UN Special Rapporteurs call on Bahraini authorities to open the Pearl Roundabout and allow public access to the site
2015-03-03 - 8:03 م
Summary: UN special rapporteurs called on the Bahraini government to demilitarize the Pearl Roundabout and allow access to the site of the destructed monument.
Addressing the Bahraini government, the UN special rapporteurs called for the demilitarization of the Pearl Roundabout and allow access to the site of the destructed monument. They expressed concerns at what appears to be a policy of removing from public space and public memory the symbol of the pro-democratic movement of Bahrain, and therefore, of preventing the expression of narratives deviating from official discourses regarding the events of February and March 2011. They also stated that the Pearl Roundabout became the symbol of the pro-democratic movement.
The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association signed these mandates which were sent to the Bahraini government on July 11, 2014.
The Special Rapporteurs of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that they received concerning the destruction of the monument called the "Pearl Roundabout" and related imagery, and continued public access prohibition to the site, considered by Bahraini citizens as the symbol of their demands for freedom and democracy.
The special rapporteurs also recommended the government to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly of people calling for reforms in the country, to demilitarize and allow access to the site of the destructed monument, and to open spaces to the expression of a variety of narratives regarding the past.
After the reported violent crackdown on peaceful protests held at the site in February 2011 that left hundreds of people injured and at least six killed, the Pearl Roundabout became the symbol of the pro-democratic movement, known as the Pearl of the Martyrs, the rapporteurs added.
They expressed concerns at what appears to be a policy of removing from public space and public memory the symbol of the pro-democratic movement of Bahrain, and therefore, of preventing the expression of narratives deviating from official discourses regarding the events of February and March 2011, according to the information they received.
The reports said that on 18 March 2011, Government security forces destroyed the Pearl Roundabout monument. On that same date, the 500 fils coins engraved with the image of the Pearl Roundabout monument were taken out of circulation, postcards featuring its image were removed from tourist shops and in the open-air market places, and pictures of it were removed from official Government websites.
Furthermore, it is reported that security forces have been interfering with peaceful protests, by confiscating or destroying replicas of the Pearl Roundabout monument created by protesters and displayed in the public space.
Moreover, the public access to the site remains reportedly completely locked and guarded by the army with signs prohibiting people to take pictures.
They as well voiced further concern about continued restrictions imposed on the rights of everyone to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as reported by civil society groups in the past few years and as acknowledged through various communications sent to the Government by both the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.
A response was requested to be given about the initial steps taken by the Bahraini government to safeguard the rights of all persons to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in compliance with the aforementioned international standards, and to open spaces to the expression of a variety of narratives regarding the past.
While awaiting a reply, the special rapporteurs urged that all necessary interim measures be taken to halt the alleged violations and prevent their re-occurrence and in the event that the investigations support or suggest the allegations to be correct, to ensure the accountability of any person responsible of the alleged violations.
Finally in connection to the concerns mentioned above, the special rapporteurs referred the government to articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, accessed by Bahrain on 20 September 2006, and article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, accessed on 27 September 2007.
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