MEP Ana Gomes denied a visa and turned back at airport in Bahrain
Ana Gomes, Member of the European Parliament and S&D Coordinator for Foreign Affairs, was not allowed to enter into the Kingdom of Bahrain after attempting to visit the country this Sunday morning. She is currently awaiting deportation at the Manama airport.
MEP Ana Gomes arrived at Manama airport at 8.45 am and requested visa upon arrival, a normal practice in Barhain. She was asked to provide the reasons for the visit and a phone contact of the people she would be meeting, despite having identified herself as an MEP and showing her Portuguese diplomatic passport. Five hours later without a decision upon her request, and not being allowed to establish a contact with the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ana Gomes requested permission to visit the Danish/Bahraini citizen Ms. Zainab al-Khawaja, a human rights activist who has been detained since the 21st of April 2012 and provided the phone contact of her and her father's lawyer, Mr. Mohammed. al-Jishi. The MEP also stated that she would like to meet with the Bahraini authorities to seek information on the state of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Zainab’s father and the most prominent Bahraini-Danish human rights activist, who is serving a life sentence for his role in last year’s pro-democracy protests, and who started an open-ended hunger strike 82 days ago. A Court hearing for the consideration of his arrest is due to take place on Monday, 30th of April.
After two more hours of consultation with the MFA, the Bahraini authorities denied MEP Gomes the visa and requested her to leave the country.
Following the denial of entry, Ana Gomes declared: “I did not break any rule, I did not seek to bend any regular procedure. Bahraini authorities, after seven long hours of consideration, denied me entry into the country because they have much to hide regarding their appalling treatment of human rights activists, such as Mr. and Ms Al-Khawaja, whom they are torturing and detaining without fair trial. I urge European governments and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs to demand the immediate release of Mr. and Ms. Al-Khawaja and all Bahraini political prisoners and to hold the authorities accountable."