Bahrain denies people "basic rights" - NGOs

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bahrain has failed to fulfill promises of reform since last year's brutal crackdown on the kingdom's pro-democracy protests, denying even the basic rights to most of its people, the International Federation for Human Rights said Tuesday.

"Despite the King's promises, the reforms remain widely insufficient," the Paris-based FIDH, a group of human rights organizations, said in its latest report, "Silencing Dissent: A Policy of Systematic Repression."

The report is based on more than a year of investigations into government behaviors and policies in the aftermath of the mass demonstrations that rocked the kingdom's capital Manama in February 2011 which were later crushed by security forces.

King Hamad promised change in line with the recommendations of an independent commission of inquiry into his government's bloody crackdown, but has been repeatedly accused by international rights groups of failing to fulfill the most significant reforms.

"While certain efforts have been made by Bahraini authorities to address many of the (the commission's) recommendations, the report concludes that the government continues to deny a majority of Bahraini's fundamental rights on a daily basis," said FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen.

She further accused authorities of using "governmental structures to attack or control the population rather than protect it, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and fear among the population."

The report said that about 80 people have been killed since the protests first broke out on February 14, 2011. At least 34 of them have died since the commission of inquiry released its findings last November.

To date, dozens of Bahraini rights activists and medics who treated injured protester remain in prison, some facing life sentences for their participation in protests against the hard line monarchy.

FIDH further called on the Bahraini authorities to release all current rights prisoners and "to support the establishment of an international monitoring mechanism to be set-up... to monitor the implementation of the recommendations" of the independent commission of inquiry.

Other international human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also condemned the kingdom for its brutal crackdown and ruthless imprisonment of dissidents.

The small but strategic kingdom is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet which polices the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and some of the east African coastline including Somalia.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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