Bahrain Monitor - A Monthly Newsletter on the Human Rights Situation in Bahrain

First and Foremost for the Sake of Human Rights:

Hasan Moosa Shafaei

Defending ourselves and not the Government

Hasan Moosa Shafaei

It is for the benefit of human rights organizations and the rights of the individual in Bahrain to deal with the human rights issue away from politics, exaggeration, political intrigue and fabricated and false news.

Why do we call for moving away from political alignment? Why do we always urge for adopting a balanced and rational approach and focusing on the human rights dimensions, without being bogged down in battles which could even dismantle human rights organizations? Why has the issue of Jaffar Ibrahim opened the file again, and caught human rights activists off guard (and we are among them) surrounded by accusation and questioning?

To take a strong stand against the errors made by human rights activists does not mean being aligned with the Government, and does not mean the defence of the mistakes committed or may be committed in the future, but is basically in defence of the truth and in defence of society’s rights and values that human rights organizations themselves were established to defend.

Is it fair to mislead society with this false and fabricated case initially? Or is it good for society to live in fear of a return to street riots on the basis of information and accusations coming from a person who was himself accused? Or have Bahraini human rights organizations served the human rights cause of their citizens when they attributed the assault incident to the innocent and incited the public against the security services? And how can one human rights organisation stand against human rights v?olations in its homeland, and at the same time violate the human rights of others?

But what is the desired aim behind distorting the image of the Government based on misleading information? Is there any benefit for the people of Bahrain that their human rights organizations lose their credibility before them and before international organizations?

If someone claimed that nothing has changed in Bahrain in areas of reform, and another claimed that human rights violations still exist on a large scale in the country, and we knew in advance that this was not true, then where would those like to take us? Will they lead us to anything other than frustration and violence?

Is this the best way to push for gradual reforms and develop human rights in Bahrain?

The acceptance of unfair accusations against either the Government or individuals is unfair and is a frustration to human rights activists. It also closes the doors of development and reform, and turns the issue of human rights into a merely political tool that has nothing to do with the development of human rights.

The issue is not related to the Government, but is related to the human rights organisations themselves. They must maintain ethics of the profession to a larger degree and adhere to the standards of justice in dealing with human rights issues. Therefore, the public dissemination of inaccurate and misleading information regardless of who the accused are and the concealment of correct information, regardless of who the beneficiaries are, does not benefit the human rights project in Bahrain.

Assuming that some Bahraini human rights organizations consider the Government as an opponent, it is in line with honesty with oneself and respect for justice to be fair with the opponent, instead of hiding their merits and highlighting all their vices and wrongdoings (whether true or false).

Bahrain has changed, even if some of us do not recognize this fact. We may differ in assessing the magnitude of this change in the fields of human rights, politics and others. As long as the majority of people want reform and encourage it, let us therefore respect the current realities and build on them for a better future. If the Government kills, detains and tortures at the slightest accusation, and prisons were filled with prisoners without justification, perhaps some may find excuse to disseminate mis?eading rumours. But otherwise, when there is not one political prisoner or prisoner of conscience, and with the existence of a political process despite its shortcomings, and with the Government insisting on continuing what they see as a reform project; as long as this is the case, it is wrong to mislead ourselves and consider the current situation a continuation of the pre-reform era.

Living in the past prevents one from recognising changes in the present, and can therefore easily compromise what has been achieved so far.

Anyone can concentrate on Government errors in various fields, and there are dozens of specialized civil society organizations able to do so. But let us distance ourselves from exaggerated and fabricated news. Let us distance ourselves from the politicization of otherwise ‘normal’ events and from portraying positive aspects as negative ones. In a nutshell this is not in the interest of human rights organizations, and not in the interest of human rights in Bahrain.