Continuing on my last post about Abdulhadi al Khawaja, the latest news is that the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has been dissolved by the government! Really, this is a low move on the part of the Old Guard... but I can't say I didn't see it coming. It is ridiculous that the Centre has been shut down for criticizing the regime. I used to believe (rather idealistically) that in this New Era of Bahrain the government would guarantee rights to free speech, but now I'm not so sure. As a blogger I am particularly concerned, and I'm reminded of why I chose to write under a synonym in the first place (but that's not really much security for me).
Today's GDN is filled with rubbish about support for the regime and disingenuous headlines like "United we stand". Had the Centre not been shut down yesterday, maybe I would be praising the regime today also, but this is the wrong day. The regime has much to be proud of with regards to the reforms that it has enacted over the past four years or so, but this act of banning speech will be a big blemish on its records. It only continues and deepens the cycle of distrust between the rulers and the marginalized sections of Bahraini society.
The time has now come for both sides to step back and swallow their injured pride. We must get over the finger pointing that dominates Bahraini politics and move forward for the sake of the people. Again, try to remember the fable of the North Wind and the Sun. But I'm sure this isn't the end of this, and there will likely be more fireworks to come.
Here is the report from AP via the Guardian:
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) - Bahrain dissolved a local human rights group Tuesday, days after its director was arrested for criticizing the government. An international rights groups indicated the arrest set back for democratic reform in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.
Bahrain has taken bold steps toward democratization, putting it ahead of its neighbors in the conservative region. But critics charged that banning the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the arrest show that the ultimate power remains in the hands of the government.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights was ordered to close down because of the center's failure to "adhere to the law" governing the work of societies, the official Bahrain News Agency reported.
On Saturday, Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja, the center's executive director, was detained after he called for the resignation of Prime Minister Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, blaming him for economic failures and human rights violations during his more than 30 years in office, his relatives said.
BCHR President Nabeel Rajab said he will try to challenge the closure decision in court. "This a political decision," he said. (Continued)