, but this has not prevented the ongoing British political support to the Bahraini government in various areas and in all ways, including diplomatic coverage, direct security cooperation, arms sales, the opening of a new military base and so-called technical assistance programs to reform the security and judicial bodies.

The new motion, published on the UK Parliament website, state that “this House deplores the degrading treatment of political prisoners in Bahrain; is appalled by the inhuman conditions of detention facilities as described by the UN Human Rights Committee in July 2018, particularly in Jau prison, including unsanitary conditions, severe overcrowding, inadequate access to drinking water and unhygienic toilet facilities.”

Whereas the Government of Bahrain is leading a heavy crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly; human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and political activists are severely prosecuted and suffer from arrest, threat of imprisonment or torture, intimidation, travel bans and revocation of citizenship. Bahraini authorities arrested, detained, interrogated and prosecuted human rights defenders and political activists who expressed criticism of government policies, Saudi Arabia or the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Europarl reported.

Bahrain is a majority-Shiite country ruled by a Sunni monarchy.

Widespread protests in 2011 were seen as a threat to the survival of the monarchy and the response from the authorities was harsh, culminating in a military intervention from the GCC countries, led by Saudi Arabia.

The FCO highlights prison sentences for people

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office lists Bahrain as a priority country in its 2017 Human Rights and Democracy Report; although it says there is a “mixed picture” in Bahrain.

The FCO highlights prison sentences for people such as Nabeel Rajab, a human rights activist and opposition leader; the suspension of al-Wasat newspaper, one of the few independent news sources in the country; the fact that Bahrain has stripped people of Bahraini nationality, leaving them stateless; and the fact that several people were condemned to death in 2017.

The FCO also mentioned some signs of progress: the Bahraini Parliament passed a new law to benefit women and children and the Government acted against slavery and human trafficking.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee published its response to Bahrain’s periodic report on its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 26 July 2018.

Concerns about the arbitrary and extrajudicial arrest of 13 Bahraini opposition leaders

The motion also expressed concern about “the arbitrary and extrajudicial arrest of 13 Bahraini opposition leaders who were subjected to torture and unlawfully convicted by a military court in 2011.”

The motion then particularly condemns the deliberate targeting of Hassan Mushaima, who is being denied unconditional access to medical care, family visits and books, and says is concerned that the violations of Mr Mushaima’s rights have caused his son to launch a hunger strike outside the Bahraini Embassy in London.

It further notes with dismay that Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace and Abdulwahab Husain are victims of similar punitive measures.

The motion also highlighted that the political prisoner Ali Hajji is also on a hunger strike to protest degrading treatment in Jau prison.

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