Concerns over Violence and the
Necessity of Political Dialogue

The 14 February 2012 saw the commemoration of the unfortunate events of 2011, which resulted in the deaths of many, as well as human rights breaches and sharp social divisions. On this occasion, the Bahrain Human Rights Monitor (BHRM) issued a statement highlighting several points which represent the foundation for a solution to the current crisis.

Firstly, the BHRM stressed the necessity of implementing Bassiouni’s recommendations, as this represents one of the most important means of regaining trust between the Government and political parties despite all difficulties and challenges. The President of the BHRM Hasan Shafaei said that, although the Government has managed to address many problems, there are some recommendations which are of real cocern and interest to the human rights community, and should be dealt with swiftly. These include: the cases of detainees, doctors, dismissed workers, compensating victims and prosecuting those responsible for violations.

Secondly, the issue of freedom of expression, assembly and protest is guaranteed in the National Action Charter and in the Constitution, meaning that no one who exercises these rights should be punished. The BHRM called upon the law enforcement agencies to exercise restraint, refrain from using excessive force and guarantee the safety of civilians. The BHRM also stressed the importance of coordinating with the relevant authorities regarding places of protest and assembly, whilst stressing the peacefulness of the demonstrations, which have sometimes descended into violence.

Thirdly, the BHRM stressed the importance of direct dialogue between political parties and the Government in order to find way out of the political crisis, urging them to stop communicating with each other through the media or public speeches. Shafaei also said that it is brave for decision-makers and their opponents to sit down and try to solve their political problems. He also added that the call for dialogue is not a crime, and anyone refuses it intentionally or unintentionally encourages the escalation of violence, tensions on the street and the fragmentation of society. Moreover, dialogue has its own mechanisms and political disagreement will only increase tensions.

The BHRM concluded its statement by calling upon all political parties to pause and reflect upon what the country has lost and what it has gained in the last year. This evaluation will reveal that everyone is a loser, and continuing the problem would mean wasting more of Bahrain’s resources. It is now necessary for the country to find a Consensual solution and restore societal peace, which can turn this black page in Bahrain’s history and return hope to its citizens. This cannot be imposed on Bahrainis, it should come from within, and we hope their decisions will be wise and mature.