RNA - According to Bahrain’s Al-Wefaq party, some 994 women who demand the establishment of democracy, social justice and freedom in the country are currently in jail.
They are subject to the most repressive and discriminatory actions. This includes the worst forms of torture and incarceration. The regime has also stripped some mothers of their nationality without paying attention to the situation of their children and families.
The glaring absence of human rights from the West’s arms sales to Bahrain and diplomatic support at the United Nations has only embolden further such violations in Bahrain where the regime flouts the rights of men and women activists - its own people - in the name of security and in breach of International Humanitarian Law.
The regime imprisons women using counter terrorism as an excuse. It uses the same excuse to ruthlessly crush and persecute critics, peaceful dissidents and human rights defenders. Even as protesters are killed, detained and tortured, the Trump administration has approved multi-billion-dollar arms deals with Bahrain. This brazen disregard for human rights, people's right of sovereignty and international norms will only serve to further embolden the regime in Manama in its pursuit of “security” and “legitimacy” at the expense of its own people’s basic rights.
Meantime, Western governments insist that they are continuing to discuss human rights issues with Bahrain, and are encouraging reform. These are the same discussions and reforms that have led to the imprisonment of so many women. These are the very same reforms that the Trump administration has used as an excuse to turn a blind eye to Bahrain’s abuse of women activists.
After all, this is a country where even the US government accepts that serious human rights abuses and atrocities are taking place, yet it is still pushing arms to the regime. It is not that hard to know what atrocities and abuses these arms may fuel, or who they will be used against. All the US needs to do is go through various reports by human rights organizations that openly condemn rights abuses in Bahrain. The US will no doubt tell the world how rigorous and robust its system supposedly is, but it is actively arming and supporting one of the most brutal dictatorships in the Persian Gulf.
The same is true about European governments. If they want to promote human rights and democracy in Bahrain then they must first stop weaponizing the Al Khalifa and other repressive regimes in the Persian Gulf. They face particular criticism over their sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which is leading a dirty war against Yemen in alliance with other Persian Gulf Arab states, including Bahrain.
To make things worse, the United Nations is yet to scrutinise arms exports, much less say it likely that American and European weapons have been used to violate International Law in Bahrain. The Bahraini regime, and to a greater extent, the Saudis stand accused of bombing civilian objects like international hospitals, as well as schools, wedding parties and food factories in Yemen. So far, tens of thousands have been killed in Saudi-led, US-backed air strikes.
All in all, Western arms trade and diplomatic support provide the destructive hardware and software used in human rights abuses, atrocities and conflicts in Bahrain in particular and across the Middle East in general. It undermines democracy and reforms, contributing to the repression and suffering of millions.
It is high time for the United Nations to call for regulation of arms sales to Bahrain and a resolution that demands the regime frees all women prisoners immediately. The world body needs to take action to stop a dictatorial regime that has taken a nation hostage on a tiny Persian Gulf island, where people are getting killed and tortured only because they demand true and geniune elections to exercise their right of sovereignty to see respect for their human rights and get rid of "an illegitimate regime".