Political Polarization Hinders Human Rights
The politicization of human rights has been an ongoing problem
in Bahrain since the establishment of the political societies in
2005. We have discussed the reasons behind this problem in previous
editions, which were attributed to the involvement of some human
rights activists in politics. Also, human rights organizations in
Bahrain are inexperienced and underestimate the danger of mixing
politics with human rights. We also pointed out that the tense political
climate encourages political societies to use human rights as a
political tool. The sharp political polarization affects the professionalism,
impartiality and credibility of these organizations.
The recent political events in Bahrain have deepened the problems
of local human rights organizations to the extent that they hindered
their activities. The sharp polarization has pushed human rights
activists to openly get involved in politics, and exerted their
efforts in the political conflict instead of concentrating on human
rights to the extent that some organizations have totally disappeared
from the scene.
Polarization has hindered the activities of human rights organizations.
As the street conflict escalated, polarization was unbearable and
it prevented people from thinking in a rational manner. The sharp
polarization has politicized human rights both inside and outside
the country. The statements of human rights organizations, which
aim to guide the Government and society, were used as a tool against
the Government in order to achieve political goals.
In the midst of the tense political atmosphere, the reports and
statements of human rights organizations were seen as inseparable
from politics and from those who were using them for their own political
purposes. In other words, the reports were used as political tools
instead of serving the human rights cause. Any criticism directed
at the Government’s behaviour was used as a tool by the opposition.
Consequently, human rights organizations became entangled in the
crisis. On the other hand, any criticism directed at the opposition
results in human rights organizations being accused with cooperating
with the regime and covering its violations, or even accusing them
of being government agents.
Getting involved in human rights activities outside the political
context in Bahrain is a difficult task. Objectivity, impartiality
and professionalism of human rights organizations are always under
scrutiny because in practice no party was willing to accept the
independence of such organizations . Thus, in such tense circumstances,
civil society organizations opted to remain inactive. That is why
we only hear the voices of only a few societies at a time hundreds
operate in Bahrain. We believe that most Bahraini civil society
organizations were wrong in remaining silent because there is a
greater need for their activities in times of crisis.
The other option for these organizations was to continue to work
regardless of the situation, accusations and criticisms and regardless
of whether anyone takes advantage of their work. The international
human rights instruments have provided different methodologies on
how to deal with such circumstances by using specific measures,
mechanisms and procedures.