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Rights Campaigners Urge Prince Charles to Cancel Trip to Bahrain

2016-10-20 - 5:43 p

Bahrain Mirror: Human Rights campaigners are calling on Prince Charles to cancel his upcoming visit to Bahrain in light of the country's deteriorating situation, as a leading activist faces 15 years in prison on Monday 31 October, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) stated on its website. 

BIRD indicated that, "given the recent intensification of human rights violations by the Government of Bahrain", a royal visit now to promote commerce and arms trade will "enable those continuing violations."

The rights organization addressed a letter to Prince Charles urging him to cancel his trip, arguing: "By cancelling your visit you will be upholding and representing the freedoms enjoyed in the United Kingdom: freedom of speech, religion, movement, assembly and freedom of the press."

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD, said, "Prince Charles should reconsider his visit to Bahrain at a time when the repression is intensifying and the government is eliminating its critics. By the end of this week, leading campaigner Nabeel Rajab might be sentenced to 15 years in prison just for speaking his mind. The Prince's visit now will be seen by Bahrain's royals as a green light for this repression."

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will visit Bahrain for three days. The purpose of the visit is to "promote the U.K.'s partnership in key areas such as religious tolerance, military cooperation, supporting women in leadership, creating youth opportunities, preserving cultural heritage and wildlife conservation." However, human rights are noticeably absent from the agenda, BIRD further noted.

The Bahraini people have witnessed a sustained campaign against the country's civil and political society and the country's majority Shia community. As well as the prosecution of Nabeel Rajab, over 20 human rights activists have been banned from travel, and human rights defender, Zainab Al-Khawaja, was forced into exile. On another hand, al-Wefaq Society, the largest political society in the country, was dissolved, and a court increased the prison sentence of al-Wefaq's Secretary General from four years to nine. Alongside these events, the Ministry of Interior revoked the nationality of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain's Shia majority, and accused him of "money laundering", BIRD went on to say.

According to BIRD's documentation, over 60 clerics have been subject to questioning and prosecution for their sermons and participation in protests, with three sentenced in the past month. Since 20 June, police have subjected Sheikh Qassim's hometown of Diraz to a physical blockade and nightly internet blackouts, collectively punishing the village's 20,000 residents.

Arabic Version    


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