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McGovern Condemns Trump Move to Sell Weapons to Bahrain Without Human Rights Conditions

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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 30, 2017 | comments
“America has a responsibility to stand up for human rights in all countries and our allies must be no exception. Media reports indicate that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will soon lift all human rights conditions on the sale of F-16 fighter jets and other arms to Bahrain are deeply troubling. Such a move would be an extremely short-sighted and unprincipled choice that increases the risk of instability in Bahrain and puts America’s long-term security at risk."
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Today U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), a senior House Democrat and the co-chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, released the following statement in response to media reports that the Trump Administration plans to lift all human rights conditions on U.S. sales of F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain.

“America has a responsibility to stand up for human rights in all countries and our allies must be no exception. Media reports indicate that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will soon lift all human rights conditions on the sale of F-16 fighter jets and other arms to Bahrain are deeply troubling. Such a move would be an extremely short-sighted and unprincipled choice that increases the risk of instability in Bahrain and puts America’s long-term security at risk.

“In 2011, after brutally repressing peaceful citizen protests, the Bahraini regime promised the international community and its own citizens that it would start a national dialogue and take steps to satisfy the democratic aspirations of its people. While some progress was made, reforms have stalled, and in recent months I’ve received report after report of escalating repression. People have been arrested for tweeting and participating in protests, an opposition party has been dissolved and another has been targeted, and the ranks of political prisoners have grown to include leading clerics.

“Last August, five U.N. human rights rapporteurs issued a joint statement expressing their concern that the Bahraini authorities were engaged in systematic harassment of the majority Shi’a population. There is nothing in Bahrain’s behavior that is deserving of the reward President Trump is reported to be considering.

“Some of those who support this decision say that arms sales should be decided by America’s strategic interests. I agree with their premise but not with their conclusion. It is simply not in the U.S. strategic interest to support a government whose own actions deepen and harden sectarian divides, and close off opportunities for political solutions to long-standing problems.

“Bahrain’s systematic repression of fundamental rights and constant attacks on people’s human dignity will only feed radicalization in Bahrain, just as it has throughout the region. We should be cooling the embers, not fanning the flames. I strongly oppose the decision of lift conditions on arms sales to Bahrain, and call on the Administration to reverse course immediately before it is too late.”

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