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

BHRM: The King’s Speech Determines State
Strategy and the Reform Project is Bahrain’s Capital

The President of the BHRM Hasan Moosa Shafaei praised the King’s speech given on 31 May 2011, in which he called for national dialogue asserting that this speech has paved the way for Bahrain to recover politically and socially, which would guarantee development, freedom and prosperity.

In a statement issued on 1 June 2011, the BHRM said that the King’s speech has highlighted the most important issues concerning local, regional and international opinions. It also stressed some strategic issues which can be summarised in five basic points:

1. Engaging in a national dialogue that includes various political parties in the country. This means that he is keen to involve all political and social segments and emphasizes the fact that dialogue is the best way to deal with problems in order to achieve optimum results.

2. Continuing the comprehensive reform process. Despite concerns that the achievements of the past years have been undermined, the King reaffirmed that reform is the only choice left for Bahrain. He said: “Reform is the project that we have not and will not flinch from; it is the faith and the will between us and the people.”

3. Promoting social cohesion, which has been badly affected by recent events. The King stressed the role of journalists in filling this social gap, creating a national unified public opinion and restoring trust by dealing wisely with controversial issues. According to the King, a free and integral press “is the foundation of democratic development and a positive factor in promoting social cohesion and unity”.

4. Guaranteeing public freedoms, in particular the freedom of press. There are concerns that the tensions created by recent events could result in a setback in the freedom of the press. The King stressed his continued commitment to “promote freedom of opinion and expression in the context of political, cultural and intellectual diversity”. He added: “we made it clear to all journalists in the Kingdom of Bahrain that their freedoms and rights are protected and that no one will be harmed for expressing their peaceful and civilised opinion within the rule of law”.

5. Emphasizing the role of constitutional institutions in developing political life. This is made possible through their preparation for national dialogue, legislative elections and more active public representation as well as the necessary development of democratic life through the democratic institutions.

Finally, Shafaei said that Bahrain needs to transform the King’s speech into practical programmes by controlling official, public and oppositional behaviours according to the law, national principles and the mutual interests, which national dialogue will lay the ground for. He also said it was necessary to prepare the appropriate atmosphere in order for the dialogue to achieve its desired goals of political security, social stability and the removal of tensions, sectarian split, vengeance and malicious political bickering.

On 16 June 2011, the BHRM issued another statement stressing that the national dialogue is the safest way out of the crisis and will serve the interests of all with minimal losses. The statement added that there is an urgent need for social and political reconciliation as well as preparing an appropriate environment in order to pave the way for dialogue. This includes the need for a more efficient and transparent Government and Legislative Authority, which can only be achieved by respecting the rule of law, promoting national unity, respecting human rights and promoting the values of justice and equality.

The statement also urged all political parties to overcome obstacles, prepare for dialogue and not to harbour sectarian feelings. It also called on the media to protect national dialogue and refrain from emphasizing sectarian affiliations, which will only hinder reform and promote social division. The use of a unifying national rhetoric is essential because Bahrain can only be developed through the participation of its two main social segments the Sunni and Shia.

The President of the BHRM expressed his deep regret over the personalization of the crisis and the unjustified attack on the opponents. He pointed to the fact that Bahrain needs social peace and that personal attack on individuals, families or groups, will only serve Bahrain’s enemies. He continue by saying that the media should at this time promote the culture of forgiveness, adhere to the articles of the Publication Law and refrain from publishing any articles which may have negative effects.

The statement also praised the Government’s recent measures, which included the reinstatement of a number of dismissed workers and saw it as a step in the right direction. The statement also added that it is important to continue taking similar steps so that dialogue is not delayed and all obstacles are removed.

Finally, Shafaei said that the reform project is Bahrain’s biggest asset and undermining its achievements is a major loss for all Bahrainis including all political parties who aspire for a free, developed and dignified Bahrain.