The United States has historically been a strong ally of the Government of Bahrain. Yet, as citizens of one of the most powerful nations in the world advocating for democratic values, we must call on our representatives to make fully-informed ethical foreign policy decisions.
In January 2017, we heard the news of a surprise announcement on the release of a previously-blocked multi-million dollar fighter jet package to the Government of Bahrain with no human rights conditions. The U.S. government had previously blocked the sale in 2016 due to concerns that the Bahraini government systematically violated the human rights of civilians. At the start of a new U.S. Administration under President Trump, the announcement of the sale is extremely worrying.
Since the Arab Spring protests of 2011, the Government of Bahrain has continued violently suppressing peaceful dissent in the kingdom and blatantly ignoring international calls for human rights reform. Just this year in January 2017, the Bahraini authorities launched a campaign of unprecedented force against the civilian population. Unidentified masked Bahraini security forces recently used live ammunition against protesters, rendering an individual brain-dead for exercising his right to peaceful assembly. And Bahraini authorities carried out the extrajudicial executions of three torture victims that same month, sparking an increase in protests in the street.
These incidents are just the latest in a list of a number of civilians severely injured or killed by the Bahraini government over the past six years. The Government of Bahrain in January 2017 issued a new Royal Decree granting arrest powers to the National Security Agency (NSA), an internal intelligence body accused of the arrest and torture of more than 150 detainees in 2011. Additionally, the Bahraini government has passed an amendment to the Constitution that would allow military courts to try civilians. This would effectively send Bahrain into a permanent state of undeclared martial law. The amendment is now waiting for the king’s approval. In addition to increased excessive use of force, the recent Royal Decree and Constitutional amendment are clear indications that the Government of Bahrain refuses to implement human rights reforms.
Thus, we call on you to write to your Congressional representatives TODAY to urge the Trump Administration to immediately halt the sale of fighter jets and weapons to the Government of Bahrain until the country fully implements human rights reforms and seriously commits to a path towards democracy.