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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs