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Congressman Condemns Denial of Danish MP from Entering Bahrain to Visit Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Protests on 7th Anniv. of his Arrest

2018-04-13 - 7:11 p

Bahrain Mirror: U.S. Congressman James P. McGovern, Co-Chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. issued a statement in which he condemned the April 4th decision by the Bahraini government to deny entry to the country to Lars Aslan Rasmussen, a Danish Member of Parliament, and Brian Dooley, senior advisor at Human Rights First, claiming the two posed a "security risk."

McGovern said that "It is deeply troubling that the Bahraini government has denied entry to Lars Aslan Rasmussen, a Danish Member of Parliament, and Brian Dooley of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)," indicating that "Bahrain's human rights situation continues to worsen. There is virtually no democratic space - no peaceful avenues to criticize the government or express opposition."

"Declaring these two men a ‘security risk' is ludicrous and just makes clear that the Bahraini authorities are terrified of independent human rights scrutiny" the congressman further stated.

"Bahrain's decision is a sign of weakness and must be condemned by all who support free and open societies," McGovern added. "I look forward to hearing a full report from Rasmussen and Dooley when they have safely returned."

It is to mention that Rasmussen and Dooley were hoping to visit human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a Danish citizen and founder of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights. Al-Khawaja was arrested in April 2011, tortured, and given a life sentence after an unfair military trial.

After being denied entry, Bahraini authorities retained the passports of Rasmussen and Dooley for more than 14 hours. Congressman McGovern and Dooley were previously denied entry to Bahrain in August 2014.

In the same context, the two daughters of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, participated in a demonstration on Monday 9 April outside the Bahrain Embassy in London calling for his release on the seventh anniversary of his arrest. Maryam and Zainab Al-Khawaja joined NGOs and fellow supporters, as they chanted "free free Abdulhadi" and held placards with a picture of the Bahraini human rights activist.

Maryam Al- told Index for Censorship "For me, this isn't just about my dad, it's a reminder that we have thousands of prisoners in Bahrain, and we need to remember all of them, and we need to be fighting on behalf of all of them. These are all prisoners of conscience."

Al- Khawaja's daughter Zainab called on the UK to hold the Bahraini regime accountable: "Major governments are still supporting the Bahraini regime with weapons and political training. They're the people behind them. I can feel as angry here as I would protesting in Bahrain, because I know what the [British] government here is responsible for. I know one of the reasons people are being killed and tortured in Bahrain, including my father, is the support from the British and American governments."

Protesters have gathered outside the Bahraini Embassy in London once a month since January 2018 to highlight the dire human rights situation and ask the UK government to take action.

A number of prominent Bahraini campaigners took part in the demonstration, including Jawad Fairooz, a former Bahrain MP and president of SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, and Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. Cat Lucas, program manager at English Pen's Writers at Risk initiative also participated in the demonstration.

A group of NGOs, including Index on Censorship and Pen International, signed a letter last week calling on Bahrain to cease its abuse of fundamental human rights. They asked the authorities to immediately and unconditionally free Abdulhadi, provide proper access to medical care, allow international NGOs and journalists access to Bahrain, and guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

The organizations that signed the letter are: Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Article 19, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, English PEN, European Center for Democracy and Human Rights, FIDH, Front Line Defenders, Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Reporters without Borders, Index on Censorship, PEN International and World Organisation Against Torture.

Arabic Version



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