February 17, 2011

Chairman Kerry Condemns Violence In Bahrain

Washington, DC – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) condemned the violence in Bahrain today, stating:

“Using tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets on peaceful protestors is the worst kind of response to a nonviolent demonstration. I urge the government of Bahrain to put an end to the violence and allow the Bahrainis to voice their call for greater political freedom. Historic protests are taking place across the Arab world and it is vital for every government to respond peacefully and listen to their own people.”

In September, Chairman Kerry sent a letter to King Hamad raising concerns about human rights conditions in Bahrain.

Full text of the letter is below:

September 23, 2010

His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa

Attn: Ambassador Houda Nonoo

3502 International Drive NW

Washington, DC 20008

Your Majesty,

Please accept my greetings and best wishes for the upcoming year. Our countries have a history of cooperation on a broad array of shared concerns and I look forward to continuing to strengthen the close relationship we have long enjoyed.

As a result of your guidance and judgment, Bahrain has taken many steps to improve its human rights record over the past ten years. You have repeatedly bolstered your country’s commitment to the human rights of your citizens and people around the world by signing on to treaties that condemn the use of torture and actions that infringe upon citizens’ civil and political rights. Bahrain has also made great strides in the realms of press freedoms, the freedom of association and the rule of law. 

In light of this progress, I’m writing in regards to the unrest Bahrain has seen over the last few weeks and media reports of mistreatment of Shi’a detainees by the Bahrain security forces. We in the United States recognize the responsibility of any sovereign nation to keep the peace and defend its citizens against violent action and destruction of property. However, these ends must be pursued in a manner consistent with international and domestic laws in place to protect the rights of citizens to fair treatment while in custody and transparent and expedient judicial proceedings. Reports that interrogators have focused some of their questions to detainees on their ties to local and international human rights groups give particular cause for concern.

I was further concerned to hear that the board of directors of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights has been dissolved and that a government administrator is to be appointed in its stead. I hope that members of this body will soon be restored to their proper positions.

With parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on October 23rd I am pleased that all recognized parties are slated to participate and I look forward to their going forward in a fair and transparent manner. In the meantime it is my sincere hope that you will consider an independent and transparent investigation into allegations of abuse.

I appreciate your candor and willingness to work with the United States Senate on issues of bilateral and regional concern and I hope that our countries will continue to pursue our shared interests going forward. It is with the utmost respect and honesty that I write to you, in hopes that working together to resolve these difficult issues can only deepen the bond between our two nations and their peoples.

Sincerely,

 

John F. Kerry

Chairman

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