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Amnesty International Welcomes Delay on U.S. Arms Sales to Bahrain

Human Rights Group Urging Obama Administration to Halt Sales Until Human Rights Abuses Stop in Bahrain

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International said today it welcomes the U.S. State Department’s announcement that the Obama administration is putting on hold $53 million in proposed U.S. arms sales to Bahrain while it assesses progress by the Bahrain authorities to stop human rights abuses in the country.

“As long as the Bahraini government and its security forces are using violence, unjust military trials, and alleged torture against peaceful protesters, the U.S. government should not be sending more weapons there,” said Sanjeev Bery, Amnesty International USA advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

On Tuesday, the Bahraini government escalated its crackdown on dissent by re-arresting an education leader who has been involved in organizing protests critical of the Bahraini monarchy.  Jalila al-Salmon, former vice president of the Bahraini Teachers Association, was seized before dawn by a force of 30 security agents who invaded her home.  She has already been sentenced to three years in prison by a flawed Bahraini military court that did not meet minimum standards of fairness and due process. She has been speaking out about the abuse she suffered while in custody.

In Bahrain, at least 30 protesters were killed in the uprising earlier this year and many have been injured.

Amnesty International released a report on Tuesday examining arms transfers to countries in the Middle East and North Africa that showed the United States, Russia, and several European countries supplied large quantities of weapons to repressive governments in the region which then turned the weapons against protesters during the uprisings.

Amnesty International said its findings underlined the need for an effective global Arms Trade Treaty that takes into account the need to protect human rights.
The report is available at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/node/97757

In Congress, Representative James McGovern and Senator Ron Wyden have introduced legislation to oppose the proposed weapons sale to Bahrain.  In addition, Senator Robert Casey and four senators urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to suspend the sales.

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