Bahrain religious discrimination violates numerous international laws: Analyst

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this photo taken on February 25, 2011, Bahraini Shia protesters chant slogans against the regime during a rally in remembrance of the seven people who were killed in police crackdowns as they march towards Pearl Square in Manama. (Photo by AFP)

Bahraini regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent and its systematic abuse of the Shia population and discrimination against them violate numerous international laws, an American human rights expert and peace activist says.

Daniel Kovalik, who teaches international human rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in the state of Pennsylvania, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Monday.

“Since the 2011 uprising in Bahrain, the government has brutally cracked down on dissent and on the Shia population of the country.  Human Rights groups have reported on numerous cases of Shia being subjected to wrongful detention and torture and of being fired from their jobs en masse.  This type of religious discrimination violates numerous international law instruments and would not be tolerated by the West in other situations,” the academic said.   

He added that “because Bahrain is a compliant state of the West” the US and Europe largely turn the other way from these abuses, warning that “US plans to sanction resistance groups — groups which have arisen against this oppression — will only strengthen the hand of the Bahrain government and therefore lead to increasing human rights abuses.”   

The remarks come as Bahrainis took to the streets across the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom to mark the tenth anniversary of a popular uprising against the ruling monarchy, in spite of the regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent.

The rallies took place on Saturday night, on the eve of the 2011 uprising’s anniversary, with the participants chanting slogans against the Al Khalifah regime and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah.

The protesters called for an end to human rights violations and the release of political detainees.

They also urged the Al Khalifah regime to relinquish power and allow the establishment of a just system representing all strata of the society.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Kovali described the removal of Yemen's popular Ansarullah movement from the terrorist list as “a move in the right direction,” while commenting on a recent decision by the United States to remove the movement from the list of foreign terrorist organizations on February 16.

The decision came days after the administration of US President Joe Biden announced an end to American support for the Saudi war on Yemen, including a freeze on arms sales to the Riyadh regime.

The administration of former US president Donald Trump had branded the Ansarullah movement as a foreign terrorist organization, imposing the specially designated global terrorist (SDGT) and foreign terrorist organization (FTO) designations.

Trump took the action on his last full day in office despite warnings by other governments, aid groups and the United Nations that the US sanctions could push Yemen into a major famine.

The academic further expressed hope that the move would lead to an improvement of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, but said, “It is uncertain whether that change in designation will do much for the people suffering under repressive monarchical rule in Bahrain.”

The popular uprising in Bahrain began in mid-February 2011, as recurring demonstrations throughout the years demanded that the ruling Al Khalifah family relinquish power.

Manama has responded to the anti-regime protests with an iron fist. The authorities have detained rights campaigners, broken up major opposition political parties, revoked the nationality of several pro-democracy activists and deported them.

The Bahraini regime has also arrested, injured and killed thousands of people in the Persian Gulf country. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also helped Manama in its ruthless crackdown.

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