UN High Commissioner Slams “Disastrous” Bahrain for “Smashing the Voices of its People”

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For Immediate release:

13 September 2016

UN High Commissioner Slams “Disastrous” Bahrain for “Smashing the Voices of its People”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Bin Ra’ad Al-Hussein, today slammed the government of Bahrain for its mass human rights violations. In a warning to the government, the High Commissioner raised concerns over the arrest of human rights defenders and political activists, and criticised the government’s policy of revoking nationalities without due process. He further warned the government to “engage more productively” with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and to comply with the recommendations made by UN mechanisms. Calling the government’s response “disastrous”, he called on the government to “serve” rather than “smashing the voices of its people”.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) said : ”Bahrain should take the warnings of the High Commissioner seriously and end the repressive campaign against its people. Its allies, namely the UK and US, must also voice support for the High Commissioner’s comments at a time where Bahrain has used every opportunity to insult him and his office.”

The warnings were part of the High Commissioner’s opening speech at the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council. In August, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa stated: “the Kingdom of Bahrain does not care about any voice that seeks to blackmail it from abroad, and particularly the Human Rights Council.” During the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, following criticism by the High Commissioner, the Foreign Minister responded on Twitter: “We will not allow the undermining of our security and stability and will not waste our time listening to the words of a high commissioner who has no power or strength.”

Husain Abdulla, Executive Director at Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) said: “The High Commissioner’s strong condemnation of the Bahraini government’s repeatedly disastrous efforts to restrict the rights of the Bahraini people will resonate with the international community today. Bahrain’s increasingly repressive approach to its people must be a priority not just for the High Commissioner, but for every government represented in the Human Rights Council.”

Opening Statement by Zeid Bin Ra’ad on 13 September 2016 during HRC 33

I am concerned by harassment and arrests of human rights defenders and political activists, and legislation which enables revocation of citizenship without due process. I urge greater attention to this situation. The past decade has demonstrated repeatedly and with punishing clarity exactly how disastrous the outcomes can be when a Government attempts to smash the voices of its people, instead of serving them. The authorities of Bahrain would be well advised to comply with the recommendations of the human rights mechanisms and UPR, and engage more productively with my Office, as well as with this Council’s Special Procedures.

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