Edward McMillan-Scott, European parliament vice-president for democracy and human rights and transatlantic relations, called on the European Union on Tuesday to "speak out against the ongoing repression of the opposition and violation of human rights" in Bahrain.
In a letter addressed to Catherine Ashton, the European Union's High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, he proposed a ban on sale and export of all military equipment to the Gulf kingdom, especially tear gas, unless political prisoners, including Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Right (BCHR) and al-Khawaja, a prominent dissident who has been on hunger strike for 90 days, are released.
In his letter, which he posted on his Twitter account, McMillan-Scott points out the Bahraini government’s failure in engaging negotiation with the opposition and implementing democratic reforms. He also stresses the continuing abuses committed by the regime such as beating of protesters, arbitrary arrests and excessive use of tear gas.
McMillan-Scott urged the EU to reiterate its call on the Bahraini government to release immediately and unconditionally all peaceful demonstrators, political activists, human rights defenders, doctors and paramedics, bloggers and journalists, but also to respect human rights, implement necessary reforms, start independent investigations into human rights violations and ensure that those responsible are held accountable.
Rights activist Nabeel Rajab was arrested on Saturday at Manama airport after returning from a human rights conference in Beirut, Lebanon. He appeared in front of a court on Sunday where he faced charges of “inciting illegal rallies and marches online by using social networking websites.”
Twenty-one opposition activists, including hunger striker Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, are still imprisoned in Bahrain. They were arrested over their involvement in the Gulf kingdom's uprising last year. They face charges which include "forming a terrorist group with intent to overturn the system of government. Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was condemned to a life sentence over his participation in last year's uprising.