Correcting Human Rights Wrongs
During political crisis many human rights violations occur and
we as human rights activists are primarily concerned with these
abuses. On the other hand, political mistakes represent debatable
theoretical approaches whereas violating human rights is condemned
by human rights institutions and Bahraini national laws.
Clear violations have taken place by both sides during recent
events in Bahrain namely; the opposition and the authorities. What
is important now is to admit this fact and take the necessary steps
to correct the situation. However, revising and correcting past
mistakes will be a difficult task if the situation on the ground
continues to be tense. It is in the interest of Bahrain for every
party to assess its position and learn from past mistakes instead
of concentrating on highlighting their opponent’s faults. The Government
has admitted that regrettable violations took place on many occasions,
including the deaths of a number of citizens in custody, which resulted
in the referral of some employees from the Ministry of Interior
to the Military Court for investigation.
Recent human rights violations include: The unfair dismissal
of workers for their participation in the political protests and
their absence from work. The number of dismissed workers has reached
nearly two thousands. The Bahrain Workers’ Union and the International
Labour Organization condemned this as an unjustified and arbitrary
action which contradicts national laws and Bahrain’s international
commitments. The Minister of Labour admitted that mistakes took
place due to the rush in dismissing hundreds of workers in the private
sector, and demanded their immediate re-instatement.
The cessation of many overseas scholarships was a wrong decision,
which has negatively affected Bahrain’s reputation and was condemned
by many human rights organizations. Even if the students had really
violated the terms of the scholarship by participating in demonstrations,
it is still difficult to justify the decision from a human rights
perspective. The Minister of Education requested the restoration
of some scholarships and we hope this takes place immediately and
applies to all.
The destruction of religious institutions. Even if these buildings
were erected without permission, the timing and manner of demolishing
them was unacceptable. Moreover, this was seen by the international
community as targeting religious freedoms and places of worship,
whilst Bahrain has always been well known for its religious tolerance.
There are other violations regarding detention, ill-treatment
and media discourse. Human rights defenders are hoping that these
violations will be addressed and that the Government will take necessary
measures to prevent their recurrence.
On 18 June 2011 and in a commendable step, the Ministry of Social
Development admitted that it is taking allegations of human rights
violations very seriously, and added that necessary measures were
being taken to investigate them.
With regards to the Bahraini opposition, some of its members
also committed some violations including:
- Running over security men, taking some of them hostage and attacking
foreign workers, which resulted in some deaths.
- Inciting hatred and justifying violence by some preachers.
- Fabricating stories of human rights violations.
- Assaulting public and private properties including a number of
schools and universities, blocking roads and hindering the work
of the Sulaimaniya Hospital.
We hope that we can start a new phase of respecting human rights,
whilst learning from past mistakes, putting into place new mechanisms,
and implementing related legislations in order to prevent the recurrence
of similar violations.