News / Middle East

HRW: Bahrain Not Ready for National Dialogue

Human Rights Watch: Bahrain Not Ready for National Dialoguei
X
Scott Stearns
July 17, 2014 4:26 PM
Human Rights Watch says Bahrain's expulsion of a senior State Department official last week shows the kingdom is not serious about political reforms. The human rights group also is criticizing the Obama administration's response. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has more.

Human Rights Watch says Bahrain's expulsion of a senior State Department official last week shows the kingdom is not serious about political reforms. The human rights group also is criticizing the Obama administration's response.

As part of efforts to encourage reforms promised following 2011 protests in Manama, the State Department sent its top human rights official, Tom Malinowski, to Bahrain last week. He was expelled from the Gulf kingdom, though, after he refused to allow authorities to join his meeting with opposition leaders.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Secretary of State John Kerry called Bahrain's foreign minister to protest the expulsion.

"We were very clear that we found some of the requests issued by the government of Bahrain to be inappropriate and contravening international diplomatic norms and conventions," she said. "We also have an important relationship with the government of Bahrain. We've made our concerns known."

'Inadequate' response

A big part of that important relationship is having Bahrain as the base for U.S. Navy operations in the Persian Gulf and parts of the Indian Ocean. That has contributed to what Sarah Margon of Human Rights Watch calls an "inadequate" response by the U.S.

"The U.S. needs to take much stronger measures and show that the ouster of Malinowski is not only problematic in the near-term but problematic in the long-term for our own national security interests," she said.

Margon said Bahrain's demand to monitor Malinowski's meeting with opposition leaders shows it is not serious about reform.

"It's completely arbitrary and it's very worrisome and shows that Bahrain isn't really ready to conduct a national dialogue. It's not interested," she said.

Political reform focus

A Bahraini government statement said Malinowksi was interfering in its internal affairs. That explanation is far different from the government refusing political reforms, according to former U.S. ambassador to Bahrain Adam Ereli.

"That doesn't mean that somehow the Bahraini government is walking away from the dialogue process," he said. "It may be that they are just concerned about the United States playing a helpful or not-helpful role. I think it says more about the Bahraini government's attitude towards and position towards the United States than it does towards the opposition."

Ereli believes it is more a question of the Obama administration's approach to the kingdom.

"They're happy to work with people who they think are trying to be helpful," he said. "But if they think they are not trying to be helpful they're not going to hesitate to do what any sovereign state would do which is to say: Thanks but no thanks. Bye-bye."

Margon said the expulsion is troubling at a time when she says Washington is not taken as seriously in the region as it needs to be.

"Bahrain is definitely stuck in a larger geopolitical situation, which makes it very difficult not only for the reformers I would say within the Bahraini government to have any real leverage, but also it puts the U.S. certainly in a tight spot," she said.

Meanwhile, Washington is calling on all sides in Bahrain to recommit to the reconciliation process.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John diamond from: Bahrain
July 19, 2014 12:52 AM
The Shia's and Sunnis are not able together, it seems that the American Administration would know that, and hopefully, some of the American public realizes that now. Bahrain is no different, the Shias want more than "democracy," they want the Sunnis dead. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait all face this issue. I have yet to see a proposal that can have these two groups live together, peacefully, without a strong leader. It has not been the case for 1,400 years.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs