Peace Action West & Associated Press & Amnesty International – 2012-08-18 00:08:19
Block Arms Sales to Bahrain and other Human Rights Abusing Governments
Peace Action West
<(August 15, 2012) -- It's painfully obvious. If a government is imprisoning, torturing, and killing protesters, American weapons should never reach their hands. Then why is the administration doing a runaround on Congress and selling arms to the government of Bahrain? Tell your representative to cosponsor the Arms Sales Responsibility Act to prevent arms sales to human rights-abusing governments.
“Why is the United States supporting the Bahraini police with tear gas and with weapons?
You know, we want basic freedoms such as the ones that you have in the United States.”
– Radhika, a protester in Bahrain
A new bill would block US weapons sales to countries, like Bahrain, that abuse human rights.
Tell your representative to cosponsor today.
As Amnesty International points out, not a single Bahraini official has been held accountable for torture, imprisonment and killings in response to peaceful protest. But the administration has decided that its ability to station a Navy fleet in Bahrain and have a regional counterweight to Iran is more important than holding the government accountable for detestable treatment of its own citizens.
To hold the US to its own rhetoric about democracy and human rights, Rep. Raul Grijalva has introduced the Arms Sales Responsibility Act, which would prohibit arms sales if there is a serious risk they would be used to abuse human rights.
Human rights must be universal, not based on what the US needs from a country’s leaders.
Radhika Sainath, a US citizen deported from Bahrain for her participation in protests, asked, “Why is the United States supporting the Bahraini police with tear gas and with weapons? You know, we want basic freedoms such as the ones that you have in the United States.”
Let’s show Radhika and others striving for democracy around the world that the people of the US are with them. Take action now.
To hold the US accountable to its own rhetoric about democracy and human rights, Rep. Raul Grijalva has introduced the Arms Sales Responsibility Act, which would prohibit arms sales if there is a serious risk they would be used in human rights abuse.
Human rights must be universal, not something people deserve based on how the US feels about their government.
Political Director, Peace Action West
P.S. Thanks to all of you who took action on last month’s votes in the House. Read our update on the blog: blog.peaceactionwest.org/2012/07/23/a-win-for-sanity-in-the-military-budget/
Cosponsor the Arms Sales Responsibility Act
I am writing to urge you to cosponsor H.R. 5749, the Arms Sales Responsibility Act.
It is shameful that the US currently does not have a clear standard prohibiting arms sales to countries that abuse human rights. It is immoral to continue with this arms sales, and ultimately will come back to hurt us and could damage our national security.
It’s time for the US to end its shortsighted arms sales policy. Please cosponsor H.R. 5749.
Teenager Dies in Clashes with Bahrain Security Forces as Tensions Rise in the Gulf Country<
MANAMA, Bahrain (August 17, 2012) — Late night clashes with riot police in the divided Gulf nation of Bahrain have left a 16-year-old boy dead.
Yousef al-Muhafedha, of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said Husam al-Hadad was beaten by security forces late Friday and died from his injuries. The Ministry of Interior confirmed al-Haddad died but only after attacking police with molotov cocktails.
At least 50 people have died since February 2011 on the island nation which is home to the U.S. Navyâ€™s 5th Fleet. The Kingdomâ€™s Shiite majority are fighting for greater political rights from the Sunni monarchy.
Opposition forces are likely to rally behind the killing, especially since it comes a day after prominent activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to three years in prison for instigating and participating in anti-government rallies.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Another US Arms Shipment to Bahrain
Sanjeev Bery / Amnesty International
(May 18, 2012) — Last week, the Obama Administration announced that the US Government is providing new arms shipments to the government of Bahrain.
Meanwhile, the Bahrain monarchy continues to avoid basic accountability for its ongoing human rights violations. Not a single senior Bahraini official is publicly known to have been investigated for the many acts of torture, imprisonment, and even killings that have been documented.
In a public statement, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the military items being given to Bahrain â€œare not used for crowd control.â€ Ms. Nuland also stated that the items sent to Bahrain would not include the â€œTOW missiles and Humveesâ€ that Amnesty International and other organizations opposed late last year.
In a briefing with reporters, unnamed â€œsenior administration officialsâ€ reinforced that message:
>i>The items that we are moving forward with are those that are not typically used for crowd control and we would not anticipate would be used against protestors in any scenario. But sales of items that are sort of predominantly or typically used by police and other security forces for internal security, things used for crowd control, weâ€™re not moving forward with at this time. That would include things like tear gas, tear gas launchers, stun grenades â€“ those sorts of things.
However, when asked by a reporter to specify exactly what arms and military equipment will and wonâ€™t be shipped to Bahrain, the officials declined to state definitive details. They also declined to share what the total value of the arms shipments will be.
The items they did mention being shipped to Bahrain were â€œexcess harbor security boats for the Coast Guard and support for an upgrade for Bahrainâ€™s existing turbo fan engines, which are used in F-16s.â€
Unfortunately, an incomplete list is not much better than no list at all. Such secrecy poses serious problems, because we donâ€™t know what the arms shipments might mean in the context of potentially escalating protests.
Blocking tear gas shipments is a good thing, as is the blocking of Humvees that could be used to transport Bahraini security forces to public protests. But if we donâ€™t know the full list of what is being sent to Bahrain, it is difficult to independently ascertain whether or not the military arms and equipment being provided truly canâ€™t be used against protestors.
Since protests began on February 25th of 2011, Bahrain security forces have used vehicles to transport the personnel involved in government crackdowns. Not only that, but Bahraini security forces even used tanks to surround a hospital where doctors were treating wounded protestors. If there is substantial risk that the Bahraini government could use new US arms to violate human rights, then those shipments should never leave US shores.
Protests in Bahrain are continuing, with todayâ€™s latest round involving tens of thousands of Bahrainis. The latest protests are in opposition to a proposal to bring Bahrain and its major neighbor, Saudi Arabia, into a closer political union. The Saudi monarchy has advocated for this and is thought to be opposed to political reforms in Bahrain that might fuel similar demands for change at home. On March 25th of last year, the Saudi government even sent some 1,200 troops into Bahrain on the same day the King of Bahrain reacted to public protests with a state of emergency.
It is difficult to predict where the future lies for Bahrain. The government has failed to hold itself accountable for ongoing violations of human rights. Protestors continue to oppose many government policies, and in some cases, have reacted with violence. And to make matters worse, the US is continuing secretive weapons sales to the Bahraini monarchy.
Follow Sanjeev Bery on Twitter @SanjeevBery and Facebook.
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