Is the UN Ignoring Government Repression in Bahrain?

Despite reports of ongoing government violence and arbitrary arrests of protesters in Bahrain, United Nations member states have so far failed to take action to stop the 17 months crackdown on pro-democracy activists.

At the end of June, 28 member countries of the UN Human Rights Council, led by Switzerland, released a joint statement  condemning the crackdown on largely peaceful protests and on human rights defenders. Included in the statement was a call for the release of political prisoners and accountability for government officials accused of committing abuses.

The United States, United Kingdom, South Korea and seven members of the European Union refused join the collective call to end abuses and ensure accountability.

Activist groups, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have also urged Bahrain to release imprisoned activists and enable freedom of expression. Just this week another activist was imprisoned for a critical tweet about the Bahraini government.

When asked by a reporter at Thursday about this apparent lack of interest, a spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki Moon defended the UN response to ongoing violence against protesters.

“The Secretary General has expressed on numerous occasions what he believes should happen in Bahrain and one of the key points he’s made repeatedly is that people should be allowed the right to demonstrate peacefully so they can express their concerns and their wishes and their aspirations,”


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