Abuse in Bahrain de­spite prom­ises: Amnesty

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Bahrain, host of a For­mula One Grand Prix this week­end, is car­ry­ing out ram­pant hu­man rights abuses against op­po­si­tion ac­tivists de­spite prom­ises of re­form, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said Thurs­day.

The gov­ern­ment re­sponded by say­ing it was “dis­ap­pointed” with the Amnesty re­port, which had “sig­nif­i­cant short­com­ings.”

Amnesty’s Mid­dle East and North Africa deputy head Said Boume­douha said “four years on from the up­ris­ing, re­pres­sion is wide­spread and ram­pant abuses by the se­cu­rity forces con­tin­ues. Bahrain’s au­thor­i­ties must prove that the prom­ises of re­form they have made are more than empty rhetoric.

A gov­ern­ment state­ment said Amnesty “mis­re­ported” Manama’s “re­spect of the rights to free­dom of opin­ion and ex­pres­sion and to peace­ful as­sem­bly” which are “pro­tected by Bahrain’s con­sti­tu­tion”.

“The gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to up­hold them ro­bustly. Yet as any other re­spon­si­ble gov­ern­ment, the gov­ern­ment of Bahrain will not tol­er­ate vi­o­lent at­tacks or in­cite­ment to vi­o­lence com­mit­ted un­der the guise of free speech and peace­ful protest.

“It is the gov­ern­ment’s duty to pro­tect cit­i­zens, res­i­dents, and vis­i­tors alike and the gov­ern­ment makes no apol­ogy for do­ing so. Bahrain will re­spond to such at­tacks in ac­cor­dance with its law and best in­ter­na­tional prac­tices.”

In its re­port, Amnesty said Bahraini au­thor­i­ties ar­bi­trar­ily de­tain ac­tivists with ex­ces­sive use of force.

The re­port de­tails tes­ti­monies of de­tainees — some as young as 17 — de­scrib­ing be­ing beaten, tor- tured and threat­ened.

One told Amnesty he had been struck with the claw of a ham­mer on sev­eral parts of the body.

Those held in pre-trial detention are also rou­tinely tor­tured to ex­tract con­fes­sions, the re­port said.

“As the world’s eyes fall on Bahrain dur­ing the Grand Prix this week­end, few will re­al­ize that the in­ter­na­tional images the au­thor­i­ties have at­tempted to project of the coun­try as a pro­gres­sive re- formist state com­mit­ted to hu­man rights masks a far more sin­is­ter truth,” said Boume­douha.

Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been rocked by un­rest since se­cu­rity forces crushed Shi­ite- led protests in 2011 de­mand­ing a con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy and an elected prime min­is­ter.

The tiny Gulf state banned public demon­stra­tions in 2013.

At least 89 peo­ple have been killed in clashes with se­cu­rity forces, while hun­dreds, most of them Shi­ite, have been ar­rested and put on trial, hu­man rights groups say.

Shi­ite op­po­si­tion leader Sheikh Ali Sal­man is be­hind bars for al­legedly try­ing to over­throw the regime.

His ar­rest in De­cem­ber shortly af­ter he was re-elected head of Bahrain’s main op­po­si­tion party Al-We­faq has sparked near-daily protests in Shi­ite vil­lages.

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