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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=Centre for Human Rights shut down. Sorry for the trouble.

Centre for Human Rights shut down

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

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)

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2 Responses to 'Centre for Human Rights shut down'

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Agree entirely Chanad. This move is going to have major repercussions for Bahrain's reputation. The reason why Bahrain's invited to the G8 Summit, has an FTA with the States and even F1, is because of its democratisation - otherwise what's there to distinguish it from another GCC country?

The confrontation between the old and the new guard's got to be resolved one way or the other - this current situation of half and half jockying for position can't continue.

On the point of the BCHR and its agenda - I have some sympathy with the view that its got a political rather than human rights agenda. Far too close to Al Wefaq.    

Blogger Chanad says:

Yeah, definitely, the BCHR should have retained a more bipartisan approach with regards to its associations with political groups like al Wefaq. But I'll be sad to see the BCHR go especially because of the notable work done by the Migrant Worker's Group.    

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