Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) led colleagues in urging U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to press Bahrain, an important U.S. ally, about its human rights abuses and pushing for more accountability.
 
Joining Wyden and Rubio in sending the letter were Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). 
 
Rubio is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. 
 
“For the past decade, the State Department and major human rights advocates have detailed a long list of serious and ongoing human rights abuses in Bahrain,” wrote the senators. “These include, but are not limited to: arbitrary detention, torture, cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners, restrictions on freedom of the press, interference with peaceful assembly, and restrictions on political participation and religious practice. Recent reports by Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain and other organizations indicate that this disturbing record has grown worse since 2011, when Bahrainis took to the streets in peaceful protest and were met with violence.”
 
“Bahrainis continue to call for agency and accountability, often at great risk to their safety and that of their families,” concluded the senators. “We stand with them in urging you and the Biden-Harris administration to promote reform and respect for basic human rights in Bahrain and greater stability in the region.”
 
The senators asked Secretary Blinken to answer the following questions to help understand the Biden administration’s policy to improve the situation in Bahrain:
  • What actions have you taken to raise the government of Bahrain’s systemic human rights violations against its own citizens?  What has been the response?
  • Have you raised concerns about the continued imprisonment of opposition leaders with the government of Bahrain?  If so, what has been the response?
  • Have you pushed the government of Bahrain to release critics and opposition leaders like Naji Fateel and Hasan Mushaima?
  • Have you considered the government of Bahrain’s continued repression and human rights abuses when evaluating sales of defense articles and services to Bahrain?
  • Have you considered Global Magnitsky Act authority or other sanctions authorities against members of the government of Bahrain responsible for serious human rights violations?
The full text of the letter is below. 
Dear Secretary Blinken: 
We write to raise our concerns about the government of Bahrain’s troubling human rights record and to better understand your administration’s strategy for pressing this issue with our important ally and partner. 
For the past decade, the State Department and major human rights advocates have detailed a long list of serious and ongoing human rights abuses in Bahrain. These include, but are not limited to: arbitrary detention, torture, cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners, restrictions on freedom of the press, interference with peaceful assembly, and restrictions on political participation and religious practice. Recent reports by Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain and other organizations indicate that this disturbing record has grown worse since 2011, when Bahrainis took to the streets in peaceful protest and were met with violence. 
We are deeply concerned about the impact this violent repression has on Bahrain’s citizens and on the country’s longer-term stability. We believe the U.S. must hold allies to a higher standard, just as we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Indeed, we have long raised concerns about the situation in Bahrain precisely because Manama is an important ally in a strategic region. And we are particularly concerned that the government of Bahrain’s violent, systemic repression will breed resentment and instability, and could ultimately threaten the long-term presence of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and the several thousand Americans living and working on U.S. facilities in Bahrain. 
We believe American officials must be willing to speak hard truths when friends and partners lose their way and appreciate that you have spoken of putting human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy. To help us better understand your administration’s policy to improve the situation in Bahrain, please answer the following questions.  
  • What actions have you taken to raise the government of Bahrain’s systemic human rights violations against its own citizens? What has been the response?  
  • Have you raised concerns about the continued imprisonment of opposition leaders with the government of Bahrain? If so, what has been the response?  
  • Have you pushed the government of Bahrain to release critics and opposition leaders like Naji Fateel and Hasan Mushaima?  
  • Have you considered the government of Bahrain’s continued repression and human rights abuses when evaluating sales of defense articles and services to Bahrain?  
  • Have you considered Global Magnitsky Act authority or other sanctions authorities against members of the government of Bahrain responsible for serious human rights violations? 
Bahrainis continue to call for agency and accountability, often at great risk to their safety and that of their families. We stand with them in urging you and the Biden-Harris administration to promote reform and respect for basic human rights in Bahrain and greater stability in the region. We look forward to your prompt response. 
Sincerely,