Dear President Barack Obama:
In May 2011, you told the Bahraini regime that “the only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail.” We agree.
Now that the dialogue in Bahrain has restarted, we urge you to tell the King of Bahrain to release dissidents jailed under politically motivated charges and allow them to join the dialogue. This includes human rights leaders who called for democratic reforms in the country and medics who were jailed after treating wounded protestors and telling the international media the truth about the Kingdom’s abuses.
Despite the United States’ muted criticism of the violations committed by the Bahraini regime, human rights defenders and pro-democracy leaders in Bahrain continue to look to the United States for support. If the United States truly wants to be a beacon for democracy in the region, it must match words with action. In the case of Bahrain, this means helping negotiations move forward by urging the Kingdom to release its prominent dissidents.