Understanding political reality is
necessary to guide human rights

Politicians have an important role in dealing with problems during political or human rights crises. This involves taking into consideration the nature of the crisis and its local and regional effects as well as local political balances, among other issues.

Human rights activists approach the problems from a different perspective. Their main area of interest is monitoring and documenting human rights violations, helping the victims, providing technical assistance to ensure that the Government apparatus is in accordance with internationally accepted standards and preventing the reoccurrence of violations.

The political approach considers human rights as an effective tool of pressure. On the other hand, the human rights approach is concerned with the effect of politics on the human rights situation. Some local and regional human rights organizations marginalise politics to the extent that it has negatively impacted the human rights cause.

These one-sided perspectives are exactly what weakened the role of local, regional and international organisations in guiding the way the crisis is managed on a political and rights levels. As a result of this, these organisations have been unable to take real initiatives and to contribute to the alleviation of the crisis. This has limited the role of these organisations to condemning the violations without taking into consideration the political dimension to the crisis which is the real problem. Due to the? political uncertainty, these organisations have become dependent on opposition sources and at the same time, have ignored and cast doubts on information provided by official sources.

Based on this, it is possible to say that the unclear picture of the Bahraini political scene among human rights organisations did not help in positively directing the political and human rights situation. Therefore, it is possible to say that during the crisis in Bahrain the general performance of local, regional and international organisations was not constructive.

The performance of civil human rights organizations in general was not effective in dealing with the social divisions and failed to reconsider their performance and discourse. At the same time, no efforts were detected by the National Institution for Human Rights; which marginalised itself to the extent that it did not have any role in both Bassiouni and Saleh’s committees.

The Bahraini civil society in general lacks expertise, tools, resources and a strategic vision. During the crisis, civil society organizations did not receive any advice or technical assistance from their counterparts in the region or from the international community.

The political conflict between the opposition and the Government was obvious, and civil society institutions failed to remain independent and were divided between the two sides.

This division in Bahraini civil society organizations, which resulted from political polarizations, was reflected in the performance of regional and international human rights organizations which evaluated the situation in Bahrain based on biased sources as well as Arab and foreign media. This negatively affected their performance in positively guiding the political and human rights situation.

Civil society organizations should be away from political polarizations- whether it be from the side of the Government or the opposition. For if they succeed at doing so, they will be able to assess the situation from a new human rights perspective and issue statements and reports that are more effective and objective.