Dialogue as Opposed to Confrontation

There are current concerns in Bahrain of reaching a political dead end due to the continuing security tensions such as constant rioting, political and civil society organizations' fear of the suspension of the reform process (or even its complete overthrow) and the adoption of security solutions to political problems. This has made all believers in reform, both in the government and society, look for solutions to the current crisis, in the hope of containing the sources of violence and removing their legitimacy cover, as well as their determination to continue the reform project and quicken its pace. This would preserve the government's central position and would also prevent bypassing or abusing citizens' rights.

If this political dead end is reached, it will cast its shadows on the country's general situation and will affect the extent of adherence to human rights standards and local human rights laws and regulations. It seems that political and civil society organizations generally, and the advocates of reform from the government's side, are greatly disappointed due to the continued tension, and thus calls have been made in an attempt to find solutions. Some of these calls appeared shyly in the media, whilst others came in the form of statements by political and human rights figures.

Dr. Hassan Madan

The general rhetoric of the previous period was characterized by an emphasis on government and civil societies' fears. Some political forces have currently presented a draft compromise solution that aims at re-producing the political process, restoring calm and security stability, and stressing the authority of local laws and the Constitution.

The only elaborated proposal so far, has been advanced by the Democratic Progressive Forum Society (al-minbar) and was announced by its chairman Dr. Hassan Madan as a cooperative effort with other political societies. This initiative comprises a “Declaration of Principles” with five articles: to emphasize the authority of the National Action Charter , to rationalize the political discourse and respect the authority of the state, to renounce all forms of violence and counter-violence, to release political detainees and to create direct channels for dialogue with the government.

In a local seminar entitled 'Dialogue as opposed to Confrontation', Madan said that any dialogue with no government representation is meaningless, and he denied that his Society acts as a mediator between the government and civil and political societies, adding that the Society believes in peaceful and democratic political actions and that this approach has not changed since the beginning of reform project in 2001.

On the other hand, clergyman Salah Al Jodar has called for a comprehensive revision of previous reforms, considering those opposing dialogue as 'calling for anarchy'. He also criticized political parties' performance as they do not, as he put it, show concern for the suffering of ordinary Bahrainis. Jodar expressed his worry that society may produce extremists groups that do not recognize the rule of law. This initiative has been welcomed by all civil society institutions in the hope that it will succeed in the near future.