Relatives of Bahraini political prisoners have called on Pope Francis to put pressure on the Manama regime to end human rights abuses across the kingdom, calling on the pontiff to highlight the plight of the inmates by visiting their families and even prisoners themselves.
The relatives of political prisoners in Bahrain had welcomed Pope Francis’ call for the revocation of the death penalty and observance of human rights in the kingdom, expressing hope that the pontiff would use the remainder of his historic four-day trip to visit families of death row inmates as well as the prisoners.
“There is an urgent need for the Pope to continue pressuring towards ending human rights violations,” Ali Mushaima, Bahraini human rights activist and son of an imprisoned Bahraini opposition leader Hasan Mushaima, told Middle East Eye on Friday.
“I previously requested the Pope meet with my father in prison and demand the immediate release of all political prisoners and I hope that this will happen during the upcoming days.”
The Pope’s visit comes as Bahraini rights activists have raised concerns that the ruling Al Khalifa regime would take advantage of the trip to showcase an image of religious coexistence even while standing accused of systematic persecution of the Shia majority in the country, including many of the political prisoners.
Bahrain’s main opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, said in a statement on Friday that the ruling regime was exploiting the ongoing visit by Pope Francis to cover up its gross human rights violations and repressive measures against democracy advocates.
Earlier, nine international human rights organizations urged Pope Francis to call for an end to human rights abuses in Bahrain and denounce the injustice and repressive policies of the Al-Khalifa regime during his visit to the country.