LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bahrain’s king ignores human rights abuses

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Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa’s argument (“Stability is prerequisite for progress,” Commentary, April 20) is striking in its inconsistency.

It acknowledges the legitimacy of protesters’ grievances about civil and political rights but ignores Bahrain’s systematic violations of those rights. Nowhere does the king address the government’s brutal crackdown on ordinary Bahrainis who peacefully demanded reforms or its subsequent campaign to punish and crush dissent: security forces breaking down doors at 3 a.m., repeated attacks on hospitals and doctors trying to treat the wounded and the detention without charge of hundreds of peaceful political activists and trade unionists. He also fails to mention the suspicious deaths in custody of four detainees since April 2, nor the effective takeover of the only critical newspaper in town.

The king says he needs aid to create more jobs. But his government just fired hundreds of workers for participating in protests seeking political accountability.

He seems to think that the United States should reward repression with a Marshall Plan-like scheme that would provide even more aid to his security forces. Instead, the United States should halt security assistance. If the king really cares about his country’s future, he’ll put an end to these rampant abuses now and begin meaningful political reforms.

MARIA MCFARLAND

Deputy Washington director

Human Rights Watch

Washington

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