Australian MP Fiona Patten described keeping prisoners in Bahraini prisons as a human rights “travesty”.
In her interview with Fatima Yazbek from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Patten said “Even without the virus, it is something that is no longer acceptable in modern society around the world.”
She noted that amid the lack of social isolation and distancing and sanitary services, the government is putting prisoners’ lives at risk, stressing that “when we have such a health risk, then it is even more important that we act humanly and ensure that prisoners are not at risk of losing their life.”
“The UN has a very important role to play, but also other countries and other governments like Australia, and like the US and the UK. The stand that you won’t pass is the stand that you accept, so if we do not call this out, then we are accepting it, and if this is something that we don’t accept in our own country, then we should not accept it with our trading partners,” she further stated.
“We should be firmly calling for the release of these prisoners, many of them, I understand, have not had an opportunity to defend themselves in court, many of them have had no legal or justice process,” noting that “if we are to maintain our relations with Bahrain, and if Bahrain wants to maintain relations with other countries, then they must head the UN cause, they must head all of that causes that freedom of political speech, freedom of movement, is intrinsic to a safe globe, a safe world, and a progressive world.”
Patten addressed the King saying “With due respect, what are you afraid of? If you are in favor of a form of democracy, in favor of a form of free speech, you can’t only protect the speech that you agree with. You must protect all speech. You must allow those that you may not agree with to speak freely, and particularly if there is nonviolence involved.”
Speaking about the House of Representatives in Bahrain, Patten said “If that was your family? Is that the type of justice that you would accept for you own family members? Who knows when their opinions may be on the other side, who knows when they may be have to defend their own opinions?”
The interview with the Australian MP comes within a series of interviews carried out by the GIDHR in the framework of #Release_Bahraini_Prisoners campaign, launched by a group of Bahraini activists more than a week ago on social media outlets, to call on the Bahraini authorities to release Bahraini prisoners amid serious concerns over the Coronavirus outbreak, specially that Bahrain’s prisons are still overcrowded with prisoners of conscience and political prisoners.