(Extensions of Remarks - February 14, 2013)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E160]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                  HON. HENRY C. ``HANK'' JOHNSON, JR.

                               of georgia

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, February 14, 2013

  Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, today is the two year 
anniversary of the day when the Arab Spring came to Bahrain. On 
February 14, 2011, the people of Bahrain took to the streets in 
spontaneous, peaceful protests calling for an end to oppression. 
Bahrainis were emboldened by the Arab Spring, which was sweeping across 
the Middle East and they were fired up by decades of human rights 
abuses by their government. Unfortunately, the Government of Bahrain 
brought in foreign troops and responded with violence, killing 
protesters and unleashing a systematic program of torture and unlawful 
detention that continues today.
   It is disappointing that Bahrain, a close ally of the U.S. in the 
Persian Gulf, is engaging in torture, intimidation, and repression 
against peaceful protesters. Two years later, the judicial system is 
used to punish dissenters, freedom of expression is punished--Bahrainis 
are imprisoned for tweeting--and those responsible for even the most 
egregious violations are seldom brought to justice. The people of 
Bahrain deserve better, and I stand with them in their quest for basic 
human rights.
   As an American ally, we must insist upon their compliance with the 
most basic of human rights for all of its citizens.
   This should be an especially concerning situation for everyone in 
this body. Bahrain is the host of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and an important 
ally in the Gulf Region. The Government's outrageous treatment of its 
own citizens is creating deep divisions in Bahrain and sowing 
instability. We need a strong naval presence in the Gulf to keep our 
own country safe and we have put many of our eggs in one basket, 
Bahrain. However, the fact that an important ally to our great 
democracy is violating the very principles for which we have placed the 
Fifth Fleet therein is highly unacceptable. It is unacceptable to me, 
as it should be to the rest of this body.
   It is absolutely essential that Bahrain set itself on a course that 
promotes stability and reconciliation and that will only happen when 
the Government moves to meet the people's legitimate calls for respect 
for human rights and enhanced democracy occurs. It appears that 
political dialogue may be starting in Bahrain. I call on the Government 
of Bahrain to engage fully in this dialogue--not as a moderator, but as 
a negotiating partner.