Saturday, June 11, 2011

Glad to Hear that Obama spoke up on Bahrain–but all Gulf state peoples deserve more.

Glad to Hear that Obama spoke up on Bahrain–but all Gulf state peoples deserve more.




Below is a letter from Amnesty International on Bahrain.–KAS

Bahraini officials couldn’t silence activists on the streets, so they’ll try to do it in the courtroom.

Hi Supporter,

Emergency rule was lifted in Bahrain last week.

While the harsh laws responsible for the widespread government crackdowns against civilians are no longer being enforced, the injustice remains.

The long (and growing) list of people being paraded in front of military courts is simply appalling!

This week, nearly 50 of the brave doctors and nurses who treated protestors during the months of bitter and bloody street violence are being called into court.1

Furthermore, a total of 21 opposition figures, including seven in absentia, who led and participated in the demonstrations, are being tried in military court without proper access to lawyers, their families, or foreign media coverage. Several of these individuals are likely prisoners of conscience.

The people of Bahrain were too powerful to be finished off in the streets. Stop Bahraini officials from trying to silence them behind the closed doors of military courts!

In May, President Obama had called on Bahraini authorities to respect their citizens’ human rights. Since then, the U.S. has done little to follow through with diplomatic pressure.

President Obama said that “the only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail.”

We couldn’t agree with you more, Mr. President. That’s why we’re encouraging the U.S. to turn up the volume on its calls to Bahraini authorities. Demand that all opposition figures currently on trial be: 1) granted regular access to their lawyers and families and 2) released immediately and unconditionally, if held solely for criticizing the authorities.

Far too many civilians have already lost their lives on the streets of Bahrain. Taking action now could mean protecting others from losing their freedom in court.

In Solidarity,

Christoph Koettl
Crisis Campaigner, Middle East and North Africa
Amnesty International USA

NOTE

Message Recipients:
Hillary Rodham Clinton (Democrat)
Subject: Observe Trial of Opposition Figures in Bahrain

I am writing to encourage you to speak out more strongly on the human rights abuses that are being committed in Bahrain in the context of the current protest movement against the government. Specifically, I urge you to call on Bahraini authorities to immediately release opposition figures who led and participated in demonstrations, and who are currently on trial before a military court.

I believe that the current trial of 21 opposition figures, seven in absentia, is politically motivated and unjust. Many of the defendants are likely to be prisoners of conscience detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly, who should be released immediately and unconditionally.

The defendants have been denied visits from their families in prison and have been granted very limited access to lawyers. Lawyers were allowed during questioning by the Military Prosecutor, but not during National Security Agency interrogations following the defendants’ arrests. Some of the 14 defendants, like Ebrahim Sharif and ‘Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, have reportedly been tortured in detention. ‘Abdulhadi al-Khawaja said in court on May 12 “today I was threatened in this place, my life is in danger.”

In his May 19 remarks on the Middle East and North Africa, President Obama stated that the Bahraini government “must create the conditions for dialogue”. He won thunderous applause for stating that “you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail.”

I encourage you to also speak out publically and forcefully on the ongoing crackdown in Bahrain and the deteriorating human rights situation. Current and recent trials and convictions of activists represent yet further evidence of the extent to which the rights to freedom of speech and assembly are now being denied in Bahrain. The Bahraini authorities must fully guarantee the rights to a fair trial and to freedom of expression and assembly, and it must hold perpetrators of abuses accountable.

I ask that you urgently take these measures:
• Instruct the US Ambassador in Bahrain to observe the current trial against opposition figures.
• Express concern to Bahraini authorities that some of the defendants may be prisoners of conscience, detained for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association, and urge that they be immediately and unconditionally released if they are held solely because of criticism of the authorities.
• Urge the authorities to immediately set up an independent investigation into the alleged torture or ill treatment of some of the defendants, make its results public, and bring to justice anyone responsible for torture or ill treatment.
• Call on the authorities to allow human rights organizations to observe the trial.

Thank you for your support in this urgent matter.

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