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Human Rights Watch Condemns IPU Silence on Bahrain's Violations

2023-03-14 - 2:41 p

Bahrain Mirror: Human Rights Watch condemned in a statement today the Bahraini authorities' arrest of "four people over social media posts in early March 2023," noting that "one of those arrested had called for reform of Bahrain's parliamentary system ahead of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Manama."

"Holding an assembly that claims to promote inclusive societies in a country that regularly arrests people for speaking their minds has only served to embolden the Bahraini government to continue repressing free speech," said Niku Jafarnia, Bahrain and Yemen researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"The current silence of the parliamentary group's leadership and of the parliament members attending the Assembly is deafening and contributes to Bahrain's efforts to whitewash its egregious human rights abuses against political opponents."

"The parliament members attending this Assembly should be using these arrests as an opportunity to speak out against Bahrain's human rights abuses on behalf of the many who cannot," Jafarnia said. "As long as they do not, the Bahraini government will continue to arrest and abuse those who speak out."

Human Rights Watch said the arrests, as well as the revocation of Human Rights Watch's visas, are examples of Bahrain's restrictions on expression, association, and assembly that violate the country's international human rights obligations. Opposition voices are systematically excluded and repressed in the country, including through "political isolation laws," among several other restrictions.

On March 9, Bahrain's Public Prosecutor's Office posted a statement on its Instagram that the four had been arrested for "abusing social media platforms." Al-Mannai has since been released, while the status of the other three people remains unclear.

The arrests occurred the same week as Bahraini authorities revoked visas that they had previously issued to two Human Rights Watch staff members to attend the IPU, despite Human Rights Watch's permanent observer status with the IPU.

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