Amnesty Refuses Ignoring Human Rights Issues During GCC Summit in Bahrain

2016-12-06 - 7:01 p

Bahrain Mirror: Amnesty International said that the appalling human rights records of states in the Gulf must not be swept under the carpet when member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) gather in the Bahraini capital, Manama, this week (6-7 December) for their annual summit.

The organization said "Human rights will be notably absent from the agenda at the annual meeting when the six GCC states - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - come together to discuss trade and security cooperation, with no mention of the widespread crackdown witnessed across the region on the grounds of security."

"In recent years across the Gulf we have seen human rights activists, peaceful political opponents and government critics systematically targeted in the name of security. Hundreds have been harassed, unlawfully prosecuted, stripped of their nationality, arbitrarily detained or in some cases imprisoned or even sentenced to death after unfair trials, as part of a concerted effort to intimidate people into silence," said Randa Habib, Amnesty International's Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

She added "The use of such ruthless tactics to trample all over the rights of people in the GCC has to end now."

"For years western allies of GCC states including the UK and USA have been reluctant to speak out about the rampant human rights violations in the Gulf. In doing so they are turning their backs on countless victims of human rights violations across the region. It is high time for allies of the GCC to stop putting business and security cooperation before human rights and Theresa May must not squander this opportunity to raise key rights issues," said Randa Habib.

In the years since the 2011 uprisings across the Arab world, a number of Gulf countries have introduced repressive laws on counterterrorism, cybercrimes and peaceful gatherings, in a bid to restrict freedom of expression and punish those who criticize government policies, their own leaders or those of other GCC states.

Speaking out freely to criticize government policies and call for peaceful reform also saw Sheikh Ali Salman, head of Bahrain's main opposition party, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, sentenced to nine years in prison in a shocking attack on freedom of expression. The al-Wefaq party was also shutdown.

"In the GCC today exercizing your fundamental rights or speaking your mind freely can very easily land you in jail. GCC states need to stop branding independent human rights activists and peaceful critics as criminals. Instead of locking such people away for long periods under the false pretence of defending national security they should welcome scrutiny of their human rights records," said Randa Habib.

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المصدر: Bahrain Mirror
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