International Parliamentary Union, held in Bahrain from 11 to 15 March 2023. IPU

Bahrain faced an uncomfortable week hosting hundreds of parliamentarians from about the globe at the Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, with lots of delegates drawing focus to the shortcomings of Bahrain’s human rights record and the jailing of some critics of the regime, like Bahraini-Danish citizen Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who has been in prison considering the fact that 2011.

A lot more than 1,700 MPs, representing about 143 parliaments, attended the occasion. MEPs have been amongst the most vocal critics of their hosts, with a number of members of the Danish delegation, like Søren Sondergaard, Chris Jensen Skriver and Kim Valentine, taking to the stage to get in touch with for Al-Khawaja’s release. These calls have been repeated by delegates from Finland, Iceland, Ireland and other nations.

Sondergaard mentioned Bahraini authorities ignored his request to stop by Al-Kawaja in prison. Yet another delegate, Carsten Honge, tweeted a image of himself standing outdoors the Jau prison exactly where Al-Khawaja is becoming held and added: “His crime? Standing up for human rights and freedom of speech.”

Stated Ahmed Alwadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), described the rally as a “PR disaster for the regime in Bahrain”.

The human rights group stayed away

Criticism of Bahrain was rising even ahead of the start off of the assembly. In the days top up to the occasion, Human Rights Watch (HRV) mentioned two employees members had their visas revoked – anything that was strongly criticized from the stage by a member of the Dutch delegation, Petra Stienen, who referred to as on the president of the IPU – the Portuguese Duarte Pacheco – to make an official statement in which he clearly condemns it.

HRV, which has permanent observer status at the IPU, also pointed to the “comprehensive record of severe human rights violations in Bahrain,” like the continued detention of Al-Khawaja and restrictions on freedom of expression and association.

Bahraini-Danish citizen Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja to be released from Jau prison in Bahrain, through his address at the 146th Assembly of the International Parliamentary Union IPU

Quite a few Bahrainis have been also arrested ahead of the occasion, like Ebrahim Al-Manai – apparently for tweeting a statement that Bahrain requirements to repair its legislative method and make parliament “constructive and influential… in people’s lives.” The State Prosecutor’s Workplace announced that it had received reports that folks have been “misusing social networks” by publishing phrases and videos “that would harm public order and needs for the protection of safety and national peace.”

In the previous, lots of inquiries have been raised about the country’s election final results and the suppression of political parties and people crucial of the regime.

An IPU spokesman declined to comment on no matter whether Bahrain was a appropriate venue for its occasion, which was held from March 11 to 15 beneath the slogan “Advertising peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: Combating intolerance”. Nonetheless, a spokesperson mentioned that “IPU Assemblies are an open space for delegates to express themselves freely on present troubles. They are possibilities for sincere dialogue… MPs can raise awareness and conduct discreet diplomacy on a multitude of troubles regarding democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

Niku Jafarnia, HRW’s Bahrain researcher, noted that the IPU leadership remained silent on the arrest of opposition activists, the additional detention of Al-Kawaja and the withdrawal of visas, adding that the silence “only reinforced Bahrain’s whitewashing of people’s rights abuses, and ridiculed [the IPU’s] slogan “For democracy. For everyone.’ “

A spokesman for the Bahraini government declined to answer inquiries for this short article about the withdrawal of visas for HRW employees, but mentioned “Bahrain has a nicely-established democratic and parliamentary method” and mentioned Al-Kawaja is serving time for “severe crimes associated to terrorism following the prescribed legal process”.

On the closing day of the occasion, Amnesty International issued a statement calling for the instant and unconditional release of Al-Kawaja, whom it described as a prisoner of conscience.

The stress group mentioned Al-Kawaja suffered a cardiac arrhythmia on February 28 and was taken to the Bahrain Defense Forces Hospital exactly where a physician mentioned he required an urgent referral to a cardiologist. Nonetheless, when Al-Khawaja refused to be handcuffed although in hospital, he was returned to prison with out becoming examined by a cardiologist.

Al-Khawaja’s daughter, Mariam Al-Khawaja, mentioned in a statement that her father “continues to endure harsh prison circumstances and systematic denial of sufficient health-related remedy, like lots of other political prisoners in Bahrain.”

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Dominic Dudley is a freelance journalist with far more than two decades of expertise covering company, financial and political stories in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

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