US senators call on State Dept to confront Khalifah regime over repression in Bahrain

This file image provided by an activist shows Bahraini regime forces during a raid on a sit-in demonstration, in the village of Diraz, Bahrain. (Photo by AP)

A bipartisan group of United States senators has called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to press Bahrain's Al Khalifah regime to end its “violent, systemic repression” of people in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

“We write to raise our concerns about the government of Bahrain’s troubling rights record and to better understand your administration’s strategy for pressing this issue...,” the group of seven influential US senators wrote.

Signatories to the letter were Democratic Senators Ron Wyden, Patrick Leahy, Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin and Jeff Merkley, along with Republican Marco Rubio.

They called on Blinken to “promote reform and respect for basic human rights” in Bahrain.

“We have long raised concerns about the situation in Bahrain,” the senators said.

“Bahrainis continue to call for agency and accountability, often at great risk to their safety and that of their families,” the letter said.

Husain Abdulla, a Bahraini exile who founded Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, praised the letter and said “Bahrain is a test case” for the Biden administration.

“The government of Bahrain is an egregious, persistent and blatant violator of the rights of its citizens on nearly every level,” Abdalla said in a statement on the group’s website.

In August, human rights groups called for an independent investigation into the death of 35-year-old Bahraini prisoner Hassan Abdulnabi Mansour, who died in custody after being denied essential medication and treatment.

Mansour was the third prisoner to die in Bahrain since April from medical negligence, rights groups said.

Demonstrations in Bahrain have been held on a regular basis ever since a popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.

The participants demand that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent.

On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to the imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.

King Hamad ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3, 2017.

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