Building Trust Guarantees Stability, Reform and Human Rights
It has been mentioned in previous issues that political reformists
on both sides (the Government and the Opposition) are losing out
in the recent violence and riots in Bahrain to the advantage of
advocates of extremism and political stagnation. However, it can
be said that forces of reform in the government’s legislative and
executive institutions and on the street are stronger than their
opponents and thus any agreement, reconciliation or attempts to
promote trust between moderate forces and reformists will precisely
mean the following:
- Enforcing the choice of reform with all its various political,
cultural, legal, social and economic scopes.
- Enforcing state’s apparatuses and emphasizing their
authority as well as protecting citizens’ choices which they
expressed in the elections.
- Enforcing the stability and security of the country, containing
violence and its advocates and emphasizing the rule of law which
is able to protect citizens’ interests.
- Promoting human rights and working to maintain, protect
and develop human rights principles.
Violence and riots would not have escalated on the street if
not for the feelings of distrust which have been growing amongst
reformists in both parties. It is notable that the growing distance
between the two sides manifests itself negatively in the form of
violent tendencies and riots, as advocates of violence want to practice
what they believe are their rights outside the boundaries of the
law; and every time their practices increase, trust between the
two sides is shaken or even completely destroyed.
The General Secretary of Wafaq Society Sheikh Ali Salman was
not wrong when he stressed (in newspaper interviews after the pardon
and release of some detainees by the King on 12 April 2009) that
working towards regaining trust will be his first priority, for
trust between the Government and the strongest political player
in the arena (who also possesses the largest number of MPs) is crucial
in order to return the situation in the country to what it had formerly
been. Thus as soon as the two sides reached an agreement, citizens
were optimistic and took to the streets carrying the King’s pictures
welcoming his decision. On the King’s part, he - as usual - did
not wish to intervene as soon as a problem arises, instead allowing
government bodies to deal with the problem and practice their role.
However, when the crisis reached a dead end, he intervened and solved
the problem in the correct manner.
The appropriate solution for regaining confidence is based on
the emphasis on the rule of law and institutions. It is not possible
to forgive anyone - neither the state nor the ordinary citizen-
who transgresses the law regardless if their demands are just or
not. It is also not possible for one side to monopolize the law,
as the law is enforced in order to protect citizens and ensure the
legitimacy and right of the state and anyone attempting to transgress
it is only weakening the state and abusing the rights of its citizens.
Sheikh Ali Salman said that Wafaq will not be lenient with any
individual who advocates violence and pointed out that his Society
is willing to take to the streets if necessary. This marks a significant
shift in the rules of the game and is making the government and
the opposition more vigilant regarding the stability of the country
and the security of its society. The correct way for regaining the
confidence between the government and the opposition lies in the
continuation of the reform process, fulfilling the hopes of citizens
and solving their problems. This can only be achieved after a considerable
amount of the required trust is regained, far from political tension,
as distrust hinders the reform process, weakens state institutions
and leaves all parties trapped within themselves, instead of moving
towards future change.
We support any trust-building that makes the citizens confident
in the ability of the reform actors to protect human rights and
preserve human dignity.
Hasan Moosa Shafaei
President - Bahrain Human