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2245 GMT: The US State Department has issued a statement expressing their deep concerns about the "increase in violence in Bahrain". This follows a renewal of their travel alert to Americans traveling to Bahrain, released earlier in the day. The State Department has been noticeably quiet on Bahrain in the past fortnight, following the US Ambassador's visits to the Defense Minister and Prime Minister on April 10th and 11th. Indeed, with the exception of a question on Friday about safety at the F1, Bahrain hasn't merited a mention in the recent daily State Department Press Briefings, despite the noticeable escalation in violence, suppression and regime intransigence.
The statement goes on to "urge the [Bahrain] government to consider urgently all available options to resolve the case of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja". With serious concerns about the current condition of AlKhawaja, who has been cut off from his family, his lawyer and the Danish Ambassador, this specific call by the State Department is a strong indication that they are very worried about the possibility of his death and the consequence that could have for the situation in Bahrain. However, with AlKhawaja now on day 77 of his hunger strike, such a call from the State Department may very well be too little too late.
The statement reads in full:
We are deeply concerned about the increase in violence in Bahrain, including the recent death of a protester, as well as the explosion last night that injured four policemen, two critically. We welcome the Ministry of Interior’s investigation into these incidents and look forward to seeing appropriate action taken to hold those responsible for these acts of violence to account.
We condemn the use of violence in all its forms – whether against peaceful demonstrators or police and government institutions – and urge all parties to reject such actions. Violent acts are counterproductive to efforts to rebuild trust and pursue meaningful reconciliation in Bahrain. We call on the Government of Bahrain to permit peaceful protest and to exercise maximum restraint in maintaining order, just as we call on all those demonstrating to do so peacefully.
As a longstanding partner, we continue to urge the Government of Bahrain to fully implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, including the need to commute the sentences of those charged with offenses involving peaceful political expression and to review all sentences rendered in State of National Safety Courts in a way that ensures the fundamental principles of a fair trial are respected. Specifically, we urge the government to consider urgently all available options to resolve the case of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. We also renew our call for the government, opposition parties, and all segments of Bahraini society to engage in a genuine dialogue leading to meaningful reforms that address the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis.