Alhurra’s Congressional Correspondent Rana Abtar interviewed Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) about the anti-government protests in Bahrain, the recent tensions between the United States and Egypt over NGO workers and the veto by Russia and China of the Security Council draft resolution condemning the Assad government and calling on Bashar al-Assad to step aside.
On the one-year anniversary of the anti-government uprising in Bahrain that seeks to loosen the ruling dynasty’s monopoly on power, Rep. McGovern stated, “I am very concerned about what is going on in Bahrain. I am concerned about the human rights situation. And this is the one-year anniversary since the initial protests in Bahrain and the reports that we are hearing concern me even more. I am hearing that there is a severe crackdown by the government against protesters and I am very worried about that. We are going to monitor the situation very closely. A part of democracy allows people the right to dissent and in Bahrain nobody has the right to dissent. And it is a tragic human rights situation. I believe that the United States should not be engaged in any arms sales to Bahrain until the Bahraini government changes its ways and respect the human rights of its people.”
On U.S.-Egyptian tensions over the arrest of 19 American NGO workers in Egypt, Rep. McGovern said, “I think what both Egypt and the United States governments need to do now is to try to find a way to lower the rhetoric and get back to finding ways to solve some of these crises. I think the NGOs who are involved in human rights activities should not be put on trial and should not be punished for what they did. We need to figure out a way out of that. I want the United States and Egypt to have a good relationship. The military government won’t be there forever. We need to make sure that we continue to build on our relationship. Both of us need to take actions. I think the Egyptian government needs to back down on their insistence that these NGOs should stand on trail and we need to figure out what we could do.” On cutting off military aid to Egypt, Rep. McGovern added, “I think if the Egyptian government takes a hard line against these human rights defenders, then I do think there ought to be a consequence. But I am hoping we are not going to get to that point. I am hoping, during this period, that both sides can put their best diplomats forward and let’s see whether we will resolve some of these situations.”
On the Russian and Chinese veto of the United Nations’ resolution to condemn the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Rep. McGovern said, “The U.S. alone cannot fix the problem in Syria. We need a global effort to help improve the situation in Syria and that requires China and Russia to get on board. The atrocities that are going on in Syria each and every day should be of great concern to everyone who cares about human rights. I wish that China and Russia would find their conscience on this matter and join with us and demand that Mr. Assad leave. We are beyond the point where his government can be salvaged. He needs to leave and we need to have a transition to a more democratic Syria. That is what is in the best interest of the Syrian people.”