Response to The New York Times - Bahrain, a Brutal Ally by Zainab Al-Khawaja - December 25th 2012
Once again, we are obliged to respond to another article that continues to endorse the Bahraini opposition, without providing a fair chance to report on the Government’s stance. This is evident in the publication of the latest article by opposition hardliner, Zainab Al-Khawaja’s, “Bahrain, a Brutal Ally” (25th December, 2012).
Firstly, it is crucial to understand that Bahrain and the United States have had a long-standing relationship built on mutual interests that serve the global economy. One cannot hold the economy and security of a country at hostage, while it takes the adequate time required to reform. With this in mind, several members of the US administration continue to voice their concerns about the situation in Bahrain, regarding human rights and the escalation of violence, as recent as in a speech earlier this month by Mr. Michael Posner at the Manama Dialogue, conveniently omitted by the author.
The author also chose to omit details regarding Mr. Aqeel Mohsen, in that he had only sustained injury after attempting to run over policemen, resulting in the hospitalization of 2 officers. This incident is under investigation, including other reported incidents of abuse, irrespective of the perpetrator.
Bahrain continues to welcome constructive criticism to help develop and modernize. This path towards transparency and openness started since 2002 with the initiation of a bi-cameral Parliament, before the pressures of the Arab Spring or international criticisms.
Since the release of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s (BICI) report, Bahrain has been entirely committed to progressing by prioritizing human rights concerns. To claim the “government has no incentive to change” is a misinformed statement derived from individuals that choose to ignore the highly publicized reforms – most evident in the recent BICI Follow-Up Unit report - http://bit.ly/TFPg83.
In response to the author’s request to “support a special session on Bahrain at the United Nations Human Rights Council”, she should be reminded of this already happening earlier this year. Bahrain’s participation in the Universal Periodical Review (UPR) process and accepting the majority of the Council’s recommendations led to the Council’s approval without any objections in September 2012.
As for its open door policy towards foreign parties interested in the progress of Bahrain, the country has welcomed well over 500 journalists this year alone. Additionally, 80 Human Rights organizations have entered since the unrest began; most recently a delegation from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visited earlier this month and were given full access to meet all their requests. Another UN Special Rapporteur on Torture is scheduled to visit in the coming months to “investigate abuses” as the author had appealed for.
The Government’s persistent willingness to address grievances and adhere to international treaties must be acknowledged. It is also important to understand that the countries of the region are sovereign nations, and the regional grievances should not be clustered. Moreover, grievances of the local Bahraini population should not be clustered and positioned as a popular unified front. The political and societal spectrum of Bahrain is vast and complex, and needs to be understood in its entirety to implement change by consensus.
Salman H. AlJalahma
Information Affairs Authority