Today marks the 8th anniversary of the “Day of Rage”, the beginning of the Bahraini uprising. The Bahrainis organised and led peaceful protests against the ruling Al Khalifa family to demand deep social reforms. Security forces responded with violence by killing multiple civilians and imprisoning thousands of activists.
Due to international pressure, the Bahraini government responded by establishing the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in July 2011 to investigate government abuses and recommend legal and policy changes to prevent a recurrence of such events. The BICI turned out to be a failure, for the government has failed to fully address the majority of the recommendations of the commission.
In the aftermath of the uprising, the pro-democracy movement has grown quieter. This is also due to the fact that the Bahraini government has been imposing substantial restrictions on the formation of independent civil society organizations (CSOs) and continues to undermine the free operation of these groups. Human rights have regressed in Bahrain. The main human rights issues concern arbitrary detentions, unlawful killings by security forces, torture and ill-treatment of prisoners and the discrimination of the Shia majority group. The beginning of a sectarian conflict between Shias and Sunnis has exacerbated the hatred and turmoil within the country.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has stated that “reform and accountability remain a mirage.” The worsening of the conditions of political prisoners and activists detained in Bahrain has become a growing and growing matter of concern for the international community. The recent case of Hakeem al-Araibi has proved that through international mobilisation it is possible to put enough pressure to the Bahraini government and fight its violations of human rights.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) calls upon the government of Bahrain to put in place more social reforms, to put an end to every form of torture and ill-treatment against detainees, to the immediate and unconditional release of all the detained human rights activists, women rights defenders and political opposition leaders currently detained in the Kingdom. Lastly, ECDHR calls upon the EU and more broadly, the international community, to continue pressing on Bahrain for stronger cooperation in addressing human rights issues.