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Yemen/ Saudi/ Bahrain update 3/20/2017..How Long Can Bahrain’s AL Khalifah Regime Withstand Demands for Change?

Monday, March 20, 2017 17:42
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Farsnews’Til Democracy Come: How Long Can Bahrain’s AL Khalifah Regime Withstand Demands for Change?

The United Arab Emirates has summoned the Swiss ambassador over remarks made by Switzerland to the UN over the appalling human rights situation in Bahrain.

This came after Switzerland’s UN Ambassador Valentin Zellweger called on Manama to cooperate with the Human Rights Council. While voicing his dismay over Bahrain’s repression of civil society, he said, “The use of torture, inadequate fair trial guarantees, excessive use of force during peaceful demonstrations, as well as reprisals against victims of human rights violations or those who cooperate with the United Nations, are of concern.”

The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, claims Switzerland has failed to recognize that the Al Khalifah regime has taken steps to improve the human rights situation in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom. This is while anti-regime protests have continued apace on an almost daily basis ever since the popular uprising began on February 14, 2011. It is easy to see why:

The unelected regime is yet to move any closer to democracy. Instead, it did slide into strife, chaos, and widespread systematic oppression. Alongside the emirates of the Persian Gulf and the kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it is one of the few unelected regimes in the region to have passed through the Arab Spring and its aftermath largely unscathed. This is largely because on March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to Bahrain to assist the Manama regime in its crackdown on peaceful protesters. Thousands of people lost their lives or sustained injuries, while thousands more were arrested.

This does in no way mean Bahrain is now a quiet place, often overlooked in a region marked by turmoil. Today this “stability” is intriguing to many, who wonder: Is it the product of lucky circumstances, a sign of exceptionalism, or a mirage? The regime has proven remarkably adept at suppressing democratic demands for change though – but for how long?

The regime’s “promise” to the international community to deliver reform, enshrine fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and assembly, did little to change the balance of power in favor of people and democratic institutions. Quite the contrary, across the nation, the crushing of popular uprising has led to deeper authoritarianism and wider presence of Saudi meddling in Bahrain’s internal affairs. In a polarized landscape, the tide has now turned against the regime at the UN and the EU. At the same time, the underlying discontent remains strong.

This is because the divide that counts in Bahrain is not between Shiites and non-Shiites, but between democrats (people) and authoritarians (Al Khalifah regime). The United Nations and the European Union agree. They criticize and condemn the on-going restrictions of fundamental democratic rights, notably the freedom of expression, association and assembly, political pluralism and rule of law. They call for an end to all acts of violence, harassment, intimidation, including at judicial level, or censorship against human rights defenders, political opponents, protesters, civil society actors and minorities by state authorities, security forces and services.

All the reason why the time to act is now. Just like Switzerland’s UN Ambassador Zellweger, it is time for the international civil society, particularly the UN Human Rights Council, to call on the Bahraini authorities to unconditionally release all human rights activists and religious leaders targeted solely for their human rights activities and sent to prison for merely peacefully exercising their right to freedom of speech and expression.

Bahraini authorities should also immediately lift the travel ban against human rights defenders and guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities, nationally and internationally, without hindrance, intimidation or harassment.

Further, the world community should remind the regime of its responsibility to ensure the security and safety of all citizens irrespective of their political-religious views, affiliation or confession, insist that the regime amends its citizenship law and restores Bahraini citizenship for those individuals (including children, doctors, lawyers and religious leaders) who were unfairly stripped of it so as to fall within international standards and international law on the matter. Only building a truly pluralistic society, respectful of the diversity of views and lifestyles, can ensure long-term stability and security in Bahrain and, in that regard the release of Sheikh Ali Salman and other Shiite clerics currently being held arbitrarily in prisons.

This is the problem of the monarchy in Bahrain: Either it withdraws from the authoritarian-sectarian game or it becomes more and more aggressive in manipulating the diplomatic scene at the United Nations. One thing is certain though. The regime’s pervasive, opaque and unaccountable grip on power cannot be maintained forever by the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters or by keeping political-democratic parties weak, fragmented, and subservient. Most Bahrainis wouldn’t have it any other way. The question is whether this regime can respond to their legitimate demands for democracy, freedom, opportunity and fairness that simmer below the surface. The people of Bahrain might not have appetite for violence but they aspire to something better.



Source: http://blogdogcicle.blogspot.com/2017/03/yemen-saudi-bahrain-update-3202017how.html

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