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Bahrain: Disastrous move towards patently unfair military trials of civilians

The King of Bahrain ratified a constitutional amendment today that paves the way for military trials of civilians, in yet another example of Bahrain’s efforts to dismantle access to justice and fair trial, said Amnesty International.

“This constitutional amendment is a disaster for the future of fair trials and justice in Bahrain. It is part of a broader pattern where the government uses the courts to crackdown on all forms of opposition at the expense of human rights,” said Lynn Maalouf, head of research at Amnesty International’s regional office in Beirut.

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In Bahrain, Confrontation for the Sake of Confrontation

The Trump administration has decided to remove any conditions regarding human rights from sales of F-16 fighter aircraft and other arms to Bahrain.  The rationale for doing so is the idea that hard power considerations ought to come before softer concerns for the rights of someone else’s citizens. 

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker, in applauding the decision, said arms sales should be decided by American strategic needs and not commingled with any pressuring of “allies” to change domestic behavior.

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McGovern Condemns Trump Move to Sell Weapons to Bahrain Without Human Rights Conditions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), a senior House Democrat and the co-chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, released the following statement in response to media report that the Trump Administration plans to lift all human rights conditions on U.S. sales of F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain. 

"America has a responsibility to stand up for human rights in all countries and our allies must be no exception. Media reports indicate that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will soon lift all human rights conditions on the sale of F-16 fighter jets and other arms to Bahrain are deeply troubling. Such a move would be an extremely short-sighted and unprincipled choice that increases the risk of instability in Bahrain and puts America’s long-term security at risk."

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Congress Urged to Check Administration's Actions, Block Sale of F-16s to Bahrain

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today condemned the Trump Administration’s decision to move forward with the sale of 19 F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain, despite the Bahraini regime’s failure to meet human rights conditions attached to the deal. The move continues a series of concerning departures from maintaining the protection of human rights as a core purpose of U.S. foreign policy.

Bahrain, which houses the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, has a storied history of repression of civil society and human rights abuses. Human Rights First calls on Congress to block the three-billion-dollar deal.

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USA's sale of F-16s to Bahrain 'sends dangerous signal' on human rights

After reports that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to lift human rights conditions on the multi-billion-dollar sale of F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain despite Bahrain’s record of oppression against dissidents and participation in a Saudi Arabia-led coalition that has killed and injured thousands of civilians in Yemen, Sunjeev Bery, an Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA, said:

“While getting weapons from the USA, Bahrain’s government is silencing critics at home and participating in a military coalition that is bombing civilians in Yemen."

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Suspending Human Rights Restrictions on U.S. Arms Sale to Bahrain Sends Dangerous Message

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will reportedly lift human rights conditions on an arms sale to Bahrain, despite that country’s record of oppression against dissidents and participation in a Saudi-led coalition that has bombed thousands of civilians in Yemen. Yemen is one of the six Muslim-majority countries included in Trump’s revised travel ban executive order.

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UK triggers Brexit, starts eyeing up Middle East

As the UK triggered its divorce from the European Union on Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is already working to secure new trade partnerships and deals.

Meanwhile International trade minister Liam Fox has said that the UK is already having informal talks with 12 countries around the world, many of which are in the Middle East. Free Trade Agreements, lucrative arms deals, human rights concerns: let’s look at what the post-Brexit vote government has done so far in the Middle East.

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Bahrain Sentences 2 People to Death on Terror Charges

A court in Bahrain on Wednesday sentenced two people to death on terror charges and handed down lengthy sentences to 11 others, including a former lawmaker who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to a statement from the public prosecutor.

Hassan Isa was a senior member of the main Shiite opposition Al-Wefaq group, which was dissolved last year. The other 10 received sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.

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Bahraini student Ali Mohamed Hakeem al-Arab was arrested on 9 February and taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate where he alleges he was tortured and forced to “confess”. He has been denied access to a lawyer. Upon transfer to Dry Dock Prison on 7 March, he said he was repeatedly beaten on both legs. He remains at risk of further torture and other ill-treatment.

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State Department drops human rights as condition for fighter jet sale to Bahrain

The State Department notified Congress on Wednesday that it supports selling F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain without requiring that the tiny island monarchy in the Persian Gulf first improve its human rights record.

The decision to proceed with the sale amounts to an abrupt reversal of an Obama administration decision. Last fall, the State Department informed Congress that it would pursue a $5 billion sale of 19 Lockheed Martin F-16s and related equipment to Bahrain. But it included the precondition that Bahrain curb human rights abuses, amid a crackdown on dissidents among the Shiite majority protesting the country’s Sunni rulers.

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