SALAM Urges New UK PM to Reconsider Policy towards Bahrain

SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights conveyed a letter to the new UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, upon her recent appointment.
The letter first set out the current dire situation, confirming that over 300 Bahraini nationals have been stripped of their nationality in legally unjustified and aggressive means, whilst tens of others have been forced to leave the country. The highest religious authority in Bahrain, Sheikh Isa Qassim, was mentioned with a description of the unlawful and arbitrary revocation of his nationality, along with the fact that no proper legal procedure or trial was ever carried out.
The letter continued to articulate the following concerns:
• The blanket prevention order that has been handed out against all human rights defenders in the country from going abroad to participate in rights events or advocacy initiatives.
• The breadth of the political opposition, including Sheikh Ali Salman, and a number of prominent human rights defenders remain behind bars, including the prominent human right defender Nabeel Rajab who was again arrested.
• The prosecution and persecution of the indigenous Shia Bahraini population and how it is particularly problematic, with official Shia-led establishments, institutions and political parties facing permanent closure. A mention of Al-Wefaq party’s recent closure as well as the closure of two other societies.
• Rekindling the issue of torture in prison, which is still a major issue, with the UN Special Rapporteurs repeatedly denied from carrying out their mandate in the country since 2011. This is especially a severe issue as the Bahraini authorities have imprisoned approximately 4000 Bahrainis since 2011, spread out across Jau Prison, Dry Dock Prison, and a number of detention facilities.
The letter reminded Theresa May that the UK Foreign Affairs Committee recommended in 2015 for Bahrain to be included on the UK’s list of countries of concern, especially after a number of years of little to no improvements, and new human rights abuses emerging after the Bahrain Independent Commission Inquiry (BICI) in 2011. The recommendations have not been implemented, as recently confirmed by Dr Sherif Bessiouni, the chair of the inquiry.
The letter concluded by urging Theresa May to consider modifying the UK’s policy towards the human rights situation in Bahrain, considering stronger rather than quiet diplomacy and opting for public condemnations and recommendations.