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

Security Tensions: Great Loss to all

It is quite certain that the political reforms and freedom of expression in the new democratic experience have benefited everyone. This includes all political players, civil society organizations, active parties in society and political and religious figures.

The political system has strongly promoted its legitimacy and strengthened its relations with the various social segments in an unprecedented way through the reforms. The available atmosphere of freedom has undoubtedly helped in spreading awareness in society and has provided a wide opportunity for self expression. It has also contributed to the increase in the number of civil society organizations. In addition, human rights organizations saw a decrease in incidents of human rights violations. This is evident when comparing human rights reports issued before and after the 2000 reforms. International organizations found refuge in Bahrain, something which they had never found before in any of the neighbouring countries. They were allowed both to open offices and use Bahrain as a regional base for their activities and training programmes.

Political parties, which used to work underground, have had the opportunity to appear on the surface, register as political societies, establish their own offices and have representatives in the Parliament. Moreover, many of their members also work in civil society institutions, including human rights ones. But unfortunately, some of these members have adopted extremist ideas and called for the overthrow of the regime. Had it not been for the wide margin of freedom available in the country, these extremists would not have been able to perform any of their activities. They protested and demonstrated for years, talked, made speeches and did what they wanted, including setting fires and inciting street violence.

Any party that considers itself a winner in the current situation is in fact a loser. The security tensions do not give Bahrain a good reputation as a state or as political system, even with the excuse that it was forced to take tough measures in order to confront violence and riots. Also, it is not in the interest of Bahrain and the political system to say that human rights and public freedoms have deteriorated, even for a short and temporary period. Furthermore, international human rights organizations will not be happy about the current situation. It is most likely that they are waiting to see positive developments in the fields of freedom of expression and political participation such as elections and the ratification of both the Press Law and the Civil Institutions Law. One could also say that the developments in the last two months constitute a great loss to local politicians and human rights societies.

In summary, any damage the political process through immature and irresponsible practices will not harm one party only. Any breaches of the atmosphere of freedom, abidance by the law, and respect of human rights represent a major loss to all. Whereas it is only by adopting the language of reason, logic and respecting every person, that all governmental and public parties (including international human rights organizations) will make gains in this field.