World Politics

Bahrain responds to UN criticism by increasing repression against activists

The bareiní human rights defender Nabil Rajab. EFE
  • “We will not waste time listening to the words of a high commissioner who has no relevance or power,” said the Bahraini foreign minister.
  • The last detainee was Nabeel Rajab, founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and one of the country’s most recognized defenders
  • In the context of the intensification of the repression, on June 14 the justice minister announced the closure of the offices of the main opposition party, the Wefaq Muslim National Society.
  • The resurgence coincides with the celebration of the United Nations Human Rights Council and, according to several activists, it is not accidental.

The bareiní human rights defender Nabil Rajab. EFE

“We will continue the path of reform initiated by our king, without allowing anyone to alter our stability and security. We will not waste time listening to the words of a high commissioner who has no relevance or power.” This is what Jalid al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, referred to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which holds its 32nd session from June 13 to July 1.

The representative thus faced, on Twitter, criticism of the abuses of his government launched by different countries during the inaugural session of the HRC. Specifically those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, who criticized the repression of the Bahraini government against its citizens.

The last detainee was Nabeel Rajab, founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and one of the country’s most recognized defenders. His arrest on the morning of June 13 is part of the resurgence of repression carried out by the Jalifa monarchy against any form of opposition to its policies and which has been increasing since the beginning of the 2011 citizen protests.

The arrest of activists is not the only measure that the Jalifa monarchy has taken in recent days. On Tuesday, June 14, the justice minister announced the closure of the offices of the main opposition party, the Wefaq Muslim National Society. The authorities froze all their accounts and arrested the party leader, accused of “inciting the instability of the country.”

It is no accident that this resurgence occurs just now, coinciding with the celebration of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, a governmental body that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR, or UPR) English, from Universal Periodic Review), a mechanism that examines the human rights situation in the UN member states and which Bahrain now faces.

Oil sponge and police state

“Bahrain does not care about the UN, and wants to make it clear to its citizens and to the world that they will not be governed by what these types of organizations mark them,” says Bahraini blogger Mohammad Hasan in a telephone interview with Eldiario.

Bahrain is not the only one to openly show its contempt for the United Nations system, in a context of the growing weakness of the UN and human rights protection mechanisms. According to Hasan, Bahrain only follows the inertia of other really relevant countries, such as its ally Saudi Arabia, which in 2011 entered Manama with tanks to support the monarchy in its repression of protesters.

“Saudi Arabia openly shows its contempt for the United Nations system. They make it clear that they want to exhibit the weakness of these agencies and reaffirm their domestic and hegemony policies in the region, without anyone being able to stop them.”

Bahrain, a country of only 500,000 inhabitants, is a small oil sponge that has become a police state in which the minority of Sunni confession that holds power controls and discriminates against the Shiite majority. Among its milestones, it is worth being a pioneer in establishing GPS control systems for the movements of its inhabitants.

According to opposition activists, since the beginning of the protests in 2011, the victims of clashes between police and protesters protesting against the increase in repression against the Shiite majority have not ceased. According to the government, “it is Iran, in its attempt to advance its Shiite hegemony in the region, who is behind the destabilization of the country.”

“The tensions in Bahrain do not come because we do not know how to live between Sunnis and Shiites,” journalist Reem Khalifa said in an interview. “They are given by institutionalized discrimination by a group of people in power against others, even taking away their nationality, leaving them stateless. In fact, my country is the Gulf country with the greatest religious diversity and coexistence ever has been exemplary. “

Without civil protection mechanisms

The repression of governments such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and many others in the region such as those of Israel, Syria or Egypt against the civilian population in general and human rights defenders in particular, also mentioned in the framework of the HRC, highlights the increase in impunity and the practical absence of civilian protection mechanisms.

“The mentions in the Council and the Universal Periodic Review processes are important, but the truth is that there are no real measures to control government abuses such as Bahrain,” says Hasan. “If this repression occurred in other countries, we would see sanctions of all kinds. With Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, as rich allies of the West, we will see nothing more than rhetoric. Just as there are companies that generate so many benefits that become untouchable, there are countries that generate so many interests that they also become untouchable.”

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