Home > Human Rights in Bahrain, Letters and Appeals > 24 members of U.S. Congress oppose arms sale to Bahrain until human rights conditions improve

24 members of U.S. Congress oppose arms sale to Bahrain until human rights conditions improve

Bahraini flags

Bahraini flags (Photo credit: Al Jazeera English)

Twenty-four members of the United States Congress — including my jurisdiction’s representative James P. Moran — have written to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to express their opposition to the sale of arms by the United States to the Kingdom of Bahrain while human rights abuses are ongoing.  I hope this lends encouragement to the people of Bahrain that not all Americans are ignorant or insensitive to their plight.

Suggested Action: Please read their letter and join me in thanking these Representatives and Senators for taking a stand and exerting their considerable influence to effect positive change in Bahrain.  Then write to Secretary Clinton and implore her to take steps to influence Bahrain to free the injustly imprisoned and detained political activists, doctors, nurses, medics, journalists.

Here is the text of the letter:

February 14,2012

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton:

We are writing to express our opposition to the Administration’s decision to move forward with the sale of a limited number of military items and services to Bahrain. We
believe that any such sale at this time sends the wrong signal to Bahrain and to the world about America’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.
We recognize the limited nature of the sales, and we acknowledge that the Bahraini government has taken some positive steps with respect to human rights in recent
months. However, it has not done enough to justify the sale of any military items or services to Bahrain. Moreover, if the Administration wishes to reward the Bahraini
government for any progress, there are other methods that do not involve strengthening the Bahraini military or security forces.

Tragically, even a brief survey of reports from reliable sources makes clear that the Bahraini government continues to perpetrate significant human rights violations. For
example, at least 10 people have died as a result of violence perpetrated by the government – including two from teargas exposure – since the release of the report of the
Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry in November. The government also continues to use excessive force to suppress protests.

In addition, the Bahraini government continues to carry out politically motivated prosecutions of medical professionals who provided emergency medical treatment to
protesters. In fact, it is noteworthy that the Bahraini government has pursued prosecutions against protesters far more aggressively than it has pursued prosecutions
against senior government officials or security forces who have been responsible for grave abuses over the past year.

We are deeply concerned that the Government of Bahrain is trying to shield itself from scrutiny. In the last three weeks alone, Bahrain has denied entry to prominent
independent human rights monitors, including Brian Dooley of Human Rights First and Richard Sollom of Physicians for Human Rights. These denials came after Bahraini
Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed AI Khalifa indicated in October that Bahrain would not deny entry to representatives from non-governmental
organizations (NGOs).

In light of this reality, we continue to oppose the sale of all military items and services to Bahrain until there is more substantive and permanent progress on human rights. We
believe that our position not only supports human rights in Bahrain, but is also truly in the long-term interest of the United States.

Sincerely,

Ron Wyden, United States Senator
James P. McGovern, Member of Congress
Barbara Boxer, United States Senator
John Conyers, Jr., Member of Congress
Jeff Merkley, United States Senator
Peter A. DeFazio, Member of Congress
Keith Ellison, Member of Congress
Bob Filner, Member of Congress
Raul M. Grijalva, Member of Congress
Janice Hahn, Member of Congress
Rush D. Holt, Member of Congress
Michael M. Honda, Member of Congress
Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., Member of Congress
Barbara Lee, Member of Congress
Jim McDermott, Member of Congress
James P. Moran, Member of Congress
John W. Olver, Member of Congress
Janice D. Schakowsky, Member of Congress
Pete Stark, Member of Congress
Maxine Walters, Member of Congress
Lynn C. Woolsey, Member of Congress
Tom Harkin, United States Senator
Robert Mendendez, United States Senator
Sherrod Brown, United States Senator

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