2021 Panorama: Bahraini Gov't Persecutes Al-Wefaq Abroad following Press Conference in Beirut
2022-01-25 - 4:32 p
Bahrain Mirror (2021 Panorama): In an attempt to strain the Gulf-Lebanese atmosphere, the Bahraini authorities protested against a press conference held by Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society in Beirut on human rights in Bahrain.
Al-Wefaq launched (December 9, 2021) "An Epidemic of Violations" human rights report in which it documented the violations practiced against the people of Bahrain. It said that it documented 20,068 cases of arbitrary arrests from 2011 until mid-2021, including 1716 children and more than 300 women.
The report recommended the formation of a UN special rapporteur on Bahrain and the formation of an international commission of inquiry into all violations in Bahrain, which would make mandatory recommendations to the Bahraini government to improve the human rights situation.
Further straining the already tense atmosphere with Lebanon, the Bahraini government submitted what it described as a "strong protest" to the Lebanese government, for hosting a human rights conference for Al-Wefaq in Beirut.
The conference was not the first of its kind, but the protest letter was part of a Saudi-led campaign against Lebanon. Riyadh severed ties with Beirut due to prior statements made by then Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi in which he dubbed war on Yemen as "absurd".
The Bahraini Foreign Ministry said in a statement (December 12, 2021) that it submitted a strongly-worded letter to the Lebanese government on this totally unacceptable hosting [...], and an official protest note was sent to the General Secretariat of the Arab League in this regard, as well.
Following the statement, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for an "immediate investigation" into the content of the letter sent by the Bahraini Foreign Ministry.
"The Prime Minister urgently referred the book to the competent authorities, requesting an immediate investigation into what happened to prevent its recurrence and demanded taking the adequate measures," the statement added.
On December 15, 2021, the Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, made a phone call with his Lebanese counterpart, Bassam Mawlawi, during which the latter confirmed Lebanon's keenness on ensuring the safety and stability of Bahrain.
Mawlawi presented to Al Khalifa the steps taken by the Ministry of Interior through its security agencies, in terms of "collecting information on individuals affiliated with institutions or associations against sisterly Arab countries, and preventing hotels and conference halls from holding any activity of a political nature before getting the required administrative and legal approval."
The media office of the interior minister issued a statement saying that the minister directed to deport the non-Lebanese Al-Wefaq members.
The office said that the request was due to the fact that Al-Wefaq press conference "harmed Lebanon's relationship with the kingdom of Bahrain and harmed the interests of the Lebanese state."
The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights called on the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, to intervene in the face of the arbitrariness of the Bahraini authorities, which are exporting their violations abroad by targeting political dissidents and human rights defenders.
The Lebanese National Human Rights Institution called on the government to respect the principle of non-refoulement. "The Lebanese Government's possible awareness of the forcible expelling of the society's members to the Kingdom of Bahrain, or its tacit acceptance of it, constitutes a serious violation of the principle of non-refoulement," it said.
Lebanese activists launched a vast online campaign against the Lebanese government's decisions, considering the government's response to Bahrain's pressures an insult to Lebanon and the Lebanese people.
Journalist Pierre Abi Saab criticized the Interior Minister, noting that his work is "to protect the sovereignty and the capital of freedoms and pluralism, not to work for a subordinate, bloody and traitor regime."