The Bahraini authorities on Wednesday refused to allow Lars Aslan of the Social Democratic Party and a member of the Danish parliament, as well as the consultant at the Gulf Center for Human Rights GC4HR and Human Rights First HRF Brian Dooley to enter Bahrain through the port of its international airport. This visit came to meet with keep Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, co-founder of the Gulf Center for Human Rights and founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
“I just landed in Bahrain with Danish Rep. Lars Aslan in an attempt to meet the Danish citizen and founder of the Gulf Center for Human Rights Abdulhadi Al Khawaja,” said Brian Dooley. Al Khawaja has been sentenced to life of imprisonment in Bahrain since 2011 after demanding reform of the regime, the fight against rampant corruption and the transition toward democracy. It is also worth mentioning that the cases of torture against Al Khawaja were documented by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry BICI known as the “Bassiouni” Committee and he was subjected to a military trial before being retried in a civilian court with harsh sentences.
“I am still at Bahrain airport for about 15 hours with Lars Aslan,” he said. He mentioned that the authorities in Bahrain took their travel documents and did not return them.
On the other hand, the Danish MP tweeted saying: “The purpose of our visit to Bahrain is to highlight that Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and other activists in Bahrain’s prisons are not forgotten, and we remind the Danish government that it should put more pressure for the release of Abdulhadi Al Khawaja.”
“The Bahraini dictatorship stopped me now for five hours and the police confiscated my passport because it seemed very dangerous for a Danish politician to visit another Danish citizen in prison,” he said in another tweets at about 7 am “What do not they want me to see?”.
They were deported 24 hours after airport officials returned their travel documents that had been confiscated during their detention at the airport. “We were prevented from entering Bahrain after being categorized too much of a “security risk”. We just wanted to see jailed human rights defender Al Khawaja,” said Dooley in a tweet.
It is worth mentioning here that this prohibition is not the first of its kind. The Bahraini authorities have prevented journalists, activists and diplomats who aim to cover events or violations of human rights and to stand upon prisons conditions. It also deported some of them from its territory as it did to the assistant to former US Secretary of State “Tom Malinovski” whom were asked to leave Bahrain in July 2014 after meeting with the largest opposition bloc inside the country, Al Wefaq. Al Wefaq was dissolved by the Bahraini authorities and its Secretary-General Sheikh Ali Salman got arrested and is still facing prison sentences.
In December 2011, the Bahraini authorities banned the entry of New York Times journalist Nick Christov, and when Journalists are allowed to enter the country they are restricted and are only allowed to attend official events organized by government agencies in the country.
In May 2017, the Bahraini authorities refused to grant a visa to researcher Omar Shaker of Human Rights Watch, an American citizen, to conduct meetings on the sidelines of the meeting of the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA). It has also imposed a situation of tight security and media during major events such as The Formula One race and during the Manama Dialogue Conference in anticipation of any journalists trying to also cover any violations of human rights in the country as well as covering any manifestations of the political movement demanding democracy.
In August 2013, the Bahraini authorities banned the entry of Bahraini human rights activist Mariam Al Khawaja and forcibly deported her. She was trying to visit her detained father, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and her sister Zainab Al Khawaja -who was then detained.
The Bahraini authorities also reject repeated requests by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Special Procedures Branch, such as the Special Rapporteurs on torture, enforced disappearance, freedom of opinion and torture, and others.
SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights believes that the practices of the Bahraini authorities in preventing observers from entering the country are cause for concern and is yet another proof of its relentless attempt to conceal the reality of the human rights situation inside the country.
SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights also reminds the Bahraini authorities to respect article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on freedom of movement.