Two congressmen on Thursday introduced a joint resolution [text, PDF] in each house of Congress to block a planned arms sale to Bahrain [JURIST news archive]. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) [official websites] declared [press release] the bill as a reaction to a planned sale of $53 million worth of weapons to Bahrain, which was announced in mid-September [press release, PDF]. Wyden called for the US to sanction Bahrain for their human rights abuses in the face of peaceful revolution:
Selling weapons to a regime that is violently suppressing peaceful civil dissent and violating human rights is antithetical to our foreign policy goals and the principle of basic rights for all that the U.S. has worked hard to promote. The Arab Spring has encouraged the citizens of Bahrain to seek those same rights from their government and the U.S. should not reward a regime that actively suppresses its people. This resolution will withhold the sale of arms to Bahrain until the ruling family shows a real commitment to human rights.The resolution has a number of stipulations for Bahrain to meet before arms sales can continue, including investigating human rights abuse allegations, ending torture and denial of medical aid, protecting the Shiite culture and religion and submitting to outside investigations and journalist inquiries. A vote has not been scheduled for the resolution, which must be passed by October 14 to stop the sale.
The situation in Bahrain continues to deteriorate. On Tuesday, a Bahrain civilian-military court sentenced 26 protesters to prison terms [JURIST report] ranging from 5-15 years, bringing the total number of protesters sentenced in the past week to 60. Those who were sentenced on Tuesday include prominent members of the Shiite political group who were among hundreds of protesters seeking greater rights for the Shiite majority. On Monday, nearly 40 protesters were sentenced [JURIST report], including university students, to sentences of 15-25 years for crimes ranging from rioting to attempted murder. Last week, the National Safety Court of Appeal sentenced [JURIST report] one anti-government protester to death for killing a police officer and gave lengthy prison sentences to medical personnel, including doctors, for providing treatment to injured protesters during the country's uprising. Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official profile] announced in August that he will dismiss charges against some of the protesters [JURIST report] detained for their participation in pro-democracy demonstrations. In June, Khalifa announced that an independent commission will investigate human rights violations [JURIST report] related to the country's pro-democracy protests. Earlier that month, the OHCHR announced that Bahrain agreed to permit a UN commission [JURIST report] to investigate human rights violations related to protests.