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Macron urged to demand Bahraini king releases political prisoners during state visit

Failing to raise the issue would be ‘a stain on France’s historical commitment to human rights,’ Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said

CAMPAIGNERS called on President Emmanuel Macron to demand the release of political prisoners in Bahrain today as the king of the Saudi satellite arrived in Paris.

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) spokesman Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei explained the group had written to Mr Macron urging him to press the monarch “to show a greater respect for his citizens’ rights to freedom of assembly, association, expression, nationality and life.”

Since the emergence of pro-democracy protests in 2011, the government of Bahrain has instigated a campaign of repression.

It has exploited national security concerns as a pretext to stifle dissent and severely curtail human rights in the country.  

Opposition political parties have been shut down amid a brutal crackdown on activists.

In 2017, executions resumed in Bahrain after seven years.  

At least 20 people remain on death row for political crimes, including two facing imminent execution.

The Bahraini government has increasingly used the revocation of citizenship as a means to suppress dissenting voices, with almost 1,000 Bahrainis stripped of their citizenship since 2012.

Bird also raised the case of Nabeel Rajab, the imprisoned director of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, who was in 2018 made an honorary citizen of the French capital by the council of Paris for his tireless campaigning for human rights in the Gulf region.

Mr Rajab is serving a five-year sentence in Bahrain’s notorious Jau Prison for opposing the Saudi bombing of Yemen and exposing torture in Bahraini jails on Twitter.

Bird demanded his immediate release and for an end to the death penalty and for citizenship to be restored to those stripped of their nationality.

“Failure to raise the appalling human-rights crackdown should be viewed as a stain on France’s historical commitment to human rights and individual freedoms as enshrined in its constitution,” Mr Alwadaei said.

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