Bahrain: NPWJ supports visit of opposition leaders in Brussels to call for ending repression and promoting meaningful political reform

Brussels, 30 September 2015

On 28-30 September 2015, as part of a week-long tour of major European Cities, a Bahraini Delegation of opposition leaders visited Brussels for a series of meetings with EU institutions, organised with the support of No Peace Without Justice. The visit aimed at drawing attention to the current situation in Bahrain and also to work with international partners in efforts to consolidate a serious and meaningful dialogue process that can lead to genuine democratic reform.
The delegation included Ms Fareda Ghulam, women's rights activist and Vice Secretary of the secular National Democratic Action Society (Waad) (as well as wife of Ibrahim Sharif, a prominent opposition figure), and Dr Jasim Husain Ali, resigned member of Bahrain’s Council of Representatives and representative of Al-Wefaq, the largest opposition party in the country.

Meetings were organised with officials of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in charge of GCC Countries, as well as with Members of the European Parliament from different political groups (including Ana Gomes (S&D Group), Marietje Schaake (ALDE), Fabio Massimo Castaldo (EFD) and Andrej Grzyb (EPP)) and officials from the Secretariate of the Sub-Committee on Human Rightsof the European Parliament. No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) also convened a roundtable discussion, together with representatives from international NGOs, including FIDH, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
The purpose of Bahraini Delegation's visit was to shed light on the ongoing campaign of intimidation and threats carried out by the Bahraini authorities against political and civil society leaders of the opposition and human rights defenders, as well as to discuss possible initiatives to support meaningful democratic reform, the rule of law and respect of human rights in the country. Despite the Bahraini regime’s claims of reform, silencing any peaceful dissent remains a routine trend, as highlighted by the latest resolution on Bahrain adopted in July 2015 by the European Parliament condemning human rights abuses in Bahrain, and calling for the release of imprisoned human rights defenders.

Special focus was also dedicated to the case of Ibrahim Sharif, who was re-arrested on 11 July on charges of “violating the law” and “promoting political change through forceful means and threats and inciting hatred against the regime” after giving a speech for democratic reforms. The arrest occurred only three weeks after he was released from prison, having served nearly all of a five-year sentence for peacefully calling for reform in 2011. With Sharif back in detention, the rest of the Bahrain Thirteen still behind bars and the General-Secretary of the country’s largest opposition bloc al-Wefaq Sheikh Ali Salman recently sentenced to four years in prison for inciting “hatred” and “disobedience” against the regime, almost the entire leadership of Bahrain’s political opposition is now in jail.
The Bahraini delegation also underscored clearly the need for support and engagement throughout the region, which is essential to bring the country in the right path and will help anchor Bahrain to democracy and rule of law and to restore peace, stability and development. The international community, and the European Union (EU) in particular, should take immediate concrete steps to make the Bahraini authorities accountable and comply with their obligations under international human rights laws and norms. With the adoption of the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy in June 2012, the EU pledged to throw its “full weight behind advocates of liberty, democracy, and human rights throughout the world”. We therefore expect the High Representative and EU Member States do all in their power to secure the release of those individuals who have been imprisoned solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Bahrain.

NPWJ's Campaign to support human rights, democracy and accountability in  Bahrain
No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) supports Bahraini human rights organisations and activists in their efforts to promote a democratic and nonviolent political reform in Bahrain. It focuses on assisting human rights defenders and human rights advocates to secure effective and genuine accountability for past and ongoing violations of human rights, including through outreach, monitoring and documentation.

For further information, contact Gianluca Eramo on or +32-2-548-3912 or Nicola Giovannini on or +32-2-548-3915.