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Parliamentary Question: The EU's inappropriate reaction to the use of violence in Bahrain


Parliamentary questions

12 April 2011 E-003637/2011   Question for written answer to the Commission Rule 117 Marietje Schaake (ALDE) and Edward McMillan-Scott (ALDE)  Subject: The EU's inappropriate reaction to the use of violence in Bahrain On 22 February 2011, over 100 000 Bahrainis peacefully gathered in the capital, Manama, calling for reforms to enhance their individual freedoms and seeking to engage in dialogue on this with their government. Their call was answered with the deployment of the Peninsula Shield of over 1 500 troops from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and a brutal crackdown on 16 March 2011. Unarmed citizens were attacked; protesters were killed and dozens are still missing. A pattern of attacks against the wounded, doctors, nurses and paramedics dispatched to treat the wounded has been documented. Bahraini authorities are reported to systematically target demonstrators and bystanders wounded in anti-government protests for harassment and mistreatment, in some cases denying them critical care. As the Vice-President/High Representative herself stated on 17 March 2011, ‘according to many reports, the use of force by security personnel has been continuous’. Nevertheless both the EU and the international community did nothing. On the contrary, the Council Conclusions of 21 March 2011(1) on Bahrain called upon the demonstrators to ‘refrain from deliberately intimidating actions’. Subsequently, on 22 March 2011 Mr Robert Cooper, Counsellor in the EU EEAS, gave his view in the EP on the aforementioned acts of violence, stating that ‘the exceptional nature of recent events is part of the problem, because…it's not easy dealing with large demonstrations in which there may be violence’, and that ‘it's a difficult task for the policemen, it's not something we always get right in Western countries, and accidents happen’(2).The Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions on Bahrain were on the one hand endorsed by the EU Summit on 25 March 2011, but at the same time the Summit ‘strongly condemned the escalation of violence and the use of force against demonstrators in Bahrain’. The inconsistency in EU messages and the discrepancy between the EU's reaction and the reality is more than disturbing and demands immediate action. 1. Does the VP/HR endorse Mr Cooper's assessment of the situation in Bahrain? If not, how does the VP/HR assess the situation in Bahrain? 2. Does the VP/HR agree that it is essential to the EU's credibility as a global promoter and protector of human rights for it to respond consistently, both in words and in actions, regarding human rights violations, especially regarding the current violent situations in Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen? If not, why not? 3. Will the VP/HR in that regard ensure the streamlining of the imposition of targeted EU economic sanctions on governments and individuals regarding human rights violations? If not, why not? (1) (2) (time: 17.56 - 17.58). Please find the answer here.