European MP Says Stopped From Entering Bahrain
A European Union member of parliament with a diplomatic passport said she was prevented from entering Bahrain on Sunday in an application of visa rules imposed while the government grapples with a pro-democracy movement
April 30, 2012 9:52 by kippreport
A European Union member of parliament with a diplomatic passport said she was prevented from entering Bahrain on Sunday in an application of visa rules imposed while the government grapples with a pro-democracy movement. Ana Gomes, a Portuguese member of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs and human rights committees, said she was held at Manama airport for over seven hours when she tried to enter the Gulf Arab state during a stopover on the way to Libya. “I’ve been … waiting to get a visa on arrival and that was denied to me, in spite of having a diplomatic passport and I identified myself as an MEP,” Gomes told Reuters by telephone from Manama airport.
She said she was waiting to get on another flight to Benghazi, Libya after being refused permission to stay overnight.
The Bahraini Interior Ministry and information affairs authority did not respond to several requests by phone and text message for a comment on the incident. Gomes said that when asked for a contact for her stay in the country she gave the name of Zainab al-Khawaja, the daughter of jailed protest leader Abdulhadi al-Khawaja who has been on hunger strike for more than two months. His daughter is also in detention after a protest in Manama last week.
Bahrain has been in turmoil since February last year when protesters demanding democratic reforms took to the streets after successful popular revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.
After an initial crackdown that halted protests with Saudi military help, and the subsequent finding of a rights commission that thousands of people were arrested and many tortured, unrest has resumed with regular clashes between protesters and police.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels; Writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Mark Heinrich)