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(Washington, DC) - The Bahrain government, since March 2011, has been carrying out a punitive and vindictive campaign of violent repression against its own citizens, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper released today.

"Bahrain's Human Rights Crisis" summarizes Human Rights Watch's research on the ground since pro-democracy protests began in February. Human Rights Watch found widespread arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detention, torture, and unfair military court trials, as well as summary dismissals of workers accused of sympathizing with the protests. The government has failed to investigate the abuses or hold anyone accountable for these actions. On June 29, the king announced an independent commission of international rights experts to investigate and publicly report on alleged human rights violations.

"Bahrain has brutally punished those protesting peacefully for greater freedom and accountability while the US and other allies looked the other way," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The announcement of an independent investigative commission is a very promising first step for holding perpetrators of abuses accountable."

Human Rights Watch called on the Bahrain government to end unlawful and incommunicado detention, to free protesters unless legitimate criminal charges can be brought against them, and to allow monitoring by independent human rights organizations. The government has prevented Human Rights Watch from working in Bahrain since April 20.

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