Rights group urges US to suspend Bahraini prince’s diplomatic visa

A Bahraini rights group has urged the United States to suspend a diplomatic visa for a Bahrain prince accused of torturing political prisoners during the 2011 uprising against the Al Khalifah rule.

In two letters to the US State Department and Defense Department, the group Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) called for the suspension of the visa of Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifah as well as any defense cooperation with him.

“We are gravely concerned by the US government’s open association with Bahraini military officials like Sheikh Nasser, whose leading role in defense procurement and record of malfeasance render him a particularly high risk for further corruption and abuse,” wrote Husain Abdulla, the executive director of the ADHRB.

Bahrain has denied the allegations against Prince Nasser. He was appointed in September to Bahrain’s Supreme Defense Council, its highest military authority.

Bahrain is home to the United States’ Fifth Fleet. The Persian Gulf country concluded a $3.8-billion deal with a US aerospace and military equipment giant to purchase 16 upgraded F-16 warplanes on October 17. US President Donald Trump has eased restrictions on arms sales to certain countries, including Bahrain.

The US State Department removed human rights conditions on the sale of F-16 aircraft to Bahrain after Trump announced in May that Washington’s relations with Manama were set to improve. The announcement came after Trump met Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

The Manama regime has been under fire by the international community for its heavy-handed crackdown on dissidents and political activists.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s ruthless clampdown, which has the backing of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Protesters demand that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.