A Bahraini man rides a horse in Manama, Bahrain, late Friday evening, Nov 23, while commemorating the holy month of Muharram
US urges restraint against Manama protestors UN team to visit Bahrain over crackdown

WASHINGTON, Nov 24, (Agencies): The United States on Friday said it was concerned about rising violence in its Arab ally Bahrain, and urged the government to exercise “restraint” in responding to protests.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed concern that “police, protesters, and bystanders have been killed” in clashes between demonstrators and Bahraini authorities over the past month.
There is tension in Bahrain — home port on the Gulf of the US Fifth Fleet — between supporters of the Sunni monarchy and members of the Shiite majority, tension that has led to recent protests and crackdowns on dissent.
Nuland said: “We continue to urge all Bahrainis to pursue their political objectives peacefully and the government of Bahrain to exercise restraint in responding to peaceful protests.”
Nuland, issuing the statement on the one-year anniversary of a Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report into the violence, said the country needed to put more of its recommendations into effect.
“Since the unrest began last year, the United States has urged the government of Bahrain to implement reforms and to address ongoing human rights concerns,” she said.
“We will continue to encourage the Bahraini government and all segments of Bahraini society to create an environment conducive to political dialogue and reconciliation.”
She added: “The Bahraini government can only achieve the more prosperous, stable, and secure Bahrain it seeks through the continuation of the reform efforts it has initiated and must now fully implement.”
Nuland said Bahrain had taken “important steps” to implement the panel’s findings, including allowing the visits by the International Red Cross to the country’s prisons and issuing a new police code of conduct.
But she said there have been delays in ending “limits on freedom of expression and assembly” and in reforming “a political environment that has become increasingly inhospitable to reconciliation.”
Meanwhile, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay is sending a team of experts to Bahrain next week to discuss how the Gulf state can improve its rights record amid concerns over Manama’s decision to revoke the nationality of 31 people and ban public protests.
Bahrain’s government invited the four experts to assess the kingdom’s need to improve its track record on the issue, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a statement late on Friday.
They will focus on the judicial system as well as on accountability for present and past human rights violations and follow up on a preliminary mission that took place last December, it said.
A staunch US ally, Bahrain has come under increasing Western pressure to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) for police, judicial and education reform after last year’s government crackdown on pro-democracy protests by majority Shi’ite Muslims.
US officials last week voiced concern that Bahrain’s failure to implement key reforms suggested by the BICI report was making political dialogue more difficult and widening divisions in society in a way that might benefit Iran.
“The High Commissioner regretted the decision taken by Bahraini authorities on 7 November to revoke the nationality of 31 citizens for ‘having undermined state security’,” the OHCHR said.
The decision violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which prohibits states from arbitrarily depriving people of their nationality, it said.
The men include London-based dissidents Saeed al-Shehabi and Ali Mushaima, the son of jailed opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, as well as clerics, human rights lawyers and activists, according to Mohammed al-Mascati, head of the Bahrain Youth Centre for Human Rights.
The OHCHR said it was also “deeply concerned about the restrictions on public demonstrations and other public gatherings” declared on Oct. 30.
Bahrain had said the ban was a temporary step to ensure public safety and prevent violence.
The ruling Al Khalifa family used martial law and help from Gulf neighbours to put down an uprising against alleged discrimination in March last year, but unrest has since resumed and Shi’ite protesters and police clash almost daily.
Bahrain, where the US Fifth Fleet is based as a bulwark against Iran, accuses Tehran of encouraging the unrest and has promised a tough response as talks with the opposition have stalled. Iran has denied meddling in Bahrain’s affairs.

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