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Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal maintains the pressure on Bahrain two years after the popular uprising

14.02.2013  09:05

On the 14th of February 2011 Bahrain experienced the beginning of a series of demonstrations and popular demands for reform. The events, which were later known as the Bahraini Uprising, were met by violent assaults, imprisonment and the use of torture against the detained demonstrators. The demonstrators also witnessed restrictions of the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

Among the imprisoned human rights activist is the Danish-Bahraini Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who was imprisoned in April 2011. In the beginning of January 2013 his life imprisonment was confirmed, and all possibilities of appeal have now been exhausted.

On this occasion Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal states:

“Unfortunately conditions in Bahrain continue to move in the wrong direction. We therefore continue to sustain the pressure on the Bahraini government.

As I have expressed on several occasions before, I find the confirmation of life imprisonment of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja disappointing. Denmark will continue to work for the release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and we are in continuous dialogue on this matter with other countries and international organisations, which support the Danish position. We will of course provide ongoing consular assistance for Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and his family.

Denmark welcomes the beginning of the national dialogue. I hope that this is the first move towards actual and profound political, economic and social reform in Bahrain. The regime in Bahrain has to show that they are willing to listen to the demands of the people and their legitimate expectations of an open, democratic and inclusive society with equal possibilities for all.

This is particularly important with regards to the basic human and constitutional rights. The political prisoners, who are only guilty of using their freedom of speech and assembly, have to be released. The members of the security forces, who have exercised violence and torture, have to be held account for their actions. The authorities in Bahrain should immediately end its reckless treatment of young demonstrators.”