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Bahrain Opinion: "This Campaign of Oppression is Not Going to Stop on Its Own"

Doctors Nader Diwani, Ali Alekri, and Mahmoud Asghar receive the verdict of an appeals court, 14 June 2012

On 4 September, after the sentencing of Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab to three months in prison for a Twitter message, I wrote: 

This latest development really doesn't add anything new to our understanding of Bahrain's oppressive rulers. They have squarely rejected the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry after promising to implement them.

I cautioned that this persecution by the Government would continue unless Bahrain's powerful allies took a strong position to persuade the Bahraini government to change its course: 

The US will release a report, urging some form of action --- but does it matter? The American statement will be quoted in a few wire service reports, maybe find its way into an article on Foreign Policy's website. It will generate tweets, many of which will be addressed to US foreign policy officials --- their aides will read them, probably say something like "Gosh, I hate my job," and scroll on.

The European Union will follow suit.

Since then, as noted by the latest report of the Bahrain Center of Human Rights, there have been more regime violations. On Friday, another protester, 17-year-old Ali Hussain Neama, was killed. Prominent activist Zainab Alkhawaja was sentenced to two months in prison for allegedly tearing a photogrpha of the King.

This morning, a Bahraini court rejected the appeals of nine medical professionals who had dared to treat protesters soon after the start of mass demonstrations in February 2011.

The time for the West to exert pressure on Bahrain is now. Not tomorrow. Not in a week. Not in a month and certainly not in a year. King Hamad's regime has consistently failed to uphold its lawful duties towards its citizens, trampling upon their rights repeatedly and without shame. It has promised reform only to quash those calling for reform. It has filled prisons with human rights activists whom it claims are agents of Iran, without presenting a shred of evidence that they are responsible for anything but the defense of people's internationally-recognised human rights. 

This campaign of oppression is not going to stop on its own. On the contrary, it will gather momentum until there is a real campaign --- not a token statement, but a meaningful set of measures --- to check it.

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