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International Parliamentary Union, held in Bahrain from March 11-15, 2023IPU

Bahrain has faced an uncomfortable week hosting hundreds of parliamentarians from about the globe at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly, with lots of delegates drawing focus to shortcomings in Bahrain’s personal human rights record and to the position of some regime critics in jail, like Bahraini-Danish citizen Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who has been imprisoned because 2011.

Far more than 1,700 MPs, representing about 143 parliaments, attended the occasion. European MPs have been amongst the most vocal critics of their hosts, with quite a few members of the Danish delegation, like Søren Søndergaard, Chris Jensen Skriver and Kim Valentin, taking to the stage to get in touch with for Al-Khawaja to be released. These calls have been echoed by delegates from Finland, Iceland, Ireland and elsewhere.

Søndergaard stated the Bahraini authorities had ignored his request to stop by Al-Khawaja in prison. A further delegate, Karsten Hønge, tweeted a image of himself standing outdoors Jau prison exactly where Al-Khawaja is getting held and added “His crime? Standing up for human rights and freedom of speech.”

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), described the assembly as “a PR disaster for the Bahraini regime”.

Human rights group kept out

The criticisms of Bahrain had been increasing even prior to the assembly began. In the days top up to the occasion, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated two of its employees members had had their visas withdrawn – a thing strongly criticised from the stage by a member of the Dutch delegation Petra Stienen, who named on the IPU president – Portugal’s Duarte Pacheco – to make an official statement clearly denouncing it.

HRW, which holds permanent observer status with the IPU, also pointed to the “extensive record of severe human rights abuses in Bahrain”, like the continued detention of Al-Khawaja and restrictions on freedom of expression and association.

Bahraini-Danish citizen Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja to be released from Jau Prison in Bahrain, through his address to the 146th assembly of the International Parliamentary UnionIPU

A number of Bahrainis have been also arrested in the lead-up to the occasion, like Ebrahim Al-Mannai – seemingly for tweeting a statement that Bahrain must repair its legislative method and make the parliament “positive and influential … in the lives of the people”. The Public Prosecution Workplace stated it had received reports about men and women “misusing social media” by publishing phrases and recordings “that would prejudice public order and the specifications for safeguarding safety and national peace”.

In the previous, lots of inquiries have been raised about the country’s record on elections and its suppression of political parties and men and women important of the regime.

A spokesperson for the IPU declined to comment on no matter if Bahrain was a appropriate venue for its occasion, which ran from March 11-15 below the slogan “Promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: Fighting intolerance”. Even so, the spokesperson stated “IPU Assemblies are an open space for delegates to express themselves freely on the difficulties of the day. They are possibilities for frank dialogue … MPs can raise awareness and conduct discreet diplomacy on a multitude of difficulties which concern democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

Niku Jafarnia, Bahrain researcher at HRW, noted that the IPU’s leadership had remained silent about the arrest of opposition activists, the continued detention of Al-Khawaja and the withdrawal of visas, adding that the silence “has only served to reinforce Bahrain’s whitewashing of human rights abuses, and has produced a mockery of [the IPU’s] slogan of ‘For democracy. For every person.’ ”

A Bahrain government spokesperson declined to address inquiries for this write-up about the withdrawal of visas for HRW employees, but stated “Bahrain has a properly-established democratic and parliamentary system” and stated Al-Khawaja was serving a sentence for “serious terrorism-connected crimes following the due legal process”.

On the day the occasion closed, Amnesty International issued a statement calling for the quick and unconditional release of Al-Khawaja, who it described as a prisoner of conscience.

The stress group stated Al-Khawaja had knowledgeable a cardiac arrhythmia on February 28 and was taken to Bahrain Defence Force hospital exactly where a medical doctor stated he must be urgently referred to a cardiologist. Even so, when Al-Khawaja refused to be handcuffed although in the hospital, he was taken back to prison with out getting assessed by a cardiologist.

Al-Khawaja’s daughter Maryam Al-Khawaja stated in a statement that her father “continues to endure dire prison circumstances and systematic denial of sufficient healthcare remedy, like so lots of other Bahraini political prisoners.”

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Dominic Dudley is a freelance journalist with additional than two decades of knowledge in reporting on company, financial and political stories in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

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