Bahrain: NPWJ and NRPTT support visit of opposition leaders in Rome to call for ending repression and promoting meaningful political reform

25 Jan, 2016 | Press Releases

Rome, Italy, 25-26 January 2016


On 25-26 January 2016, Bahraini Delegation of opposition leaders visited Rome for a series of meetings with Italian institutions, organised with the support of No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT). 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 Khalil Almarzooq, Political Assistant to the Secretary General of Al Wefaq and former Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, and Ali Alaswad, Resigned MP of Al Wefaq. Al-Wefaq  is the largest opposition party in the country and its General-Secretary,  Sheikh Ali Salman, is currently serving a four year prison sentence for inciting “hatred” and “disobedience” against the regime.

Meetings were organised with officials of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Manconi, President of the Human Rights Commission of the Senate, Pier Ferdinando Casini, President of the Commission on Foreign Affairs of the Senate as well as with Members of the Committee on Human Rights of the Chamber of Deputies during a special hearing chaired by Pia Locatelli. In addition to a roundtable discussion with Marco Pannella, leader of the NRPTT, and Filippo Di Robilant, member of the Steering Committee of the Institute of International Affairs, the Bahraini delegation was also invited to contribute to a special episode of the radio show “Spazio Transnazionale” (edited by Oltreradio and Radio Radicale) on “Bahrein. Un paese in cerca di diritti“. Other guests included Emma Bonino, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and founder of NPWJ, Alberto Negri, journalist of Il Sole 24 Ore, and Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary General of NPWJ.

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, who are thriving to advance 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 dedicated to the case of Sheikh Ali Salman , who has consistently called for peaceful protest, condemned all forms of violence and advocated for a fair and just democratic political system in Bahrain through the establishment of a genuine constitutional monarchy. The sentence brought against him and the repeated adjournment of his trial appeal is yet another clear example that the right to fair trial is non-existent in Bahrain. The same applies to the case of   Ibrahim Sharif, leader of left-wing secular National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), 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. Together with the rest of the Bahrain Thirteen still behind bars, 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 and its Member States 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. First and foremost, they must respect and protect the fundamental rights of their citizens and engage in a real and inclusive dialogue with the peaceful opposition leaders and human rights advocates. They must also release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience 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.