03 August 2019 - 10:27
News ID: 446318
A
The United Nations has finally condemned the execution of two young activists in Bahrain, as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown on political dissidents and pro-democracy activists in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

RNA - “We strongly condemn the execution on July 26 in Manama of two Bahraini citizens, Ali Mohamed Hakeem al-Arab, 25, and Ahmed Isa al-Malali, 24. The executions went ahead on Friday night, despite concerns expressed by the High Commissioner, following two earlier public statements by UN human rights experts … that the men’s “confessions” were obtained through torture, and about lack of due process and fair trial guarantees,” Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville said in the Swiss city of Geneva on Tuesday.

They were arrested separately in February 2017. The two men were both tried in a mass hearing with 58 other defendants, and convicted in January 2018 on charges of terrorism. They were sentenced to death. In May 2019, the Court of Cassation upheld the death sentence.

The UN’s condemnation, as always, is not enough. Sadly, it is because of the inaction of rights groups such as the UN Human Rights Council that the Bahraini authorities and security forces continue to commit serious and systematic human rights violations, including torture and widespread arbitrary arrests, against the majority Shia population.
 
It is also because of the inaction of international rights groups that leading opposition activists sentenced to long prison terms after they called for political change and religious freedom, remain behind bars - as do many others whose alleged crimes involve mostly peaceful street protests.
 
There has been no condemnation of the regime by the UN Human Rights Council in connection with the policies that have led to widespread torture and unlawful killings either. The Council has yet to investigate hundreds of cases of torture, some involving deaths in custody, and there has been no investigation, let alone prosecution, for command responsibility of people killed in custody as a result of torture. As far as the Human Rights Watch has been able to determine, no authority has ever been convicted of any offense.
 
According to Fars News Agancy, the government has told the UN Human Rights Council that the Interior Ministry has developed a code of conduct and initiated training for security forces "to embed respect for human rights and due process." But despite the reform efforts the Interior Ministry claims it has taken, there has been a continuing pattern of the use of excessive force by security forces against peaceful protests, as well as wanton beatings, arrests and torture of young men accused of participating in pro-democracy demonstrations and religious rituals.
 
It is hard to see evidence of reform when we look at how the regime and its security forces have actually been behaving, especially this week. But it is not that hard to see why the unelected regime in Manama can behave like this, can restrict access to the country for international rights monitors and journalists, and can get away with arbitrary arrests, torture and murder:
 
The tiny Persian Gulf state is the headquarters of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, holds thousands of US service members, and has the full military and diplomatic support of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States. What a disgrace.

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