Bahraini Uprising Second Anniversary: As dialogue starts, accountability for past human rights violations must take centre stage

Brussels – Rome, 14 February 2013

 
On the 14th of February 2011 the Government of Bahrain met a series of demonstrations and popular demand for reform with violent assaults by armed forces towards peaceful protesters, extra-judicial detentions, imprisonment and the use of torture against demonstrators in detention. Two years on, peaceful protesters commemorating the anniversary are still repressed through force, following the start of the first round of talks aimed at solving the country’s two-year-old political impasse.
 
Statement by Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice:
 
"Two years after its violent response to citizens rallies demanding political reform, the regime in Bahrain continues the habitual harassment, detention and imprisonment of Human Rights Defenders and members of civil and political society. Despite the King of Bahrain’s acceptance without reservation of reforms recommended made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in 2011, very little appears to have changed in practice. The continued detention of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab, together with many others, for exercising their right to freedom of expression and association, is a disgrace. Atop this, the reported shooting and killing by police of Hussain Al-Jaziri, a sixteen year-old boy protesting yesterday in Al-Daih, is a tragedy emblematic of this deep culture of impunity.
 
"As protests continue into a second day, the Government and political opposition have commenced the first dialogue in 18 months. No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) cautiously welcomes this initiative, but genuine dialogue is unlikely where accountability for human rights violations does not take central place. We urge the Government of Bahrain to release immediately all remaining prisoners of conscience, cease the intimidation and mistreatment of Human Rights Defenders, establish credible accountability mechanisms to prevent continuing abuses, as recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, and allow access to international NGOs in Bahrain. 
 
"We also stress the need for the international community to intensify its involvement in Bahrain, take immediate concrete steps to halt the deteriorating situation and to make Bahrain accountable and to abide by international human rights laws and norms. Justice and peace are integral to democracy and NPWJ and the NRPTT stand by the people of Bahrain to anchor Bahrain’s future on democracy, rule of law and respect of fundamental human rights.”
 
For further information, contact Alison Smith on asmith@npwj.org or +32-2-548-3912 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32-2-548-3915. Check also the special section on NPWJ Bahrain Project